Your guide to growing citrus plants

Jackie French has a zest for all things lemony this month, advising on how to grow citrus herbs, fruits and a eucalypt.

The prize for the richest lemon scent goes to… not lemons, but lemongrass oil.

Lemongrass cultivars vary wildly when it comes to the intensity of their lemony-ness, so sniff before you buy to get a truly fragrant one for making lemongrass tea or tender stems for cooking.

Needs: Sun for best flavour. Bring your potted lemongrass plants indoors in frosty winters.

Lemon verbena

Large deciduous shrubs, wonderful to brush against, excellent for teas.

Needs: Full sun and can survive all but the most freezing climates. Needs regular pruning.


As well as the fruit, try young lemon leaves in salads, or use the branches as skewers when grilling, for added flavour.

Needs: Mild frost to sub-tropical climates, full sun to dappled shade and excellent drainage (but adequate moisture), and feeding for good fruit.

Lemonade tree

Possibly the most lemony of the lemon varieties, a small neat tree with thin-skinned fruit.

Needs: As for Lemons above.

Lemon mint

Vigorous, minty, but with a hint of lemon. Delicious.

Needs: Moist soil, well fed, full sun or dappled shade. Grow in a pot if you’re afraid it may spread in the garden, but keep it well watered.

Lemon myrtle (Backhousia citriodora)

An attractive tree. The leaves contain high levels of citral oil and smell (and taste) of a mixture of lemons and limes. Whole leaves can be added to cooking, branches can be added as filler for vases of flowers and will fill the room with a clear lemony smell.

Needs: Can be grown in moist, well-drained soil in a wide range of climates if given some shelter and reflected warmth from walls.

Lemon-scented eucalypt (Eucalyptus citriodora)

If you have the space and the right position to grow this smooth- barked, elegant eucalypt, you will be rewarded by having your garden smelling deliciously of lemons.

Needs: A frost-free spot with well-drained soil and space for a tall tree.

Lemon-scented tea-tree (Leptospermum petersonii)

Another strongly lemony scented shrub with masses of tiny creamy-white flowers in spring. High concentrations of oil can be distilled and used as an antiseptic and insect repellent.

Needs: Full sun to dappled shade, responds well to regular pruning and makes a gorgeous scented hedge.

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