Citrus trees produce many types of fruits that we enjoy eating and using for different purposes as well. When thinking about citrus fruits we are talking about oranges, lemons, grapefruit, cumquats, mandarins, limes, and many more. While the fruit they produce is very popular around the world, most people don’t know what it takes to plant a citrus tree and the guidelines offered here are intended to help in this regard. People who have planted these trees can attest to the wonderful fragrances and colors they grace the garden with all year round.
In planting citrus trees you first have to consider the type of tree. The list above clearly shows that the term ‘citrus’ goes beyond lemons and oranges. The second thing that is also very vital has to do with the condition of the young trees that you will purchase for planting in your garden. Look for a plant that has not suffered pest or fungal attacks. Discolored leaves betray such attacks. Pale or yellow leaves also indicate nitrogen deficiencies. Check the bark on the stems for rot especially where the stem borders the soil or potting mixture in the container. Bark decay indicates ‘collar rot’ and such plants shouldn’t be purchased.
Choosing a Location
Having delivered the purchased plants to your home it’s time to think about where you’ll plant them. As a rule, citrus trees prefer sunny spots where the soil is well drained. It’s not a must that you have a fully fledged garden to grow these trees; people have planted them in wine barrels and other like containers including terracotta pots quite successfully. Also consider the weather in your region. All citrus trees will do well in sunny regions but temperate climates tend to favor some types only. In this regard, grapefruits and lemons may perform well in cool climates but mandarins and oranges may not produce their best fruit. Soils are important as has been highlighted. The best types for your trees are sandy loams well drained to preempt root rot.
Planting in Season
Planting your citrus trees is very much dependent on the season. Generally, it is not advisable to plant them when it is extremely wet or frosty. Spring is definitely a very nice time to plant. Young citrus trees are usually sold while growing in plastic sleeves and upon planting only this sleeve should be removed. Ensure that this soil is not too dry when planting so as not to dehydrate the tender root system. In this regard, presoak the plant such that soil still adheres to the root during planting. The hole in which you plant the young citrus tree should be deep enough to fit the entire root system and also sufficient to have the bud union well above the soil surface. No fertilizer is required at this stage.
Caring for Your Citrus Tree
Your citrus tree will require a good amount of watering in its early stages. Drip watering is easy and convenient to use and may simply involve inverting a water-filled into the soil near the plant. To deter excessive evaporation and weed infestation you are advised to use mulch. Mulching especially with organic material benefits the soil fertility as well. For fertilizer you can use complete citrus preparations which have just the right content of nitrogen. As you place fertilizer at the base of the tree ensure that the soil around is adequately hydrated to facilitate mixing and absorption. Young citrus trees require two feedings annually; one in early spring and the other during late summer. The young citrus tree will do better if lightly pruned after proper growth has started. After this no pruning is necessary until maturity.
Make a point of consulting your seedling vendor or any other person with suitable experience about how to tackle both pests and diseases that afflict citrus trees. Chances are you’ll have to deal with some of these sooner rather than later.