Citrus Planting & Care Information

Congratulations on making the choice to grow citrus!  We have put this page together as a resource to hopefully help both new and experienced citrus growers.  This page will be constantly evolving as more information and videos get created.

Are you growing your citrus in ground or in containers?



Growing Citrus In The Ground:

Initial Care Instructions -
When your tree arrives, remove it from the bag and water it deeply to replace any moisture that may have been lost during shipping.


Planting -
Choose a location in full sun to partial shade in a location that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight daily. Citrus do not need to be planted in full sun. Dig a hole at least 20 inches wide and as deep as the original pot. Carefully remove the tree from its pot, taking care not to disturb the roots. Add loose soil to the bottom of the hole to raise the tree so it is at the same depth it was in its original pot and backfill with remaining soil and tamp down slightly. Water deeply to help remove air pockets and to make sure water gets to the entire root ball. If you are mulching, leave 3 inches around the trunk free of mulch.


Watering - 
Watering is going to be different based on a lot of variables so you will have to figure out a watering schedule that suits your needs.  When you water you need to water deeply so the entire root ball receives water.  You will want to water again when the top 2 inches of soil are just about dry.  You will need to check on the tree often and monitor its leaves for changes until you figure out a watering schedule that works for your area. Citrus are fairly drought-tolerant once established, but you will need to be willing to provide regular water as needed for the first three years. 


Fertilizing - 
We recommend fertilizing new trees with a higher nitrogen fertilizer.  We offer a 13-6-6 fertilizer that works very well for us.  This allows the tree to focus on growing branches and roots.  A well established tree will be able to set and carry more fruit so we prefer our customers to focus on branching vs fruiting for the first couple years.  We recommend you remove developing fruit from the tree during this time.  We recommend fertilizing two or three times a year from Spring through August and at a rate of 1lb of fertilizer per 1 inch of tree caliper.  For example a 1/4th inch tree would get 1/4th lb of fertilizer.  Spread the fertilizer away from the trunk of the tree, do not put it near the trunk, the trees roots will find it.


Pruning - 
There are many ways to prune your citrus so please consider doing further research on youtube or through google for alternative options before making your decision.  We recommend pruning inground trees to create dense branching that will create more branches to produce better fruit yields in 3 years.  We recommend topping your tree at 24 inches to encourage branching.  Then continue to cut branches approximately 12-14 inches to create a round beach ball shaped tree.  Continue to prune to create a larger beach ball shape and then when fruiting, prune to keep the shape and size you desire.



Growing Citrus In Containers:

Initial Care Instructions -
When your tree arrives, remove it from the bag and water it deeply to replace any moisture that may have been lost during shipping.

Up Potting -
Select the largest container that fits your needs, we recommend up potting into a container no more than 3 times larger than the original container. We would up pot a one gallon tree into a three gallon container and a three gallon tree into a ten gallon container. Eventually, your citrus should find a permanent home in a 15-gallon (or larger) container if you expect the tree to produce an adequate number of fruit. When repotting, please understand that your tree is going to put energy into growing roots to start filling out the pot. While it focuses on roots, you may notice a stall in branch growth. So be prepared to be patient if it seems like your tree is healthy but isn't growing - this may very well be the explanation.

Use a well draining potting mix of your choice. We recommend using our Madison Citrus Nursery Custom Citrus Mix. Add some mix to the bottom of your container, then carefully remove your tree from its original pot taking care not to disturb its roots. Please do not bare root our trees. We use the highest quality potting mix we can, it will do much better if you leave the root ball alone than if you attempt to remove all of the mix.

Place the root ball into the new pot and plant at the same depth it was planted in the original pot. You may need to add mix to raise it or carefully ruffle the bottom of the root ball to lower it. Then backfill with more potting mix, pack lightly and water deeply. Make sure the pot is full of mix and mulch if desired. Place the tree and pot in full sun to partial shade.

Watering - 
Water deeply when watering, continue to water until excess water is draining out of the pots drain holes. This ensures the tree is getting water throughout its entire root zone. When the top 2 inches of mix feels dry, water deeply again. Keep in mind that trees in a container will need more frequent watering than those in the ground, and this is especially true if you use terra cotta containers. Monitor the tree for changes and continue to water on the schedule that seems to work well for your climate, mix, and local weather. You may need to water more often if the weather is hotter and do not rely on a light rain to provide enough water for your tree.

If you have a lot of rain you can cover the top of your pot with a white trash bag or something else to reduce how much water gets into the pot.


Fertilizing - 
We recommend a high nitrogen fertilizer until your tree is established and the size you want it to be.  We offer a 13-6-6 fertilizer in our store that we have had very good luck with.  Follow the instructions that came with your specific fertilizer and with containers you can likely fertilize throughout the entire year.


Pruning -
Pruning citrus trees in containers is going to be important so you are able to create a tree that has dense enough branching to allow you to get a good yield but is also of a size / shape that you can maintain and move indoors if you need to for the winter.  Because everyone's needs are going to be different, we recommend you do some additional research on pruning citrus in pots to see the different variations available and choose the one that will work best for you.  We do recommend removing early developing fruit off of the tree for the first couple years to allow the tree to focus more energy on growing branches and roots.  If you want to leave a couple fruit on, it won't hurt too bad, but remove most.



Additional Videos For Helpful Care Information

How to Up Pot Your New Citrus Tree