HOW TO PLANT

Homes+ (Australia) - - MY BACKYARD -

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.

START DIG­GING

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.

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