Caring for Your Citrus Tree

oranges growing on a potted tree
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Caring for Your Citrus Tree

Advice for Taking Care of Citrus Trees

Many people have trouble growing citrus trees, and while they aren't particularly delicate, they do need some constant attention to succeed. Just remember citrus trees probably won't bear a large crop of fruit for the first three years after you plant them. No matter how old the tree is, this is normal after transplant. You may not be doing anything wrong. Just look over the quick tips, and you should be well on your way to growing delicious lemons, limes, and oranges on your own patio.

  1. Apply fertilizer three times a year: once in the early spring after the danger of frost has passed; next at the beginning of summer when fruiting starts; and finally, towards the end of summer - to help fruit ripen properly.
  2. Prune just after the danger of frost has passed - never prune in the summer - it will exposed your plant to damage by heat and wind.
  3. A citrus tree will shed fruit it cannot support - it will also shed tiny, undeveloped fruit if it was not pollinated thoroughly. This is usually nothing to worry about, if you are providing as you should. You may have to pollinate your flowers manually with a cotton swab if the bugs are not doing their job.
  4. Never use insecticides - this will kill your pollinators like bees, butterflies, and hummingbirds. You will have no fruit.
  5. Water deeply once every week in the hot dry summer months - mulch to hold in moisture.
  6. Your fruit should be ready to harvest and eat around the beginning of September.
  7. After harvest, ease off on the watering to prepare your tree for winter dormancy. Protect your tree from frost but never cover it with plastic as this will trap moisture and lead to rotting or possible freezing. Cover the trunks with cloth, and use warming lamps if possible.

If you're growing citrus trees outside of Zones 9 and higher, they make terrific houseplants that enjoy a summer vacation outside. Look for terms like dwarf, semi-dwarf, and compact. You can also prune citrus trees to maintain size and shape. Citrus trees will ship at the appropriate planting time based on your growing zone. Citrus trees do not ship in December or January. Plant height is 18-36" when shipped.

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