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Citrus

Citrus is a group that includes some of the most popular backyard fruits including lemon, lime, orange, grapefruit, mandarin, cumquat and kaffir lime (grown for its leaves). Plant potted citrus at any time (but avoid extremely hot or cold conditions). To reduce transplant stress and aid plant establishment water with Seasol when planting.

For small gardens or for containers, select citrus grafted on dwarf rooting stock such as Flying Dragon. There are also multi-grafts available with two varieties grafted on one rootstock.

While all produce fruits with different flavours from the bitter but juicy lemon to the sweet, juicy and easy-to-peel mandarin, they have common growing and care needs.

Growing conditions

Aspect Citrus need a bright, sunny location. Ideally they should have sun from the morning onwards but can tolerate a little afternoon shade especially in hot climates.

Soil Citrus grow in a wide range of soils but require excellent drainage. In areas with poor drainage, grow citrus in raised garden beds (raised at least 30cm) or in large containers.

Climate Although most citrus are subtropical plants, they grow in all temperate climates however in cold areas, they need protection from cold winds and frosts.

 

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General care

Watering Adequate and regular water is critical for fruit formation and development. Lack of water can lead to loss of flowers or fruit. Deep water at least weekly especially when plants are in new growth, flowering or fruiting. Water more frequently if plants are in hot, dry or exposed conditions or if they are growing in containers.

Feeding and mulching Citrus are heavy feeders. Feed every season with a complete citrus food such as PowerFeed with Troforte Flowers, Fruit & Citrus. Plants in containers or the garden can be liquid fed monthly with PowerFeed PRO SERIES Flowers, Fruit & Citrus. Protect the area around the base of the tree with a 5-7cm layer of coarse organic mulch, which help keep the soil evenly moist and weed free.

Pruning Citrus will fruit without regular pruning however it is necessary to remove any dead wood and thin out fruit clusters on over laden branches to encourage larger fruit and reduce the weight of the crop. Older citrus can be renovated by hard pruning in spring in temperate climates and during winter in the tropics and subtropics (avoid pruning in summer as the bare branches can be sunburnt).

Watch out The main pests that attack citrus include aphids on new growth, scale on leaves and stems and citrus leaf miner which causes silvery trails in new growth. Apply EarthCare Enviro Pest Oil insect spray to both sides of the foliage and then repeat 14 days later if required.

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