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Buddha Hand Citron: growing this amazing tree

Buddha Hand Citron

AKA: Fingered Citron

(Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis)


Buddha Hand Citron tree overview:

The intriguing shape of the fruit is truly amazing and the fragrance is awesome.  However, the tree requires a few specific growing conditions to thrive.

Ripe Buddha Hand citron

Buddha Hand or Fingered Citron Tree (Citrus medica var. sarcodactylis)


Buddha Hand Citron fruit appearance:

  • A Buddha Hand Citron tree full of fruit is a stunning sight.
  • The many segments branching from the fruit has been likened to a hand, and thus the plants name.
  • The fruit is purple when small, turning green as it grows and is very bright yellow when ripe.
  • The fruit ranges in size from about 6 inches to 12 inches in length.
Buddha Hand Citron

Ripening Buddha Hand Citron Fruit; turning from green to yellow

Buddha Hand Citron fruit season: 

UC Riverside states that the fruit season is November to January.  I guess that is the main season, the ones in my yard have been producing and flowering nearly continuously since they were planted 2 years ago.

Buddha Hand Citron flowering

Buddha Hand Citron flowers

Landscaping use: 

  • The Buddha Hand Citron tree structure is similar to other citrus, but a bit more open in its growth habit.
  • Overall it is the size of a large shrub or a small tree.
  • The leaves are larger than most other citrus trees and a bit rippled.
  • However, the remarkable appearance of the fruit is what really makes this plant stand out. The multi-fingered hand-like fruit produces a fascinating if not macabre picture.  The fruit hanging from the tree amazes just about everyone who sees it in my back yard.
  • The aromatic flowers are pink and white and about 2x the size as the average citrus flower.
  • The young leaves are also purple; similar to young lemon leaves.
Growing Buddha hand citron fruit.

Macabre looking unripe-green Buddha hand citron fruit.



  • I have read that some people just plant this citron in the ground without much fanfare.  However, I have not had any previous luck with this Laissez-faire method of fruit tree planting.
  • Therefore, I did what has worked for me in the past;  I aggressively augmented the soil with grow mulch/compost, and inoculated with Micorriza.  Click here for the planting method that I have used with great success.
  • The Buddha Hand Citron tree needs well draining soil.


After the tree is established, I water 2-3x a week in the summer.  However, watering schedules will change through the season and depending on your particular micro-climate.  That being said, don’t let the Buddha Hand Citron dry out- the tree does not seem to be forgiving of arid soil.  Covering the ground around the base of the tree with a good layer of wood mulch will help retain moisture.

new citron leaves

New buddha hand citron branch leaves. The newest leaves are purple and they turn green as they mature (towards the bottom of the image)


Prefers full sun but will grow in partial shade.



I haven’t found much information about fertilizing the Buddha Hand Citron tree.  However, I fertilize it the same way I do the rest of my citrus and it seems happy.

Buddha Hand/Fingered Citron Tree with fruit

Buddha Hand/Fingered Citron Tree: Closer view


  • This is a temperate loving plant.
  • Very frost sensitive.
  • Keep it out of low areas in your yard where cool air can collect.
  • However, the tree is also sensitive to intense heat and drought.   So it is a bit of a Goldilocks tree.
  • All of that being said, the tree seems to do well in southern California if you are mindful of the above issues.
  • For more information about the lowest temperatures that you can expect in your area, check out my article “Climate Zones: What can I grow in my yard?”



You ever feel like your plants were giving you the finger?

You ever feel like your plants were giving you the finger?

Buddha Hand Citron Fruit Use:


In the western culinary world, the fruit is mainly used for its aromatic rind.  The rind makes a great zest, much better than lemon in my opinion. Specific culinary usages range from flavoring savory dishes, desserts and vodka.

The insides:

The inside of the fruit is composed almost entirely the white stuff (pith) that you see between an orange rind and orange flesh. However, here the white stuff is much firmer and has been called solid albedo.  There is really nothing juicy in there.  No seeds either. However, you can eat this white stuff inside after you remove the bitter outer yellow rind.  The albedo has a very mild floral flavor and is on the dry side.  None the less, it can be cut in slices to add some texture to salads, etc.


The fruit is pulled apart into individual fingers, dried and candied.  This candied fruit is a popular snack throughout Asia.

Air freshener:

Many simply use the fruit as an air freshener for the car or home-doubling as a conversation piece. The citron smell that is released from the fruit is a delight. The aroma reminds me of the cereal fruity pebbles and fruit loops, without the artificial overtones.  Others say it smells like violets.


The plant has a long history in China where it is highly prized because it symbolizes long life hand happiness. In Japan, the fruit is a popular gift at New Year’s because it’s believed to bring good fortune to a home.

