Seattle's coolest little garden center with perennials, shrubs, trees, containers or pottery for creating great gardens or planted containers

home |directions |email us

Citrus in the Northwest  

You can enjoy the wonderful fragrance and the luxury of harvesting fresh citrus in Seattle but it does require a couple of conditions.  First you need to have a sunny indoor place for the coldest months of the year - late November(?) through March(?) And unless you have a greenhouse or conservatory these plants like to be outside in the warmer months of the year - April(?) through October(?).  Last winter we even had our citrus outside in February and March!  Semi-heated spaces like enclosed porches work well and can be used year-round if they get enough sunlight.  We have had two Buddha's Hand Orange Trees in our garden for over ten years.  While they do not flower since they do not get enough warmth in the winter, they have survived the winters with only some minimal frost damage.   Why not try planting a Kaffir Lime for your own source of spices for Thai cooking?          

(Some of the following text and photos are provided by Four Winds Growers, CA)


Improved Meyer Lemon [IN] more stock coming late Sept 2015- The gourmet lemon. "Improved" refers to the California state tested, virus-free clone, a collaborative discovery of Joe Grimshaw and Four Winds founder Floyd Dillon in the early 1950's. Very juicy; not as tart as Eureka. Prolific bearer nearly year-round; heaviest in winter. Mature fruit takes on a golden hue. The Meyer Lemon is a favorite of chefs and gourmets. It is slightly sweeter than the classic commercial varieties (Eureka and Lisbon). Its soft skin develops an orange hue when fruit is fully ripe, and its distinctive, mystical flavor combines lemon with a hint of tangerine. It is easy to grow, compact, and notoriously prolific in its blooming and fruiting. The tree often flowers twice a year, such that both fruit and flowers can be present all year long. What's more, it does not need a lot of heat to ripen the fruit.

Calamondin Orange [IN] - Bright green foliage. Compact plant with very fragrant flowers in the winter and spring. Produces small oranges.

Trovita Orange [IN] - Spring ripening. Good in many locations from coastal areas to desert. Few seeds, thin skinned fruit, heavy producer and excellent flavor.

Clementine Mandarin Orange  [IN] - Spring ripening. Needs sun or heat to sweeten fruit.  Heavy producer and excellent flavor.

Bearss Seedless Lime  Bearss Seedless Lime(In stock Sept 22, 2015) (Tahiti/Persian) [IN] - True lime. Fruit larger than Mexican lime. Good in cool areas. Year round.

Kaffir Lime (In stock Sept 22, 2015) (Kieffer/Thai/Wild) [IN] - Leaves, zest, and juice are used in Thai, Cambodian, and Indonesian cooking. Bumpy fruit. Kaffir limes are also known as "Kieffer limes," "Thai limes," or "wild limes."

Other varieties    Rangpur lime tree                                                                                     Rangpur Lime  (shown at right) Although it is actually a sour Mandarin orange it is used like a lime especially for drinks and garnish.  The purple flowers and its prolific fruit production make this a great ornamental plant.  Also, try the fruit in ice tea.

Genoa Lemon (Also known as Italian Lemon, or Mediterannean Lemon.)  Featuring a more classic tart lemon flavor this variety is grown for its cold resistance and its vigorous growth.  It is widely grown throughout the Mediterranean region as well as regions of Chile and Argentina.


Kumquat Tree(In stock Sept 22, 2015)

Yuzu Tree  

From the Four Winds website - (one of our favorite growers) "One of the wonderful things about citrus fruits is their sheer variety of form, flavor and usefulness. Here we feature the increasingly popular Yuzu. Famously valued in Asian cuisines for centuries, Yuzu is now inspiring fusion chefs throughout the world. This cold hardy tree (known to survive temperatures as low as 10 degrees F) grows wild in both Tibet and Central China, yet has been most appreciated as a cultivated tree in Japan and Korea.

