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How to Grow Citrus Trees

By Diane Dilov-Schultheis ; Updated September 21, 2017
Oranges in tree

Growing a citrus tree is a rewarding experience. Whether you want to grow an orange, grapefruit, lemon or lime tree -- or maybe a combination of the four -- citrus trees are enjoyable to have around. Other citrus varieties include citrons, pummelos, madarins, tangerines and kumquats. Growing a citrus tree is easiest in the Sun Belt states. Florida, Texas, Arizona and California provide the ultimate climate for growing citrus trees in gardens and yards.

Select an area that can supply full sun for best results. Consider the mature size of the tree when choosing a site. Stay away from power lines, septic tanks lines, buildings, additional trees or other obstructions.

Choose a place to grow your citrus tree that is six to eight feet away from walkways, fences, buildings and driveways. Leave at least 16 feet of space between citrus trees.

Plant at the right time. The best time to plant is in the fall to give the citrus tree plenty of time to become established prior to the heat of the next summer. In most Sun Belt states, planting can be done any time.

Prepare the location of the planting by removing any grass in a circle with a diameter between three to five feet. Use a hoe, shovel or rake to clear away grass, roots, rocks and other debris.

Dig a hole a little wider than the dimension of the root ball. The depth should be equal to the width. Utilize a rake on the sides and bottom of the hole to loosen hard-packed soil.

Place the tree in the hole. Use a shovel to fill the hole halfway. Pour water in the hole. Add more soil to fill the hole. Gently step on soil around tree.

Create a watering basin around the tree. Use a shovel to produce a mound of dirt, making a ring around the bottom of the citrus tree. Fill this several times to remove air pockets.

Water the citrus tree two to three times for the first week and one or two times a week for the next month. You can water less, if rainfall is present.

Check soil often to a depth of one inch. If dry, fill the water basin. Continue this procedure for at least four to six months or up to a year to establish citrus tree. Water your tree regularly after established, if rainfall is inadequate.

Use a hoe to remove weeds or grass growing under tree. Keep the area below the tree's drip-line (or the diameter of the branches) cleared at all times. Mulch can be used, but be sure it does not touch the trunk of the tree. Leave a gap around one foot between the mulch and the trunk


Things You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Gloves
  • Rake
  • Water supply
  • Mulch (optional)
  • Hoe


  • Other states can grow citrus trees but often have to stick with container trees that can be easily moved during cold weather.
  • If you live in an area where the temperature falls below freezing, read more details about tree placement in the University of Florida IFAS Extentions. (See Resources.)
  • Pruning is typically not required for citrus trees.

About the Author


Diane Dilov-Schultheis has been writing professionally since 2000. She is a food and travel writer who also specializes in gaming, satellites, RV repair, gardening, finances and electronics. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and has been published online at the Travel Channel and Intel.