How to water citrus trees?

Citrus Care


Watering (with a hose)

  1. When first planted, water thoroughly
  2. Water every other day for two weeks.
  3. For the rest of the first year, irrigate every seven days in the summer, and once every two to four weeks in the winter.
  4. During the second year, irrigation intervals can be increased to 10-14 days in the summer, and once every three to four weeks in winter.
  5. WATER DEEPLY! 1” of water will go down about 12”. Apply minimum of 3” of water.

Maintaining mulch in the tree basin during the first two to three summers will allow for maximum interval between irrigations without tree stress. Remove mulch in early November to allow full soil exposure to winter sun.

Pruning Young Trees

  1. Remove any sucker growth below the bud union on young trees.*
  2. Trim off badly placed growth that interferes with other branches.
  3. If limbs are killed by freezing, remove them after spring growth starts.
  4. Young trees are not uniform in growth, but will become more symmetrical with age.
  5. Rapid growing terminals, particularly noticeable on lemon trees, may be pinched or cut back during the growing season to even-up growth rate.

Don’t Over Fertilize

  1. Young citrus trees respond readily to fertilize in most soils, but care should be taken not to give them too much.
  2. Young trees can be fertilized every 4-6 weeks between February and May, but at only ½ the recommended rate. Overfertilization can cause severe leafburn and rapid defoliation.
  3. Starting the second year, sprinkle recommended amounts of El Toro Citrus Food with iron chelate in the tree basin. Water the day before and immediately after applying fertilizer.
  4. Fertilize (1) late winter (February), late May and late August. Apply fertilizer evenly over the tree basin area.
  5. In sandy soils, fertilize six to eight times a year to compensate for loss by leaching.
  7. If you fertilize when the tree is in bloom, apply at ½ the recommended rate.


  1. Freezing can damage both tree and fruit of all citrus varieties, but some are more sensitive than others.
  2. Older orange and grapefruit trees are quite tolerant to cold and seldom need to be protected.
  3. The fruit, however, is usually damaged when temperatures fall below 26 degrees Fahrenheit for a period of several hours.

Provide Frost Protection

  1. In most areas of Southern Arizona where citrus is grown, some type of frost protection is necessary from November through March during the first two or three years.
  2. Protect the trunk and main branches of young trees, leaving 1/3 of the leafy area exposed to sunlight and air.
  3. Young trees can be successfully protected from frost by running water under the tree during the below-freezing hours, covering them with a large cardboard box, placing a burlap bag over the tree or covering with cloth.
  4. Do not use plastic unless you build a frame to keep the plastic away from tree foliage. Plastic does not hold in much heat compared to other materials.
  5. Remove heavy cloth covering after each frost period. Burlap may be left in place for the entire winter. Hanging a lit light bulb in the branches on cold nights provides additional heat.
  6. If tree is frozen, do not prune frozen parts until new growth emerges in spring.
  7. After new growth begins, the exact portions killed by frost can be more clearly seen and pruned off.

Pruning Mature Trees

  1. Mature citrus trees need little or no pruning, other than the periodic removal of dead wood.
  2. Inside shoot growth, which is particularly abundant on navel oranges and lemon varieties, should be thinned out to avoid branch competition inside the tree.

BE SURE TO ELIMINATE ALL SUCKERS ARISING FROM BELOW THE BUD UNION.* THEY ARE FROM THE ROOTSTOCK VARIETY AND WILL NOT BEAR EDIBLE FRUIT. When left to develop, they will take over the top portion causing your named citrus variety to be reverted back to an undesired variety.

Commercial trees are allowed to carry branches right to the ground. Production is heaviest on these lower branches. Garden trees can be pruned to shape as desired.

*Many citrus trees have been grafted onto a heartier rootstock. The point where the bud is grafted to the rootstock is called the bud union. There will be a characteristic bend or bulge at this point. Suckers are any new growth coming off below the bud union, causing the tree to revert back to the rootstock that the new fruit was grafted onto.

If you are looking for information on growing lemon trees in Arizona, this post is for you! Arizona is a great place for anyone to grow a citrus plant, which is why a lot of commercial growers and home owners produce high quality fruits. You can actually grow some of the best citrus fruits in the world using Arizona’s dry and warm climate. Mandarins, Pumelos, Kumquats, Limes, Lemons, Tangerines, Grapefruits, Tangelos, Blood Oranges, and Oranges are just a few of the citrus fruits that will thrive in Arizona.

