An Atlanta entrepreneur founded a company that will deliver you a petite citrus tree

Via Citrus founder Danny Trejo holds a calamansi tree in a recycled denim planter.

Photograph by Wedig + Laxton

Danny Trejo grew up on an 80-acre Florida nursery and grove, where citrus was all he knew. He also knew it wasn’t what he wanted to do with his life. Instead, he went into insurance and moved to New York City. But, one day in 2015, he was walking along a sidewalk in the Flower District and spotted citrus plants from his father’s farm. “I couldn’t believe the markup!” he says.

That chance encounter got the wheels turning, and the next year he founded Via Citrus, which delivers petite, affordable citrus trees (from $65) to customers’ doorsteps in two to four days. Then, just before the pandemic, Trejo and his wife, who is from Inman Park, moved to Atlanta.

Meyer lemon, Australian finger lime, and calamansi trees—all of which thrive indoors year-round or can be left outside most of the year in temperate climates—are the brand’s most popular varieties. “The calamansi is a great starter tree because they’re not as finicky as other citrus, and it will be blooming through spring, summer, and fall,” says Trejo.

Photograph by Wedig + Laxton

He also offers more unique varieties, such as yuzu, ponderosa lemon, and kumquat, depending on the growing season. All plants come in black grower pots, or customers can upgrade to eco-friendly decorative marbleized pots (from $65). Made partly from sustainable denim scraps, these 100 percent recycled plastic pots contain no virgin plastic. “It’s a lot easier to have someone create virgin plastic than to have someone go out there and collect plastic from our riverways, remelt it, and reuse it,” he says. “That costs a lot of money. But sustainability is part of our mission.” When possible, plants are shipped ready to bloom. The fruit is indeed edible, ripening at different times of year depending on the climate and the variety.

While Trejo knows that millennials play into the trope of being plant parents, he has been surprised at the emotional connection people have with his trees. “I didn’t realize how cool people think this is. People really love growing plants,” he says.

Citrus Care 101

Watering
Trejo states that it’s vital to mimic a subtropical environment and keep a citrus tree well watered. Plants require more water and more nutrients when they are blooming or when fruit is ripening. “People either overwater or underwater. It’s tricky,” he says. To test your plant, stick your fingers in the top few inches of soil. If it’s dry, it needs water. “If you see the leaves curling up, you’ve overwatered,” he advises.

Soil
“Citrus likes to dry out a bit,” Trejo says, so look for citrus soil at your local nursery. “It’ll retain water well so you don’t get root rot.

Sunlight
Trejo says to make sure that your plant gets at least four to six hours of direct sunlight daily, which will result in more fruit and blooms. “They love direct sunlight. I recommend a grow light if you’re bringing it indoors.”

Exposure
While Via Citrus’s plants are chosen to thrive indoors, they also do well outside—just make sure to bring them in if the temperature dips into the low 40s. (The company may not ship plants when there is danger of frost.)

This article appears in our December 2023 issue.

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