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Problem Solver: Size and Lifespan of Dwarf Citrus

Citrus trees planted in the ground can be productive for 50 years or more, and a citrus tree’s natural lifespan can exceed the century mark.  While citrus trees grown in the ground tend to have the longest life expectancy, those grown in pots can also grow nicely for a long time.  Some of the potted citrus trees established by Louis XIV at L’ Orangerie of Versailles continue to flourish hundreds of years later with good care.

For best results in containers, refresh the soil and move up to the next consecutive pot size as needed – This is usually every 12-16 months.

Size at maturity depends on the variety of citrus, whether it is propagated as a Dwarf or a Standard, and how much space is provided.  Our True Dwarf citrus are most easily kept small when grown in containers.  When planted in the ground they will tend to grow larger than their potted counterparts, and may more appropriately be called “Semi-Dwarf.”

Kumquats and mandarin varieties tend to be the slowest growing and produce the most diminutive specimens.  For example, a dwarf Nagami kumquat may reach a top size of 5 feet after many years of pot culture, while the same specimen eventually can reach about 8 feet tall in the ground.

Lemons, at the opposite end of the scale, tend to be the most vigorous and fast growing of citrus.  A dwarf Eureka lemon may reach 8-10 feet in a pot, while the same specimen planted in the ground could get to around 15 feet tall.

With judicious pruning, citrus trees will maintain good appearance and productive potential, whether in the ground or in pots.  Lemons generally require a bit more pruning than other varieties to keep them looking neat and attractive.