Religious offering:

The fruit is sometimes given as an offering in Buddhist temples.   The fruit with a closed hand configuration is the most valued for offerings because in this state it resembles the Buddhist hand gesture for prayer.


In Asia, it has been prescribed as a tonic as part of traditional medicine.


This fingered citron is thought to be the oldest cultivated citrus.

About Thomas Osborne, MD

Dr. Osborne is a Harvard trained Radiologist and Neuroradiologist who loves to share his insight about medicine and gardening.


  1. The hardest thing about this tree is finding one, I’ve been trying for years to get one.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Tabitha
      Thanks for bringing up this important point.
      If you are in the San Diego area, I know of at least 3 places that sometimes carry Buddha Hand Citron.
      Call ahead and perhaps they can help you.
      Clausen Nursery
      (760) 724-3143
      Ong Nursery
      (858) 277-8167
      California Tropical Fruit Tree
      (760) 434-5085


      • Not to pick a nit or anything, but the word is ‘vulnerable’ (meaning susceptible to), not ‘venerable’ (meaning worthy of respect)…

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hey Thanks for the kind heads up. Its always nice to have an editor helping out. I just made the change. I also just checked out your site richardrenneboog.webs.com, it looks like you have done some interesting writing.
          Thanks, Tom

      • Costco is carrying them.

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hi Anonymous
          Thanks for the info.
          Important to note that not all Costco’s carry the same plants.
          Specifically I was just at my local Costco and they did not have them and I am in San Diego.

          • I just bought Scerbo of these trees after seeing a neighbors! Wow.
            Bought mine from Four Winds nursery. They are on the net at

  2. After I saw this fruit offered at a “Fresh Market” store I just had to try to buy a tree/plant. The only affordable place I found was Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Co. in Ohio. I bought 3 trees which will be shipped to me in Central Florida in early March, 2014. They will be very small but only cost $19.99 each. Hopefully this will be a fruitful purchase.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Art
      Thanks for the comment and congrats on the new trees.
      The trees are very cool, but hey can be fickle.
      And yea, that does sound like a decent price… if they are not too small.
      However, it is a bit strange to hear that they are coming from Ohio.
      Please keep us updated on your progress.

    • After planting in March of 2014 all 3 trees are thriving so far here in Central Florida. One has finally produced a pink bloom, hopefully the precursor to fruit. I have each of them planted in a 12″ pot so they can be easily moved inside during cooler weather to come.

      • Thomas Osborne, MD

        Hey Art.

        Congrats on your growing success and your first Buddha hand blossom.

        Side thought:
        Since you live in central Florida, I would think that it would be warm enough to plant your Citron directly in the ground (if you want).
        (In general, plants are usually happier when they are in the ground and therefore you might get more fruit that way too).
        If you do get an odd cold spell, you can always put a frost cloth bag over the tree.

        Climate Zones:
        I recently wrote an article that has all kind of specific info on the topic. Check out, “Climate Zones: What can I grow in my yard


  3. After querying “citron fruit in Florida” I stumbled on this article, found it interesting and was further seeking to find someone in the vicinity who has a handle on the heartiness along with frost care here in zone 9 – I noticed Art Hoff purchased a few trees from a supplier in Ohio.

    I am curious to know how that has worked out. Now, back to the investigation~! Here are a few attached relative articles. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sukkothttp://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/citron.html

    Keep me advised and thanks~!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Thanks for the note Tim.

      Great question:

      Regarding Ohio supplier: That grower must be working in a hot house. There is no way citrus could survive outside during an Ohio winter.

      According to what I have read, the Citron seem to be more fickle than most citrus. However, the Citrons that I have growing here in SD are growing great with no frost protection (and we do get an occasional frost). However, I planted the trees by some large grey stones that likely give off heat at night to help offset the cold.


    • The plants arrived about a month ago. I transplanted them to larger pots so I can bring them in if frost threatens. So far so good, all 3 are stable and growing.

      • Thomas Osborne, MD

        Awesome Art!
        Growing in pots is a bit more challenging, (soil moisture, soil temperature flux, fertilization amounts, getting root bound, etc).
        If you can make this work you are a master.

        Side thoughts:
        -The bigger the size of the container, the less there are of these issues. But then (as I am sure you know) the harder to move a big container and find space for if you move inside.
        -Using organic fertilizer will be more forgiving when you are growing in containers. However, many of these organic fertilizers stink and are not suited for inside the house… But then again, you likely wont be fertilizing in the winter-inside anyhow.
        -Dwarf varieties tend to do better in containers.

        I was growing all kinds of stuff in containers for a while… until I couldn’t take it anymore and then moved to a warmer location.
        Then I planted all of my minions that I collected directly into the ground.

