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There is nothing more magical to me than the scent of citrus blossoms in winter. Although it can seem daunting to grow citrus trees indoors, the rewards are well worth the effort for the fragrant foliage and fruit. So when seasonal temperatures consistently dip below 50degF, I bring my potted citrus from the patio into my New York City apartment. They thrived in a sunny, south-facing room for six to seven months. I have had hiccups like root rot from overwatering and scale, but these were lessons that helped me know what to watch out for and keep them happy. Here is my tried-and-true advice on how to live with frost-tender plants.


Watering Indoor Citrus Trees

Overwatering is number 1. Citrus is the number one killer. The soil must dry between deep watering’s. A moisture meter (you can buy online from any store) should be fully inserted into the soil. When your plant needs more hydration, drench its soil until water runs from the pot’s drainage hole. To prevent root rot and soggy bottoms, use a turkey baster.


Root rot is a fatal result of overwatering. It can lead to dying twigs and leaves dropping. You can gently lift the tree from the pot by placing it on its side. Roots that are not able to be pulled out with your hands will indicate that they have rotted. Allow the soil to dry before watering again. New growth should appear within a few months if the surgery was successful. If your surgery went well, new growth would appear in a few months.

Best Pots for Indoor Citrus Trees

For growing citrus, it is recommended to use a medium-sized pot (avoid self-watering containers for the same reason). You can only report your tree in a nursery container that is two inches larger than the original. There must be a drainage hole in the pot or container. To help water drain better, I use a 1:1 mixture of orchid bark.

Lighting and Fertilizer needs

Place your citrus tree in the sunniest spot possible. Ideal locations are east-, west- and south-facing windows. If there is a lack of sunlight, then you can also use alternative light such as grow lights. These trees don’t need constant sunlight and require rest.


A sick tree can lead to more problems. To the letter, follow the instructions regarding the pot size.

Keep an eye on the Climate.

Avoid exposing your plant to hot or cold. Don’t place your container outside the door. Citrus trees thrive outside in warm weather.

The Best Citrus Types for Indoor Growing

My favorite citrus varieties to grow indoors are Thai lime, finger lime, and Meyer lemon. They range from the easiest to the most temperamental. Thai lime thrives in indirect, bright light. The flesh of finger lime fruits is filled with round vesicles known as citrus caviar. The tiny, fuss-free, and easy-to-graft trees can be grown on dwarf rootstock. Meyer lemons require lots of light and are sensitive to excessive watering. But those flowers! The thin-skinned fruits are my favorite to preserve in salt.

We hope that these tips will help you in growing indoor citrus. 

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