Sunday, May 29, 2011

citrus twist: raising foolishness to fruition

this year i’m growing three dwarf citrus trees, ordered from one of those gimmicky, back-of-magazine-style novelty ads, like, “magic hair balm: watch your hair grow three feet in a month! just $5.95”--only this ad features small trees loaded with an implausible amount of flawless fruit, nestled in dense, perfect, dark green foliage.

my mom, undoubtedly in the midst of that same january desperation for green growing things that drives early seed catalogue sales, was sold on the fantasy. since she prefers if i grow her plants for her she shelled out $9.95 plus shipping to buy me a dwarf trio: venous orange, meyer lemon and key lime.

predictably, they showed up at the tail end of winter looking like twigs with a few tattered leaves glued onto them. their soggy, dead-looking roots were crammed into 2x3” black plastic pots, with errant spindlies popping out here and there. i looked at them with skepticism, but i potted them with optimism!

the weather was terrible for the first few months and i couldn’t put them outside, so they did nothing. the last month or so, though, i’ve been able to leave them outdoors a bit, and now they’re taking off. all three are making new growth, sprouting more leaves, and the venous orange has over a dozen pink buds on it, two of which are about to open. they’re supposed to smell sweet and wonderful--i can’t wait.

i thought citrus trees were tropical, but i read somewhere that many of them are native to the mediterranean region. boise's summer climate is similar to the mediterranean, and i ended up ordering a few other mediterranean-style dwarf trees to grow in containers, like this fig:

it’s an italian honey fig, a zone away from being hardy here but i read up on how to keep it protected over winter so it (hopefully) won’t die.

and an olive:

this one still looks sad and twiggish, just like the citruses did at first, but i’m hoping it will take off eventually. i had the perfect pot for it.

i also got some nanking bush cherries, which showed up as bareroot stems without even a single leaf, but they’re getting green and leafy now. it’s all experimental, i’m not deluding myself into truly believing any of these cheap mailorder twigs will yield, but i can’t help imagining how cool it would be to grow my own meyer lemon.


GoneferalinID said...

Wonderful post.I really want to get Kyle the lemon plant.

Bumble Lush (A Garden Blog) said...

Emily that's fantastic that you're growing citrus! I once had a dwarf meyer lemon tree which did not make it through the winter (yet another garden fail). Keep us posted on their progress. I hope you have better success with your citrus than I did!

Potted Farm said...

Growing fruit is so much fun. Can't wait to see how the fig goes. That's on my list.

Kim and Victoria said...

Yes, that would be cool, to grow your own lemons. A friend of mine started a lemon plant from a lemon seed and it's now about 3-4 feet tall. She hasn't had any lemons but it's an attractive plant.
We sent money to the arbor day people once and now have a gorgeous Redbud tree to show for it from the sticks they sent back to us.

Emily said...

goneferal--thank you! yeah you should go for it, i'm a little more confident recommending them now that they're actually growing.

bumble lush--i'm a little worried about what i'll do with them in winter...i hope it works too.

potted farm--figs are pretty neat. i love the shape of their leaves.

victoria--that's so cool about your friend's plant. i saved seeds from an orange someone brought back for me from their parents' orchard in california and i was thinking about trying to sprout it, but i've read that citrus are often hybrids that won't produce the same fruit (or even any fruit at all).