        I look forward to hear about your success.
        Thanks for the update.

  4. My father went away on holiday and left me to
    Look after his hand of Buddha, it’s got 5 leaves left on it I don’t want to kill it. I live in England, Uk. can’t leave it outside as it’s freezing so it’s inside where it’s warmer, will it be ok?
    How can I get it growing again?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Louisa
      Thanks for the question.
      So yea, you definitely do not want to leave the Citron out in the cold.

      I would find a nice warm sunny spot in the house that dosen’t get drafty.
      The sunnier the better.
      Also: I would not put it next to the fire place or stove either. These things can be fickle.
      Keep the citron soil moist but not waterlogged. Don’t let it sit in a saucer full of water.
      Cold air sinks, so it will be warmer if it is off the floor… at least a little bit off the floor.

      Basically, if you had to sit in only one place in the house all day, where would you be most comfortable.
      The answer to that would likely be your best option for the Citron.

      Hope this helps,


      • Thanks for the help, well it’s warm in the house all the time and it’s in a pot so I will have to keep and eye on how
        much water I give it. There is not much sun these days or natural light can I leave the light on too?

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Yea, having extra light on it during the day wouldn’t hurt as long as the light bulb is not so close as to cook the leaves.
          Turn the light off at night so the plant can rest.
          A light timer might make it easier if you are going down that rout.

  5. It’s still not doing too great. Does it need feeding? And if so what do I recomend I use? My friend suggested that cats urine is suppose to be good for it?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      I am sorry to hear that the Buddha hand is not doing well. They are fickle plants and may not do well inside even in the best of situations.

      However, if the plant is declining in the conditions you described (in the winter, inside, in a pot)… fertilizer is not going to help and it will likely accelerate its early death.
      Fertilizer is tricky with any potted plant and this plant is fickle to begin with.

      And definitely do not use cat urine! That is way to strong for most plants esp this one.
      So if I were you… I would try to replicate (as best you can) the conditions outlined in the post/article.

      I would also closely inspect the plant to see if you have any bugs on it like scale, aphids, etc.
      Those sap suckers like to hide out at the bottoms of leaves or at the origins of branches.

      Good luck.



    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Great question Rosa Maria

      I am personally not an expert on Florida agricultural laws.
      However, one of the most talked about issues right now is Citrus Greening (Huanglongbing). This is an infection that is hitting Florida citrus very hard. The main goal for other states like California is to keep the disease out. So Florida trees are not coming into California.

      For your specific question:
      Florida is trying to control the disease but it is an up hill battle.
      Here’s a link to some of the current regulations.

      I found this contact number on the University of Florida website (number below). I am sure they would be happy to answer any related questions.
      “For more information on Florida citrus regulations, please contact the Division of Plant Industry 863-298-3000

  7. I saw a Buddha hand in a market, and checked with my local nursery for a tree. It was planted about 2 years ago in backyard that is fill on top of a rather basic(ph) underlayment. I do add some fertilizer occasionally, and all plants get regular water. Th fruit has been slow to set. This year I have 3 fruit at one time, but as before, they are all “Hand” with only small ‘fingers’ (1/4″-1/2″ length). Is this due to lack of maturity or did I get the wrong species?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Interesting question Sam.

      There is some genetic variation between each tree even if they are propagated from cuttings.
      (On that note, most of the seedless orange sub-types are derived from a random genetic variation of a branch growing from a mother tree. These variant branches are then selected and grafted to make a different type of citrus).

      That being said, even on the same branch of my trees I see different looking fruit; Big, small, open hand, closed hand, etc. Hard for me to say what is the cause of this difference, perhaps pollination differences. but I am guessing.

  8. Hello,

    I’m so excited that I found this site! I received my Buddha’s Hand tree in the mail today and I couldn’t be happier with it. I’ve been actively searching for one for several yrs. now, but whenever I’ve found them at online nurseries they can’t ship them to California.

    I finally thought to search Amazon and Ebay and found a couple on Ebay. I went ahead and spent about 50 bucks for one, knowing full well I could easily be disappointed, but it turned out to be quite the opposite result. WOW, it’s about 3-4′ tall, the leaves are a rich, beautiful and healthy shade of green, it has several fruits on it, with fingers even! And also has flowers where more fruits should grow soon. The root system is fantastic, with thick, long roots, it has been planted in the ground or a pot, but was shipped bareroot and arrived in great shape.

    I am soaking it for a few hrs. in water before planting and came in to search on the internet for proper planting instructions before I start. I will be planting her (Goldilocks) in a 16″ pot first, if that doesn’t feel adequate once I begin I have a 20″ pot waiting for her as well 🙂

    We are located in Calif. right on the Oregon border, inland, in zone 7, so I will need to bring it in for winter before the frost hits. But this is the beginning of nice spring weather for us here right now so we’re just getting started. I’d suggest you put Buddha’s Hand Citrus into search on ebay and keep trying. They’re not very common.

    http://www.Logees.com also has a RARE and gorgeous variegated Buddha’s Hand!! I showed it to the gal I got mine from and she’s going to keep her eye out for some for me.

