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Growing Citrus in the Ground

 

Citrus trees work extraordinarily well in most any landscape, offering beautiful evergreen foliage, lovely (and fragrant) blossoms, and colorful fruit.
Growing citrus trees in the ground can be immensely rewarding, and it naturally produces the most significant and most vigorous specimens. However, before planting a citrus tree in the ground, you must determine whether or not the location you have in mind will provide a suitable home for your new citrus tree.
If you live below zone 9 you will have to keep your tree in a pot. For directions for growing Citrus in containers:
For directions for growing Citrus in containers: https://lemoncitrustree.com/store/citrus-tree-care-containers 


Planting Zones

Our Citrus can be planted in USDA growing zones 9-11 only.
Trees that are planted in the ground that experience freezing temperatures above zone 8 need protection in unusual inclement weather.
Planting in the wrong hardiness planting zone will void the warranty.
Planting zones: https://planthardiness.ars.usda.gov/PHZMWeb/


Planting In The Ground
1. Do not plant a new tree in a space where an old tree had died, the soil may be contaminated and create problems for your new tree. Trees can grow to a height of 20 feet tall, (depending on the variety) so choose your planting site carefully.
2. The location should be chosen that is sunny, protected from wind and a well-draining area. Avocado trees will not thrive in heavy clay soils. For heavy clay soils, the tree should be planted in a raised bed.
3. Place the potted tree in a chosen location for 2 weeks and allow the tree to acclimate to the area before you plant in the ground.
4. Dig a hole double the width of the root ball or double the size of the pot and fill with water and wait 24 hours.
5. Fill the hole with water again. If water has drained from the hole within an hour this area has good drainage and the tree can be planted.
6. If the area has terrible drainage choose another area. Avocado trees are susceptible to root rot and need to be planted in the right drainage areas.
7. Add a mixture of compost and well-draining soil into the hole and remove the tree from the pot.
8. Place tree in the hole. DO NOT allow the tree to drop down into the hole-The soil line of the tree should be above the existing soil grade approximate1-2 inches above the existing grade.
9. Do not bury the root-crown with soil or mulch. A photo of the root crown can be found here: https://lemoncitrustree.com/store/pest-disease
10. Keep other plants away from the tree. Having a 5-foot circumference around the trunk will ensure the tree is not robbed of moisture and nutrients.

In summer it is best to plant in the early morning hours when temperatures are co to moderate. Try to keep the roots out of the sun as much as possible. Water thoroughly after transplanting. If desired, use a solution of Vitamin B-1 Rooting Tonic in the first few irrigations to help fine feeder roots recover more quickly. You may wish to pinch off fruit and blossoms for the first year or two after a new planting to encourage stronger root and branch development.
 


Size
Our Citrus trees are all grafted on cold-hardy rootstocks that are perfect for container growing. If planted in the ground our trees can be expected to reach “semi-dwarf” size, up to around 16-20 feet in height.
In a pot, the trees will stay much smaller, especially with judicious pruning. Be sure to provide more space in the ground for standard size trees. Generally, a tree needs a 12-14 foot diameter space.


 
Watering
Consistency is the key with citrus watering! As with so many plants, citrus trees like soil that is moist but never soggy. How often to water will vary, depending on soil porosity, tree size, and temperature. Allowing the top of the soil to dry slightly is OK.
A simple moisture meter, available at garden supply stores should be used to determine moisture level down to about a 9” depth.
Water when the meter moisture level read 4 ( for a meter that goes from 1-10)
Never leave the meter in the ground or pot, to keep it functioning properly
A wilted tree that perks up within 24 hours after watering indicates the roots got too dry. Adjust the watering schedule accordingly. A tree with yellow or cupped leaves or leaves that don't look perky AFTER watering can indicate excessive watering and soggy roots. In that case, water less often.
In the ground, citrus trees prefer deep watering. Creating a watering basin around the drip-line of the tree can aid in deep watering. As the tree grows, be sure to expand the basin as needed to keep it as wide as the spread of the branches. Deeper watering promotes more profound root growth and strengthens your tree. Generally, once a week


