Having a lemon tree in the backyard was once the great Australian dream. Now it’s a citrus orchard with limes, blood oranges and mandarins rivalling the humble lemon for space and pride of place.
Grown in pots or in the ground, citrus fruits are evergreen trees that need year-round care.
Luckily, citrus are dead-easy to grow and produce an abundant harvest in only a couple of years from planting. To reap the rewards year after year, follow this simple citrus regime.
- Pest and disease prevention
Growing and maintaining your citrus
Whether you’re growing a lemon, lime, mandarin, orange, grapefruit or tangelo, caring for your citrus tree has never been easier. Follow these four simple tips to keep your trees healthy and happy.
Water trees deeply twice a week during establishment.
The frequency of watering can be cut back when trees are established, so you're only watering during dry periods and when fruits are developing.
It’s important to maintain soil moisture from fruit set to harvest to prevent trees becoming stressed, which could result in a significant part of the crop dropping before it's ripe.
Fertilise at the start of every season. Apply a generous amount of organic fertiliser such as S, blood and bone or composted manure to the soil around your tree.
- Clear any mulch from the area immediately beneath the tree canopy.
- Apply the fertiliser or manure over the soil surface, in a band around the dripline (immediately below the external perimeter of the foliage).
- Water well.
- Replenish the mulch.
TIP: Alternate between different organic fertilisers each time you apply them, to provide a range of nutrients throughout the year. For example Scotts Performance Naturals™ Citrus & Fruit Organic Based Fertiliser in Spring, and blood and bone in Autumn.
NOTE: The application of controlled release fertilisers in addition to the organics will help to ensure a range of nutrients is available to your citrus when needed most.
Problems with pests and diseases can be largely avoided by ensuring your trees are healthy.
To give your trees the best possible start:
- Prepare the soil prior to planting by enriching with compost.
- Dig a hole at least twice as large as the pot your citrus comes in so roots are not damaged.
- Plant in full sun - at least 5-6 hours of sunlight per day.
- Apply Scotts Performance Naturals™ Citrus & Fruit Organic Based Fertiliser throughout the year.
Of course, no matter what you do, pests and diseases can attack your citrus. Look out for:
- Scale, leaf miners and aphids. These are common citrus pests but rarely cause major damage. Treat with an environment-friendly oil spray.
- Stink bugs can cause damage to your tree and harvest. Remove by hand immediately (make sure you are wearing gloves and eye protection).
- Yellow leaves are a common complaint with citrus trees but if you have prepared the soil well and replenish it each season, your citrus will survive. Look for fertilisers with boosted magnesium and iron to assist in the prevention of yellowing.
When it comes to pruning, citrus are quite different to the majority of fruit trees because they are evergreen. Forget all those fancy pruning techniques and simply:
- Remove old or dead wood.
- Remove any unwanted growth or branches touching the soil.
- Reduce overall height and maintain a neat shape (if you want).
That’s all there is to it - caring for your citrus couldn’t be easier!