How to grow citrus from seed, my foolproof method.

Seriously, it’s amazingly simple. I’d recommend that you don’t buy seeds online, though, unless there are pictures of the actual seeds, or the source is a proven, trustworthy source. Because:

This is what a viable seed looks like.


That is a viable seed. Round, full, fat. This thing will actually grow. The one unfortunate time I ordered citrus seeds online, I got something like THIS:

Useless. This thing is nothing but an empty seed coat.

Flat, empty, useless. This is literally the empty shell of a seed. There is no actual seed inside. It’s like a nutshell with no nut.
But if you get a viable seed, they’re very easy to grow. I have about 80% germination rate with this method. It’s pretty foolproof.
1.Use the right seeds.
2. Peel the seeds. (I know it’s tempting to skip this, but DON’T. The results will probably be very slow-to-sprout seeds, or a much lower germination rate. Or they’ll get all moldy before germinating properly.

They look a little like this once peeled. Little darker dot on the rounder end of the seed.

3. Put the peeled seeds onto a moist paper towel in a zip-top bag, and leave it in a warm (not too warm) windowsill.

Good to go.

The bag acts like a little greenhouse for the seeds, which means they’ll be protected from chills or drying out when they’re so tiny and delicate. I like to label and date these, as my kids love to grow any and every mature seed we find in our fruits, and I know I indulge them 100% because I just love watching citrus grow.

Baby grapefruit I started a few months ago. So cute!

Their seeds sprout so easily, their leaves are so green and fragrant, and, of course, they make fruit! How awesome is that? It does take a long time for them to bear, if ever, but… I’m growing these just for decorative purposes, honestly. I just love to look at them.

Apologies to a tree, or pH for the hobby gardener

So, recently, my husband and I got a dwarf pomegranate tree.

Nice lookin' little shrub, eh?
Nice lookin’ little shrub, eh?

Also, a dwarf 3-in-1 citrus tree, but that’s a story for another time. We got them here.

I did my reading-up as soon as they arrived in the mail, and I potted them with all the proper drainage, in just the right size pots, etc.

After a while, I did some research on fertilizing, and I found what I needed to know. Citrus trees love a fertilizer with high acid, copper, magnesium, nitrogen– so I cultivated the surrounding soil, mixed in some coffee grounds, and after a while:


Super happy citrus tree!
Super happy citrus tree!

However, my pomegranate tree, after receiving the same treatment, began to look worse at about the same time that the citrus tree started popping out buds.

Curling leaves. D:
Curling leaves. D:

I read up some more on growing pomegranate trees, and found out…

they need ALKALINE soil. I misread alkaline, and made its soil more acidic. Its poor little roots were being scorched.

So, as an apology, I started looking up how to make your soil more alkaline, and I saw the same thing, over and over: “put lime in your soil! Your soil needs lime! Get some lime in that dirt.”

Seriously? Is that all you have to say, internet?

Then I found this:

Which was much more helpful on the subject.  After all the research, I came up with an idea.

I mixed up:

  • 1 egg shell, crushed into powder (nearly powdered, anyway… ok, as small chunks as I could manage)
  • 1 whole piece of white sidewalk chalk (yes, I’m an adult with my very own sidewalk chalk)
  • about 2-3 tablespoons of baking soda

I put them all in a plastic bag, and whacked it with a hammer. To make it uniformly powdery, you know.

I'm just holding it for my friend, I swear. (Yup, my friend the tree.)
I’m just holding it for my friend, I swear.
(Yup, my friend the tree.)

The biggest thing in need of breaking down is the chalk, but it gets down to a powder pretty fast. Basically, just give it some gentle whacks until it’s fairly uniform in its powdery-ness.

Then, cultivate the soil around your plant in need of some “basic” nutrients. (ba-dum-tiss)

Like my upcycled cultivator? Just right for a window garden.
Like my upcycled cultivator? Just right for a window garden.

And after a little soil-turning-up, just sprinkle in your new powdery stuff.

Turn it back under, give your plant a bit of a drink, and done!