Areas that receive no or only very light frosts and have warm to hot summers can grow a wide range of citrus. Juicy Valencia and sweet Washington Navel are two popular oranges for temperate areas, providing you with delicious oranges over many months.
Most mandarins, including Imperial and puffy-skinned Emperors, are suited to growing in mild areas. In cool temperate areas, satsuma mandarins (Citrus unshiu), such as Engall's Seedless, are the best choice. For lemon lovers, look for acidic Eureka lemons or the sweeter 'Lemonade' lemon. Both yellow and red fleshed varieties of grapefruit will also do well. A lime that will do well in temperate zones is a 'limequat', a tangy lime cumquat hybrid with fruit that can be eaten whole, as the rind is relatively sweet.
By creating or utilising 'microclimates' (spots that are protected from weather extremes) within your temperate garden, you can further extend the types of citrus you can grow. Look for areas that are protected from winds or frosts (including next to buildings), or create a sheltered area with attractive screening panels. In arid areas, ensure you mulch around the root zone of citrus to reduce moisture loss from the soil and a create a windbreak to shelter trees from hot and drying winds.
To give citrus trees a great start, mix Yates Dynamic Lifter Soil Improver & Plant Fertiliser into soil in the planting hole when planting a new citrus tree, and then water it in well. Regular watering of citrus trees is important as they have a shallow root system and can dry out quickly.
Citrus trees are hungry all the time, particularly in spring when they're flowering and producing fresh new foliage. Feed them every 1-2 weeks with Yates Thrive Citrus & Fruit Liquid Plant Food to promote healthy leaf growth and a great harvest.
Lucky sub-tropical gardeners have the pick of most types of citrus, so all the temperate and cool zone suited citrus can be grown in the sub-tropics. Additional choices include limes, such as flavour packed finger limes, which are native to rainforest areas in northern NSW and southern QLD, and do well in full or part sun. Kaffir limes, grown primarily for their lush green aromatic leaves and tantalising Tahitian limes also thrive in the sub-tropics.
West Indian limes, also known as Key Limes, have small fragrant fruit with a strong acidic flavour. Native to south east Asia, they're great for tropical climates and produce fruit from autumn to spring.
Another tropical citrus option is pomelo (also called pummelo). Related to grapefruit, there are several varieties of pomelo available, including Nam Roi, which produces very large sweet seedless fruit with a thick rind. Dwarf grafted Nam Roi is available, growing to a manageable 1-2 m tall.
Although citrus prefer warm climates, Meyer and Lisbon lemons are the pick for cool zones. Meyer lemons produce golden yellow, slightly rounded and juicy fruit that's less acidic than many other lemons. Lisbon lemons are large and reasonably cold hardy trees that produce heavy crops of thin skinned, highly acidic fruit in winter and spring.
Protect trees from frost, particularly while they're young. In very cold areas, position lemons next to a protected north facing wall or grow dwarf varieties in pots, which can be moved under cover (or even indoors in a brightly lit room) during winter.
If you're short on space, look for dwarf grafted varieties of citrus. They produce standard sized fruit on compact plants. They're perfect for smaller gardens and also growing in pots. A 40 cm diameter Yates Tuscan pot makes an ideal home for a dwarf citrus tree. Oranges, lemons and limes can also be espaliered, which is where the stems are trained to grow flat against a wall, along wire or timber supports. It's a great way to save space and cover a bare wall with lush green foliage, spring blossoms and colourful fruit.