Pots of Gold

Dwarf citrus trees provide a sweet harvest within easy reach.

Citrus lovers who like to grow their own often turn to potted citrus trees.  

“You don’t have to worry about trimming it or getting on a ladder,” says Stanley Lukas of Lukas Nursery in Oviedo. And potted, or “dwarf,” citrus trees yield results fast.  

“Sometimes citrus trees can take three to five years before they produce more fruit. They need to get re-established where they’re planted, but with dwarfs it doesn’t seem to take as long,” he says. “I had mine planted, and the next year I was getting fruit.”  


The keys to establishing healthy potted citrus trees are light, water and rootstock—the lower part of the grafted plant, often underground, where the roots are produced. Sometimes it is a rhizome.

Typically, Lukas says, citrus fruits are grafted onto a flying dragon rootstock, because it keeps the tree at dwarf size—about six feet—and can handle colder temperatures than other rootstocks.

Once you’ve purchased your citrus tree and pot, invest in a custom-blended potting soil, plus a slow-release fertilizer that you can feed your tree over three or four months.  

“You can put it right in the hole where you plant the tree,” Lukas says. “Don’t dump the whole bag in—use it in moderation, and it will help the plant get established in its new area.” 

 Then add your citrus tree and let nature take its course.  

Potted citrus “will tolerate dappled shade, but if it can get six to eight hours of direct sunlight, it’s great.” Dwarf citrus trees “like it a bit on the drier side,” Lukas says. Try plunging your finger in the soil all the way to your knuckle. If the soil feels moist, leave it alone; but if it feels dry, give it a little water.  

With the proper care and attention, your potted citrus could provide a lifetime of tangy harvests. +

Citrus Tips

Check out these planting and pruning suggestions for getting the most from your tree.

  • When choosing a container, just make sure it is large enough for your plant and has plenty of holes for drainage. 
  • If your dwarf citrus tree comes in a nursery pot, buy a container one size larger so the plant’s roots can spread out.
  • Prune your citrus tree so it maintains a balanced shape. If the tree outgrows its container, lift it out, prune the roots, and re-pot it with fresh soil.
Categories: Gardening