Skip to Content

When to Fertilize A Citrus Tree? Let Me Think…

Citrus is not the name of one particular tree species but a genus. 

You could say Citrus is like the surname of a tree family of 60-member species. Oranges trees, lemon trees, Grapefruit trees, you name it, all are part of the Citrus genus. 

About 10 out of 60 Citrus trees are grown agriculturally. 

Native to South and Southeast Asia, these fruit-bearing trees are grown across the world 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 Citrus Tree?

As a general rule, Citrus trees like fertilization every 1-2 months during the growing season. 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 3 months only.


Right Times to Fertilize Citrus Trees

The brief fertilizing schedule for Citrus plants mentioned above is the general set of rules for fertilizing these trees. 

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 what it 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 in a healthy state can bring the fruit yield down significantly. 

So, you must consider all the indicators rather than thoughtlessly following general fertilization schedules. 

Citrus trees require fertilization the most from the time they start blooming to before the fruit has ripened. 

Because 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. 

You will have to observe blooms on your Citrus trees and decide their fertilizing schedules. 

Overfertilizing already healthy trees out of growing season is not recommended. However, you can still feed already healthy trees in adequate amounts to ensure they give a good yield. 


Why Citrus Trees Need Fertilization

Citrus trees are pretty resilient and will grow in the harshest of conditions. 

After centuries of breeding and research, varieties have been developed to tolerate high heat, cold, and even survive droughts. It can fairly be said that these tough trees can grow without a lot of help. 

But why fertilization? If you want to take a lot of fruit from a Citrus tree, you must also give it something. 

Everyone knows how heavy feeders citrus trees are. Hence, they will thrive in well-fertilized soil. A lot of farmers and Citrus growers complain about their trees not producing enough fruit. 

Well, the one-word answer to them is “fertilization.”


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 that are 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 you find that 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 


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 through their soil. Compost or soil application fertilizers are to be spread across the soil surface around the tree evenly. 

Make sure the too much fertilizer is not poured too near to the trunk, maintain a safe distance, and spread the fertilizer in a circle 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 the 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 Tree


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 the tree 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. 


Are coffee grounds recommended in fertilizing my Citrus tree?

Fertilizing citrus trees with coffee grounds is the perfect way to recycle them. Coffee grounds contain handsome amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Furthermore, coffee grounds are slightly acidic and can help lower soil pH, which Citrus trees love. 

Author Bio

Daniel Iseli

Taking care of houseplants and gardening are my greatest passions. I am transforming my apartment into an urban jungle and am growing veggies in my indoor and outdoor garden year-round.