There is a large variety of available citrus to be grown, today we will focus on just lemons and how you can grow them effectively. We will take time to outline the information and tips about growing healthy, strong, and fruitful lemon trees.

Growing Lemon Trees Outdoors

The most important and first decision that should be made when planting lemon trees is where you want to plant them and how much sun exposure they will get. Lemons are sensitive to cold temperatures, which why having full sun exposure is vital and needed for them to grow right. You will find that the best planting is on the Southside of your home most of the time, depending on coverage from large trees that may be there. While it isn’t a problem in Arizona, frost can destroy your lemon tree and a good way to guard against this is to plan the lemon trees close to your home.

Watering Your Trees

You need to make sure that your tree is moist when you plant the tree is vital, after you plant the tree you need to water it in a deep and slow fashion once a week during the summer and twice a week during the rest of the year. This is because citrus trees that are established in soil will do well when the soil is slightly dry between watering.

General Care and Protecting Against Frost

If you believe that there is a chance for frost, then you need to cover the young lemon trees. Frost cloth and burlap are great for protection. Never use plastic to protect the tree from frost as it is quite inadequate, so if you don’t have frost cloth or burlap, you can use a blanket or sheet will protect them well. Once the temperature has rose above freezing, uncover the trees and let them soak up the sun, until the temperature drops again. A good way to help citrus trees like lemons is to grow them in a pot on your patio. They can flourish and produce fruit when they are potted. This is effective because you can bring your pots under the patio or indoors when it begins to freeze.

Fertilization Methods

The best way to fertilize your lemon trees is to fertilize them 3 times a year, its best in February, May, and then September. Organic, slow release fertilizers are going to be best.

Soil For Lemon Trees

Lemon trees will adapt quite well to desert soil to the extent that they can thrive in soil from the yard, as long as it isn’t rocky. A good way to keep the tree roots moist is to put down a layer of mulch that goes to a drip line used for watering. If you have rocky soil, do a mulch mix o 70/30 which will enhance the lemon trees ability to thrive and soak up nutrients.

While the citrus plants can adapt to most soil, lemon trees prefer a soil that is well drained and slightly acidic. The preference of well-drained soil helps by allowing you to plant your tree above ground level. This can be done by digging a shallow hole that won’t swallow the whole root on the bottom of the tree. Replace the soil and add mulch will create an almost perfect environment for your lemon tree.

Sun Exposure and Heat

Your lemon tree will require a lot of sun to produce fruit and high temperatures will be the key to producing sweet fruits. This is true for lemon trees. If you prune the tree to expose the trunk, then you need to consider painting it white or wrapping the trunk to keep it from being sunburnt. If you plan to paint it, use tree paint of dilute household paint with 50% water. If you see leaf scorch at the end of the summer, that is normal and is not a red flag. The scorching will appear more on younger trees, which can be avoided by shading them during hot months. This is helpful, but not really needed.

Growing Lemon Trees Indoors

Lemon trees will thrive if they are potted. This allows them to be great indoor plants. The same type of principle that applies outdoors will apply to indoors as well, which it comes to a plant environment that is well drained and has room for growth as well as having some acidic soil. Indoor lemon trees will normally grow no taller than 5 feet.

Ensure that your lemon tree gets plenty of sun as they will need a full day to grow to their potential and produce a quality fruit. You may place the tree outdoors during warm times and bring them in overnight or once the weather gets cooler. Doing this will help to produce fruit which they also get into a natural rhythm of night and day. Putting them outside also lets them be pollinated.

Best Lemon Tree To Grow In Arizona

The best lemon tree that adapts to Arizona climate is Eureka Lemon Trees. These trees produce great lemons that have few seeds. The lemons also hold to the tree well, which mean they don’t fall off easily.

Lisbon Lemon Trees also give great lemons and are great for desert climates. They grow well during winter.

Meyer Lemon Trees are small and look like shrubs due to their foliage. They have a good sugar level which makes it a favorite of chefs.

Pink Lemon Trees grow well in the desert climate and add a unique look with white and green foliage.

Need Professional Tree Care Services In The Phoenix Valley?

