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When should citrus plants be brought in for the winter?


The answer is actually short and concise: As late as possible. And here is the immediate second answer: no, do not put them inside now (in the middle of October)!

I know it is hard to withstand this. There is nothing to do in the garden. And that what is still left to be done has already been banned (link). It would be nice if, in addition to the perpetual raking of leaves (which doesn’t take up an entire garden day), one could clean up and take care of the frost-sensitive potted plants, especially the citrus plants. According to the motto: What is done is done.

But we don’t have any mercy on our work ban during the autumn months (which is, of course, is to be followed voluntarily): leave the plants outside, as long as no longer periods of frost are expected. Especially citrus plants tolerate temperatures down to 0°C or even slightly below for short periods. And for the sake of safety, one can have a fleece ready during the transitional period, which can be thrown over the plants in case of frost.

And what are our reasons for the stubborn work ban? Why should we not, not yet, put our plants inside for the winter? For the answers, we put ourselves a bit (yes, as far as possible...) into the perspective of the citrus plants themselves:


1. Citrus plants sometimes also like it cold; their fruits ripen only at colder temperatures and change externally from green to yellow to orange. And the plant has, of course, a first priority: to let their fruits and seeds mature and thus ensure their own survival.

2. At some point the citrus plants must also get used to the fact that it is not always going to be summer. The colder temperatures between 0 and 13°C are also a good, first signal that winter is coming. The glory of the container existence is coming to an end. The plant understands this language and it begins slowly but surely to reduce its life functions and it will not plunge into uncertain and speculative investments now at the very last moment and start to grow strongly, for example.

3. Keep in mind that you will accustom the citrus plants to the exact temperature that they will be able to enjoy in the winter quarters: 3 to 13°C

4. The light is the strongest argument for bringing the plant inside later. Outside, the citrus plants have more light than in their winter quarters. And this is good for them and also helps them to prepare the autumn and winter ripeness of as many fruits as possible. In addition to air and loving care, light is probably in shortest supply in our climate for the southern citrus fruits. And here we would do what the devil does and cut out the light prematurely by placing the citrus trees in their winter quarters in October...

5. Finally, you can shorten the time in the winter quarters by starting the overwintering later. And from the plant's point of view the winter quarters are something unnatural, a makeshift intermingling that is necessary for survival, but which no plant would desire on its own. So it is certainly advantageous if we keep this refugee camp period as short as possible for our plants.

Have I now answered your question about when citrus plants should be brought inside for the winter? No? Not really?

Then here is one last attempt:
As late as possible.

Before longer and stronger periods of frost occur.
In our climate this is mostly in November.

But mostly for a long time after it was cold for the first time and you had the feeling that the citrus plants must now get ready for overwintering.


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