If you want to have a productive and healthy citrus tree that will look great and give you good crops each year you will need to give it a little care and attention.
There are many different opinions of the best way to look after citrus, “this is how we do it” - “is it the best way?” - all we can say is that it works for us in our situation and environment. If you have other ways of looking after your citrus that works for you - that’s great - continue doing it.
Our Production Nursery is based on organic principles and wherever possible we use an ‘Integrated Pest Management System’ combined with mainly organic sprays.
Rather than just spraying to kill the pests that eat or attack our plants we look at ways to make our plants stronger and encourage other wildlife into the nursery to eat the pests on our behalf. This means planting bird attracting shrubs and trees around the nursery to attract the birds that will then go into the nursery and eat the grasshoppers and caterpillars.
The same works for frogs and ladybirds - if we can get them into the nursery they will eat other pests. Of course all this means we will need to use an organic spray that will not kill or chase away all the “good guys”.
This is our ongoing maintenance program:
Every week we go through the nursery, weed the plants and remove any rootstock shoots that have developed
Every fortnight we spray the citrus with a combination of horticultural oil and liquid seaweed fertiliser (monthly over winter). If Citrus Leaf Miner is a problem over summer don’t add the liquid fertiliser to the mix as this will encourage new leaf growth which is where the Leaf Miner moth lays it’s eggs.
Three to four times a year we use an organic poultry fertiliser (particularly on our in-ground breeding stock)
We regularly trim plants to ensure they have a good shape and allow the air to pass around and through the plant to reduce humidity and fungal diseases. Pruning once a year should be ok in the domestic situation (after fruiting)
Most of all get to know your citrus. Don’t just plant it and forget it - it will never thrive. Go out and have a close look at it every week - it will only take you a couple of minutes. Then you can see how your plant is doing if there is a caterpillar eating the leaves pull it off and feed it to the chooks or squash it. That’s much quicker and cheaper than spraying, if the leaves are turning yellow it may need a feed. Before you know it you will have a healthy plant that will thank you with lots of beautiful fruit.
When it comes to planting your fruit tree from a black plastic bag NEVER just pull the plant out when putting it in the ground always slice the side of the bag and remove the plant to look after the plant’s root system.
Buying Citrus Trees
Before you go out and spend some of your hard earned cash there are a few things to consider when buying any plant but particularly a citrus tree. If you do put some thought into your purchase it will not only save you money but ensure you get a healthy good looking citrus tree that will provide you with fruit for many years to come.
A few of the basics to consider would be:
Visit your local nursery. If you have a good local nursery you will not only be able to get the best advice but also see what you are purchasing.
Ask if the citrus is budded (a type of grafting) onto a rootstock. Growers have been using a rootstock for the base of the plant for hundreds of years to create the best possible plant.* Refer to our ‘Rootstock’ tab for more details.
Check out the general condition of the plant it should look healthy and the foliage should generally have a good green colour (although is some areas you may find some citrus varieties foliage may yellow slightly in winter).
Remember the largest plant may not always be the best plant to buy. A large plant that has been sitting in its bag for a long time may be root bound and may struggle to grow well in the ground. Always go for the healthiest looking plant even if it is a bit smaller as this plant will usually out grow a larger root bound plant once its in the ground.
* There are a couple of uncommon citrus varieties that can be grown from seed but these are not the sort of varieties you will generally see in most nurseries. Check out our ‘Citrus Varieties’ tab to see if we are currently growing them.