How to Care for your Citrus
A citrus tree in the backyard is a classic part of the Australian garden experience; here are some tips to keep yours happy and healthy, and most importantly producing plenty of fruit!
- Commonly grown citrus varieties include lemon, lime, orange, mandarin, grapefruit, kumquat, Pomelo and more.
Citrus need full sun to thrive, and are best planted facing north or north west in well draining, slightly acidic soil. Citrus love water, but don’t love ‘wet feet’, which is why well draining soil is important.
- When planting a grafted tree, ensure that the bud union (graft) is at least 10cm above the soil level. Also remove any shoots that appear below here – they are the rootstock, and not the tasty citrus variety you want.
- Water your citrus in with Seasol or similar when planting to stimulate root growth, then follow up 10 days later with Aquasol, Charlie Carp or similar to give the leaves and branches a good feed.
- Keep any competition away from the base of the tree; Citrus are shallow rooted and do not like to compete with grass or weeds for water and nutrients. Instead, mulch well underneath the tree, leaving a small gap around the trunk to prevent rot.
- Feed your citrus with slow release complete fertiliser or citrus food in late winter or early spring, and then again in late summer within the drip line of the tree. The drip line is how far the branches reach out from the trunk of the tree.
- Trimming citrus (and other fruit trees) to a more open shape allows air to pass around and through the plants, to reduce the humidity and the chance of fungal diseases.
- Cold and frosts are not the citrus’s friend. Try to plant them in a sheltered location from frost and wind, and during Winter protect them with frost cloth or similar supported by a frame or stakes – make sure this is not touching the tree. You’ll need to do this for the first couple of years at least, until your tree is large enough to tolerate the frosts better.
With these tips, you should be well on your way to a great crop of your favourite citrus - good luck!
For some information on the health benefits of citrus fruits, check out 'The Health Benefits of Citrus Fruits' by Citrus Australia.