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Citrus Care Basics

Citrus is an integral part of Florida’s state identity, having been farmed commercially since the mid-1800s.  Of course, it is also a staple in home fruit orchards and edible landscapes.  Here you’ll find some basic tips for growing your favorite citrus successfully!

Selecting a Tree
Consider choosing varieties based on cold tolerance, pollination requirements and pest susceptibility.  More information on these topics can be found at: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/hs132

Site Selection
Citrus trees tolerate light shade but will be more productive if grown in full sunlight. Space trees at least 15 feet apart. For added cold protection, plant on the south side of the house.

Planting
Container grown trees can be planted any time of year. Removing some of the growing media to expose the outer roots before planting will aide in root growth and establishment. Plant in the ground no deeper than they were growing in the pot. Using soil, build a basin that will ideally hold 5-10 gallons of water to soak the root area.

Watering
Water is extremely important for establishing young trees. Fill the water basin described above twice per week for the first month and at least once per week for the second month. Thereafter, water as needed, especially if wilting of new growth is observed in mid-afternoon and/or drought conditions persist.

Weed Management
To prevent root rot and other problems, keep the area under the canopy free of grass, weeds and mulch,
particularly near the tree trunk.

Fertilizer & Soil pH
Soil pH should be slightly acidic to near neutral (6.0 to 7.0) for optimal uptake of nutrients. Wait at least 3 weeks after planting to begin applying fertilizer.  Adopt a fertilizer schedule with applications made between February & October:

Citrus Fertilization Table

Year Cups of Fertilizer per Application Applications per year
  6-6-6 8-8-8 10-10-10  
1 .5-1.5 cups .5-1.25 cups 0.5 cup 6
2 2-4 cups 1.5-3 cups 1.25-2 cups 5
3 3.5-7 cups 2.75-5.5 cups 2-4 cups 4
4 8.5-11.25 cups 6.5-8.25 cups 5.25-6.5 cups 3
5+ 12-15.5 cups 9-11.5 cups 7.25-9.25 cups 3

Pruning
Remove suckers from the base of the young trees or they will one day interfere with tree development.  Mature citrus trees do not require training and pruning for production like other fruit trees. Prune lightly to shape the tree or to remove dead or damaged limbs. Excessive pruning usually results in reduced fruit production, vertical shoots called water sprouts, and/or suckers. These sprouts and suckers should be removed to make room for more productive limbs.

Citrus Problems
Information on citrus diseases, pest insects, nutrient deficiencies, and disorders like twig dieback, fruit drop, sunburn, fruit splitting and fruit drying, can be found at: https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/hs141

Download print pdf version

Reference: Citrus Culture in the Home Landscape

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