Growing citrus inside – 5 mistakes to avoid for healthy, zesty produce

These are the most common problems when growing citrus inside – so you can enjoy fresh fruit without a problem

lemon trees in conservatory
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Growing citrus inside is one of the most therapeutic and aesthetically pleasing jobs you can undertake – particularly in summer when the hues of your homegrown lemons and oranges bring a sense of Mediterranean escapism to your scheme. 

In all their glorious tones and tasty produce, it's easy to see why these trees are amongst the best indoor plants of the summer. And while the growing process isn't always as simple as it seems, it doesn't need to be hard – especially if you're aware of the most common mistakes to avoid. 

Top 5 mistakes when growing citrus inside 

Citrus trees need the same love and attention as your other air-cleaning indoor plants, including sunlight and the right amount of water. However, there are other remains that are slightly more unconventional. Here are common mistakes to avoid when growing citrus inside at any time of the year.  

lemon trees in conservatory

(Image credit: Getty Images)

1. Not enough sunlight 

Sunlight is the basis of every garden idea and activity, whether you're growing trees indoors or beyond your four walls. And the citrus tree is certainly no exception. While giving your tree sunlight may seem obvious, the experts urge you to ensure your citrus tree has enough to stay healthy –and in some cases, this could involve investing in growing lights. 

'Citrus trees need a lot of light to produce fruit. Ideally, they should be getting about eight hours of direct sunlight per day. If this isn't possible or if you live in a cold climate, you may need grow lights [such as this from Amazon] to supplement natural sunlight,' says Rodger St. Hilaire, the Founder of Gardening Boost

Expert Lindsey Hyland from Urban Organic Yield adds that you should position your citrus tree near a sunny window to ensure it receives as much light as possible during the daytime.  

2. Overwatering

'Overwatering is one of the most common mistakes people make when growing citrus inside,' Rodger says. 

If you water your tree too frequently, it can lead to root rot and fungal problems that impact your fruit's health. 'Citrus trees like their roots to be moist but not soggy. Allow the top inch or two of soil to dry out before watering again,' he adds. 

Read more about how to water citrus trees to make sure you avoid overwatering.

lemon tree and chair in conservatory

(Image credit: Future/Brent Darby)

3. Under-fertilizing 

It can be easy to forget the importance of fertilizer when growing citrus inside; however, this is one of the biggest mistakes you can make, Rodger suggests. 

'Citrus trees need nutrient-rich soil to produce fruit, so make sure you're using a fertilizer designed for citrus trees,' the expert says. He recommends applying fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the growing season. 

4. Forgetting about the right potting mix

'Citrus trees cannot tolerate soggy soil, so it's important to use a well-draining potting mix,' the gardener suggests. He also urges you to check your pot has enough drainage holes to allow excess water to escape – to prevent the effects of overwatering.  

Orange tree

(Image credit: GettyImages)

5. Not pruning 

Knowing how to prune a lemon tree (or an orange tree) is one of the most important factors in keeping your citrus healthy. Rodger explains that citrus trees need to be pruned regularly to produce healthy fruit and prevent overcrowding – suggesting you prune your tree in early spring before new growth begins. However, if you've missed that time frame, you should still start right away. 

'If you want to enjoy juicy citrus fruits from the comfort of your own home, avoid making these common mistakes. You can grow healthy and productive citrus trees indoors with little care and attention,' he adds. 

We're planning our favorite orange and lemon-based recipes as we speak.

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.