of the month
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BOTANICAL AND COMMON NAMES
Citrus (sit-russ or sit-TRUSS)
Grapefruit (C. paradisi); Lemon (C. limon); Lime (C.
aurantifolia); Orange (C. sinensis); Tangelo (Citrus x tangelo);
Tangerine/Mandarin orange (C. reticulata); Pomelo (C. maxima)
Fortunella spp. (for-tu-NEL-uh)
Citrofortunella spp. (sit-roh-for-tu-NEL-uh)
These plants have shiny, dark green leaves; scented blossoms;
and colorful fruit. They bloom all year and will produce fruits
that can take up to a year to ripen. Last year’s fruits often
are still on the trees when the new flowers are blooming.
Most Citrus, Fortunella and Citrofortunella blossoms are white.
The fruit will be yellow, orange or green, depending on the
These plants can last for many years with proper care. Just a
few flowers are open at any given time per plant.
Citrus, Fortunella and Citrofortunella plants are available
IN-STORE AND CONSUMER CARE
LIGHT Bright, indirect light
is best for plants displayed indoors.
WATER Keep the soil
moderately moist at all times because drying can cause bud drop.
Avoid standing water.
HUMIDITY Moderate humidity
and daily misting are beneficial.
Healthy, fertilized plants are more tolerant of insect attacks.
Be sure plants are well-watered before applying fertilizer. Use
a complete acidic-type fertilizer like Rhododendron (azalea)
food every three months.
SOIL The plants will do best
in an acidic, moist, well-drained soil. If the leaves turn
yellow, the soil needs to be made more acidic. One way to
maintain soil acidity is to dissolve one-half teaspoon of
magnesium sulfate (Epsom salts) in one quart of room-temperature
water. Add this solution every two to three months.
GROOMING Trimming will
stimulate new growth and additional blossoms. Prune in early
spring to prevent leggy branches and encourage new growth. Keep
all the dead branches trimmed off, and thin the plants to the
three strongest trunks. Repot every two to three years.
WHEN TO PICK The fruits do
not continue ripening after picking, so leave them on the trees
until you’re ready to use them.
SENSITIVITY Citrus, Fortunella and Citrofortunella
plants aren’t sensitive to ethylene gas once blooming is
finished, but during the bloom cycle, ethylene can cause bud
drop. Check with your supplier to make sure your plants have
been treated with an anti-ethylene agent at the grower level or
PESTS Insects including
aphids, thrips, scale, mealybugs and whiteflies can infest the
plants. Wash or spray pests off with a solution of insecticidal
FAMILY The Citrus,
Fortunella and Citrofortunella genera are members of the
Rutaceae family, which includes about 150 genera and 1,500
ORIGINS Native to Vietnam,
northwestern India and southern China, Citrus plants are
cultivated in subtropical and tropical areas throughout the
HISTORY Most researchers
place the origin of Citrus plants in Southeast Asia from at
least 4000 years B.C. They spread from Asia to North Africa and
then to Europe. The crops flourished in southern Europe in the
Middle Ages and were brought to America by the Spaniards
(Columbus took seeds of Citrus fruits with him on his second
trip) and the Portuguese in their explorations of the New World,
PROBLEMS AND CAUSES
FLOWERS FALL BEFORE FRUIT SETS
Dry roots or lack of humidity.
FLOWER FAILURE Poor light,
poor nutrition, erratic watering or too low temperatures.
LEAF YELLOWING Excessively
wet or dry roots, drafts, too low temperatures or poor
LEAF FALL Cold, drafts, high
winter temperatures or overwatering.
Some information provided by:
Royal Horticultural Society,
The Garden Helper,
Photos courtesy of The John Henry Company
You may reach “Blooming Plant of the Month” writer Steven W.
Brown, AIFD, at
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (415) 239-3140.
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