Intro: Dwarf citrus trees grow well in indoor gardens or in outdoor container gardens if kept warm enough, but they need a lot of sun. If you don’t get at least 8 hours of full sun a day, don’t spend money on these expensive trees. If you can care for these plants in your balcony garden, they should produce fruit twice a year once they have reached 2 to 3 years old.
Scientific Name: Citrus sinensis
Plant Type: Citrus fruit tree
Light: Full sun, at least 8 hours a day
Fertilizer: You will need to fertilize your dwarf orange tree often with a fertilizer made for citrus trees. It will have much more nitrogen (often three times as much) than phosphorous or potassium. Fertilize according to the manufacturer's instructions. Usually you will fertilize your dwarf orange tree once or twice a month during its active growing season and less often during the winter.
Temperature: The dwarf orange tree can be kept outdoors all year in warmer climates (Hardiness Zones 8 to 10). In colder climates, plus during cold snaps and if there is a danger of frost, potted dwarf orange trees should be brought indoors or insulated with a blanket, burlap or large sheet of plastic. They do best in warm temperatures, such as 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pests and Diseases: The sweet-smelling flowers and fruit will attract many insects, including bees (bees are beneficial insects in the garden, but just be aware that they're there!). Insect pests include aphids, spider mites, scale and many others. Watch your citrus tree for any abnormal growths or colors on the bark and leaves, and if it drops its fruit, it may have a disease. If this occurs, look online or in a gardening book for possible diseases that your dwarf citrus tree may have and how you can treat it.
Propagation: Purchase these at the store if you'd like to see fruit anytime soon, as growing trees from seed takes a long time.
Misc. Info: There are many varieties of orange trees that gardeners can keep, and the “dwarf” orange tree variety isn’t really a dwarf. It needs to be pruned (pruning keeps it at about 3 feet in height) so it can stay small enough for a plant container. If pruning is neglected, the dwarf orange tree can grow to 10 feet in the garden. In the first year, pinch this plant's flowers so it doesn’t produce fruit. It should use all of its energy growing its trunk and branches. The plant container can be short because the dwarf orange tree has shallow roots, but it must be wide in order for it to grow properly in your balcony garden. Repot the dwarf orange tree into a larger plant container every two years or so so it doesn't become root-bound.