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Japanese bitter orange

SOME years ago my sister and I saw a citrus-type plant growing in a local park. It was flowering on bare branches and was citrus-scented. After much searching, we found it in a plant dictionary - Poncirus trifoliata or Japanese bitter orange. I enquired of growers who told me that it was used as rootstock and was not ornamental. When my son's lemon tree produced shoots, which I recognised as trifoliata from the leaf type, I took one and grew it. It is now a small threeyear- old tree in a tub but has not yet flowered. Can you tell me if it will flower or if I can do anything to promote flowering?


YES, it will eventually flower one spring before the new leaves come out, but you may have to wait another year or two. To try and encourage it to flower sooner rather than later, don't prune it back at all.

The scented flowers are followed by small yellow fruit which become quite fragrant when ripe, but they are inedible.

It's a very hardy plant from China and Korea that tolerates frost and wind and can grow quite large and rather thorny, so I recommend you plant it well away from paths or other places where people are likely to pass close to it.

Weekend Gardener, Issue 176, 2005, Page 34

Reproduced with permission from the former Weekend Gardener magazine. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH.

Andrew Maloy Weekend Gardener

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Last updated: October 25, 2005