All About Gardening and Gardening Q & A

by Pernell Gerver

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"Grow Your Own Citrus Indoors"

Wouldn't it be nice to grow your own oranges or lemons or limes? Well, you can! Although these types of citrus are grown outdoors in warmer climates like Florida and California, it's possible to grow your own citrus indoors here in colder climates. Click on a plant name to order it from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.

There are about 15 different species in the genus Citrus including lemons, limes, oranges, tangerines, and grapefruits. When grown outdoors, they form large shrubs or small trees, but when grown in containers indoors, they remain a manageable size around four to six feet tall. They are attractive house plants with dark-green, glossy leaves, abundant flowers, and colorful fruits.

Before the fruit appears, citrus bears creamy-white, star-shaped flowers that have a sweet fragrance that really perfumes the air. The flowers are borne singly or in clusters of up to five. The fragrant flowers alone are reason enough to grow this group of plants indoors because they bloom nearly all year long. The main bloom period is from spring to early summer, but most citrus will produce some flowers constantly. Lemons are almost constantly in bloom. The fruit follows the flowers and is green until it is fully developed, then it ripens to yellow, yellow orange, or orange, depending on species. Even when ripe, the fruit can remain on the branches for several months. It's not unusual to have both flowers and fruit on the plant at the same time.

Citrus grow best in bright light and average room temperature, although they can tolerate temperatures as low as 40 degrees. During summer, set the pot outdoors in a partially-shaded spot in the garden.

There are many different species of citrus that grow well indoors. Meyer lemon is an heirloom plant, having been popular with house plant enthusiasts for years and years. The fruits are quite flavorful, with a hint of sweetness, and appear on even young plants. The fruit is orange yellow when mature. Its fragrant flowers bloom nearly all year long and it grows to three feet high.

Ponderosa LemonPonderosa lemon is a unique house plant citrus that bears some of the largest lemons of all. The fruits are easily the size of a grapefruit and hang on the plant for months. One fruit can weigh up to five pounds! It's an everblooming house plant and its sweet-smelling, large, white flowers really perfume a room. Ponderosa lemon grows three to five feet high.

Key LimeKey lime bears the fruits that Key Lime Pie is made from. It's a small plant, growing just one to two feet tall. It bears clusters of fragrant, white flowers that bloom in late summer and autumn. The fruits develop in late autumn and through winter. It's one of the best citrus to grow in pots because of its small size.

Click here to view all citrus available.

Pernell Gerver's Gardening Q & Aby Pernell Gerver

"House Plant Azalea Provides Colorful Wintertime Bloom"

Q. I love to read your column. I received an azalea plant last spring. It was beautiful. I kept it inside all summer and it is nice and green. It also has new growth, but I wonder if it will bloom again. I water it about once a week and it seems to be doing fine. Can you give me some advice? Thank you.

A. Azalea is a very popular gift plant for the holidays and beyond. It bears clusters of single or double flowers in winter and provides a range of colors including red, white, pink, lavender, and bicolors. Its flowers last for two to four weeks, brightening up the winter months indoors. House plant azaleas grow from six inches to two feet tall. Often, azaleas are trained into standards with a thin, tall trunk topped with a head of foliage and flowers.

To encourage a house plant azalea to bloom again, first remove the dead flowers. New buds are formed during late summer. Place it outdoors for the summer and bring it back indoors before frost. Azalea likes the cool temperatures of autumn as well as a sunny, cool location in the home (try to grow it in the coolest-possible sunny window since its ideal temperature range is between 50 and 60 degrees). It does best with at least four hours of direct sunlight a day. It will also do well with four hours of bright, indirect sunlight. Keep the soil evenly moist and avoid letting the soil dry out severely. Azalea benefits from high humidity, so place the pot on a layer of moist pebbles in a tray or saucer. Fertilize with Electra Plant Food when the plant is actively growing during spring and summer. Alternate between Electra Plant Food and Electra Bloom Food every three weeks. Stop fertilizing once the plant has formed flower buds in late summer. Don't resume fertilizing until after the blooms have faded. To prolong wintertime bloom, keep it in a cool spot with bright, indirect light, and always keep the soil moist. If you ever need to do any trimming to keep the azalea bushy, the time to prune it is right after its flowers have gone by.

Click here to read more about Electra fertilizers and order them from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.

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