Citrus trees are known for their heavy feeding, taking a large amount of nutrients from the soil in a small amount of time. This depletes the soil, and then the citrus tree most likely will not produce any fruit the following season while it rests and allows the soil to regain its nutrients. Prevent this cycle and ensure a exceptional annual harvest by consistently fertilizing your citrus trees.
Fertilizer places nutrients such as phosphorus, magnesium, iron and calcium back into the soil, providing what citrus trees require for rapid growth and fruit production. Citrus fertilizers also decrease the soil's pH, keeping it acidic enough for the trees. Fertilizer with an acidic pH is less likely to be affected by weeds, so the citrus trees will not have to compete for nutrients.
Chemical citrus fertilizers can be purchased at any garden center. If you wish to avoid the cost of plant-specific fertilizers, a standard balanced garden fertilizer and a turf fertilizer can be combined to provide the trees with the required nutrients. For those desiring organic options, fish emulsion, Epsom salts and coffee grounds can be combined for a potent and stimulating natural fertilizer.
Citrus should be fertilized twice annually. The first treatment should come in mid-spring as the tree's buds are forming, providing an energy boost to aid in fruit production. Trees that are well-fertilized will retain more blossoms and produce more fruit. The second round of fertilizer should be applied after the fruit is harvested. This replenishes soil nutrients that have been used up during fruit production and gives the citrus tree some added nutrients for winter.
Fertilizer promotes healthy, vigorous growth. Trees that are fertilized produce considerably more fruit than those that are not. In addition, the fruit of fertilized trees tends to be sweeter, juicier and larger.
Never fertilize a tree during its first year in your garden. The soil for the first year has plenty of nutrients to sustain the plant. Furthermore, chemical fertilizers can burn the roots, stunting the tree's growth. Trees that are fertilized during their first year will also form shallow roots and require more water during subsequent years.