If you are looking for tree care tips or need tree services in Phoenix, give the expert tree professional at Arbor Care a call today at 480-797-5566.

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It’s that time of year again. Scented citrus blossoms fill the air with intoxicating aromas, and your neighbors’ trees are bursting with lemons and grapefruit. Want to get in on the action but don’t want to get in over your head? Already planted a citrus tree and are afraid you’re going to kill it? We’re here with an easy-care guide.

See also: 5 Ways to Cook and Bake with Citrus

Debora Moritz, a Maricopa County Master Gardener with the University of Arizona, says the most common problems in the Phoenix area with citrus trees are human-related — mainly watering. It’s best to water at the canopy edge and one foot beyond.

“This is where the roots’ growing tips are absorbing water and nutrients. Use slow, deep applications of water that help leach — or push — salt build-up below the root zone to the bottom of the wet soil,” says Moritz.

You want the water to go about two feet into the soil. Things to keep in mind: For newly planted trees, you should increase the depth of watering each year until the tree has been planted for three years. Continue to water deeply and allow the soil to dry between waterings.

Got a sad tree? Keep in mind that a new tree isn’t producing fruit you want during the first few years, and you should remove any fruit from young, newly planted trees. But don’t get carried away.

“Limit your pruning, which is a source of stress to the tree and fairly unnecessary in citrus,” says Moritz. “Prune only to remove dead branches or to remove suckers on the lower trunk. Suckers are usually long, fast-growing shoots heading straight up. Prune suckers that are below the bud union, which will be the rootstock’s variety, not the variety of fruit that you chose.”

You’ll want to prune when there’s no chance of freezing, but don’t wait until it’s very warm and new growth starts. Yep — that means now! Mid February until early March is best. Obviously, avoid cutting off excess amounts of new growth and buds and leave some “skirt” branches to help shade the trunk. Speaking of sun, sunburn can cause serious problems with citrus trees. If you have a problem with your tree, if it’s not a watering issue, it could be a sun issue. If you have a young tree, you can get a can get a shade cloth to block afternoon sun.

“Protect tree trunks or any branches that will be newly exposed to the sun by painting the trunk or exposed branches with a white latex paint specifically designed for tree trunks,” says Moritz.

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For newly planted citrus, fertilizer is not necessary for the first few years, but you can apply small amounts of nitrogen after the tree is established and new growth has emerged. After your tree has been planted for two years you’ll, need to remember to fertilize three times a year. “Trees are best fertilized in January or February, April or May, and August or September. I like to use Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day and Labor Day to trigger my memory,” Moritz says.

So, you have a happy tree that is producing fruit, but how do you know when to pick the fruit? The longer the fruit stays on the tree, the sweeter it will become. But weather conditions play into when the fruit is best. There it gets a little tricky. For example, here in Arizona a Minneola Tangelos will be best in January, February and March, while some orange varieties are best in the summer.

Here’s more information about citrus in Arizona.

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  • Now Growing

Citrus Trees

Citrus Plant Facts:

Type: Perennials
Sun-Shade: Full Sun (8 – 12 hours a day)
Soil Condition: Light, well-draining soil mix
Water: Water to keep soil moist, about once a week
Pot Size: 10”-16” pot for 2-3 yr. old tree

Caring For Your Citrus Tree:

  • Watering – Citrus trees do well with heavy watering. Avoid watering your tree for just a few minutes every day and instead give them a heavy watering every one to two weeks in the warm summer months and every three to four weeks during the cooler winters.
  • Soil – When planting your citrus tree combine SummerWinds Natural & Organic Planting Mix with the existing ground soil.
  • Fertilizing – We recommend fertilizing your citrus trees three times per year. Learn more about when and how to fertilize your citrus trees.
  • Suckering – It is important to remove the tree suckers as soon as possible. These new growths take energy away from the healthy branches on the top of the tree. To remove a sucker, find the graft on your citrus tree. This is usually 4 to 12 inches above the soil line and looks like a horizontal or vertical ‘V’. You will also notice an obvious change in the bark of the tree. Remove any growth below the graft.
  • Thorns – Thorns are not generally found on mature citrus trees. Prune any thorns from juvenile trees if you would like.
  • Pruning – Pruning can be done anytime of the year, except during the winter months. During the first year, it is best to pinch off blooms to allow the tree to mature before producing fruit. You can also pinch back tips of new growth to encourage branching. You can prune your citrus tree to any desired shape and height.
  • Insects – Lady beetles, lacewings and praying mantis are frequently found around citrus trees and will not cause any harm.

