Add a Little Juice to Your Life—with a Citrus Tree Giveaway!

Happy Holidays, my friends! How’s the shopping and decorating progressing? All done? Barely started? Are you already baking cookies? Here at Garden Delights, I’m behind on everything. (Well, except decorating. We knocked that out Thanksgiving weekend.) Remember last year, when I was crafting all kinds of nifty things, like a succulent Christmas tree or a horse wreath for my equestrian girl? Not this year. This year, I’ve been battling the CREEPING CRUD.

Seriously, it’s one of those seasons that I can’t shake the bug—even after two rounds of antibiotics. (Maybe I have the SUPER BUG. Leave it to me to be a super achiever in something like antibiotic resistant bacteria. Can I politely decline that special gift, please?)

Last week, when I felt that tingle in my throat for the third time in two months, I ran to Publix and bought the biggest bag of oranges I could find. I figured that I’d overdose on Vitamin C and feel fine in a day or two.

It seemed like a good idea. I hunkered down with my blanket and book, ready to read and eat a dozen oranges.

I took one bite—and couldn’t finish it. Florida’s Finest failed. The orange looked lovely, but where was the flavor? I know taste can change when I’m sick, but there wasn’t even a hint of flavor lurking in that pulp.

Then I remembered:

I grow citrus!

I headed to the greenhouse to check out our seven citrus trees.

Orange in greenhouse

So close, but not quite ready.

Orange blossom

However, the fragrance in the greenhouse immediately boosted my mood. I wish “scratch-n-sniff” screens existed, because the scent of these orange blossoms would make you happy.

The only reason I don’t keep our citrus trees inside the house to enjoy the fragrance is due to our lack of light. We live in the middle of a forest, and citrus trees require decent light to bloom and produce fruit. However, a sunroom or large bay window normally provides ample light (if you're not surrounded by hundreds of trees).

Orange on tree

This is the first year there’s fruit on my trees, and I’m like a little kid at Christmas. Unfortunately, I didn’t buy my citrus trees from Brighter Blooms Nursery—lesson learned. My trees from California were tiny when they arrived, and I’ve pampered them for a couple years. My friends at Brighter Blooms Nursery sell lovely, lush, large citrus trees grafted onto dwarf rootstock so that you can grow citrus no matter where you live.

Brighter Blooms citrus

Photo courtesy of Brighter Blooms Nursery.

Growing citrus isn’t difficult, particularly if you grow dwarf trees in containers (which you’ll want to do if you live above zone 8). Dwarf citrus trees provide a couple benefits. They’re portable, allowing you to plant the trees in containers, place them on the patio, and then bring them inside to enjoy and protect them when frost threatens. Dwarf trees are also easier to maintain, allowing you to hand pick pests or use organic controls easily. Smaller trees also mean an easier time harvesting.

Select a large container with a drainage hole. You want to make sure your trees’ roots don’t stand in water, which can cause root rot. (Place a drainage tray under the container, both to protect your deck or patio when the tree is outside and your floors once you move it inside for the winter.) The potting medium is important—select one specially developed for citrus. Most bagged potting mixes are heavy and contain too much peat for citrus trees. You want to ensure your soil drains well. If you purchase a bagged product, select one with perlite or vermiculite. Then, mix cedar or redwood shavings into the soil to help lighten it. (Do not use pine or spruce.)

Fill the container about one-third with the potting mix. Loosen the citrus tree from its nursery pot—or unwrap bareroot trees—and place the tree in the center of the container, with the root ball’s soil line about one inch below the top of the container. Loosen the roots if necessary. Fill with container with the potting mix, firming the tree in place. Do not cover the graft site—keep it above the soil line. Water well. Wait until you see some new growth before you begin to fertilize, and then do not over fertilize. Choose a fertilizer for citrus and fruit trees, which will provide the correct NPK combination to produce blooms and fruit. Too much nitrogen will result in beautiful foliage and nothing yummy to eat.

Citrus trees require full sun to produce blooms and set fruit, so select an area where the plant will receive 8 hours of sun. The dwarf citrus sold by Brighter Blooms Nursery is self-fertile, meaning that you only need one tree to produce fruit—you don’t need a plant to cross-pollinate, like apple trees require. Prune any growth below the graft line.

Keep the tree well watered, making sure the soil is moist but not soggy. Check the container prior to watering, but on average set a schedule for weekly watering. Fertilize with an organic product for citrus trees one a month.

Eureka Lemon
Photo courtesy of Brighter Blooms Nursery.

Growing citrus is an exercise in patience, which we all know is not my forté. Lemons and limes typically take 6-9 months before they’re ready to harvest, and oranges may take a year from bloom to edible fruit.

Still, even for an impatient gardener like me, growing citrus is a pleasure. The scent of the blooms during the dull days of winter is reason alone to grow a citrus tree. And soon, I’m hoping that nurturing the fruit will help provide the vitamin C I (obviously) need.

Meyer Lemon
Photo courtesy of Brighter Blooms Nursery.

Now, you can grow citrus, too! My lovely friends at Brighter Blooms Nursery agreed to let me give one of you lucky gardeners your choice of citrus tree! All you need to do for a chance to win is to visit the Brighter Blooms Nursery website, then leave a comment below, telling me which citrus tree you’d choose. Please also let me know which state you’re from, because there are a few shipping restrictions for citrus trees. (We’ll give you an alternate prize if we can’t ship citrus to your state.) Please include your email so I can contact you if you're the winner.

For a few extra entries, please head over to Brighter Blooms Nursery Facebook page and give them a “like.” Also, if you follow Garden Delights on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, you’ll receive extra entries.

And…because while you’re shopping for others during the holidays, you should treat yourself to something special, too. Brighter Blooms Nursery is giving everyone a 10% discount on orders! Just enter code DECEMBERCITRUS at checkout. Offer is valid through December 31, 2015.

Make sure to enter the giveaway by Wednesday, December 23, 2015 at midnight! I’ll notify the winner December 24.

I’m off to the greenhouse for a little citrus aromatherapy…and to figure out something creative to do with the enormous bag of tasteless oranges in my refrigerator.

Wishing you all a lovely holiday season!



Disclaimer: Brighter Blooms Nursery graciously provided the citrus tree for the giveaway. Contest will end at midnight, December 23, 2015. Winner will be randomly selected from entries received and will be notified December 24, 2015.