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How to: plant a citrus tree

Photo - Robin Powell

If you're not picking your own lemons and oranges this season, we think you’re missing out! 

Not only do they look beautiful – with glossy green leaves, gorgeously fragrant spring blossom and winter fruit in warming colours that glow in winter light, but they also taste great. 

For more growing details and kitchen inspiration, see linked articles. The best time for planting citrus is when the risk of severe frost is past, usually August or September. So plan now, then start digging.

Step 1: Prepare the site well before you plant. Dig the planting hole deep enough to allow the bud union (where the tree is grafted on to the rootstock) to be at least 15 cm above the ground level, and wide enough for the roots to spread out. Add cow manure to the hole and dig through.

Step 2: Remove the tree from the container and gently tease the external roots to free them for planting (or for removal if they have spiralled around the pot).

Step 3: Do not put artificial fertilisers in the planting hole. Place the tree in the hole, making sure the bud union is high enough. Press the soil firmly around the base of the tree and form a basin around the tree to encourage water to sink in around feeder roots.

Step 4: Slowly pour a full watering can slowly into the basin and rewater several times a week until new shoots appear.

Step 5: In the first year, water the tree every 4–7 days, depending on the weather. Regular watering is essential during hot, dry, windy periods. Pick off any fruit for the first two years. Your patience will be rewarded later!

Step 6: When the tree is well established, give a good soaking once a week.



Text by Linda Ross

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Author: Linda Ross