Citrus trees are one of the most popular types of fruit trees to grow in the home garden. They are relatively easy to care for, and they produce an abundance of delicious fruit. If you’re thinking about planting a citrus tree, there are a few things you need to know in order to ensure its success.
When to Plant
The best time to plant a citrus tree is in the spring, after the last frost has passed. You can also plant in the fall, but be sure to give the tree plenty of time to establish itself before winter sets in.
Where to Plant
Citrus trees need full sun in order to produce lots of fruit, so choose a spot in your yard that gets at least 8 hours of direct sunlight each day. The soil should be well-drained and rich in organic matter. If your soil is heavy or clay-like, mix in some sand or compost to improve drainage.
How to Plant
Dig a hole that is twice as wide and just as deep as the tree’s root ball. Gently loosen the roots and spread them out in the hole. Backfill with soil, tamping it down around the roots as you go. Water deeply immediately after planting.
Staking Your Tree
Young citrus trees are susceptible to wind damage, so it’s a good idea to stake them for added support. Use a wooden stake that is at least 2 feet taller than the tree, and drive it into the ground next to the trunk. Use twine or rope to tie the tree loosely to the stake, being careful not to damage the bark. The stake should be removed after 2-3 years as the tree becomes more established and develops a strong root system.
Fertilizing Your Tree
Citrus trees are heavy feeders and will need regular fertilization in order to produce lots of fruit. Apply a balanced fertilizer (such as 10-10-10) every 6-8 weeks during the growing season. You can also use compost or manure as a natural fertilizer – just be sure not to overdo it, as too much nitrogen can actually harm your tree. Apply compost or manure around the base of the tree, taking care not to get any on the trunk or leaves.