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Article: Citrus seeds = easy houseplants!: What fruit to expect of citrus seedlings

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dpmichael
Rethymno, Crete
Greece
(Zone 10b)

November 9, 2008
2:23 PM

Post #5769753

Your article gave us again a superb idea, often forgotten. I say this because although it is well known, lemon / orange etc seeds are almost always thrown away, and it costs nothing to let them grow in a pot - and in this case it helps to remember that citrus plants need acidic soil, and will not do well if you start adding lime or other alkaline fertilizers (natural or not).

One thing I would like to add, and I find it most interesting, is that the fruit these new plants will bear will not be at all like the fruit they came from; they all yield a bitter type of small orange, known as a "bitter orange" or "Seville orange". This is the experience in Greece, and I find it very curious that elsewhere gardeners (like the author) manage to grow sweet edible fruit out of them.

But even with bitter oranges, one should not get upset; this variety of citrus fruit has a couple of unique qualities: A) They have a very bright orange colour, extemely beautiful to see, and as they are not good to eat, they are very suitable as decorative trees out on the road. B) The skin is very aromatic, and will make the most wonderful jam or preserve; the bitterness and strong aroma combine with the sweetness of your sugar better than ordinary orange or tangerine - it takes some effort and skill, but it pays off very well. If you search through the recipes files I am sure you will find a few about orange jam, and you substitute one kind of citrus with another.

If anyone wants, and is patient enough to wait until early December (when bitter oranges are ripe here), I will photograph and make some jam and preserve and post the recipe.

Happy winter !!!!

Dimitri
DaleTheGardener
Tampa, FL
(Zone 10a)

November 9, 2008
3:59 PM

Post #5770067

Dimitri,

We have a large citrus industry here in Florida. We have many wild animals that eat the fruit and deposit seeds in the wild. I have found many wild trees, 100's and most revert to a sour type of fruit, but, every once in awhile you find a tree that has good sweet fruit. So far I have found several wild grapefruit, one wild orange (best orange I have eaten from a Fl tree) and lots of wild kumquat (sour flesh, sweet rind that are usually eaten whole).

I have found 3 citrus trees that will come back exactly the same as the parents - Key Lime, a non-hybrid Mandarin Orange (also known as Tangerine) and Kumquat.

I have promised myself that I am going to go and collect fruit/seeds from the Tangerine this winter.

Here are some citrus trees on a private estate>

Thumbnail by DaleTheGardener
Click the image for an enlarged view.

sallyg

sallyg
Anne Arundel,, MD
(Zone 7b)

November 10, 2008
1:34 AM

Post #5772029

I thank you both for adding good information beyond the article.
The sources I read told me not to expect good fruit from citrus seed in general although it is possible, as Dale has found. I guess I'll really hang on to my Honey tangerine seedlings to see if I have luck there, that being what they were labeled in the store--I'm not sure what it really is and whether it's likely to fruit nicely.
Thanks for reading!
dpmichael
Rethymno, Crete
Greece
(Zone 10b)

November 10, 2008
12:03 PM

Post #5773161

Sally,

thank you for your article; it gave ideas for nice free impressive presents. With aromatic leaves, citrus seedlings they are always welcome. The leaves can be used to serve traditional sweets on them (as in Andros, an Aegean island famous for its lemons), or added in the final hot water rinse to make the clothes smell nice.

Dale, you amazed me with your findings. If you come across any unusual wild fruit I would very much appreciate a few seeds, please.

