Are you really living the Florida lifestyle if you aren’t growing citrus on your property? Who doesn’t love strolling into the backyard and picking a delicious orange right off the tree you grew yourself? If your mouth is watering, and you’ve been wanting to grow your own citrus plants, you’re in luck! Here is how you can grow citrus trees in your yard!
Step One: Planting
- Citrus doesn’t grow super well in this state for no reason! Citrus plants need plenty of sunlight to be able to grow.
- You will want to plant your citrus tree at least 12 to 15 feet from your home.
- Make sure there isn’t any grass in the area.
- Be sure to dig a hole 1-1/2 the size of the container.
- This may sound gross, but you’ll want to add composted cow manure to the hole. It may seem more natural to add top soil, peat moss, or mulch but this will keep the tree too moist.
- For best results, place the plant a little higher than the soil surface and then firmly pack the dirt and fill in around the root ball. Make sure the top of the plant’s soil as it was in the container is still visible.
- Use the left over soil to make a “bowl” around the newly planted citrus tree.
- Water once a day for the first 3 to 5 days, filling the bowl with water and letting it drain. Repeat 3-4 times until you’re sure the water has reached the root ball.
- After this, water once or twice a week in the winter and two to three times a week during the summer.
- Keep grass from growing around the base of the tree.
Step Two: Fertilizing
- Once your tree has been in the ground for a month, begin applying slow-release citrus fertilizer.
- Sprinkle the fertilizer around the farthest foliage point.
- If the tree is young, you can do a small feeding once a month. Use 1/4 lb. per foot of branch spread.
- If the tree is more established, fertilize three times a year: spring, summer and fall. Use 1 lb. per foot of branch spread.
- IMPORTANT: make sure you water your tree before and after fertilizing. Give about an hour after watering before fertilizing to allow the water to soak in and do a light watering afterwards to keep the fertilizer in place.
Step Three: Spraying
- Spraying is important because it fights off unwanted pests and produces healthier fruit.
- Spray during the spring, summer and fall.
- During the spring, spray when flowers are just starting to form to help set the bloom. DO NOT spray if there is already a multitude of flowers as this may interfere with pollination necessary for fruit production.
- During the early summer, when the fruit is about 1/4 inch in diameter to help to set the small fruit.
- During the fall, spray when the fruit is close to ripening.
Step Four: Harvesting (The Best Part!)
- Your citrus will be ready when it pulls easily from the branch. If this happens and it’s not completely ripe, don’t fret because the fruit can still ripen when it’s not on the tree.
- Don’t always go by the color of the citrus to determine if it’s ripe or not.
- During the winter, temperatures can affect the color of fruit. Some oranges turn orange during a normal winter – but if winter is unusually mild they may remain green on the outside despite their ripeness on the inside.
- There are harvesting seasons for oranges, but lemons and limes typically are considered “everbearing” and will grow fruit on and off all year.
Step Five: Not Done Yet, Pruning!
- In order to have your citrus be accessible, you must prune branches as you harvest fruit. This keeps the tree shaped and gives it enough time to regenerate for the following fruiting season.
- A nice pro to pruning your trees: the less fertilizer and pesticide you’ll need to use and the stronger your branches will be.
Grow Citrus Trees In Your Yard!
Now that you have this handy guide to growing citrus trees you can enjoy your own fruit from your very own yard. No longer do you need to drive to Publix to get your citrus fix, you can grow citrus trees on your own property!