Click the buttons below to learn more about citrus:

    Citrus Varieties Citrus Feeding Time

At SummerWinds Nursery, our experts are ready to answer all of your citrus tree questions. Stop by today and find the perfect citrus tree for your garden with the help of one of our Trusted Garden Advisors.

Tips On Water Requirements For Citrus Trees

While citrus trees have always been popular in areas where they thrive, lately they have also become popular in colder climates. For citrus owners in warm, humid climates, citrus tree watering is not something they often need to think about. But in cooler or drier climates, watering can be a tricky thing. Let’s take a look at the water requirements for citrus trees.

Water Requirements for Citrus Trees

Watering your lemon trees or other citrus trees is tricky. Too little water and the tree will die. Too much and the tree will die. This can leave even an experienced gardener asking, “How often do I water a citrus tree?”

With ground-planted citrus trees, watering should happen about once a week, whether from rainfall or manually. Be sure the area has excellent drainage and that you soak the ground deeply at each watering. If the drainage is poor, the tree will get too much water. If the tree is not watered deeply, it will not have enough water for the week.

With container planted citrus trees, watering should be done as soon as the soil dries out or is only slightly damp. Again, be sure that the drainage for the container is excellent.

Citrus tree watering should be done evenly. Never let a citrus tree dry out completely for more than a day.

If a citrus tree is allowed to dry out for more than a day, you won’t see the damage until you water it again, which may cause confusion. A citrus tree that has been left dry will lose leaves when watered. The longer the citrus tree is left in dry soil, the more leaves it will lose when you water it. This is confusing because most plants lose leaves when they dry out. Citrus trees lose leaves after you water them once they have dried out.

If your citrus tree is getting too much water, meaning that the drainage is poor, the leaves will yellow and then fall off.

If your citrus tree loses all of its leaves due to over or under watering, do not despair. If you resume the proper water requirements for citrus trees and keep the plant evenly watered, the leaves will regrow and the plant will come back to its former glory.

Now that you know the answer to the question, “How often do I water a citrus tree,” you can enjoy the beauty of your citrus tree without worry.

Tips for healthy citrus trees

The Mediterranean climate of San Diego is perfect for growing citrus trees. What could be better than fresh-squeezed orange juice from your backyard or margaritas from your lime tree? As easy as it is to maintain well-established citrus trees, here are some smart tips for younger trees that will help with your success.

• Good drainage is essential for all citrus varieties, which is why they do so well on our hillsides. To test your drainage, dig a hole that is 1 cubic foot, fill it with water, and let it drain. Fill it a second time, and if it takes more than an hour to drain, you have a problem with that location. You’ll need to add lots of amendment or consider planting in a large container or raised bed. Citruses are the best fruit trees for growing in pots.

• Citrus trees are available year-round in San Diego’s garden centers. Pick a good, healthy specimen, either standard or semi-dwarf. Dig your hole twice the size of the existing pot and fill around the roots firmly with well amended soil.

• Watering is one of the most important things to consider. Your tree needs to be watered twice a week until it begins to show new growth. After that, citrus trees like to dry out between watering, so once your trees are established, deep-water once every 10 days to two weeks. If you find yellowing leaves or splitting on the skin of the fruit, it is likely that you’re overwatering.


• Fertilize every three months with an organic citrus and fruit tree food to promote growth and fruit production.

• Common pests for citrus include white flies, scale and leaf miner. All are easily treated with organic products that can be found at garden centers. If you’re not sure what is wrong, simply clip an infected leaf from your tree and bring it in to get advice from a gardening professional.

• Unless you’re concerned about the shape of your citrus trees, they don’t need pruning. Unlike many plants, aggressive pruning won’t produce more fruit and can actually harm the tree.

Follow these easy tips and enjoy tall, cool drinks from your citrus trees all summer long.


Caring for your citrus trees

Now, let’s get into watering. How often you water your citrus tree is going to depend largely on how old the tree is and what time of year it is. The older the tree, the less frequently you will water it.

