A well-cared-for citrus tree can give you hundreds of pounds of citrus a year. In this video, Angela Judd discusses choosing the correct citrus tree variety and size, proper planting depth and spacing for your citrus trees, optimal watering, feeding, and harvesting. As well as the difference between dwarf and standard citrus tres and tips on growing citrus trees in containers.
5 Tips On Growing Citrus Trees
1. Chose the correct variety and size. If possible, purchase your citrus tree from a local grower to ensure the tree is right for your region and will thrive. Another advantage of purchasing your tree from a local grower is that you can sample the fruit and find your favorite. A citrus tree can produce up to 1,000 pounds of fruit per year so it’s important that you chose a variety that you and your family will enjoy. Next, consider the size of the tree and how much space you have. A standard citrus tree can grow to be approximately 20 feet tall by 20 feet wide once it’s mature. If you don’t have enough room for a full-size citrus tree, consider a dwarf variety. Dwarf citrus trees grow up to be about 10 feet wide by 10 feet tall and while they produce about 50% less fruit, it is still the same size and quality as a regular tree. Finally, consider your climate, all citrus trees are frost sensitive, therefore if you live in a cooler area you may want to choose a more frost tolerant variety such as kumquats or oranges.
2. Once you’ve decided which tree is right for you remember that smaller is better when purchasing your new citrus tree. Smaller trees will adapt better to the new environment and will have the best chance of thriving compared to a larger, established tree. Plant your new tree at the same depth as its nursery pot but in a hole that’s much wider. It’s important not to plant your citrus tree too deep or make the hole too narrow. Avoid planting citrus trees during summer and right before frost. However, if you do experience a cold snap, simply cover your tree in burlap to protect it from frost. The best time to plant, in general, is from October to April but be mindful if you have extremely cold winters or hot summers.
3. It can be helpful to have a dedicated water line for your citrus tree as it has specific watering needs that are likely different from the other plants in your garden. Giving it an irrigation system allows you to water your trees deeply and easily space out the time between each watering. Make sure you’re watering your tree deep and slow to encourage the water to get all the way down to the roots. Try sticking a long screwdriver or soil probe to test if your soil is moist. Remember that as your plant grows and becomes larger it, will need a higher volume of water and that a freshly planted tree will need to be watered more frequently.
4. In order for your citrus tree to produce the highest quality and quantity of fruits, it needs to be fertilized regularly. Try fertilizing a few times per year so your tree always has the nutrients it needs. Use a fertilizer made for citrus and follow the directions on the package. Water before and after fertilizing and be sure to use a garden hoe to work the granular fertilizer into the soil.
5. Harvesting is the best part about having a citrus tree, here some tips to ensure you get the best harvest! In the first two years, you may not get many fruits on your tree, but it’s important that during this period you pick off any fruits that form to help the tree establish nice deep roots. Once you have an established tree it can be difficult to know when to harvest its fruits and when they’ve reached peak ripeness. It’s helpful to research when your specific variety of citrus comes into season, as all trees are different. Once you know that it’s harvesting season the citrus rind can be an indicator of ripeness. For example, once a grapefruit has begun to reach its desired pink color you can start testing for sweetness and ripeness. However, this can be more difficult with fruits such as lemons or limes so it’s best to pull one off the tree and try it while you’re in harvesting season. One great thing about citrus is that you can enjoy fresh fruits from the tree all season long and they will continue to ripen the longer they’re on the tree. However, they will not continue to ripen once they’ve been picked so it’s best to let them ripen on the tree as long as possible. At the end of the season make sure you pick off all the fruits.
Tips for Growing Citrus in Containers
Growing citrus trees in containers is a popular choice because it allows you to bring your citrus inside if you live in a colder climate, utilize limited growing space, and try different varieties. If you decide that growing citrus in containers is right for you the next step is to choose a variety that’s suitable for container growing. Large trees such as grapefruits will not do well in containers so opt for smaller, dwarf varieties such as a Meyer lemon, certain varieties of limes, and kumquats. When you purchase your citrus tree, it will come in a nursery container. Make sure your container is 2 to 3 times larger and has many drainage holes. Plant the tree at the same level as it was in its nursery container in a lightweight potting soil. Remember that you’ll need to water a container-grown citrus tree more often that one planted in the ground as well as fertilize it more frequently.
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About the Author:
Angela Judd is an avid vegetable, flower and fruit tree gardener. A mother of five children, she enjoys growing and preparing food from the garden for her family. She is a certified Master Gardener. She shares inspiration and tips to help home gardeners successfully grow their own garden on growinginthegarden.com. Follow her on Instagram and Facebook.