Dwarf Citrus Trees for the Small Garden

I don't know about you, but I think if there's anything as awesome as fresh vegetables from my garden, it's fresh fruit from my own trees. My orange and lemon trees are my favorite fruits to grow -- and eat. Plus they're handsome trees, evergreen, and add a most heavenly scent to the air when they're blooming.
If you haven't done any citrus gardening yet (but would like to), consider foregoing the giant standards and planting their dwarf cousins instead. When planted in the ground, dwarf citrus grow anywhere from 8' to 12' tall and if they're planted into a large container they'll remain much smaller.
The only drawback is that many (such as oranges and lemons) won't do well outdoors year-round much under zone 9. Still, some citrus such as mandarins can take a little bite of frost. If your zone is below a 9, it's easy to plant citrus into containers and just wheel it into the house for the winter (or under an overhang in semi-mild areas).

Caring For Citrus Trees

The best way for any fruit tree to become established in a new yard or garden is to purchase them bare-root and get them into the ground while they're dormant. If you miss that window you should be able to find some that are already happily growing in containers. They'll go through a little transplant shock when they're first planted as opposed to the bare-rooted ones that simply "wake up" in the spring not realizing that they've been disrupted at all.
Citrus enjoys full sun and soil that's full of organic matter. But more important than loamy soil is at least a well-draining one. This is pretty much a requirement for citrus. These trees want evenly moist soil. On the other hand, they'll end up dead in a constantly soggy area (especially bad in clay types).
I found out the hard way that my citrus trees do best on a regular watering schedule. One summer I did the whole hit-and-miss watering routine and ended up with a lot of split oranges on the tree. What happened is that I let the soil entirely dry out before I watered again -- hard lesson. Learn from my mistakes, people.

 Popular Citrus Trees for the Home Garden

Listed are some citrus varieties to get you started. In no way is this list exhaustive. In fact, many traditional standard types have been grafted onto dwarf or semi-dwarf rootstocks.
Lemons -- 'Improved Meyer', 'Dwarf Lisbon'
Limes -- 'Dwarf Bearss Seedless'
Oranges -- 'Dwarf Campbell Valencia', Dwarf Washington Navel'
Mandarin Oranges -- 'Clementine', 'Satsuma', 'Dwarf Tango'
Blood Orange -- 'Moro' (semi-dwarf), 'Smith Red'
Grapefruit -- 'Dwarf Redblush'
Kumquats -- 'Nagami'