How to Care for a Dwarf Citrus Fruit Tree


Dwarf citrus trees allow you to enjoy your favorite fruits, such as oranges and grapefruits, on trees that can be planted in the ground, reside in containers or stay indoors. Highly enjoyed varieties, including the Meyer lemon and Bearss seedless lime, may grow to about 8 feet tall but can be pruned back to a smaller size. By performing various maintenance tasks, care for your own dwarf citrus fruit tree to begin enjoying a bountiful harvest.

Step 1

Place your dwarf citrus tree in a sunny, southern-exposure location that does not get wind. After a couple of weeks, check your tree to make sure that it is not showing signs of distress, such as the leaves wilting, before settling it in a permanent location.

Step 2

Keep the soil moist by watering your tree at least once a week or more. Your watering schedule depends on the current temperature, soil type and tree size that you have so use a moisture meter to help you know when your tree needs hydration. Generally, meters work by sticking the probe into the tree's soil and the display tells you whether the tree needs more water.

Step 3

Feed your citrus tree with a fertilizer that has a nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) ratio of 2-1-1. Many garden centers carry fertilizers specifically formulated for citrus. Follow the specific instructions on the package to know how and when to feed your tree.

Step 4

Apply a 2- to 3-inch mulch layer, such as compost, 6 inches away from a dwarf citrus tree that is planted in the ground. This barrier prevents weeds and aids in water retention.

Step 5

Locate the diagonal scar (graft line) that is 4 to 8 inches from the soil and remove any offshoot branches (suckers) that appear under this line. Suckers steal nutrients from the upper portion of the tree that produces fruit. Depending on the size of the sucker, pinch off the growth with your fingers, or use gardening shears to cut through the branch.

Step 6

Spray a 1 percent solution of horticultural oil to get rid of harmful insects, including mites and aphids. Be sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions and cover the undersides of the leaves to get all of the bugs.

Step 7

Watch your weather report for expected frosts and take steps to protect your dwarf citrus tree. If your citrus tree is in a container, move it indoors. For in-ground trees, water the ground around the tree thoroughly two to three days before the cold comes and place a covering like a blanket on top of the tree.

Things You'll Need

  • Water
  • Moisture meter
  • Fertilizer with 2-1-1 ratio
  • Mulch
  • Gardening shears
  • Horticultural oil (1percent)
  • Blanket


  • Four Winds Growers: Growing Citrus in the Ground
  • Four Winds Growers: Citrus Graft Lines and Suckers
  • Four Winds Growers: Preparing Citrus for a Frost

Who Can Help

  • Four Winds Growers: Frequently Asked Questions about Dwarf Citrus
  • UC Santa Cruz: Citrus Offers Year-Round Options
Keywords: dwarf citrus fruit tree care, meyer lemon tree, bearss seedless lime tree

About this Author

Jenny Glass has been writing professionally since 2001 and is a glass artist with a Web design and technical writing background. In addition to writing for Demand Studios, she has been a contributor to "Glass Line Magazine" and runs her own art glass business.