Citrus trees require a great deal of care to finally reach their fruit-bearing seasons. Keeping this in mind, it is worth the effort to consider transplanting trees should a relocation be necessary. For best results and to avoid transplant shock, begin by preparing the soil in the new location.
Test the soil of the new location and the old location. Verify that the pH and mineral contents of the new location are similar to those of the old habitat. If not, supplement with the necessary fertilizer and nutrient solutions. The primary supplements to consider for citrus are the acidity and type of soil. If you are moving the tree from a different soil type, remixing the soil to a depth of 5 feet may be required.
Determine the optimal season for transport. Ideally, trees should be transplanted in the fall or early spring, while they are still dormant and the weather is more mild.
Cut back 1/3 of the plant's overall growth to provide the root ball a chance to grow while supporting the smaller tree. Generously water the tree the night before transplanting. This gives the soil an added ability to stabilize the roots. Wrap the tree's remaining foliage with foliage-wrapping material to lessen the amount of scratches while transplanting.
Cut a circle into the soil around the tree to define where digging will take place. The general rule of thumb is any tree smaller than 1 inch in diameter should have a 12-inch root ball, and those over 1 inch should have an 18-inch root ball.
Use a shovel to remove the tree the next morning, using its root ball guide to dig the hole. Place the tree on the flat piece of cardboard for easy and gentle transport and move the tree to its new location.
Use the shovel to dig the new hole. If you're using an auger, go back over the walls of the hole with the shovel to soften them. This will allow the tree the best chance to penetrate the walls with its new root system.
Lay the root ball into the hole and verify that the tree is sitting straight. Fill the hole halfway with soil and water the tree. Fill the hole the rest of the way and water the tree again. Cover the area with mulch and apply the vitamin B fertilizer as directed on the package.