When to Fertilize A Citrus Tree? Citrus is not the name of one particular tree species but a genus.
It is more like the surname of a tree family of 60 species. Oranges, lemon, and grapefruit trees, you name it, all are part of the same genus.
About 10 out of 60 of these trees are grown agriculturally.
Native to South and Southeast Asia, these fruit-bearing trees are grown worldwide throughout tropical and sub-tropical climates for their delicious fruits.
All fruiting trees need nutrients to grow well and produce a good yield, but Citrus trees are particularly heavy feeders.
To ensure your Citrus tree supplies you with a bountiful yield, you must nourish it with the right fertilizer at the right time.
When to Fertilize A Citrus Tree?
Fertilize a citrus tree every 1-2 months during the growing season in spring and summer. Increase the gap between fertilization to every 2-3 months during fall and winter. Fertilize newly planted citrus trees only when they’re a year old. Also, fertilize older citrus trees once every three months only.
The Right Times to Fertilize Citrus Trees
The right time to fertilize citrus trees in spring and summer during the growing season.
Citrus trees require fertilization the most, from when they bloom to before the fruit ripens.
Different Citrus species have different blooming and fruiting times, such as Orange and Lemon trees have differing bloom times; there is no set timetable we can mention.
However, the fertilization schedule primarily depends on the condition of your trees.
Every tree’s physical appearance, growth, fruiting, and flowering habits tell us precisely what it needs and does not.
For instance, a Citrus tree with dark and dense foliage and healthy flowering tells us that it does not require a lot of fertilization.
Moreover, fertilizing a tree too much when it’s already healthy can significantly reduce the fruit yield.
So, it would be best to consider all the indicators rather than thoughtlessly following general fertilization schedules.
You will have to observe blooms on your Citrus trees and decide on their fertilizing schedules.
Overfertilizing already healthy trees out of growing season is not recommended.
Lemon Tree Fertilizer
The ideal lemon tree fertilizer is balanced using an NPK ratio of 6-6-6. NPK stands for Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium.
Are Coffee Grounds Good for Citrus Trees?
Coffee grounds are optimal for Fertilizing citrus trees as they prefer acid soils. It contains a good amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Furthermore, coffee grounds are slightly acidic and can help lower soil pH, which Citrus trees love. Coffee grounds have a soil pH of 6.5-6.8. Citrus trees prefer a soil pH between 6.00-7.00.
Why Citrus Trees Need Fertilization
Citrus trees are heavy feeders that need ample nutrients to produce fruit and grow.
Citrus trees are pretty resilient and will grow in the harshest of conditions.
How much Fertilizer Is needed for a Citrus Tree
The amount of fertilizer you need depends on the age and size of the tree. The University of Arizona suggests using about 6.2 pounds of fertilizer for a tree that is 5-6 years old.
Add the fertilizer thrice a year.
How to fertilize Trees in Containers
Fertilize citrus trees in containers every two months in spring and summer. Ideal fertilizers contain manganese, zinc, and iron. This is in addition to the essential macronutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK).
When fertilizing trees in containers, a few things have to be considered. One thing is that the amount of nutrients in the potting soil is limited. Therefore potted trees need to be fertilized frequently. As you would fertilize trees in the soil, fertilizing in the growing season is important for citrus trees in pots.
Fertilizers that Citrus Trees Like
The fertilizer you use will differ between Citrus trees growing in the ground and pot-grown ones.
Pot-grown Citrus plants like nitrogen-rich soil. But along with nitrogen, these trees also need elements like magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, and boron in trace amounts.
If you’re buying fertilizer, you can easily find mixtures specially made for Citrus trees.
On the other hand, you need a balanced NPK fertilizer for Citrus growing in the ground. A ratio of 10-10-10 NPK is recommended.
Citrus trees like soil on the acidic side. So, if your soil pH levels are too high, you can use acidic fertilizer to bring the pH levels down while simultaneously feeding your trees.
If you prefer using organic fertilizer, here is an easy DIY fertilizer recipe for your Citrus trees.
This way, you can prepare more fertilizer on a budget.
- 1 part dolomite lime
- 4 parts seed meal
- 1/2 part kelp meal
- 1/2 part bone meal
Fertilizer for Lemon
Lemon trees should be fertilized three times a year, according to Arizona University. Do not fertilize them for the first two years, and use 1/3 of the recommended fertilizer strength for each application. Ideally, fertilize every three months in the growing seasons.
Fertilizer for Orange Trees
The University of California suggests using a fertilizer with increased nitrogen for orange trees. Micronutrients such as zinc and iron are equally important. The amount of nitrogen applied should be increased every year until the orange trees are five years old, where 1 lb of nitrogen (450g) should be maintained for the following years.
How to Fertilize Citrus Trees
Fertilizing Citrus trees is not just a matter of pouring the compost all around the plant and expecting the tree to fruit well.
Fertilization is a much more intricate process than that.
Citrus trees can either be fertilized through the leaves or their soil. Compost or soil application fertilizers are to be spread evenly across the soil surface around the tree.
Ensure that too much fertilizer is not poured near the trunk, maintain a safe distance, and spread the fertilizer around the tree.
Mildly plowing the land around the tree will allow the fertilizer to seep into the ground easily.
On the other hand, you spray foliar fertilizers on the leaves.
Spray the fertilizer all over the foliage evenly and try not to waste it, as it won’t be much good if it drops to the ground.
Frequently Asked Questions about When to Fertilize Citrus Trees
Will Citrus trees not fruit if not fertilized?
Fertilization is not an absolute must for trees to produce fruit. Citrus trees growing without any care and maintenance can also fruit. However, the yield differences between fertilized and non-fertilized trees can be significant.
Can overfertilization kill my Citrus tree?
Adding too much fertilizer when the tree does not need it, e.g., when it is lush and dark green or during the dormant season, can be detrimental to its health. In case the nitrogen content of the soil gets dangerously high, this will burn the roots and kill your plant.
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Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.