Bitter Orange

The bitter orange, Citrus mitis, will grow well in England in a conservatory or greenhouse.

There are two problems:

1. Lack of light
Citrus trees need a lot of light, including during the winter. If you do not have a conservatory or greenhouse, don't try to grow a citrus tree. It will not prosper.

2. Scale Insects
This is an insect pest which appears as small raised brown bumps on the bark and along the leaf veins. It secretes honeydew (a mixture of sugars) which attracts other pests and which makes the leaves sticky. You will either need to wash the leaves very regularly or to use some chemical control.

Sooner or later you will encounter the citrus moth. It is very pretty, but do not be sentimental; it wants your fruit.

Do not grow the tree unless you are prepared to make a hobby of it and take time and trouble as part of your routine.

The small bitter oranges are excellent as additives to wine (supplying the necessary acidity if the fruit mix you are using doesn't have much - for example, dessert grapes, dessert cherries). They can also be used to make marmalade and jams. They are about an inch to an inch and a quarter in diameter. The usually have pips, but sometimes a flush of fruit will be pip-free.

The tree has to be grown in a sizeable container - say 4-5 gallons - and can be turned into a bush or espalier. They are long lived (my brother has one which is known to be fifty years old, and my father has an espalier which is about 25 years old).

The blossom, which appears at several times of the year, has a beautiful smell.


bitter orange, citrus mitis, grown in the midlands, England.....


compiled by Nigel Deacon / Diversity website

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