For young citrus trees (under 5 years old), water them twice per week in the summer, once a week spring and fall, (adjust accordingly for our fall days that are over 100 degrees), and in the winter, don’t water much except during extreme dry spells. Another key to watering correctly is running your water for the correct amount of time. It’s hard for me to tell you exactly how long to run your water, because this depends on what type of drippers or watering system you have. For young trees, try to give them approximately 5 gallons of water each time you water them. What you need to happen is for the entire root zone to be watered through, so you need to give enough water that it goes several feet down into the ground. Drip systems are best for this, because they deliver the water slowly so it can soak deeper and there is less run-off and evaporation. You will want to run a drip system for at least a half hour each time you water.

If you have older, established citrus trees, you need to give them more water at a time (up to 10 gallons), but do it less frequently. During summer, once every one to two weeks depending on your soil because some soils drain faster than others. The rest of the year, once or twice per month, depending on weather. On an older tree, another important factor is watering in the right place. You don’t want to water your tree right at the trunk. Look at where the branches go out to, then draw an invisible line from that point to the ground. This is where you want to deliver your water and nutrients (fertilizer) to your tree. This is where the newer roots that can uptake water and nutrients are located. It’s a good idea on a larger tree to put a deep drip stake into the ground, that way you can run a hose right into it and it delivers the water deeper into the soil. I would recommend that you also have a spot you can water your tree on the surface, so you can apply your fertilizers and gypsum to be absorbed.

How to grow citrus in California

by Nan Sterman

Citrus harvest seasons

To enjoy citrus year-round, here are some varieties to try and their harvest:

Nagami kumquats
spring, winter

Oroblanco grapefruits
spring, winter

Washington navel oranges

Clementine mandarins
fall, winter

Satsuma mandarins
fall, winter

Improved Meyer lemons
spring, fall

Eureka lemons
spring, summer, winter

Valencia oranges
spring, summer

Mexican limes
fall, winter

Bearss limes
fall, winter

California and citrus are pretty much synonymous. Orange County is named for the fruits that blanketed the Southland more than 100 years after Spanish missionaries arrived with the first trees.

In 1873, Southern California farmers began planting Washington navel orange trees and soon citrus grew from the coast to the desert. Reminders of those orchards still exist in the backyards of housing tracts and on remnant agricultural lands.

The citrus industry is still strong today, from the southern border to the foothills that surround Sacramento. In Auburn, Calif., the annual Mountain Mandarin Festival celebrates the November Owari Satsuma mandarin harvest.

How to grow citrus

Plant citrus from spring to fall, preferably in well-draining soil. If you have clay soil, plant it in raised beds or large containers. Make a mound about 6 to 10 inches higher than the surrounding soil. Plant in the mound, covering the surface roots with no more than one-half inch of soil. Then water the soil so it’s saturated several feet deep. Mulch beyond the branch canopy, not below it. Don’t plant beneath citrus trees as they’ll compete for water and nutrients.

Expect citrus to bear fruit in about three years if it’s fed sufficiently. Throughout the first year, water young plants deeply and regularly to keep soil moist but not wet. After that, water deeply every week or two from spring to fall and in long, dry spells during winter.

Citrus doesn’t require pruning except to remove dead wood. Prune to shape and to keep fruit off the ground, but don’t go overboard. Bark exposed to direct sun will burn.

What to grow where

According to John “Cedar” Seeger of Four Wind Growers in Fremont, citrus can be grown in the ground from the Mexican border east into the desert and in gardens below 1,500 feet elevation as far north as Redding. In colder areas, Seeger suggests growing dwarf citrus in pots and moving them to a protected spot during winter. Kumquats and mandarins are the most hardy of citrus plants. Mexican limes are the most frost-sensitive.

In January 2007, a freeze in Southern California caused extensive citrus damage. My garden near San Diego dipped down to 17 degrees. The leaves and fruit on my Mexican lime turned the color of straw, but recovered by spring. The Oroblanco grapefruit and Nagami kumquat trees were unscathed, though the kumquat fruits were slushy. My mandarin and orange tree leaves burned but recovered quickly.

Nan Sterman is author of “California Gardener’s Guide Volume II.” She’s a gardening expert, communicator and designer who has long grown an organic garden of plants that both feed her family and beautify her yard.

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