If you thought we couldn’t grow citrus in north Texas, think again: modern hybrids have brought cold tolerance to a new level, and although we still wouldn’t recommend leaving them out in the worst of our winters, container-grown citrus is a garden must-have. Nothing beats the unique bouquet, acidic zing and tangy tartness of home-grown lemons, but if you’re not trying these other fantastic options, read on to see what you’re missing.
Love the candy-like appeal of mandarin oranges when they arrive in stores in the fall? You’ll love your own home-grown Satsumas from the ‘Orange Frost™’ and ‘Arctic Frost™’ hybrid series. Ying Doon Moy, a retired plant breeder from the San Antonio Botanical Garden, introduced ‘Orange Frost’ in 2005 from a Changsha tangerine seed crossed with an unnamed mandarin seedling. Both offer glossy green foliage, fragrant white flowers in spring, and sweet, easy-to-peel fruit that has few seeds, making them ultra easy and fun to eat.
While these are tolerant of temperatures even lower than the standard 27 degrees F., they’ll be happiest if you bring them indoors or provide a thorough covering of protection from extended hard freezes. They make attractive small trees to about 12′ in the ground, about 6′ in an appropriately-sized container, and they prefer rich, well-drained soil and full sun.
Persian lime, Citrus x latifolia, thought to be a cousin of the fragrant key lime. It produces a larger, more acidic fruit that’s perfect for cooking and cocktails, and is well-behaved in a container, reaching about 6 feet. It will definitely appreciate winter protection, and will do best if brought completely indoors during the harshest cold spells.
‘Improved Meyer’ lemons, which are ultra-popular with home citrus growers and those who like to bake, are one that we attempt to keep in stock as often as they are available. Their mild, floral-laced bouquet and reduced acidity make them ideal for creating fragrant lemon desserts, and the trees are lovely and easy to grow, too.
New to growing citrus? Stop in and speak with a Garden Advisor for tips–but get here soon, the favorites sell out quickly!