All about Citrus

Citrus trees are a common fruit tree for NZ gardeners and in most areas grow in open ground or in containers with protection during winter.  Citrus trees cross very easily which has created a large number of types over the years.
The genus Citrus appears to have originated in Southeast Asia with the following types:
Citrus aurantifolia  Key Lime, Omani Lime, from India
Citrus maxima  Pomelo, from the Malay Archipelago
Citrus medica  Citron, from India
Citrus reticulata  Mandarin orange, from China
Citrus trifoliata  Trifoliate Orange, from Korea and adjacent China
From these, and through breeding over time, we now have many types of citrus and the following are a few of the more common ones grown in NZ: Kumquats, Clementines (which have thinner skins than oranges), Lemons, Grapefruit,  Tangelo, Ugli Fruit, Meyer Lemon, (Most common NZ lemon), Satsuma, Tangerine and Kaffir Lime.
The following are some citrus available from Nurseries in NZ that are a bit different:
CITRUS Buddha’s Hand Citron – The fruit is named for its resemblance to a many-fingered hand, and is truly weird looking. A great talking point in the garden. The tree is medium-sized and highly aromatic and the fruit can be used for candied peel.
CITRUS Cipo Pineapple Orange, An attractive weeping tree that produces large fruit with a slight pineapple tang ready from July till November, after most other citrus have finished fruiting. Ideal for planting along a fence or retaining wall. Grafted variety
CITRUS Kaffir Lime, This is the lime whose leaves are used in Thai cooking. Wonderfully aromatic, they will give an authentic flavour to Asian meals, or use them in place of lemon peel in casseroles and stews. Grafted trees. These are grafted stock, so will be better able to withstand the NZ climate, but all the same they will need a warm environment.
CITRUS Kaipara Lemon, This heirloom variety [also known as Maori lemon] has juicy, knobbly lemons that can be eaten skin and all. They are cutting – grown plants and will bear fruit after 2 – 3 years.
CITRUS Moro Blood Orange-Very tasty, sweet and juicy. The fruit has a characteristic red blush on the outside and the inside. Matures Sept – Nov. Grafted onto dwarfing rootstock so the plant will only grow to about half the usual size, with all the fruit. Ideal for containers or open ground.
CITRUS Tahitian Lime – This is the Bears variety of Tahitian lime. It produces loads of tangy limes and is a reliable fruiter in our climate. Ideal for growing in a container or hothouse, but will do well outdoors as well. Matures April-Sept.
From the Incredible edible nursery we have a number of citrus that have been breed in New Zealand and are available by order from most garden centres.
Citrus Cipo Orange, Large orange fruit with a few seeds but very juicy and sweet.
Habit – This weeping standard, moderately vigorous with a few thorns has a densely compact habit. Ideal for container or the small garden. Size – 1.5m x 1.5m. Pollination – Self-fertile. Grafted trees start bearing 2-4 years after planting. Harvest – Long harvest from July to November.
Citrus KiwiCitrus Gold ™, Habit – Attractive evergreen shrub originally selected as a commercial variety. Bred in New Zealand for New Zealand conditions. Size – Growing to the size of 3 x 2 metres
Pollination – Self-fertile. Grafted trees start bearing 2-4 years after planting. Harvest – Harvested between September to October
Citrus KiwiCitrus Sunset ™ Medium sized easy peel Mandarin/Tangerine hybrid, with a distinctive orange skin, with darker orange stripes. Exceptional flavour which is both very sweet and very juicy. Low acidity. Habit – Attractive evergreen shrub originally selected as a commercial variety. Bred in New Zealand for New Zealand conditions. Size – Growing to the size of 3 x 2 metres
Pollination – Self-fertile. Grafted trees start bearing 2-4 years after planting.
Harvest – Harvest between September to October
Citrus KiwiCitrus Sweetie ™, Sweetie is a medium sized Mandarin/Tangerine hybrid with easy peel fruit which has an exceptional flavour which is both sweet and juicy.
Habit – Attractive evergreen shrub originally selected as a commercial variety. Bred in New Zealand for New Zealand conditions. Size – Growing to the size of 3 x 2 metres
Pollination – Self-fertile. Grafted trees start bearing 2-4 years after planting. Harvest – Harvested between June to August.
Citrus KiwiCitrus Zest ™, Zest is a medium sized Mandarin/Tangerine hybrid with an excellent flavour, which is rich and tangy but also juicy and sweet. Habit – Attractive evergreen shrub originally selected as a commercial variety. Bred in New Zealand for New Zealand conditions.
Size – Growing to the size of 3 x 2 metres, Pollination – Self-fertile. Grafted trees start bearing 2-4 years after planting. Harvest – Harvested between July to November, a long fruiting season.
Citrus Limequat, Heavy crops of small oval lemon coloured fruit, the flesh is juicy and acidic. Use as a lime substitute. Habit – Hybrid between west Indian lime and Kumquat. Attractive evergreen shrub. Cool climate lime. Size – Growing to the size of 3 x 2 metres. Pollination – Self-fertile. Grafted trees start bearing 2-4 years after planting. Harvest – Nearly ever-bearing.
Citrus Tahitian Lime, Small almost round pale greenish yellow fruit with yellow/green juicy pulp. Distinct lime aroma and flavour. Habit – Vigorous hardy tree with drooping branches. Medium sized leaves. Nearly thorn-free. Cross between Mexican lime and citron or lemon. Almost as cold tolerant as lemons. Size – 2 x 4 metres, Pollination – Faintly fragrant flowers are self-fertile. Pollinated by bees and insects. Harvest – May and June.
There are likely other types available in NZ so you have ample to choose from.
Citrus trees are available most of the year while nursery stocks last and can be planted at any time but best planted in the autumn or spring.  In open ground they must have excellent drainage and if the soil is not free draining the trees should be grown on a good size mound so much of their main root system will be above the surrounding wet soil. I have successfully grown citrus trees in 50 plus litre containers, partly buried in the soil and in an area prone to surface flooding in winter. I also grow them in 100 litre containers sitting on top of the soil. The larger the container the better and quicker the result.

One comment on “All about Citrus

  1. Ancient Anointer on said:

    Interesting article – but not so interesting that it needed to be there twice.

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