I was probing around the Citrus Houses at Mesquite Valley Growers here in Tucson the other day and happened upon a few things I have been looking for, as well as a few plants I am new to:
Buddha’s Hand CitrusCitrus medica var. sarcodactylus
This Weird thing is a sport of another citrus I also obtained and will mention later. The fruit is used to season (as zest) and also used in potpourri’s. It makes a striking conversation piece for visitors who are unfamiliar with this strangely fruited oddball.
Etrog, CitronCitrus medica
An important plant in Judaism (used in Sukkot) the fruits of this species are used in a variety of ways among several cultures. The peel and fruit are both used, and historically this plant was an important medicinal plant. The leaves are also sometimes used as seasoning. The Buddha’s Hand citrus is a sport of Etrog.
Australian Finger LimeMicrocitrus australasica (Citrus australasica)
This one was new to me. The foliage is fine, and the fruits turn red (there are yellow varieties too). It apparently has a really intense flavor. The plant is rather attractive.
Fukushi Kumquat, Changshou KumquatFortunella obovata X
I have been nibbling on these since I obtained it. The fruit is nice and tart. These are supposed to be among the hardiest of citrus. For those of you who live in colder areas of USDA Zone 8 (supposedly it can take temperatures as low as the teens farenheight). The plant is gorgeous.
YuzuCitrus ichangensis x C. reticulata
These are generally used as flavoring (the rind and the fruit), and people also bath in an infusion of the fruit in Japan. There are Saki’s and other liquors that are made of Yuzu. The fruits are kind of ugly, but smell great. This is probably the hardiest citrus. It can take temperatures down to -5 degrees Fahrenheit!! I am keeping it in the garden (which is basically a covered greenhouse). I don’t want any damage of any kind even if it IS that tough. Sometimes hardiness suggests that there is no damage, but in fact some twig, floral, or foliar damage may occur. So I play it on the safe side.
Citrus in general need some kind of frost protection where I am growing at (it can get into the single digits). I keep mine fed with a balanced organic fertilizer and keep up on micronutrients (iron, magnesium, etc). Otherwise they are pretty easy to grow. Full sun is best though through the hottest of summers a little break is good (sometimes the upper foliage will be a bit burned from intense dry heat).
Keep the rootstock suckers pruned back. If you have other questions about citrus fire away or check out this link.