GROWING YOUR NEW CITRUS TREE
Choose a location for your tree. A warm, sunny, southern or western exposure is best. Shelter is a big help, too, if cold is a concern. Choose or create someplace with well-drained soil, and avoid putting a citrus tree directly into a lawn. A nearby reflective wall, fence, or even patio can provide both shelter and a bit of extra warmth, too.
If you have any concerns about drainage, such as in heavy clay soil, fill the hole with water and see how long it takes to drain out. If the water is not gone by the next morning, dig the hole deeper and plant the tree up higher.
For a dwarf citrus tree, select a large pot. Try for two feet in diameter or a half-barrel, at least. Partially refill the hole with good, well-draining soil. Depending on the quality of what you took out of the hole, you might try a half-and-half mixture of compost and the now-loosened soil. Create a mound of soil in the middle of the hole that supports the root ball with the crown (the base of the tree trunk where the roots begin) slightly above it.
Mix in some citrus fertilizer with the soil, if you like.
If you are planting a dwarf citrus in a pot, use straight potting soil and fill it in to a similar level. Place the pot up on blocks and be sure there are plenty of drainage holes in the bottom. Don’t let the pot sit directly in a saucer or puddle of water.
Remove the tree from its tree pot. Remove moisture gel beads added for shipping. Place the tree on the mound of soil. Add or remove soil underneath to adjust the height
so that the crown is level with the soil or even slightly above it.
Fill in the remaining hole with a mixture of compost or potting soil and the soil from your garden.
If you are using a pot, fill with straight potting soil. Leave at least two inches at the top to allow space to water thoroughly.
Do not apply mulch!
Stay away from organic mulch, as it increases the likelihood of foot rot disease. A safe bet is that the roots are at least as wide as the branches, so make the mulch area at least this large. You can even add a rim of mulch around the circumference of the circle to aid in watering. Do not mulch right up to the base of the trunk. Leave a little margin so that the crown has breathing room and doesn’t stay wet when you water.
Water the tree at least weekly until it is established, unless you get sufficient rain to do the job. Water even mature citrus trees regularly. Citrus trees have relatively shallow, broad root systems.
Once established, the trees may tolerate some drought, but they won’t produce fruit that’s as good.
Fertilize the tree with an appropriate fertilizer. Fertilizers are available in citrus or citrus-and-avocado formulations. Apply them according to package instructions, typically three to four times a year for slow-release types.
Harvest fruit when it is fully ripe. Oranges, lemons, and grapefruit should all be completely free of green coloring. They will not ripen off the tree.