Best wishes

Dimitri
macktyner
Gainesville, FL

November 10, 2008
1:17 PM

Post #5773332

It is wonderful to see so many people experimenting with citrus seedlings. They were once the foundation of the entire citrus industry in Florida, but were supplanted by grafted trees because of the quicker return on investment. Seedlings require about 8 years to first fruit- with no income to the grove owner. I teach a class in citrus at the local community college and have grown citrus from seed and grafted them since 1982. There is a lot of mis-information out there... Most seedlings will breed true. I have several generations of Key Limes in pots now, and all of them have bred true. They make a nice small tree, about 6 or 8 foot tall, and I grow them in half barrell size pots and drag them into the garage on nights when it drops below 30, as even in North Florida our temperatures down to 15 F will kill them back to the ground. They will come back from the roots but then you must wait a year for the tree to grow back before you get more fruit. Satsumas and other tangerines also come true from seed, but make a larger tree that is difficult to get fruit from if grown in containers. I have some in pots with fruit, but here I can plant them in the ground and they do so much better that way. They do have more thorns (which I pop off with my fingers when young and soft) and there is always the exciting possibility that you will get a new hybrid that will have superior aspects and you can share it with the rest of the world. I have found that tangerine seedlings tend to have slightly more flavor than their parents, but they are not "sour" as several writers suggest. Sour orange seedlings tend to come from sour orange trees, which grow wild in the woods around here. That said, oranges have more tendency towards variation as seedlings. Unless you are willing to tolerate variation I would suggest you graft your oranges. I have good luck with grafting onto Trifoliate rootstock, which also grows wild in the woods and is easy to sprout. Each golf ball sized fruit has 50 or more seeds. If you are ever coming thru Florida on I75 , I live about 6 miles off the interstate in Gainesville and would be glad to give a tour of my hobby grove and show you how to graft citrus and start them from seed.
ram1aq
Reseda, CA

November 10, 2008
4:43 PM

Post #5774058

I grew twelve honey mandarin oranges from seed and although they don't taste exactly like the parents, they have more taste than the fruit that bore their seed. The trees bear enough to supply everyone I know and now I have a Marsh grapefruit tree from seed that is seven feet tall and three years old. Next, I will try my kumquat trees' seeds.
dpmichael
Rethymno, Crete
Greece
(Zone 10b)

November 10, 2008
6:58 PM

Post #5774524

Mack and Ram, many thanks for your comments; I am surprised, and wonder how it has come to reality, that everyone here in Crete believes and practices, that planting any citrus seed here yields bitter oranges !!!! We have come to believe that the bitter orange is the "wild" variety of citrus, but we are no academics in botany and have no scientific knowledge on the matter. All particular citrus trees sold here are grafted on the "wild" rootstock derived from seedling.

I would be grateful for any seeds from Florida, wild or not.

Dimitri
DaleTheGardener
Tampa, FL
(Zone 10a)

November 10, 2008
9:16 PM

Post #5774989

Dimitri,

Next month (Dec) is when the fruit is ripe. Right now I have Key Lime seeds, but, next month many more kinds. I will keep you in my mind.

My hobby house>

Thumbnail by DaleTheGardener
Click the image for an enlarged view.

dpmichael
Rethymno, Crete
Greece
(Zone 10b)

November 11, 2008
5:01 PM

Post #5778264

Thank you, Dale !!!

I appreciate the understatement "my hobby house" ---> this is more than a good professional shop needs ...

Please do not forget me, especially about key lime seeds ... And what shall I prepare in return for the favor ? Urginea maritima ? they just ripen now ... and as they are only afraid of frost, I think in Florida they will thrive..

Dimitri
DaleTheGardener
Tampa, FL
(Zone 10a)

November 26, 2008
10:51 PM

Post #5834027

Finally, I am back.

Here is the fruit of the wild lemon. I tried to get a photo of the tree, but, it was too sunny and the photo is washed out - next week I will try again. It is bumpy, seedy and full of flavor.

Dimitri, seeds are not quite ready for shipping. I was going to send you Key Lime, lemon, Mandarin Orange & wild graprefruit. I have two of the four, another month (or less).

Thumbnail by DaleTheGardener
Click the image for an enlarged view.

dpmichael
Rethymno, Crete
Greece
(Zone 10b)

November 29, 2008
10:02 PM

Post #5841929

thank you very much, Dale, I am grateful. As for the pic, it looks very much like the lemons we have here - I am curious to find out if they will have a different aroma.

Best wishes

Dimitri

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