How to successfully grow citrus trees

Growing your own citrus means you’ll never be short of a lemon, lime, or orange, and you can share any excess with friends and neighbours.

March 17, 2022

Planting

Citrus require a very sunny position and well-drained soil. You can also plant citrus in large pots.  

Autumn is a good time to plant. Citrus has a shallow root system, so plant in a hole three times the width and only slightly deeper than the original container. Soak the root ball in a seaweed solution before planting and prepare the soil with plenty of well-rotted organic matter and a handful of blood and bone.  

When planting your citrus, make sure that the soil is at the same level it was when in the pot. Water thoroughly and mulch well, making sure that no mulch is touching the trunk as citrus are prone to collar-rot. Keep the area under the tree free of grass and plants to avoid competition for water and nutrients.

Watering and feeding

Water twice weekly in the summer months, especially after flowering and while the fruit is setting. Less frequent watering is needed in the cooler months. Feed with citrus food in spring and late summer, keeping any fertiliser well away from the trunk.

If using manure to fertilise your tree, make sure it is well rotted. Potted citrus will require more frequent watering and fertilising and it’s a good idea to rotate any pots occasionally, especially if they are close to a wall.

Pruning

Pruning is only needed to shape the tree and to remove straggly branches. Keep the centre of the tree open to allow good airflow and let sunlight in.

Citrus fruits are susceptible to certain diseases and can be sensitive to nutrient deficiencies. If your tree is not thriving, or you notice anything unusual, take a leaf sample to your local nursery for expert advice.

Gardening