Growing Citrus Trees in a Hydroponic Garden

While hydroponic gardening is most often done with plants like tomatoes, lettuce and bell pepper, it is well known that the hydroponic growing technique can be applied to a large variety of plants with different degrees of success. One type of plant that is an all time grower favorite is the citrus tree. Plants such as orange, lemon and mandarin (called citric because of their high citric acid content) can be grown effectively in a hydroponic garden.
Before you start your quest for a hydroponic citrus tree, beware that this type of plant demands somewhat warm weather and high amounts of light. These plants are not very good at indoor growing unless some LED growing lamps are used to complement lightning (although high pressure sodium and halide lamps can also be used).

Once you decide to grow a citrus tree the first step is to either find a suitable candidate from a nursery or grow your own from seed. If you want to grow from seed, beware that it will take the plant 3 to 5 years in order to start bearing fruit. If this is unacceptable, find a plant at a local nursery that has the age you require. If you are growing from seeds, soak the seeds inside a napkin for 2 days and then remove the external seed coating. This guarantees effective germination once the seed is planted.

For the best results, I recommend using a 5 gallon container filled with rice husk, perlite or vermiculite fitted with adequate tubing at the bottom for nutrient solution evacuation. I recommend installing a drip irrigation system with at least 3 drip emitters per citrus tree you planted.

As for the nutrient solution, I recommend using a Hoagland solution, first at half strength and then at full strength as the plant starts to grow. Your hydroponic citrus tree will not probably grow as big as an actual citrus tree but will bear fruit of normal size and sometimes even in the same quantities. Since your tree is in a hydroponics system, it will (if the solution is taken care of) never have to face any iron or manganese defficiencies common to soil grown citrus trees. Sometime in the next month I will publish a detailed how to on the construction of the hydroponic system itself.

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12 Comments

  • hydorphonics1
    January 5, 2010 @ 5:25 pm

    Thanks for the great blog post. I can see your a good blogger! We will add this story to our blog via our IT guy at http://www.hydroponicswholesale.com/blog, as we have a audience in las vegas that will read your article.Thanks Jeff hydroponic gardens solutions.

  • eric
    May 27, 2011 @ 1:01 pm

    Can you grow bonzai tees hydroponically?

    • admin
      May 27, 2011 @ 11:43 pm

      yes

  • megan
    June 3, 2011 @ 12:49 pm

    I started an apple seed with a wet paper towle and a ziplock bag. it now has a 4 inch root and I have two leaves as well. what is the best way to transition my seedling into a hydroponic system? Note I dont have alot of supplies where I’m at. though I think I could get some mailed in. But I woun’t be able to get a pump. So I will have to use the raft method (I think). any ideas?

    • admin
      June 4, 2011 @ 12:25 am

      Hi Megan,

      An apple plant will die under the raft method (not enough oxygen for this plant specie). The best thing is to build a system with some media (rice husk, coir, vermiculite, etc (mixed with a bit of sand to increase retention)) and water manually twice a day. I hope this helps,

      Best Regards,

      Daniel

    • Fred Sullenberger
      October 10, 2015 @ 9:01 pm

      Hi Megan,

      I am sure Daniel is right, my experience wis with citrus and the container is a self watering design that is hand watered. The self watering feature is a major benefit. The most simple design I know of is a paint bucket filled with wood mulch. A little more than half way down drill 1/2 holes on 4 sides. Use RO water only. Use an organic liquid fertilizer any affordable available product will work, even non organic will work and is better than nothing on a budget. Use 1/4 recommended dosage and increase gradually by 1/4 in two week increments. Mix in the water 1/2 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar per 1 gallon of the nutrient mix. Only make enough nutrient water to last 1 week. Throw it away and make less next time. If warm weather, make smaller batches, cold weather larger less often. Store in closed container. You can refrigerate a large batch if you have room. Only use room temperature nutrient mix, let it sit out for a couple hours before using. Use glass container for nut mixing and storing. Be careful to not damage the roots during transplant. You can’t over or under water this easy system. I capture my nutrient overflow and use for a second watering but no more. You can fill the bottom with pea gravel if you have the budget. You can expand the reservoir by adding a second bucket filled with small river rock or gravel drill a hole in the bottom of the top bucket to connect the 2 buckets. Now with an expanded reservoir you can leave for a week or more depending on the plant size and growth rate, water consumption, it’s really not complicated. You will grow a hydroponic semi dwarf tree that yields full size fruits. Tree size being dictated by container size. I recommend a root bag sitting in the container. You can learn how to make compost tea from local soil and improve your microbial diversity in the grow media more complex and robust. Use apple cider vinegar to disinfect. If anything smells funny bail and clean with ACV, start over. You can use ACV as an preventative on the tree leaves, mix with pure water at 1 treespoon per gallon spray on both sides of leaves frequently. Use it to clean all container surfaces regularly. Use ACV even if you don’t like the smell, it’s a big deal. OK that is the condensed version, you’re on your way, Good Luck! -Freednix

  • Dan
    December 1, 2011 @ 7:44 pm

    I am very interested in constructing a lemon tree growth system. I live in a cool climate, I am prepared to make necessary arrangements.. I love the trees.. and think it would be very educational for me and my two girls.. Any tips you can provide would be appreciated, this is my first try at hydroponics..

  • Linda Birch
    June 18, 2016 @ 10:24 am

    I started a lemon tree from seed hydro, it’s almost a year old but recently started getting bizarre dead stripes across leaves. Have transferred it to soil gradually to try to save, think that might have been an error :/

  • November 11, 2016 @ 12:45 am

    Can you grow a almond tree hydroponically?

  • February 3, 2020 @ 1:26 pm

    Hi

    Can you grow a citrus tree using the kratsky method in a sunroom. There is about 9 hours of sunlight a day.

    thanks

    Leora

  • YeeterTweeter
    May 27, 2020 @ 12:45 am

    Hey,

    So I want to know if there is a beginner hydroponic garden I can make, or if I need to buy the pipe, and all that. I just want to try it for one time to see if I like it, but everything I’ve seen is telling me to buy those pipes. If someone could just take the time to explain to me, I would be extremely grateful.

    Thanks,

    YeeterTweeter
    Or, formerly know as,
    Olive

    • admin
      May 27, 2020 @ 8:16 am

      Thanks for your comment. It depends on what you want to grow. If you want to experiment with low cost / low tech hydroponics you can try growing small plants using the kratky method (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kratky_method) but if you want to grow larger plants you will need a more elaborate setup. For starters you can try simpler drain-to-waste setups and then move to more advanced recirculating setups once you are more comfortable with hydroponic growing. If you want more guidance feel free to book an hour of consultation with me using the link at the top of the page.

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