Pot Cultivation, Planting And Maintenance


Native to Australia, lemon caviar is a small fruit tree in the citrus family. Grown in pots or in the ground on the Côte d’Azur side, it forms a prickly bush covered with small original lemons of their shapes, colors and vesicles of acidic juice.


What You Need to Know:

  • Botanical name: Microcitrus australasica
  • Common name: Lemon caviar, because of its vesicles, lime finger
  • Family: Rutaceae
  • Height x spread : This original citrus forms a small bush 2 to 5 meters high in its native areas. In pots, it forms rather an elegant thorny bush that usually does not exceed 1 m in any direction. the lemon sprout caviar slowly in the first years.
  • Foliage: Persistent on very spiny branches. The oval leaves are small, the smallest of the citrus family. Like those of the lemon tree, they are born purple and then gradually turn a pale green color.
  • Flowers: Very small, solitary flowers bloom in spring. However, a weaker rise is likely in the fall.
  • Fruits: The fruits do not have the shape of classic lemons. They have incredible diversity, size, skin color (copper, red, purple, black, green or even yellow). Indoors, this diversity is also found in the number of grains and the acidity of the fruit, which is highly variable even on the same tree.
  • The acidic pulp of lemon caviar consists of small round and crunchy grains. They come apart from each other, a bit like a pomegranate.


The fruits are harvested between November and March. The cold, the fall of light and the maintenance of a cool substrate, make it possible for them to ripen.


Exposure: Sun or partial shade in summer in warm areas, sheltered from winds in cool climates.


Sol : A mixture of garden soil is appreciated rich and well-drained clay. The growing medium should also be slightly acidic to prevent leaf chlorosis.


hardiness : Caviar lemon is generally grafted to Poncirus, which improves its cold hardiness. However, this original lemon tree has difficulty withstanding low temperatures: in the ground, it often freezes to -3 to -5°C.


How To Preserve Lemon Tree Caviar?

The preservation is identical to that applied to other citrus fruits, especially the lemon. Here are the key points you need to know about growing a lemon caviar in a pot:


When To Replace The Lemon Caviar?

Regular transplanting, every year or every 2 years when the tree is young, helps to support its slow growth but gradual axis.


Choose a slightly larger pot each time.


You can use a draining citrus potting mix to which you add a little garden soil to give it more consistency.


Be careful not to bury the graft site.


In adulthood, transplantation may be more frequent (every 4 to 5 years). Between these transplants, you can add soil several times a year from spring to autumn, on the surface. Gently scrape the substrate over the surface to mix the old and new soil.


Is The Contribution Of Fertilizer To The Lemon Of Caviar Useful?

Fertilization is essential in addition to soil additions throughout the growth phase, from March to October.


They allow the lemon caviar to bloom profusely in the spring, then bear fruit more numerously harvested from late autumn.


You can use a citrus fertilizer in liquid form, to be mixed with the irrigation water, or in powder form to be spread on the surface of the soil.


Fertilization about every 20 days is sufficient.


Does Lemon Caviar Need Much Water?

Regular watering of lemon caviar is required throughout the growth period, as soon as the growing medium dries to a depth of about 2 cm.


Like the lemon tree, this tree also appreciates keeping feet cool all summer long. In times of drought, therefore, it is recommended to water regularly, almost every day or every 2 to 3 days. Use non-calcareous rainwater to reduce the risk of yellowing of leaves (chlorosis).


In winter, the caviar lemon tree rests. Reduce watering significantly: one supply every 15 days is sufficient when the tree overwinters. Also remove the saucer from under the pot or lift the pot so the roots don’t get soaked.


Lemon Caviar Size In A Jar

Instead of an annual pruning, small regular pinches are preferred to give a rounded shape to the bush and maintain a harmonious silhouette.


Shorten young shoots by a third when their purple leaves turn green.


At the end of winter, you can also carry out a light pruning: cut off dry and dead branches, as well as those that are misplaced or oriented towards the center of the bush.


Remember to wear a pair of gloves to avoid injury, the very spiky branches are scary.


Should Lemon Caviar Be Worn In Winter?

Yes, because this species is frost-resistant even if its parent, Poncirus, increases its cold resistance.


In cold areas, move potted lemon caviar in November to a frost-protected room. It should be as bright as possible so that the leaves do not wither. A well-exposed terrace or greenhouse are ideal places for winter. On the other hand, do not bring your caviar lemon inside the house or apartment because it does not support the dry atmosphere that reigns there. For this particular use, it is preferable to grow calamondin, which is the only citrus that can withstand these conditions.


In areas with mild winters and on the Côte d’Azur, the tree can be left outside all winter. Simply move it to a sheltered location, at the foot of a wall in full sun for example and sheltered from the winds.


Ideally, the shorter this wintering period, the better for the tree.


Diseases Of Lemon Caviar

Careful monitoring of insects and pests (meal bugs, greenhouse whiteflies) is also one of the key factors in the successful cultivation of this small citrus fruit. Treat with black soap or canola oil insecticide at least twice at 3-day intervals as soon as they appear.


Large brown spots on the leaves are a sign of overwatering.


Leaves that turn yellow but keep the veins very green indicate a chlorination problem: water your tree only with rainwater.


Leaves that turn yellow, curl and then drop are often a sign of lack of water.


Use Of Lemon Caviar In The Kitchen

Chefs highlight the little tangy pearls this Australian lemon has to offer in sophisticated recipes that are both sweet and savory, often Asian-inspired. The sensation is strange as the juice-filled blisters burst under the teeth, releasing their bite-spiking acidity.


We also use the very fragrant peel.


How To Propagate Lemon Caviar?

Sowing the seeds is possible and gives good results. The fruits obtained are true to the mother plant, but you have to wait 7 to 10 years before you see the tree blossom and taste its lemons.


Lemon Caviar Varieties For Cultivation

There are mainly 2 varieties, both for growing in pots: the pink caviar lemon and the white. These two varieties are differentiated by the color of the balls inside the fruits.


You knew that ?

There are 7 species of Microcitrus. All are native to the east coast of Australia and the islands of Papua. The geographical isolation of these areas, discovered late, made it possible to preserve the peculiarities of the fruits.


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