Here are just a few examples to illustrate Yuzu’s importance. The zest and juice are essential ingredients in Japanese Ponzu sauce, as well as important componentsyuzu in some miso soup recipes and chawanmushi (an egg custard dish). Yuzu-cha (Yuja cha in Korea) is a syrupy marmalade-like concoction which, stirred into hot water, makes a warming tonic tea to ward off winter chills. At midwinter (Toji, or Winter Solstice) Yuzu fruits are the preferred fruit to float in one’s ceremonial bath to encourage good health in the New Year. The wood of the Yuzu tree is also valued by crafters of the traditional Korean oboe, the taepyeongso. Yuzu wood remains the preferred material for making the main body of the instrument." 

Recipes and more citrus info    

Kaffir Lime Leaf and Peel
(Bai Ma-gkood,PewMa-gkrood)
The following is from an extraordinary book by Kasma Loha-unchit, It Rains Fishes: Legends, Traditions and the Joys of Thai Cooking, published by Pomegranate Artbooks, 1995. The widely distributed book contains bright watercolors punctuating tempting recipes and tales of life in rural Thailand. For more information, read the excerpts below, then check out her web site, Adventures in Thai Cooking and Travel: the exceptionally fragrant fruits and leaves of the kaffir lime tree play important roles in Thai cooking, imparting unique flavors that have become identified with the cuisine. Any Thai cookbook that alludes to the use of citrus leaves really means kaffir lime leaves, the only citrus leaves used with regularity in a wide array of favorite Thai dishes. The luscious perfume and striking flavor of the leaves cannot be easily substituted with other kinds of citrus leaves. They are worth seeking, as their special attributes are irreplaceable.
The kaffir lime fruit approximates the size of a Western lime. The fruit is dark green in color and has a bumpy surface. Through the juice is seldom used in cooking, the peel of the fruit, with its high concentration of aromatic oils, is indispensable in many curry pastes and is one reason why Thai curries taste refreshingly unique. The zest also imparts a wonderful piquant flavor to such delectable favorites as fried fish cakes, and it blends in powerfully with such spicy, chili-laden stews as "jungle soup" (gkaeng bpah). Because it's strong flavor can over power the more subtle ones in a dish, the rind should be used sparingly, grated or chopped finely and reduced in a mortar with other paste ingredients until indistinguishable.
The leaves of the kaffir lime tree are a dark green color with a glossy sheen. They come in two parts: the top leaflet is lightly pointed at its tip and is attached to another leaflet beneath that is broader on its upper edge. The size of the leaves can vary quite a bit, from less than an inch to several inches long. The larger leaves are usually darker in color. In recipes that call for them, estimate the number to use according to their size, with the average single leaflet (detached from its double) of about two inches long and an inch wide equaling one leaf. Add more or fewer leaves according to the sizes in the batch you purchased.
Kaffir lime leaves are precious to many Thai dishes, from soups and salads to curries and stir-fried dishes. They are the ingredient that blends marvelously with lemon grass and lime juice in dtom yam to give the soup its wholesome lemony essence. In soupy dishes, add the leaves whole or torn into smaller pieces, using them as one would bay leaves to flavor broth or stew. For dishes in which they are a component to be eaten, such as salads, stir-fry and dry or custard like curries, cut them in very fine needle-like slivers, so that their strong bouquet can be more evenly distributed. The slivers also provide a pleasing texture and appearance.
To sliver kaffir lime leaves finely, stack three to four leaves of similar size together and slice them very thinly with a sharp knife. It is faster to cut diagonally , which gives the hands better leverage, or roll a few leaves at a time into a tight roll before slicing. If at first this task seems onerous, practice until you develop a sense of how to work the leaves. It is a good contemplative exercise and a way to become present with a wonderfully aromatic member of our universe. You can also try cutting the leaves with a pair of scissors, but I find this can be a slower process because you usually must cut one leaf at a time in order to get fine slivers. You may be tempted to mince or chop the leaves instead, but these methods add the kaffir lime leaf flavor differently and can overwhelm the more delicate flavors in a dish. Large slivers can be equally overpowering. So, it is best to use fine slivers about an inch long, as Thai chefs have done for generations, to add kaffir lime leaves in the most pleasing balance of flavor, texture and presentation.

