Japanese Bitter Orange Tree (poncirus trifoliata)
The Japanese Bitter Orange is much closer to shrub than a tree and should be treated as such. Take care when planting to consider it will soon be adorned with impressive thorns, plant where young children will not be tumbling into it!
Plants are supplied at 10-12cm, this fast grower will reach 3-5m over 5-15 years depending on conditions. Plant into free draining, mildly fertile soil, mulch to reduce competition and protect the bark of the stem in the early years if you have rabbits and deer. Self-fertile it will produce fruit on a single plant, it is hardy to -20ºC.
Plants will adapt well to container growing and prune at will to your desired shape. Use compost sold as suitable for citrus and fertilise with citrus feed, follow directions of the product regarding frequency and dosage. Do not over water, it is best to let the compost almost dry out before watering again.
Fruits are green and mature to yellow in autumn with an orange like appearance but a surprising downy surface like a peach. Bitter, acidic and filled with many seeds the fruit is most commonly used for marmalade or tea.
Some fruits are often left on the tree as they have a striking appearance which is enhanced by the bright yellow of the autumn leaves, unusually for a citrus these will leaves will fall from the tree revealing bright green stems.