    Thanks for the enjoyable plant conversation Tom, I’m a plant freak too 😉 Feel free to comment or email me with any questions. Best of luck in your searches!

  9. I live in the Palm Springs Desert area. I ordered a Buddha Hand tree several years ago from somewhere in the San Francisco Bay Area. It is now a big beautiful healthy citrus tree, protecting my Buddha statue. The big problem is, NO FRUIT and NO BLOSSOMS. Any and all recommendations would be greatly appreciated.

  10. Thanks for the article and sharing your passion for gardening!

    I used to think I’d never see a real Buddha’s Hand citron, and then one day I noticed them at a few nurseries locally. Wow.

    Recently, I bought one for my mom and then got one for myself. We’re both enjoying them (she has it a little easier being in Southern California, whereas I’m in Northern California). She sends me pictures of the fruit and I look forward to sharing my pics, too, when my tree produces!

    Best wishes, and thanks for a fun and informative blog.


  11. HELP. I was given this beautiful Buddha Hand as a Christmas Present 2013. It was doing well until early summer. I live in the south west of England. I put it outside with my other citrus plants in a warm sheltered spot. The leaves went brown and fell off. I brought it indoors. It sits in a warm sunny spot ,watered regular, but not to much. Leaves have grown again, the are no bugs on the plant, the fruit grows to about an inch long and fall off. It’s looking very sorry for itself.
    Can anyone help please.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Trish
      Sorry to hear about your Buddha Hand.

      It sounds like you are doing all of the right things in efforts to uncover the cause of your trees illness.
      It is a bit tricky to tell exactly what is going on without seeing your plant.
      However, I have a few ideas for you.

      A few diagnostic thoughts for you:
      A sudden change in the weather can send these trees in a tail spin.
      This is esp true for potted trees which are even more sensitive to changes than the already fickle Buddha Hand Citron tree.

      On that note, the roots of potted plants will experience more dramatic changes in temperature (from night to day) and this is esp true of plants in black pots.

      Somewhat related; potted plants dry out very very easily and this tree will not tolerate bone dry soil at all.
      Potted plants are also more sensitive to fertilizer issues.
      Finally, these trees can get root-bound easily… even if you do everything perfect, a root-bound tree will decline.

      Possible solution:
      The solution for you.. if this potting thing is part of the problem, (it almost always is) I would put your tree in a larger container.

      Of course this will make it harder to move inside during the winter, but there are some specific wheeled things (plant dolly) that you can get for the bottom of pots that might help you to move it around.
      Heres a link to the type of thing I am talking about below:
      http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002TRQSYO/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B002TRQSYO&linkCode=as2&tag=tastylands-20&linkId=DHPC7SUKV34ACCCM“>Devault 3012B Plant Dolly, Black, 12-InchReply

  12. I live in the Palm Springs, California area. I planted my two foot Buddha Hand tree (delivered from a Northern California nursery) about six or more years ago. The tree is very robust, but never any blossoms or fruit. Any suggestions? Thank you in advance. Edward

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Edward

      Thanks for the question.
      Your not alone-I hear this is a common problem.

      No flower:
      Ahh… one of the many mysteries of growing; why doesnt my plant flower and fruit?

      Overall, the primary reasons why a plant wont flower is that the plant is either too young, sick or the growing conditions are off somehow.

      Too young:
      Considering that your citron is only 2 fee tall, it might still be a bit young (unless it is an ultra dwarf variety).
      However, you did mention that your plant was 6 years old… and that seems like it would be old enough.

      You mentioned that the tree is very robust, so I am going to skip this discussion.

      Location, Location, Location:
      The next thing to work on is the living conditions.
      Considering you are in Palm Springs, you might have your tree in a container so you can bring it in during the cooler months.
      That is a great idea (on one hand) because these plants really dont like the cold.
      However, (on the other hand) they also dont like to live in containers much either.

      So now what?

      Container growing:
      If you are growing your citron in a container; the bigger the better.
      This can make it difficult to move it around/ However, a plant dolly can help.
      These plant dolly’s come in different sizes, here is an example of what I am talking about (see link below)
      http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B002TRQSYO/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B002TRQSYO&linkCode=as2&tag=tastylands-20&linkId=JOJJOBONENRLBGOY“>Devault 3012B Plant Dolly, Black, 12-Inchhttp://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000HHQNBG/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000HHQNBG&linkCode=as2&tag=tastylands-20&linkId=OHN53KUDOMGVYXUA“>Dalen HG25 25′ X 5′ Harvest Guard Row Coverhttp://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CO5F324/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B00CO5F324&linkCode=as2&tag=tastylands-20&linkId=KCSZD35PYFXVEYPS“>CITRUSGAIN 2lb Bag, Citrus Fertilizer, Citrus Plant FoodReply



    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Chef Betty Ewing

      Thanks for the question.

