Citrus is an amazing group of plants that produce an abundance of fruit per tree each year.
In Kenya, we have a limited number of this group of trees.
The reason for these is our climate and soils.
Nevertheless, there are still some wonderful fruits worth growing in Kenya.
For example in Kenya we grow
- and Lime.
Other countries that have a good environment have a wide variety of citrus plants.
Most citrus is relatively simple to grow.
They need consistently warm, sunny climates to thrive.
They do best if grown in full sun but can tolerate some light shade.
They tolerate many types of soil, but, like most fruit here, well-drained soil is essential to avoid root rot issues.
Citrus includes many wonderful fruits such as lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits and mandarins.
The majority of citrus is self-fertile, which means only one tree is needed for pollination to occur and produce fruit.
Citrus generally blooms in the spring but can bloom at just about any time of the year depending on the weather conditions.
The fruit, however, take a while to form and ripen on the tree, with citrus like grapefruit taking up to 18 months to ripen.
Grafting Citrus helps improve its cold hardiness and disease resistance.
Propagation of Citrus
When planting citrus, keep in mind that these trees are usually propagated vegetatively and not grown from seed.
The main reason for this is that citrus goes through a period of juvenility in which the tree does not flower or fruit.
That is the reason that if you try and grow an orange or a lemon from seed, it may produce a plant but will take between five and 10 years to produce fruit.
Citrus is generally grafted onto a compatible rootstock to help improve its disease resistance as well as its cold hardiness.
So, when purchasing citrus trees for the home garden, be sure to buy from reputable producers.
With most citrus the most important part to protect on the tree is the graft union, the part where the desired tree, or scion, is connected to the rootstock.
If the plant dies back to the graft union, then only the rootstock will regrow, leaving you with an undesirable citrus species such as a trifoliate orange or sour orange.
There are varying degrees of cold hardiness for each type so be sure to check and see the cold hardiness for any citrus being planted.
While citrus fruit truly is a wonderful world of fruit to explore, there are a few things to mention of which everyone should be aware.
One of the more serious concerns with citrus is the disease citrus greening.
This a bacterium that is spread through the citrus psyllid insect.
This insect and disease were identified in various areas in Kenya. so be cautious when purchasing citrus.
There is a lot to go into when it comes to citrus, and I hope to go into this magnificent group of fruit trees more in the future.