Fertilizing
Citrus trees feed heavily on nitrogen. Your fertilizer should have more nitrogen (N) than phosphorus (P) or potassium (K). Use at least a 2-1-1 ratio.
In some regions, you may have available specialized citrus/avocado fertilizers. Any well-balanced citrus fertilizer formula will contain trace minerals like iron, zinc, and manganese. Many all-purpose and commercial organic products will work. 
Never use fertilizer stakes for a tree planted in a pot, fertilizer stakes can burn fine root fibers.
Fertilizers come in different strengths, release rates, and application schedules, so follow package instructions carefully. We recommend that you fertilize more often than recommended due to nutrients getting washed out of the pot when watering.
Yellowing leaves show lack of fertilizer, over-watering or a pest infestation.
For fertilizing suggestions:  https://lemoncitrustree.com/store/citrus-blog/2015/08/11/feeding-recipe-for-a-happy-tree/

Mulch
Use mulch for ground planted trees only. Never use mulch for a potted tree, mulch can impede drying and cause root rot.
Maintain a 3-4 inch layer of mulch around the tree to retain soil moisture and improve soil quality.
Apply the mulch in the spring and fall under the canopy of the tree.
Avoid piling mulch against the trunk of the tree.
The tree trunk needs air circulation, without circulation, the truck could rot away from the root ball so avoid piling soil and mulch close to the root crown and tree truck.
Liberal use of mulch will conserve precious water and help inhibit weed growth. Keep all mulch at least six inches away from the base of the trunk.

Graft
Know where the graft union is on your tree. It can usually be seen as a diagonal scar a branch outset or a knobby area between four and eight inches from the soil. Remove all shoot growth below the graft. Growth below the graft will take vitality from the tree. It's necessary to remove them as soon as they are observed, left to grow they will eventually kill the tree.
Photo of Graft here: https://lemoncitrustree.com/store/pest-disease

Thorns
Juvenile fruiting wood will sometimes have thorns; this is a young tree's way of defending against grazing animals. As the tree matures, thorns will not appear as often. Prune off thorns if desired.

Pruning and Espaliering
Citrus can be pruned as desired to achieve the look you want. Pruning is excellent any time of year, except in the winter for outdoor trees. Pinching back tips of new growth can help trees to maintain a round form, without impacting future fruit.
Citrus will look fuller with occasional pruning to shape leggy branches. Very leggy branches can indicate the need for more light.
Some trees may develop erratic juvenile growth above the graft. Don’t be afraid to completely prune off an erratic branch if it is too irregular or crossing another branch. Other fruitful branches will replace it. Any growth above the graft can eventually bear fruit. Well-pruned trees have higher fruit yields and are less prone to branch breakage.
Espaliering Citrus trees can be trained relatively easy to grow on trellises. Merely use green garden ties to hold branches in place and prune to encourage desired branching patterns. Select specimens with an open growth habit that will most closely match with your intended espalier design.

Pest Insects
Pest prevention is a necessity with trees that produce food.
Insects are attracted to food and your tree is a sweet source of food for scales, aphids, or mites etc.
If your tree is infested with a pest you must wash your tree with Dawn dish soap and warm water, scrubbing with a washcloth. Make sure the topside and underside of leaves are entirely washed and scrubbed of sooty mold and cleansed of any sticky substance. You can use a toothbrush in hard to reach areas, such as a crevice at the Y part of a branch. 
Treat the tree once it is clean with a horticultural oil or neem oil. 
It is IMPORTANT that the honeydew is removed from branches and foliage because it is the honeydew that will eventually kill the tree.

Pollination
Citrus are self-pollinating, even indoors. Some people enjoy pollinating their trees and can do so by using a small soft brush or cotton swab to transfer pollen among the flowers.
Planting more than one tree can help in cross-pollination. Stake the tree as needed until well-established. Green plant ties are an excellent choice for tying trees to stakes.
Citrus trees are best planted during the active growing season.

Beneficial Insects
Spiders, lady beetles, lacewings, and praying mantis are just some of the beneficial critters you may see around citrus trees outdoors. You can even buy some predator insects in local nurseries for release in your garden.

Cold Temperatures
Even temperate locations can drop below freezing, so it's good to have a plan of action ready. Old fashioned Christmas lights (that produce some heat) can be useful, either alone or in combination with frost covers. Straw mulch, cloth covers, and even plastic sheeting can be combined as needed to provide the necessary level of protection.



Please contact us at support@lemoncitrustree.com or call if you need assistance.

Lemon Citrus Tree
866-216-TREE (8733)