      I am very sorry to hear about the underground attack on your Buddha hand citron tree.
      That is a heartbreak that I have experienced too many times.
      In all likelihood it was a gopher and not a mole. Moles are looking for grubs and bugs. They do disrupt roots in the process but they do not intentionally eat a tree to death. Gophers on the other hand are vegetarians and roots are their bread and butter.

      I have also tried to salvage the remains of a gopher kill. Like yourself, I have put the cut branches of a plant in water with hopes of salvaging something. This method does works for some plants. However, in many attempts, I have not had any success with this method when it comes to citrus trees. Overall, I dont think that citrus are programmed to grow directly from cuttings.
      Good luck and let us know if you somehow make it work.

      You should have more luck with grafting a branch of your citron onto another citrus. However, grafting is quite a skill and hot weather makes it even more challenging.

      Unfortunately, your best option may be to simply get another citron tree and start over.

      Please also let us know about your work as a chef and how you use the Buddha hand citron in your cooking.


  14. We had a Budas had in So Cal when we lived there and we had to leave it behind when we moved to Chicago as it is WAY to cold for it there. We recently moved to central Texas and was looking for one at all of the local nursery and n one carried it. I did a google search for the plant and I clicked on a link for citrus growers in TX and there was a gentleman who had a couple of them that were just maybe 18 inches tall so we decided to drive from San Antonio to Houston to pick up the plants. We got 1 fruit last year and we have 2 on the tree right now and hopefully now that we are in Austin (a bit cooler in the evenings) the plants seems to LOVE it and we have 15-20 new flowers on it as of today. I love this plant I have used the rind to make lemon pie, I sue some of the skin to flavor water like lemonade and it is great.

    What should we do about pruning the plant? Should we cut it back after the season? What is the best fertilizer to use on it?


    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Thanks for the note Marion

      And great citron cooking ideas. Thanks!!!

      As far as pruning:
      I usually don’t prune my citrus the way you would prune a peach tree etc.
      Sure, take out dead or diseased branches… and branches that get in your way.
      But, in general, I let them grow the way they want.
      Specifically, the Buddha hand citron also tends to have an open growth habit… so there shouldn’t be an issue with poor air circulation.

      Because of limited space, I will have to add the fertilizer question to another reply.


      • Tamara Galbraith

        I’m in N. Texas (Dallas) and can’t seem to find this plant. Would love to have one. I know I have to find it in-state due to citrus restrictions. Any ideas where I might look? Thanks!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      The best fertilizer:
      Good question.
      I dont know if there is a “best” way to fertilize citrus (although there are many people that would tell you that their way is the best way).
      All I can say for sure is what has worked for me.

      My citrus fertilizing method:
      I tend to mix it up a bit with all of my citrus and they have done very well.
      Citrus seem to like variety.

      In the spring, I use a specific citrus fertilizer with micronutrients.
      You could use a micronutrient fertilizer all year too and your plants would love you. However, these fertilizer tend to be more expensive per dose. Therefore, I get them with the micronutrients in the spring when it seems to have the most bang for the buck. That being said, the soil around here is pretty bad and I sometimes have to use additional doses to correct the related nutrient deficiencies.

      Citrus fertilizer with micronutrients:
      There are cheaper traditional citrus fertilizer options with micronutrients such as the Miracle Grow Shake ‘n Feed Continuous Release: Citrus, Avocado and Mango 4.5 lbs (104829)Shake and feed with link here

      Organic options:
      And there are also more expensive but popular organic options such as this the Sea-90 100% Organic Fertilizer — Reconditions soil by replacing the essential minerals & trace elements gardens, flowers, orchids, and citrus plants need. Water Soluble. Sea 90 is great for Hydroponics & is the perfect container plant food. Money Back Guarantee.fishy ones.

      The rest of the season:
      For the rest of the growing season, I use a balanced fertilizer such as 15-15-15 (from spring to summer).

      As an added bonus, I regularly add mushroom compost around the root zone and let it soak in.
      I recently wrote an article about to get free mushroom compost Click on those words to get there.

