Indoor Plant History: Orange You Glad The British Liked Citrus?
Between the end of the Middle Ages in Europe and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, plants from Southeast Asia, the Americas, and Sri Lanka were brought back by British sea captains from their expeditions. Of the thousands of plants that arrived to England, the most popular of these were citrus fruit trees! Oranges and lemons arrived to England long before in the Thirteenth Century and were well-known for their unique tart taste but only the wealthy were able to afford them. None in England had attempted to grow actual citrus fruit trees until the Sixteenth century when these plants became available from oversea expeditions. During severe winter weather, early horticulturists would find many exotic plants utterly destroyed if kept outside and decided to bring them indoors for extra protection. During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries oranges were grown in the thousands in large indoor “orangeries.” As world travel improved in the eighteenth century, fresh citrus fruit was imported at a fraction of the cost of being grown in England and it was no longer essential to grow citrus trees at such a high cost. The British lost interest in growing orange trees altogether though the their passion for bringing exotic plants indoors was set for centuries to come!