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Compost for Citrus Trees

lemon tree image by Dennis Carrigan from

Citrus trees are from the botanical family Rutacae, which originated in tropical and subtropical areas of the globe. They are cultivated throughout the world and come in a great many varieties. Orange, lemon, lime and grapefruit are the most well-known citrus varieties and they can be easily grown in the home garden. Citrus trees need mild winters and lots of sunshine. They grow very well using organic methods of gardening, which include a good composting plan. Compost is nature's way of creating nutrient rich fertilizer from ordinary plant materials.

Compost Availability

orange tree image by bayu harsa from

Good organic compost is available commercially at most garden centers and by mail order.You can also make your own compost if you have some backyard space. A backyard compost pile should be 3 feet wide, 3 feet long and 3 feet tall. You can create a simple stacked pile for kitchen scraps and garden waste, you can build a simple bin, or you can purchase a commercial compost maker. Newspapers can also be added to the compost mix in balance with green plant material. They provide carbon nutrients.

Compost Creation

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Begin by collecting kitchen scraps and garden plant waste. Compost is basically foolproof but you can tailor recipes to suit your garden needs. Citrus trees do well in a slightly acidic soil. Add coffee grounds to your compost to increase the acid content. Think in terms of “green” and “brown” scraps for a compost recipe balanced in carbon and nitrogen. Vegetable peelings, garden plant cuttings, and brown tree leaves make a good start for a compost pile. The compost pile becomes hot from the combination of moisture, plant material, and air.The heat helps break down the materials in the pile.


grapefruit image by Glenn McGloughlin from

Citrus trees benefit from a planting mixture of compost and garden soil. Composted soil allows the young tree's growing roots to spread easily because the soil is loose and pliable. The addition of compost will create a nutrient rich growing environment for the young tree. Compost also makes the soil absorb water easily.You may notice that your tree is more resistant to pests and disease problems. Compost creates a slow-release of nutrients so the tree benefits constantly over time.

Expert Insight

Lemon tree image by Timo de Looij from

The University of Florida Extension School recommends that you begin a fertilizing program one month after the citrus tree is planted. Compost is the best fertilizer to use for many reasons. The tree is able to absorb compost nutrients at its own pace. Chemical fertilizers can burn sensitive root systems by releasing high-nitrogen content into the soil all at one time.Compost creates a constant nutrient recycling process in the tree's root system. Compost creates a more aerated soil rich in humus which absorbs and retains water more easily. This reduces water consumption and water irrigation bills.


Orange tree image by from

A regular composting schedule benefits mature citrus trees by helping them resist disease and pest infestations. Healthy soil makes healthy trees, which resist the onslaught of aphids, whitefly, and leaf diseases. Microorganisms are being constantly recycled throughout the tree's root system and top growth because of the slow-releasing nutritional benefits of compost.Compost increases the constant availability of minerals into the soil. Compost is less expensive than chemical fertilizers, especially if you make your own.

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