      I also tend to sprinkle slow release fertilizer around the root zone as well. Osmocote 273160 Outdoor and Indoor Smart Release Plant Food/Fertilizers, 1.25-PoundI like this brand:

  15. So I live in Northern California, and in an area that can get pretty hot in summer and cold in winter. It’s generally temperate in fall/spring. My mom is interested in getting one, but it seems from the info above that it’s not a very good place to grow them. Is it possible to grow them indoors?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Ethan

      Good question.

      Growing citrus indoors can be challenging for many reasons:
      *citrus love a full day of direct sunlight which is hard hard to get indoors.
      *Changes in root temp and soil moisture levels become more extreme when growing in containers…. Which can freak out citrus.
      *There is less room for error when fertilizing; it is easier to give too much or not enough fertilizer with growing in containers.

      So it is not easy… But growing citrus indoors can be done.
      The best success seems to be with lemons on dwarf rootstock.
      I have not tried it with Buddha hand citrons, but if I did I would be sure to do it with a dwarf citron.

      The bigger the container the better.
      A big container will help to negate some of the negative effects of growing in a container such as changes in soil temp and drying out.

      Liquid organic fertilizer:
      Organic fertilizer is more forgiving but also more expensive. The fish fertilizer stuff is great but and can be stinky indoors.
      I dont know where it is cheapest, but below is an amazon link to let you know what I am talking about.
      http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000OWBUSA/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000OWBUSA&linkCode=as2&tag=tastylands-20&linkId=AERBW5XXJ2YQKYXF“>Neptune’s Harvest Organic Hydrolized Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer 36 0zhttp://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0030EK5JE/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B0030EK5JE&linkCode=as2&tag=tastylands-20&linkId=ZZRPUNAVS5PQYWX5“>Jobe’s 09226 Organic Fruit & Citrus Granular Fertilizer 4-Pound BagReply

    • Hi. I live in the south west of England UK. And grow my Budda indoors all year round. It took a while to find the right position in our house but is now growing happily and bearing fruit. Probably slower growing then most but never the less it seems to be happy.

      • Thomas Osborne, MD

        Thanks for sharing you success story Trish!
        If you get a chance, it would be great to hear about any of your personal suggestions/insight based on your experience.

  16. I live in Tennessee what are my chances this plant will live? I have a sunny yard but think I need to take in during the winter

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Gwyn
      Good question.

      I would think it is possible to grow a Buddha Hand Citron in Tennessee the way you described… but not necessarily easy.
      This plant is a rather fickle one.
      None the less, what you outlined seems to be your best option (growing outdoors in a container in the warmer weather and bringing it indoors to live in warm sunny spot in the colder months).

      I would definitely make sure you get a dwarf variety because they are your best chance for success in containers.
      The bigger the container the better.

      Good luck.

      As reference, one of my articles talks about finding your specific growing zone (see below).
      This might help with other planting decisions as well.


  17. Hi Mr. Osborne
    I live in southern Brazil, where the climate is about
    the same of North Florida – South Georgia.
    Winters with about zero Celsius degrees and frosts.
    Hot Summers.(36). Snow in highlands.
    You say Buddha’s hand has no seeds.
    I’ve just purchased from China a lot of seeds,
    and I’m not believing the seedlings I’m getting

    are from a citric species.
    I am a rare fruit collector an the seedlings seem
    not citrus medica to me.
    Do you have any photo showing the leaves in detail,
    or leaves from a young seedling?
    I would thank you.

    If you mind I could help you with my
    fruit collector hobby or my chemical knowledge
    do not hesitate to contact me.

    Retired Chemical Engineering

    PS. Congratulations for the leafminer article.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Olá Ricardo
      Thanks for the note and great feedback.

      Yea, that is an interesting story.

      Citron seeds:
      My citrons do not have seeds; I have lots of fruit every year and I have never seen a single seed.

      Something else:
      I agree with you, if you are seeing lots of seeds… or any seeds then you are likely growing something else.
      For me the Buddha hand citrons always have the shape of hands. They start that way from the very beginning at the flower stage and then just get bigger and change color.
      It would be interesting for me to see what your fruit looks like.
      Perhaps we can identify what you really have there.

      I will try to get you some pictures of the leaves and post them on the site for you.


    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Ricardo
      I just posted a picture (just for you).
      The photo is to help with your earlier question,
      “Do you have any photo showing the leaves in detail, or leaves from a young seedling?”

      The picture is in the middle of the article and shows a young branch with new leaves.
      A growing seedling should look very similar.

      Hope this helps.

  18. I bought a citron plant from Logee’s online that I’ve been growing in a clay pot for a little over a year. it’s finally at a point where it’s flowering and I’ve even seen the little teeny tiny fruit inside the flower, once the petals have fallen off. The problem I’m running into is that the fruit never seems to survive! after about a week, the fruit seems to shivel up and fall off. Not sure what I’m doing wrong or not doing enough of to help it survive?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Alex
      Great question
      There are a few reasons why a plant might drop its flowers/fruit prematurely.

