HOW TO PLANT
WHEN TO PLANT
The best time to plant citrus is autumn to spring, avoiding the heat of summer.
CHECK THE SOIL
Make sure the soil drains well. If not, build up the planting area so that it’s about 0.5m higher than surrounding ground, then plant into the top of this mound (like the crater of a volcano). It’s worthwhile to do a soil pH test, as citrus trees like the soil to be just right, not too acidic or alkaline, about 6-7.5pH.
Dig the hole for your tree twice as wide as it is deep. Water-storing crystals can then be added. Remove the plant from its bag or pot and gently tease out the roots so they are orientated out in all directions. Cut off any that have started to spiral and are root-bound, as this will severely affect the growth of your tree. Place in the hole and backfill with soil. Be careful not to bury the tree too deep, and don’t cover over the graft, as this can result in collar rot.
The soil surrounding the tree should be level with the surrounding ground.
GIVE IT A PAT
Pat down soil gently with your foot to create a slightly firmer, lower well around the tree. This will help the water stay long enough to penetrate into the root zone before it runs off the surface.
NOW IT NEEDS WATER
Water it really well, with at least two full 9L watering cans (if not more), to help get rid of any air pockets. Then mulch to a depth of about 10cm, being careful not to build up around the trunk. Continue watering every week (more on windy or very sunny days), until your citrus is through its first year. After this, watering every three weeks should be fine (if it hasn’t rained).
PLANTING IN A POT?
If you want to grow your new citrus tree in a pot, use a quality premium standard mix and make sure the pot is at least 400mm wide and 400mm deep. An alternative to the traditional tree shape is to espalier the tree flat against a wall. Buy it like this or do it yourself by simply pruning off any outward growing branches.
Fussy about soil Use a pH testing kit, available at nurseries and garden centres, to ensure your soil is right for citrus.