How to grow citrus trees and inject some zest into your garden

How to grow citrus trees and inject some zest into your garden

Citrus trees are among the most rewarding yet frustrating plants to grow. When they’re good they’re great, and when they’re not, well, they can end up looking like a couple of sticks with a few leaves attached.

So how do you achieve the perfect tree that’s glossy green, covered in perfumed white flowers each spring and laden with fruit in winter?

Here’s everything you need to know about how to grow citrus trees.

Where to plant citrus trees?

If you have full sun and good drainage, then you can grow citrus trees in any temperate part of Australia. In really cold areas such as Tasmania, the Snowy Mountains, and NSW Central Tablelands and New England regions, you may need to keep them in pots and bring them into a sheltered position in winter. Avoid exposing them to strong salt-laden winds too, as this will affect the ability of the citrus tree to grow lots of fruit from the blossom.

When should you plant citrus trees?

Plant citrus in autumn and spring, avoiding the heat of summer.

What is the best soil for citrus trees?

Dig the hole for your tree twice as wide as it is deep. Water-storing crystals can then be added. Remove the plant from its bag or pot and gently tease out the roots so they are orientated out in all directions. Cut off any that have started to spiral and are root-bound, as this will severely affect the growth of your tree. Place in the hole and backfill with soil.

Be careful not to bury the tree too deep, and don’t cover over the graft, as this can result in collar rot. The soil surrounding the tree should be level with the surrounding ground. Pat down soil gently with your foot to create a slightly firmer, lower well around the tree. This will help the water stay long enough to penetrate into the root zone before it runs off the surface.

Finally, water it really well, with at least two full 9L watering cans (if not more), to help get rid of any air pockets. Then mulch to a depth of about 10cm, being careful not to build up around the trunk. Continue watering every week (more on windy or very sunny days), until your citrus is through its first year. After this, watering every three weeks should be fine (if it hasn’t rained).

How to plant citrus in pots

If you want to grow your new citrus tree in a pot, use a quality premium standard mix and make sure the pot is at least 400mm wide and 400mm deep. An alternative to the traditional tree shape is to espalier the tree flat against a wall. Buy it like this or do it yourself by simply pruning off any outward growing branches.

How to care for citrus trees

  • Citrus trees need regular watering and applications of fertiliser to do well.
  • Air pollutioncan be another reason your tree isn’t fruiting, as young buds don’t like smog, so if the air quality is bad during this time, your citrus crop can suffer as a result.
  • If your citrus is not fruiting, it’s probably due to a lack of sun or food. Citrus trees are known as gross feeders, meaning that they need regular applications of fertiliser.

How to manage pests on citrus trees

Citrus are prone to a few pests and diseases, so be vigilant. Look out for citrus leafminer, which causes distortion in the new growth. It can only be sprayed with an oil spray (white oil and pest oil) during the growing season, from late spring through to autumn – the spray makes the leaf surface slippery and undesirable. The spray is a natural pest control method and also deters aphids (which attack new growth), bronze orange bug (also known as stink bugs) and scale insects.

What is the best fertiliser for citrus trees

It’s recommended to fertilise with blood and bone, potash and well-rotted animal manures every three to four months, or a handful of garden lime each year.

  • Eureka:Of all the lemon trees, Eureka is one of the best for the backyard. It crops all year so you can almost always find a fruit on the tree. It does best in warm areas.
  • Meyer:The most cold-tolerant lemon tree, the Meyer produces quite sweet (low acid) orange-coloured lemons throughout the year. The best variety for pots.
  • Lisbon:The Lisbon is a bitter lemon with high acid and lots of juice. The tree tends to have two main crops: a heavy one in autumn/winter and a light one in spring.
  • Tahitian and West Indian lime:The top two limes are Tahitian and West Indian, with the latter having the most limey flavour. They love the tropics and subtropics and suffer in the cold.
  • Desert lime:The fruit of the Australian native desert lime is narrow and finger-like with a green or flushed red colour. When cut, the juice cells fall out like fish roe.
  • Kaffir lime:Kaffir lime is very popular for its fragrant leaves that are widely used in Asian cooking. The fruit, however, is wrinkled and has little juice.
Best types of citrus to grow in Australia

The post How to grow citrus trees and inject some zest into your garden appeared first on Homes To Love.

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