Lately, the topic of growing hydroponic trees has been popular among avid hydroponic growers. I have written about how to grow hydroponic apples before in a post that you can read. The question is, can we make it and grow a hydroponic orange tree?
So, is it possible to grow a hydroponic citrus tree? Yes, growing an orange or lemon tree using a hydroponic system can be achieved. Generally, trees are not as easy to grow as leafy greens, but still, many growers have seen optimistic results growing hydroponic oranges.
In fact, there are hydroponic orange and lemon trees that have been out there for decades, a long time even before the internet was a thing. We have to admit it; growing hydroponic trees is way more fun compared to other mediocre hydroponic crops like lettuce. It has been a dream of nearly every hydroponic enthusiast out there.
So, if you want to follow the dream of growing your hydroponic lemon or orange tree at home, this post is for you. In this post, I will discuss the steps taken to grow a hydroponic citrus tree and how to choose the right species when you are just starting.
Citrus Trees Basics
Growing hydroponic citrus in your house could be the best thing that you have ever done in your hydroponic career. Apart from producing delicious crops like oranges and lemons, its leaves produce a fresh scent that is super wonderful. This fragrance will literally spread through your entire house in no time.
For you to grow it correctly, there are some conditions that you must maintain to keep your hydroponic citrus as healthy as possible.
First, you have to choose the hydroponic system that best suits your tree. There is no better system than the deep water culture system (DWC). It will be the perfect one to accommodate all of the roots that the citrus tree will produce to grow.
But you have to pay attention to a crucial aspect, and this is the nutrient solution level. Citrus trees tend to have a very sensitive root system. The high level of nutrient solution tends to decrease the amount of oxygen available to roots, which will lead to the plant roots drowning.
Therefore, the nutrient solution level of your deep water culture system must be maintained low enough to prevent root rot from reaching the plant. If you are feeling a little bit lost, read this detailed post that I have written about how to set up the water level of your system properly.
The nutrient solution should have a standard PH of 6. Moreover, If you are living in an area with cold temperatures, you will need to invest in a heater. Citrus trees need a nutrient solution with a constant temperature of around 25°C.
A simple aquarium heater can do the trick, so there is no need to worry about exceeding your budget.
Another thing that citrus trees like the most are light. They are typically grown in solar farms in warm weather. You will need to compensate sunlight with growing LED lights that have high wattage.
I don’t want you to worry about the increase in the electricity bill because I did a cost breakdown in this post, and apparently, it wasn’t that expensive.
Citrus Species That Can Be Grown Hydroponically
Choosing the right species from the beginning is the most crucial thing the grower must do. Every species has its unique characteristics. Some species can tolerate extreme weathers; some can have smaller sizes and others can fill up an entire room within a few years.
Here are the orange and lemon species that are the most compatible with an indoor hydroponic system.
It is one of the popular varieties out there. One of its most significant advantages is its small size, even when dwarfed. It reaches 8 feet long after a few years of growth.
This plant’s advantage is being a self-pollinating variety. You will not need to grow a second tree to get pollen grains. Moreover, you will give little to no assist in its pollination process.
The dream navel is the most popular orange species. You will typically found almost all grocery stores selling it. I thought it would be cool to screw getting them from stores and growing them myself instead.
I recommend this species to every hydroponic newbie out there. The Lisbon lemon tree can withstand extremely high and low temperatures. After it gives the first harvest, it will produce lemons non-stop. If you grew it successfully, I could guarantee that your kitchen will never be out of lemons all year round.
It is the smallest lemon tree among all other species. The Meyer Lemon tree is portable and requires so little space which makes it easy to fit inside your house. Moreover, due to its small size, it will not use much water which means less frequent top-ups and flushings.
How To Grow Hydroponic orange and Lemon Trees?
You have to forget about starting growing any tree from the seed stage. This is due to the simple fact, trees take a very long time to mature and produce crops. We can get away with saving around 4 years with a simple trick which is grafting.
The grafting technique is made by simply cutting a section from an orange tree with the desired species, and stick it to an already grown rootstock. By doing this, we are skipping the early period where the tree is still growing with no crop production.
After the grafting technique is done, you can expect to get your first harvest in about 2 years. This is a huge decrease from the average of 6-8 years that growing a tree from the seed stage could take.
I discussed how to do grafting the right way in a post about growing hydroponic apple trees, check it out. Who knows, you might change your mind from growing citrus to growing an apple tree after reading this post.