The vibrant fruit and glossy foliage of the citrus tree is good for more than just ornamental landscaping. From the sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) to the tart grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) and the pucker-inducing lemon (Citrus limon), citrus trees are also an important component of the edible landscape. Though specific care needs vary according to the citrus species, several common gardening questions pertain to all citrus specimens and can help the gardener provide the tree with the care it needs for vigorous health and bountiful fruit production.
What Climate Do Citrus Trees Grow In?
Citrus trees hail from the tropics and require a warm climate. Even light frost can cause fruit or foliar damage and death, according to Texas A&M University. All citrus trees, regardless of the specific type, can be grown in USDA Hardiness Zone 9B through 11, according to Yale University.
What Kind of Growing Conditions Do Citrus Trees Require?
Citrus need full sun to grow, according to the University of Florida. Though they can handle a wide variety of soil, the trees grow best and produce the most fruit in slightly acidic, well-drained and moist soil.
Should Citrus Trees Be Fertilized?
Young citrus trees will benefit from frequent fertilizing, applied every two to three months. The University of Florida recommends using a slow-release 8-8-8 fertilizer at a rate of 1 lb. in the tree's first year, 2 lbs. in the tree's second year, and 3 lbs. in the tree's third year. Split the total annual amount into four to six applications. Once the citrus tree is four years old, reduce fertilizing to once in the spring, summer and fall at an annual of 1 lb. for every year of the tree's age.
Do I Need to Prune the Citrus Tree?
Citrus trees naturally form a round shape, and Yale University does not recommend pruning. The exception to this recommendation is if a branch dies due to damage or disease.
How Long Does a Citrus Tree Take to Produce Fruit?
Typically, a citrus tree must be established in an area for approximately four years before it produces fruit, according to the University of Florida. Flowers may start growing within a couple years, according to Yale University, but these may not necessarily set into fruit.
What Pests Attack Citrus Trees?
Common pests found on a citrus tree include various species of fruitflies, mites, aphids, nematodes and caterpillars, according to the University of Florida. Treatment options vary widely with some sprays, like carbaryl-based insecticide, used to target specific bugs. Horticultural oils or insecticidal soaps can generally be used for control of light insect infestations. More serious infestations can be resolved after consulting a cooperative extension service office for a region- and bug-specific solution.