About the Kaffir Lime Tree and Other Uses
In tropical Thailand, almost every home in the countryside has one in its yard. Besides supplying great flavor ingredients to enhance food, kaffir lime is also used as a indisputably effective cleanser, natural deodorizer and add a sparkling scent, like sweet bouquet of citrus blossoms, and each scratch of the zest releases another installment of refreshing perfume
Kaffir lime shampoo leaves the hair squeaky clean and invigorates the scalp. It is believed to freshen one's mental outlook and ward off evil spirits. Kaffir lime has also been used for ages as a natural bleach to remove tough stains. When I was growing up, mother did the wash entirely by hand, and nothing worked better on stubborn stains than a few drops of kaffir lime juice, mixed with a sprinkling of detergent. Not only does it clean effectively, it is inexpensive, natural and sweet-smelling. For rural villagers, a single kaffir lime tree supplies enough limes to keep the whole house and family clean.
In folk medicine, the juice of kaffir lime is said to promote gum health and is recommended for use in brushing teeth and gums. The essential oils in the fruit are incorporated into various ointments, and the rind is an ingredient in medical tonics believed to be good for the blood. Like lemon grass and galanga, the rind is also known to have beneficial properties for the digestive system.

Dwarf citrus are especially suited for container growing as they can be kept at manageable sizes. Container growing allows gardeners to overcome poor soil conditions or limited space in a landscape. People enjoy their trees in decorative pots on their patio or apartment balcony. Many customers have cold winters and bring their citrus indoors during freezing weather.


Container Planting

We recommend using commercially available potting mixes. Some experts make their own mixes using wood shavings, sand, and compost. Using dirt in a container is not advisable. Rose formulations can work, but the perfect high air filled porosity mix can be hard to find. If you can not find a mix without sphagnum peat moss, amend the soil mix with a 1/4- 1/3 volume of 1" redwood shavings. Our 2-3 year trees are shipped with shavings suitable for potting mix amendments. Cedar shavings can be used as well, but avoid pine and spruce. Once your soil mix is prepared, the container is selected and the tree's eventual location is known you are ready to begin potting.
Place one inch of soil in the bottom of your new container. Gently remove the roots and soil from the old container. Try to keep the root ball intact. Place the root ball in the new container and fill with your fresh potting mix. The top of the roots should be just barely beneath the top of the soil level. Loosely tie tree to a stake if needed. Press the soil around the root ball to provide stability and water deeply. Loosely tie tree to a stake. Repotting with fresh soil mix every year or two will provide fresh nutrients to the soil.

Sunny, wind free locations with southern exposure are the best. If in doubt, leave the tree in its plastic container and place it in the spot you have in mind. After a week or two, you should be able to tell whether or not it is thriving. Reflected heat from sidewalks or houses can also help to create a warmer microclimate. Avoid lawns that get frequent, shallow watering.

Watering Citrus

Consistency is the key with citrus watering. Citrus trees require soil that is moist but never soggy. Watering frequency will vary with soil porosity, tree size, and environmental factors. DO NOT WATER IF THE TOP OF THE SOIL IS DRY WITHOUT CHECKING THE SOIL AT ROOT LEVEL! A simple moisture meter, available at garden supply stores, will read moisture at the root level. This inexpensive tool will allow you to never have to guess about whether or not a plant needs water.  
A wilted tree that perks up within 24 hours after watering indicates the roots got too dry. Adjust watering schedule accordingly. A tree with yellow or cupped leaves, or leaves that don't look perky AFTER watering can indicate excessive watering and soggy roots. Water your tree less often.  
Citrus prefer infrequent, deep watering to frequent, shallow sprinklings. Creating a watering basin around the tree's drip line can aid in deep watering. Deeper watering promotes deeper root growth and strengthens your tree. Generally, once or twice a week deep watering works well for container specimens. Be sure to adjust based on weather conditions! 
In general, it is probably best to water in the morning, but if plants are dry or wilted it is better to water them right away than wait until morning.