Choosing Citrus Trees For Home Garden

Question from Roberta:

What’s the best variety of a Clementine citrus tree or an easy peel orange? (I live in Zone 22.)

Also, will the fruit be good if I get a lemon tree with a lime grafted on the same tree? Someone said they have a lemon grafted on an orange tree and when they eat one they taste both of them.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Clementine photo

Photo by Paul and Jill

Answer from Pat:

‘Clementine’ is a good choice for a home-grown mandarin orange in Zone 23 and has easy-to-peel skin. The benefit of this variety is it bears good fruit in cooler regions and can be picked over a longer season. In Zone 23 you have more heat and sun than close to the coast so you might also grow ‘Owari’ satsuma, often considered tops among mandarin oranges, but once the fruit ripens you need to pick it. It does not hold well on the tree nor keep long once picked unless refrigerated. ‘Pixie’ is said to be particularly delicious and juicy but again the harvest is shorter. With Clementine you can leave the fruit on the tree for months and it will still be good.

Regarding having a lime and a lemon on one tree I would say this is fine and the flavor should not be affected, but the question is would one have enough fruit? Also, can you get the best home varieties grafted onto one tree? Perhaps not. If space is a problem, I would suggest instead of buying two varieties on one tree to purchase a dwarf ‘Bearss’ lime and a dwarf ‘Improved Meyer’ lemon and plant both trees in the same hole. Prune off some branches so the two trees fit together and over time they may graft themselves together into one tree. This should provide a much larger harvest. Planting two trees in the same hole has been done for some years now as a space-saver in smaller gardens. It’s fine as long as you have two deciduous trees or two citrus trees in the same hole together.

Comments

  1. I just discovered your website and I love it! I have a question that I did not see on your Q&A. I am installing a new driveway (quite long) and will have a small, 2-3 foot area for planting between the driveway and a block wall that is on the property line. The space only gets sun for part of the day due to the block wall, which borders the southern side of my property. I really want to have some fruit trees; I grew up in a household that had nectarine and peach trees, two kinds of lemons (Eureka and Meyer) and a lime tree. Would any of those fit into such a narrow space? If so, what varieties? My neighbors would not mind having branches hang over the fence. I am in Zone 23/24, although the weather has definitely been significantly warmer than usual over the past few years. Thank you for any suggestions!

    • I am glad you love this blog. The area you describe sounds wide enough for espaliered fruit trees but the problem is shade. Fruit trees need full sun.
      Nonetheless, it’s worth a try. Sometimes an area has more sun than the homeowner might realize. Additionally the weather as you mentioned is getting ever warmer in summer and, more importantly, the position next to a driveway means it will get plenty of reflected heat. If I were you I would purchase a pruning book that has instructions for espalier and next winter in bare root season, go ahead and plant fruit trees against that wall. Be sure to cut them back and grow them according to the instructions for espalier. Lemons also make good espaliers. Do not plant citrus until the warm months, beginning in May.

      Good luck! I think you are going to have success and a lot of fun with this project.

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