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How to plant and grow Citrus

GROW YOUR OWN FRUIT



First plantings in the garden usually include at least one citrus plant - usually a lemon. Citrus overall embraces an interesting and attractive range of plants from more ornamental dwarf types to the larger and more commercially productive varieties. Unfortunately, because they appear non-complaining, citrus is usually left to look after itself; however, they do require some care. The following notes are a guide to situation, feeding, caring and ensuring the health of these wonderful plants.

how to plant and care for citrus-lemon

SITE / POSITION FOR CITRUS

A position protected from winds and heavy frost in full sun is ideal. Without as much sun, they will not set as much fruit but for the home gardener this may still be sufficient.
       

SOIL FOR CITRUS

A deep, friable slightly acidic loam soil type is best for the citrus. They will grow in light or heavier soils provided some soil preparation is done. Light soils will require some additional WATERWISE CRYSTALS and a MUSHROOM COMPOST or COW & COMPOST MIX to help retain moisture and add nutrient to the soil. Heavy soils may require mushroom compost and organic matter to aerate, as well as GYPSUM CLAY BREAKER to open soil and ensure sufficient drainage. Good drainage is essential for citrus.

PLANTING CITRUS

Make sure the root-zone is moist before planting and then thoroughly water in after placing in position. Be careful to keep the tree level with the surrounding soil. Soil build-up around the trunk can cause collar rot. If you have clay soil, do not dig into this. Raise the bed or plant the tree as above the subsoil clay level if possible. By digging into it a pool can be formed which will collect water below the surface and kill the tree.

how to plant and care for citrus-lemon

WATERING CITRUS

Citrus are not deep-rooted trees and thus require watering regularly.
Mostly their roots will be 1.2m to 1.5m below the surface. Care must be taken to ensure they have adequate watering during the hot summer months. In addition, be sure not to over water either.
       

MULCHING CITRUS

Mulching in spring helps conserve moisture around citrus trees in the hot summer months. A combination of MUSHROOM COMPOSTCOW & COMPOST and WATERWISE CRYSTALS or PEAT MOSS will provide excellent moisture holding capacity. Do not build up mulches too closely around trunk. It is advisable to remove the previous year’s mulch before putting a new one down. Do not dig around citrus trees as their feeding roots are close to the surface and they resent disturbance.

FERTILISING CITRUS

In ground citrus should be fed with DINOFERT CITRUS FOOD during the warmer months with 1 application. Citrus also responds to applications of DYNAMIC LIFTER and COW MANURE, thus encouraging healthy growth.

For container growing, it is advisable to feed using OSMOCOTE TREES, SHRUBS & CITRUS or BRUNNINGS CITRUS FOOD during the warmer months, or a soluble solution of THRIVE SOLUBLE FLOWER & FRUIT.

PRUNING CITRUS

Pruning is really only necessary to remove dead wood and to cut out branches that are rubbing against each other. There is some advantage in training young trees to produce evenly spaced branches to allow light penetration into the centre of the tree.

Citrus that have become too tall may be pruned back severely, make sure you cover the wounds with a tree wound dressing such as STERIPRUNE. It is advisable to ‘skirt’ trees. This means removing all shoots to a height of at least 45cm to avoid disease problems, which may occur if branches are able to touch the ground. Remember to remove all shoots that come from below the graft. These shoots may occasionally arise from under the stock and if not removed will grow more strongly then the graft and eventually kill it. Thus, a tree that started as an orange may end up producing lemons, which is the type of under-stock.
 

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