Citrus trees come in all shapes and sizes, grow well in our Mediterranean climate and provide rich rewards with their delicious fruit, highly scented flowers and glassy green leaves. They are easy to look after given the right location and a bit of care.
Citrus need sun to flower and fruit and their position needs to be chosen carefully. They have a surface feeder root system so they don’t like competition from other plants. Free draining soil improved with organic matter is the key to success. And, consistent regular watering is a must.
Many citrus come in Dwarf (up to 1.5m), Semi Dwarf (up to 2.5m) and Regular (4-5m) varieties. They will grow well in a pot and are the perfect choice for any garden, no matter how small. They are a must for any garden – the real difficulty is choosing from the huge variety available. Here are the most common types of citrus trees available. Browse our Citrus trees range to see all of the varieties available.
The increasingly popular Finger Lime comes in green, pink and red varieties. The fruit is packed with small caviar-like bubbles of juice that explode with flavour. It grows as a thorny large shrub or small tree to about 2 – 3m in Perth. Native to the sub-tropical rainforests of the Queensland – New South Wales border, the Finger Lime prefers a part-shade and warm position in a free draining soil with plenty of organic matter. It needs to be protected from frost. White flowers are followed by tangy cylindrical fruit with light coloured flesh and juice. As well as making a tasty edible garish, the fruit can be used to make jam, marmalade and chutney, while the juice can be used in drinks and salad dressings.
View: Finger Limes
Most people think of grapefruit as just a breakfast fruit and dismiss it. Grapefruit is a bit of an acquired taste due to its tangy, tart and sometimes bitter taste. The flavour does vary and some varieties can be quite sweet. It is a very versatile citrus option that makes a great addition to salads, salsas, dips and juices.
There are varieties available with pink, pale yellow and red flesh. They grow to different sizes, depending on the variety and the pithy flesh makes them more resistant to fruit fly. Consider options like the “Rio Red Semi Dwarf” that grows to 2m and is great in a pot. It is a seedless red fleshed variety with a red tinged peel. Or the “Marsh Seedless “ with good juice content and a sweet flavour.
Kumquats (or Cumquats) are often grown as a small ornamental tree. They have very green foliage that contrasts with the vivid orange of the round or oval fruit. The surprise comes when you pop one of the fruit in your mouth and bite into it. The thin rind is very sweet and the flesh is tart or acidic. It is a taste sensation.
The most popular varieties are “Kalamondin” (with small round fruit), and “Nagami” (with small oval fruit). Both are cold tolerant and produce their fruit in winter. It is a great way to add colour in the garden.
Nothing beats the intense flavour of a home-grown lemon. There are so many ways to use them – zest from the rind baked in cakes, juice added to drinks or salad dressings, slices grilled with chicken – everything is so yummy. The classic lemon that produces almost all year round in Perth is the thick skinned, very juicy Eureka. Dwarf, semi-dwarf or regular size it is the perfect addition to any garden. There is even the seedless variety – Eureka “Lemon Heaven” The slightly smaller, thinner-skinned and sweeter form is the “Myer” lemon. Or “Lemonade” is a very sweet variety.
Lime is a great versatile addition to the garden. Grown for its juice, rind and leaves, it is a popular ingredient in many styles of Asian cooking. The West Indian Lime is grown for its true lime flavour. The Tahitian Lime is a very good seedless variety that can be more cold tolerant. The fruit is harvested green. The Kaffir Lime is grown for its distinctive leaves that are used in cooking. The zest of the fruit can be used but the juice is usually too acidic.
Easy peeling, seedless sweet Mandarins are the pick of the citrus for tempting children to eat fruit. A great addition to any lunch box, they also make terrific after school snacks. There are many different varieties from which to choose. Having varieties that fruit at different times can give you delicious fruit for an extended period. “Nules” is a popular early season variety. It has excellent eating quality and juicy fruit with a long harvesting period. “Ellendale” has large late ripening fruit with good flavour. And “Emperor” has mid season large sized fruit with good flavour that are mostly seedless.
The new kid on the citrus block is the Native Lime. CSIRO selected and crossed Australian native limes to produce new citrus varieties with their own unique taste. These native citrus species offer unique textures, flavours and colours. They are all relatively acidic, like a lemon, and are excellent when used in sauces. They can also be used is preserves, condiments and beverages, or fresh as an attractive garnish. “Australian Red Centre” is a hybrid between an acid mandarin and a native finger lime. It has blood-red rind, flesh and juice. Availability can be seasonal so it is worth ordering if stock is not currently available.
View: Native Limes
Like lemons, oranges are a common citrus found in many Perth backyards. The fruit is delicious and versatile – great for juicing, eating, making marmalade, and using in cooking. Select a variety that will produce the type of fruit you want to eat or use. For example, “Valencia Seedless” is a late season large sized, very good juicing orange. “Washington Navel” is a very popular eating orange. Or the low acid “Cara Cara” commonly called a Blood Orange because of its pink flesh.
This is the largest citrus variety and can be confused with a grapefruit. It produces very large green to greenish yellow skinned fruit with yellow or pink flesh. They are sweet and juicy and can be used in juices or eaten like an orange.
This tasty fruit is a cross between a grapefruit and a tangerine. They are noted for their juiciness and mild, sweet flavor. Often overlooked because they are not as common as other citrus, they are a great addition to the garden.
Please note that this is intended as general information only. Please ask one of our qualified horticulturists for more specific advice for your situation.
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