TOP TIPS: CITRUS

Some simple tips for citrus trees from our experts, Helen McKerral, Leonie Shanahan and Penny Woodward.

Everyone loves lemons.
Photo: Kirsten Bresciani

ENCOURAGE ROOT GROWTH

If you have just bought a citrus tree (congratulations!), then until it is two years old, pinch off the developing flowers/fruit buds so the tree directs all its energy to grow strong roots that will support a big tree with abundant fruit.

FEED THEM

Add a handful of zeolite to your planting mix when potting long-term pot plants such as citrus, camellias and dwarf fruit trees. Zeolite holds nutrients more effectively than potting mix, so less is flushed out when watering, and more is available to plant roots for longer. 

PROTECT THEM

Many citrus are intolerant of cold, especially when young. If you are in a cold region, then protect the young tree from frost using frost cloth, or a big tree guard with some sacking tied around it. Plant into good, composty, well-drained soil with plenty of organic matter. Clear away any competing plants as citrus’s shallow roots hate competition. Finally mulch with lucerne hay or pea straw. Keep it away from the trunk to prevent collar rot.

PEST CONTROL

Scale on citrus is caused by sap sucking insects that have a ‘shell’ for protection and are found attached to branches, leaf veins and stems. They do not move but under the ‘shell’ eggs are hatching and the insects are sucking sap from the plant. Scrape off scale with a brush and soapy water. Spray whole plant with oil or neem to suffocate insects. Use a sticky collar on the trunk to stop ants spreading the scale.


For more features on growing citrus head to:

Grow your own delightfully delicious oranges

Limes

How to graft citrus

First published: October 2019

Related topics

Gardening Basics, All Gardens, What to do now