A true Aussie knows that a lemon tree belongs in every Australian backyard. But why stop there? Imagine having a hedge that acts as a privacy screen containing all your favourite citrus trees such as lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits, mandarins, tangelos, or if you’re a little short on space, you can always opt for a dwarf alternative in a pot.
Regardless of your choice, you’ll be hard pressed to find a downside to having a citrus tree in your garden. Not only are they productive in bearing fruit, but citrus trees have an ornamental beauty ensuring a valuable contribution to the aesthetics of any garden.
When trying to grow a citrus tree, there are several critical factors to consider to ensure a successful grow. Here are some tips that you may find useful to help you get one step closer to a magnificent citrus tree you can be proud of.
As a general rule of thumb, all citrus trees prefer sandy loam or light sandy soils that drain well. Poor drainage is often the root cause of an inefficient growth or a more severe case of root rotting.
For optimal growth, you will need to plant your citrus tree on an ideal spot which is full of sunlight and free from frost. If there isn’t an ideal spot available to you, the second best option would be a spot that gets a half-day sun in the afternoon although this will mean less fruit and a longer period to ripen.
If you’re hoping to gain the maximum number of fruits from your citrus tree, you will need to give the tree access to at least 6 hours of direct sun per day. Also be sure to position your tree so that it isn’t exposed to strong winds to not stress your tree or disrupt pollination and fruit setting.
Citrus trees excel exceptionally well in warm climates which is why they aren’t a big fan of cold winds. The more mature a tree is, the more stable and tolerant it becomes to withstand the wind.
Avoid planting your citrus tree in clay soil as it will not drain as well. It is advised to top dress with soil that drains well such as sandy loam or light sandy soils. If you are using a heavy soil, you will need to condition it with either a compost mix soil, some gypsum or clay breaker liquid. When planting, make sure you keep the bud union clear from soil level and when watering, create a small moat around the tree so that the water holds well.
The preferred pH levels of soil are for citrus plants are 6 to 7.5. If your soil is more acidic than the preferred level, add lime water to raise the pH to the preferred level.
The first year of care
Be sure to water your citrus tree regularly especially during summer season. Citrus trees do not do well with frosty weather and if they do get burnt by frost, hold off pruning until springtime. Avoid digging or cultivating close to the tree as citrus trees have shallow roots which can be easily damaged.
Typical fertiliser use happens during autumn and spring; however, this does depend on the type of fertiliser. During the summer season, a great tip is to prepare some mulch around the tree but away from any direct contact with the tree trunk. You should only prune a citrus tree to remove any damaged parts or to keep it in good shape.
A typical harvest period for grafted citrus trees is after two to three years from planting. Fruits are ready to be harvested once they develop full colour and flavour and can be left on the tree for some time before picking. However, it is important to not leave them for too long after their peak ripened period as they will deteriorate. So long as you remove the citrus fruit carefully without damage, you can store it in the fridge for several weeks.