How to Plant Citrus Trees in Your Garden


Homemade Lemonade Anyone?

There are many different species of citrus tree. They produce many types of fruits that can be used for a myriad of purposes. Lemons, oranges, cumquats, mandarins, lime, grapefruits and so much more are used in the kitchen as condiments, made into juice or just eaten raw. Instead of relying on the supermarket for your supply of citrus fruits, you can plant some in your garden. They provide wonderful fragrances and colors when fully grown and when the fruiting season comes along.

Types of Citrus Plant

The choice of citrus plant you should have in your garden basically depends on what use you have for it, as well as its viability for growth in the area that you live in. Climate also plays a role. When purchasing a young tree to transplant into your garden, make sure that you choose a plant that has not been attacked by pest or fungus. This is indicated by any discolored leaves you may see. Also look for nitrogen deficiencies in pale or yellow leaves, and ’collar rot’ which means the plant is infected by fungus.

Choosing a Location

Like any plant, citrus trees prefer areas that are exposed to lots of sunlight. You should also pick an area with well drained soil. Sandy loams are the best type of soil for citrus trees. This is so that the tree does not suffer from root rot due to wet soil. The climate where you live in also plays a role in the type of citrus plant you can have. Although most species do very well in sunny areas, such as mandarins and oranges, some thrive in cooler climates, like grapefruits and lemons.

Planting Your Citrus Tree

The best time to plant your citrus tree is during spring. Do not plant them during the wet or frosty season as this will lead to rot on the tender young roots. When planting you should also ensure that the soil is not too dry to avoid causing dehydration of the roots. Pre-soak the plant before planting and make sure that the hole you dig for the tree is deep enough to sink in the entire root system, without ’drowning’ the bud above soil.

  • Dig the hole to sufficient size, and remove the young plant out of its plastic soil bag (of pot) and stand it in a bucket of water. Do this about an hour before you plant it so that the roots will adhere to the soil.
  • With some of the soil that you removed when digging the hole, mix with sand and compost. You can also consider adding some manure or blood and bone.
  • Fill the bottom of the hole with this mixture.
  • Place the plant in the hole, allowing about 5 cm (2 inches) of the top section of the soil the plant is in to be above the level of the ground.
  • Fill the hole with more mixture of sand, soil and compost.
  • Scatter sand around the base of the trunk. The sand acts as a deterrent for collar rot which can occur if mulch is added too close to the trunk.
  • Drive a stake next to the tree and tie the tree to it. Fill in the rest of the ground with mulch.

If your garden soil is made up of clay of soil that is prone to getting wet and soggy, you may want to consider planting the citrus tree above ground. You can do this by using the same instructions as above, only instead of burying the plant roots down into the hole, the potted section sits ON the ground itself. Mold the sand/soil/compost mixture around the sides (instead of filling it in, since it is now sitting on level ground).

You will need to stake more than one piece of wood to support the tree. Trees planted this way are prone to topple over as they may take longer to establish their roots. Also consider laying out a drainage pipe to allow excess water in the soil drain away.

Caring for Citrus Trees

Watering is important during the early stages of your citrus tree. Use mulch to deter evaporation, weed growth and improve soil fertility (when mixed with compost). Fertilizers should be used in the right amount with lots of hydration to facilitate mixing and absorption. Fertilizing should be done twice each year (in early spring and late summer). Lightly prune the trees after proper growth has been established. Pruning is not required until maturity after this. Learn also to identify and tackle any pests and disease problems that may affect your trees.

Now you can enjoy the fruits of your labour when those trees bear tasty morsels of oranges, lemons etc.

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