      The main causes include:
      * Poor pollination
      * Young age of the tree
      * Sub-optimal growing conditions
      * Sick or infected tree

      Growing in pots is challenging.
      Getting the right moisture, fertilizer all the time etc is difficult.
      Trees can also easily get root-bound which can make things much worse.
      Therefore, if you are growing in a container, statistically, I would be most suspicious that this is the cause of your poor fruiting.
      Planting in a huge container can help stabilize growing conditions… but keeping an extra watchful eye on the soil will always be necessary.
      Dwarf varieties do best in containers, but planting in the ground (if your climate allows) is always better.

      Taking a good close look at your leaves/branches for parasites is an important step too.

      Leaf color and pattern can provide clues into your plants nutritional health.

      Hope this helps,

      • I have just got one of these and a friend wants one, What would be the best way to grow one from a clipping as the fruits have no seeds

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hey Pete
          Good question.

          Citrons are typically propagated via grafting of a branch onto another tree.
          In fact, most citrus are grafted because citrus seeds do not reliably grow fruit trees that are true to the parent tree.
          Grafting is also how seedless fruit trees and grapes etc are made available.

          There are many ways to graft plants and this is a rather huge topic that is somewhere between a science and an art.
          There are literally books on the topic as well as guarded secrets.
          But the overall concept is that you want to connect as much of the living layer of bark (the thin cambrian layer) from one plant to another… and keep it from drying out while the two plants fuse/connect.


  19. I have a Buddha Hand tree that has been robust for four or five years. This year, I am getting lemons and very few Buddha Hands. Can someone please help out.

  20. Hello

    I was given one fruit several months ago and we have enjoyed its exotic look. Now that it is at the end of its life, I am wondering if I can propitiate it. Any tips?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Phyllis
      Thanks for the note.

      Agree, the fruit does look pretty cool.
      However, the fruit that I have seen do not contain seeds.
      Therefore, they are propagated via grafting of a branch onto another tree.

      That being said, there is apparently a variety of this fruit that does have seeds.
      Here is a quote from UC Irvine’s citrus agriculture department web page:

      “There appear to be two clones—one in which all the fruits are deeply fingered and lacking in flesh development and seeds, the other in which only part of the fruits are fingered and the rest are corrugated, lacking in flesh, and contain seeds hanging free in the locules.”

      Link reference: http://www.citrusvariety.ucr.edu/citrus/buddha.html

      Therefore, if you have some seeds in your sample fruit then give it a try.


  21. Mihaela Greaney

    Hello, I have two questions please…

    My Buddah hand tree is going on 5 years this October/November of when I planted it. I live in Southern California (zone 9) La Habra/Brea area. I got my tree at Blue Hills Nursery (16440 E. Whittier Blvd., Whittier, CA 90603).

    The first two years I knocked off all the buds so the tree could develop stronger roots. The 3rd year I got about 3 fruits, the 4th year I got about a dozen beautiful fruit. this year the fruit is setting quite nicely, however and herein lies my first question,

    1. The leafs of the tree every year have been sad looking, yellowish and curled in on its self. It just doesn’t look healthy. When i planted it, I dug the whole twice the size of the tree and mended the soil….more like planted it in the citrus mix the nurser suggested and added some of the dirt from digging the whole on top of the mix… didn’t mix the two together all that well.

    How can I help the tree leaves look like your pictures?

    2. question two, could lemons be grafted onto a Buddah Hand tree?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Mihaela
      Thanks for the questions.

      Citron leaf problem:
      The leaves of a plant can tell you a lot of things about what is going on with its health.
      The problems can range from infection to specific nutrient deficiencies.
      Each problem can have a specific appearance which is useful because each problem is treated differently.
      Sometimes there is more than one problem and the diagnosis becomes more challenging.

      So basically, it is very useful to see the leaves to get an idea of what the problem might be.
      That being said… Curled citrus leaves is often a sign of Cirtus Leaf Miner.
      This is a real pain in the butt, but it can be treated organically.
      I wrote an article all about the diagnosis and treatment of Citrus Leaf Miner if you would like to read more click on the link.

      In general, you can graft just about any citrus on any other citrus. There may be some rare exception, but I dont know of one.
      However, if your tree is sickly, I would not graft anything on it till it is recovered.

      In addition, Lemons tend to be rather vigorous (at least in Southern California) and therefore have a tendency of taking over.
      In fact, many root stocks are some sort of lemon variety because they are so robust/hearty. There is a tendency to graft onto Lemon and not the other way around.

