How to Grow Citrus Trees Outside


Citrus trees produce round, juicy fruits with rinds. In addition to making a flavorful snack, these fruits provide plenty of vitamin C and other important nutrients. Citrus trees, such as lime trees, grapefruit trees, orange trees and lemon trees, all require warm environments to survive outdoors. Although many of these smaller trees make attractive houseplants in cool climates, they flourish outside in semi-tropical areas, often growing 20 feet tall. Citrus trees, like other types of fruit trees, require suitable conditions to thrive and produce abundant fruit.

Step 1

Check the soil in your yard before planting citrus trees. These trees require a fertile soil with adequate amounts of nutrients. Conduct a basic soil test to determine the existing health of your soil. Obtain this type of test from your local gardening center or university extension office. Citrus trees appreciate slightly acidic soils with a pH balance between 5.5 and 6.5.

Step 2

Choose an area in your landscape with at least 6 to 8 hours of full sunlight. Warm areas on the southern sides of buildings and structures hold heat and provide protection from wind. Loosen the top 8 to 12 inches of soil in your planting site with a garden shovel. Get rid of any weeds, including the roots. Add any recommended soil amendments from the soil test to your loosened soil. Add organic compost to loosen heavy, clay soils and increase the level of soil acidity. Use a shovel to combine the topsoil with your amendments.

Step 3

Dig holes for your citrus trees, making them at least twice the width of the trees' rootballs. Set the trees in the centers of the holes, keeping the root crown slightly above the surface of the soil. This root crown forms where the base of the trunk meets the root system. Backfill the spaces around the rootball with your amended soil and soak with water. Keep the soil slightly moist near the roots of your citrus trees.

Step 4

Fertilize your outdoor citrus trees once each year, in early spring. Select a fertilizer containing phosphorus and nitrogen, labeled for use on citrus trees. Spread a ring of compost over the roots during the late winter to slowly release nutrients and lower the pH level of the soil near the citrus tree roots.

Step 5

Prune away any dead branches on your citrus trees as soon as you notice them. Remove broken and damaged branches with sharp pruning shears. Rake up any clippings or fallen leaves in the area of your citrus trees. Remove this dead vegetation, as it may harbor bacteria and mold.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid heavy mulching of citrus trees. While a layer of compost can slowly release healthy nutrients, placing this directly against the trunk of the tree may cause diseases in the tree. Allow a few inches of space between the trunk and the compost to provide adequate amounts of air near the trunk.

Things You'll Need

  • Soil test kit
  • Shovel
  • Compost
  • Fertilizer
  • Pruning shears


  • Texas A&M University: Growing Your Own Citrus
  • Peaceful Valley: How to Grow Citrus Trees
  • "Botanica's Gardening Encyclopedia"; Susan Page; 2001

Who Can Help

  • TexaSweet Citrus: Caring for Citrus Trees
Keywords: citrus trees, growing citrus fruit, outdoor citrus tree

About this Author

Laura Dee is a writer, artist, and the co-owner of Wallace & Wallace Copywriting,an online business which specializes in providing marketing materials and copy to various companies. She has written for Demand Studios since 2008 and is currently working on a series of childrens' picture books.