If you love oranges, lemons and grapefruit, odds are you’ll also adore pummelos, tangelos, tangors, kumquats and other exotic citrus fruits. There are also ornamental citrus trees, such as sour orange and sour acid mandarin, that you can grow just due to their glossy leaves and fragrant blooms. With many dwarf varieties of exotic citrus available, you may even grow the trees in containers and move them inside if it gets too cold.
Exotic citrus trees, like more typical varieties, grow well in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8a through 11, though some varieties grow only in more limited areas, like “Temple” tangor. All citrus types need protection from heavy or prolonged frosts, along with full sunlight or bright light, well-draining and heavily mulched soil, and normal water so that the soil remains moist but not soggy. The trees also do best when given many fertilizer feedings during the season.
Exotic Citrus in Containers
While fruit out of a tree grown in a container is not as rich than fruit from trees grown in the ground, the trees really do fit well on a small deck or patio and are portable so that you can transfer them inside in the winter. Choose dwarf varieties or a kind that does particularly well in containers, like calamondin, which produces a 1-inch, tangerine-like fruit; kumquat, a shrublike tree having a sweet rind and tangy pulp; or limequat, hybrid between a “Mexican” lime and kumquat, that produces a limelike fruit with an edible rind.
Pummelo trees are necessarily large, from 20 to 22 feet tall and 15 feet wide, since they need to support massive fruits that look like grapefruit, only bigger. Once peeled, the hot fruit is only slightly bigger than grapefruit, in hues of pink, white and greenish-white with flavors which range from sweet to acidic.
More Exotic Citrus
Blood oranges taste like sweet bananas with raspberry overtones. The trees grow 15 to 18 feet tall and wide in the floor along with 6 to 8 feet tall and wide as dwarfs. A cross between a mandarin and sweet orange, the tangor tree is a naturally occurring hybrid rather than one developed by whales, and produces tangerine-type fruit on trees around 12 feet tall. Kaffir lime trees are precious for their fragrant leaves and rind than because of their bumpy, sour fruit, though cooks use all three parts in many Thai and Cambodian dishes.