Citrus: The Sour Taste That Sweetens Our Lives

Citrus: The Sour Taste That Sweetens Our Lives

Marios Grogos
By Marios Grogos
April 23, 2021

Citrus plants in the Mediterranean garden 

Citrus plants have a special place in the Mediterranean garden and especially in Greece. The species of citrus that we find are lemon (Citrus limon), orange (Citrus sinensis), mandarin (Citrus reticulata), Citrus, grapefruit (Grapefruit citrus), kumquat (Fortunella japonica) and orange (Citrus aurantium). In Greece, due to geographical changes, there are areas that specialize in only one crop, such as Laconia and Argolida with oranges, Chios, Corinth and Crete with mandarins, the Ionian Islands with kumquat, Corinth, Aigio, Chania, and Arta with the lemon trees.

Sour trees are widely used in modern gardening, giving a special feeling to the gardens, keeping pace with the different aesthetics that each garden can have, and escaping from the culture of the orchard.


Lemon tree (Citrus limon)

Lemon tree can reach a height of up to 5 meters, its branches have thorns and its flowers are white and fragrant. Its flowering period, depending on the variety and location, varies from early May to late August. The fruits are oval with pointed edges. Lemon trees prefer sunny locations, it would be ideal to be protected from the north even though they can withstand temperatures up to -5 degrees Celsius.

Regarding their care, lemon trees need a lot of water and it is necessary to dry the soil between watering. It would also be advisable not to dig deep around their trunk because they have a superficial root system. Lemon tree is pruned from late January to mid-March, always keeping in mind the March frosts. In June it is good to clean the greedy shoots, which have either gone to height or have grown inside the crown of the tree.

Lemon fruit is used to make juice for drinking, cooking, liqueur, jam or simply as fruit. It is also used in educational chemistry experiments due to its acidity, as it contains 5% citric acid with a pH of 2 to 3.


Orange tree (Citrus sinensis)

The orange tree, like almost all citrus fruits, originates from India and China, and its name is rumored to have been obtained from Portuguese seafarers. The climatic needs of the orange are like those of the lemon. It has shown better resistance to frost, especially when the soil under its foliage is clean without weeds. The maximum height that an orange can reach is 7 meters. Its branches can be elastic and withstand the weight of its fruits. The flowering period is from the end of April to the end of June depending on the variety and the region. It blooms once a year and lasts 5-7 weeks.

Some of the orange varieties are:  

  • Valencia
  • Merlin (Washington navel)
  • Sanguinello comune


Mandarin trees (Citrus reticulata)

Mandarin trees are relatively smaller trees than lemons and oranges, while some mandarins have thorns on their branches. The fruits of the mandarin, like all sour ones, are rich in vitamins A, B and C. It prefers fertile and well-drained soils, the water quality -when not irrigated with mains water- to be good, and to be protected from the wind.

The most common varieties are:  

  • Clementina
  • Encore
  • Chorean variety (Tenore)

As for the clementine variety, it would be good to have the trees planted away from other mandarin or other citrus varieties. The reason is that due to pollination there is a possibility that the fruits that will ripen will have stones.

We must be careful of citrus enemies such as Phyllocnistis citrella, Tetranychus urtica, Ceratitis capitata, etc. When it comes to deciduous trees, it is best not to over-water and to frequently spraying at the edges of the shoots. For the Mediterranean fly we can place special traps with organic preparations in the middle of the tree canopy and renew the preparation at regular intervals. It would be good to be incredibly careful in the use of pesticides for these trees, and well informed about the effects they have on us and our environment. It would be enough to try in mild ways, and still be able to enjoy the sour-sweet taste of citrus.

Marios Grogos
Marios Grogos
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I think "green" and I will try to bring you closer to nature via my articles. Read about gardening and create your own lifestyle experiences!

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