How big a citrus grows depends on two things:
Our dwarfing rootstock is called Flying Dragon and means that in an unlimited soil volume the plants full size potetial is about 2.0 metres. However if you limit the soil volume by keeping in a smaller pot, the maximum size of the plant can be reduced to about 1.5 metres. A plant will always try and reach its genetic potential height and anything we do to restrict this has an effect on the plant. If you keep your citrus in a pot and want to keep it healthy, replace soil every 4 years for a dwarf citrus and probably as often as every 2-3 years for a non-dwarf or regular citrus.
We supply both dwarf and regular citrus trees.
3. Citrus Espaliers
If you grow your citrus on an informal espalier it will fill out the espalier more quickly if you use a larger pot and regular (non-dwarfing) citrus. But this comes with a catch that as stated above you will need to renew soil, cut back back roots every 2-3 years. As the tree grows into the new soil in the pot it will put on a flush of new growth, meaning you will need to cut it back. That's why we recommend if you're after a minimal maintenance tree in a pot or on an espalier you use a dwarf tree. It will take a little longer to establish or fill out the lattice but in the long run will be less work for you.
4. Training Citrus
Citrus are incredibly forgiving and are easy to train to almost any shape. Some tips:
1. Don't bend newly emerged vigorous shoots too soon or they will simply break from the trunk.
2. You can bend these shoots as they develop to even a right angle of the trunk over time. By bending shoots/branches this decreases the sap flow in the the branch and encourages fruit set.
3. Two methods are used for informal espaliers. You can either let your tree grow up then prune at the top, encouraging lateral growth to fill in the gaps below from new shoots emerging from the trunk or start pruning and bending branches while tree is still small and fill the lattice as the tree grows. I don't have an opinion either way which is best.
Citrus can also be formally espaliered onto wires in a T-shape, as a horizontal cordon etc. What you'll need is some wire strung along a wall at about 400mm intervals on which to attach branches. I have seen this done and it looks spectacular but I'm too lazy to try it.
We stock four main varieties f Lemons::
Eureka: This is the tart thick skinned lemon that you find in the supermarkets. It has a pointy end. Good for where you need that tart flavour in cooking or a thick skin for rind.
Lisbon: A cold tolerant acidic variety with slightly upright growth habit.
Meyer: This thin skinned variety is very juicy and sweeter than Eureka but not as sweet as Lemonade. Our Dwarf Meyer are grafted onto Flying Dragon rootstock and won't get any higher than 2.0 metres but can be comfortably kept under 1.5 metres with pruning in a pot. It is very suited to the cooler (supposedly) environs of Melbourne.
Lemonade: The sweetest of all lemons. Can be eaten straight from the tree. Naturally a dwarf type growing no more than 2.0 metres.
With the right conditions all of these varieties will produce an abundance of fruit in Melbourne. The right conditions:
- minimum 4 hours sun in winter, > 6 in summer
- warm location- protect from cold wind and frost (on the north side of a fence is ideal as long as frost doesn't settle against fence)
-fertilise quarterly with granular citrus fertiliser and in between with liquid seaweed.
-if your game and want a cheep source of nitrogen which citrus love, use two tablespoons of urea dissolved in a watering can in Spring, keep the water up to them on hot days and watch them zing with new growth.
- I recommend you use at least one application per year of a citrus micro-nutrient fertiliser including iron per year. This can be purchased as iron chelate. It keeps the leaves lustrous and green.
The same can be said for limes as for lemons above in terms of restricting growth and espaliering, and fertilising. We stock three main types:
Kaffir Limes: Use fresh new purple leaves in Thai style cooking. Double shiny leaf, very aromatic.
Tahitian Limes: Use juice from fruit for drinks, the old G&T, drop in your Corona or on fish and chips or in cooking for that unique lime flavour.
Our favourite saying is that everyone should have a Tahitian Lime, Kaffir Lime, Eureka and Lemonade lemon in their backyard or in balcony pots. You are not really getting the most of your lifestyle without them !
CITRUS -Pests and Disease
If well nourished and watered you shouldn't have much trouble apart from citrus gall wasp. I could dedicate the rest of this website to cover gall wasp. My view - if you have >5 galls start again with a new tree and as soon as you see any new galls cut of branch and dispose of in the bin (not compost.
I use home made white oil monthly to keep leaves lustrous looking and keep insects at bay. Look up white oil recipe on Dr. Google and you will find heaps of recipes.
If you are super keen, and have stonefruit, use any leftover leaf curl spray on your citrus once or twice per year, being careful not to apply on hot days.