      Hope this helps

  22. My Buddha’s hand tree has only grown round fruit the last few years. Why is this and can I do anything about it?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Steve
      Interesting question.
      Has your tree ever grown “fingered” fruit?
      Is the round fruit coming from a branch that started down low on the trunk?


      • Yes, the first 4 years it had fingered fruit, then some were round and now all I get are round fruits.

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Thats very interesting Steve
          Not something I have ever seen.
          Even in the flower stage, I can see the little fingers of the proto-fruit.

          The only thing I can think of is that you are getting fruit from sucker growth that originated from below the graft union site.

          This degree of dramatic change would be very unusual for a “sport” branch (genetic variation of a branch)

          Perhaps another reader can chime in with some ideas.


  23. I just bought a Buddha hand tree and a pink lemonade tree. I planted them about 10 feet apart and about 3 feet from a walkway. Will this be a problem?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Lisa
      I have trees growing just a few feet from each other (planted that way before my time) and they are fine. They would probably be better off with more space but this is not an absolute requirement.

      Citrus roots are very forgiving with walkways and are the least likely of any tree that I know of to lift up a sidewalk.
      However, they do tend to grow wide, so if they are healthy, at 3 feet, the branches will likely grow into the waking area. I have a few citrus growing close to walkways and I just trim them back frequently… like a hedge. This is fine, and they dont seem to mind but it is more maintenance.

      Hope this helps,

      • Thanks. This helps a lot. I was very concerned because I want both trees to do well. I transplanted them a couple days ago so it is too soon to know if they will do ok. They are both about 3′ tall, so we have a lot of time before they get big anyway. But I want them to do well long-term.

  24. Hello:
    I have had similar issue with suddenly getting round lemon fruit on my tree. It is planted near my lemon tree. The tree is 4 years old. I live in Az. I took the fruit to the local nursery and was told that because of possible grafting I needed to cut the branches from the lower main trunk because the graft fruit are taking over. Well there is no main trunk. The base of the tree(bush) is at ground level and the branches are going from there. What has happened? Should I cut off branches low to the ground and how many? Four very large fruit grew this year after heavy fertilizing last year. How do I save this tree?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Kathleen
      It sounds like the root-stock on your tree might have taken over… or is a dominant part of the plant now.
      Although it can be hard to tell sometimes, trying to see if all the branches and leaves are the same may help.

      You can graft different but related plants onto each other.
      Many use this idea to make a Frankenstein like tree that has beneficial attributes.
      (actually very common practice for fruit trees).

      For example, if you have a hearty disease-resistant drought-tolerant tree you can use that tree as a root stock.
      Citrus root stock is often some type of lemon or a citrus that doesn’t produce appealing fruit but is very strong otherwise.
      On that solid root stock foundation, you graft a branch from a tree that produces great fruit.
      So now… you have a single plant that is really parts of two different plants.

      However, sometimes the root stock puts out a lot of additional growth that is more vigorous than the grafted branch.
      (Thats why you should always diligently remove sucker growth to prevent this from happening)

      Anyhow, if left unchecked, the sucker growth from the root stock takes over and may either dominate or out compete the grafted growth… the remaining graft may be so small in comparison that it is hard to see or that branch may die off.

      Hope that helps explain things some,

      • Thank you. I will get to pruning the suckers and hope for the best. I hope to have better fruit next year or this tree will be gone. Will keep you posted

  25. Hello. I am having the same problem as Kathleen Liucci. I too am in AZ. My Buddha has been in the ground approx. 5 years and has had beautiful hands on it for the last 4 years. The tree was about three feet tall when planted and got over 7 feet tall this year and the tree was so full. I had to prune it as the limbs were touching the ground. My fruit that is now on my tree are huge! They started out round and are now resembling a pear shape. The skin smells like limes. I am waiting to see what the fruit will be. They are larger than any grapefruit I have ever seen. My neighbor has a ruby grapefruit in her yard, maybe 20-25 yds from my tree. I can’t see a graft and the fruit are not just on one section or branch. Any suggestions?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Ho Sharon
      This is an interesting phenomenon.
      The best explanation I have is that the root stock has taken over and you are seeing fruit from that.

      What is root stock?
      Most Citrus trees are grafted. A really hearty citrus is planted and used for the roots. When it is mature enough, a branch of a different type of citrus is grafted ontop of it. This allows the best of both worlds and is also how you get to enjoy seedless fruit.

      So when this grafting process happens, you have the roots and part of the trunk from one kind of plant at the bottom…. And the rest of the trunk and the branches of another type of desirable citrus on the top. Its like a Frankenstein tree.

      Oftentimes, the root stock part of the tree will send out branches too. These are suckers and you need to trim them off if you see them. If left to grow, they will take over and the grafted top part of the tree will be overwhelmed, sometimes dying off. The result, is that your tree is now just root stock.


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