In the right environment, citrus trees and plants are fairly easy to maintain. According to the National Gardening Association, citrus trees and plants do well in moderate, temperate environments. They will grow in most soils that are moist but well drained. If you’re interested in cultivating savory citrus fruits from your own backyard, read these helpful tips that will be sure to green your thumb.
1. Regularly water your citrus trees. You should typically give your citrus trees a heavy watering treatment by filling the well around the tree base up to 8 inches of water every two weeks. Let this water stand and it will seep down to the root system for a deep-water treatment. In between watering use a sprinkler. Sprinklers can help keep the tree hydrated. Some citrus farmers even water the trees when frosts are expected. The water from the sprinklers can be warmer than the frost, and this prevents damage that can come from a heavy freeze in the fall and winter.
2. Once a year drive an iron rod down about 3 feet to make a hole. Pull out the rod and fill the hole with fertilizer about a foot away from the roots system. This provides the nourishment citrus trees require, and it delivers that nourishment directly to the root system. If your ground is too hard or rocky and difficult to drive a rod through you can still fertilize near the surface. Citrus trees require multiple supplements including iron, nitrogen, phosphorous, zinc, copper and potassium. Speak to your garden center on which supplements would best support your citrus trees in your environment, as some minerals are more naturally occurring in soils in various parts of the country.
3. Citrus trees need proper pruning. Pruning off the suckers or branches that are growing downward (and typically non fruit bearing branches) will aid in the tree focusing its growing energy on the fruit bearing branches. It is also important to thin out branches that look unhealthy. This promotes healthy fruit growth. Don’t forget to remove any areas of damage from the cold or freezes that occurred throughout the month.
4. Make sure your citrus trees have enough warmth. It may seem counterintuitive, but it is imperative to watch the weather to ensure your trees are properly insulated during cold spells. Some farmers insulate their trees’ trunks by wrapping them during the colder months. Others use portable heaters to ensure the trees and the fruit they are bearing remains warm. If the freeze is harsh enough you can lose the entire crop, and proper warmth and insulation can help to combat this loss.
5. Help protect citrus trees from disease and insect infestations. Citrus trees, like other plants and trees, are not immune to disease or insect infestations. The typical diseases that may affect your trees include root rot, citrus canker, a fungal infection called melanose, sooty mold and grease spots. Reach out to your garden center on how the best go about treatments for these diseases. Also keep an eye out for aphids, citrus mites, caterpillars, whiteflys. Your garden center will be able to guide you on how to rid your trees or grove of these unwanted pests.
Despite the bit of work from the regular care they require, citrus trees are great for your small fruit orchard, and certainly make for great juices and snacks. It is important to research your area before planting to guarantee your citrus will be growing healthy and hearty fruits. After all of this is complete, take some time to enjoy the fruits of your labor!
Stewart Scott is a certified arborist and is the owner of Cevet Tree Care, where he offers the best tree service Columbia MO has to offer. Cevet has provided tree trimming and other tree care services to mid-Missouri for almost 20 years.