In search of dwarf citrus trees
October 13, 2006 8:32 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking to buy a few dwarf citrus trees as a gift. Can anyone offer tips on what/where to buy online?

I've Googled around and found no shortage of retailers willing to sell me dwarf citrus, so at this point it's a matter of getting recommendations for specific vendors and varieties.

The trees will live in Chicago, so they'll have to be indoors part of the year. (My understanding is that they'll do OK indoors, but correct me if I'm wrong please). I am particularly interested in Meyer lemons and any unusual/heirloom varieties.
posted by veggieboy to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I bought my kaffir lime tree from four winds growers and it's still alive a few months later, if that's helpful.
posted by soma lkzx at 8:53 AM on October 13, 2006

It's getting a bit cold to ship citrus trees. They do not do well even in mild cold and they might arrive dead if you don't order them soon.

I bought my trees from direct gardening, but they were very young, tiny saplings. I suggest buying elsewhere if you want fruit in the next decade.
posted by Alison at 9:02 AM on October 13, 2006

As a retired 3rd generation citrus grower, I recommend the Tarocco orange as the tastiest of all citrus fruit. It is one of 3 blood orange varieties (Sanguinella and Moro are the other 2), is a joy to eat and has an exotic appearance. Every citrus growing family I grew up with had a selection of bloods growing in their yard for personal consumption.

I'm a lifelong Californian so you'll have to find someone else to advise you on indoor growing.
posted by buggzzee23 at 9:05 AM on October 13, 2006

Meyers will be just fine indoors during the winter as long as they get lots of sun.

I would also like to suggest a tophat blueberry bush if you are looking for novel, fruit-bearing gifts. They are quite small and self-pollinating.
posted by Alison at 9:07 AM on October 13, 2006

I always wanted a citrus tree that puts out more than one type of fruit. You can buy grafted trees that will produce lemons, oranges and limes, for instance.
posted by wsg at 9:45 AM on October 13, 2006

Sort of tagging along with what Alison said about time of year: if you can stand to wait until late spring or early summer, a better selection of citrus will be available. It's the end of the season and most of the best trees will have been shipped already. Over the winter the growers will be potting up the smaller citrus into bigger pots, so you'll have the opportunity in spring to buy non-rootbound plants, as well as a larger variety of nicely formed trees to choose from.

If possible, try to go pick them out yourself from a nearby nursery. Not all plant brokers are scruplous about sending well formed stock to customers. In person, you'll be able to judge form and health of the tree before purchasing.

As far as cool things to look for: meyer lemons are great; kaffir lime leaves are very nice if you like to make thai food; varigated calamondins are pretty and make a small sour fruit that can be used for sauces or marmalade. It's vital that you mist indoor citrus at least every other day; in low humidity conditions they are prone to spider mites. Be carefull not to over water as excess soft green growth is also more susceptible to pests and diseases, and be prepared to pollinate by hand with a soft paintbrush if you want any fruit.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:01 AM on October 13, 2006

... althogh I realize that a gift might not be able to wait until spring. I also meant to second Four Winds- they supply almost all citrus to the nurseries here in the Bay Area- their stock is generally nice and healthy, and they have a wide variety of lovely things.
posted by oneirodynia at 10:04 AM on October 13, 2006

I've bought a few plants from them, shipped as gifts, and they not only arrive happy and healthy, they are still giving fruit!

The lemon one that I gave mom as a housewarming is quite happy on her front porch!
posted by legotech at 12:34 PM on October 13, 2006

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