Citrus trees are an all round stunning shrub, from the fragrance of their frequent flowers to the tart taste and sharp zest of their fruit. The varying varieties spark enjoyment for eager enthusiasts who admire the depth of their luscious green leaves shining proudly in the sun as the finespun flowers fill the air with an alluring aroma. Five white petals serve as a locked doorway opened only by the pollination of the strongly scented stamens while the ravenous roots devour the depleting soil below.
Growing Citrus Trees
Many types of fruit make up the citrus family but similarities can be seen throughout the different species. They can be grown in containers or directly in the ground, though certain areas require the trees to be moved indoors during the winter. It is vitally important that citrus trees are grown in the right conditions and are fed sufficient nutrients during the growing periods. Here are some of the basic requirements;
- A hearty soil with plenty of organic material that is well decomposed
- The base of the tree is cleared of grass or weeds
- The tree is fertilized every 2-3 months with a well-balanced NPK fertilizer or slight higher nitrogen content
- Regular watering (full soaking of the root area every 2-4 days)
- Good drainage (soil should not hold the water or have puddles for long periods of time)
- A minimum of 5 hours of sunlight per day.
Pruning is not generally needed, although its ok to clip diseased branches. Many people prune because they don’t have the desired shape or it doesn’t fit in the space that they want to keep it. Just remember that you are cutting away potential fruit and pruning can affect the overall size of the crop and the fruit. I prefer to marcot the branches rather than just throw them away. You can learn how to marcot citrus trees here.
Mulching can be highly beneficial to some plants but it is not advised to mulch citrus trees as it can cause the roots to rot and a range of other problems like fungal diseases and freeze damage in the winter. Also, if the mulch is naturally low in nitrogen it will temporarily use up the nitrogen in the soil as it decomposes.
I like to use grass fed animal manures that haven’t been processed or treated, mixed with free range eggs shells (ground into a powder) and used coffee grounds. I usually add everything into a home made compost paired with coconut coir as this is a good medium for the soil and helps drainage. The manure provides a high content of vital nutrients (NPK) and the eggshells contain some of the micro nutrients needed like calcium.