Green Gold Garden Centres

citrus lemonsCitrus 

An essential element for an Australian "Backyard" is at least one variety of citrus trees. Not only is the home gardener benefiting from a very desirable fruit tree, but the citrus trees themselves are highly decorative all year round. They have attractive dark shiny foliage, fragrantly scented white blossom and fruit in shades of orange and yellow.

Citrus are such a wonderfully versatile fruiting family of trees, it is hard to know quite which ones to plant. Usually people settle on a Lemon as their first choice as it is the most versatile. Whatever variety you select, please follow these simple tips noted here and you should have great success growing citrus trees in your backyard.

Position

The best site for citrus is in a hot and sunny spot, which is preferably sheltered from strong winds. Excellent drainage is essential, as water logged roots are undesirable. If you believe there could be a drainage problem this can be rectified by planting on a slightly raised mound.  Citrus trees plants in half sun location will still grow but will not bear as much fruit, and be susceptible to insects and disease.

Planting

Generally citrus can be planted all year round, except in colder regions where it is best to avoid planting in the winter months.

  1.  Dig a large hole and incorporate a generous amount of GreenGold Planting Compost
  2.  If there is clay, remove as much as possible, dig deeper than required and add gypsum at the bottom of the hole.
  3.  Pour in a bucket of water and check that it drains away fairly quickly. If the water sits for a while, you MUST improve the drainage prior to planting.
  4.  Set the plant in the hole so that its soil is at the same level as the surrounding soil; firm in and water well.
  5.  Treat the soil with a solution of Seasol which will help settle the plant in and promote strong root growth.
  6.  Do not fertilise until the citrus tree has been in the ground for a few months.
  7.  If the plant fruits, it is best to remove them, so that all the energy goes into growing a strong tree.

Feeding and Watering

Never fertilise close in to the trunk of the citrus tree - spread the fertiliser out to the drip line of the tree. Keep the ground around clear of all plants. Use organic pelletised poultry manure in early spring, and then a follow up every 6 weeks, with a light feed until early autumn. Water in the fertiliser well. A mulch of cow manure in autumn is beneficial, combined with a surface mulch of chopped Lucerne added after each application of fertiliser. This will ensure that moisture is retained in the soil. Remember that Lucerne is a most important product - it adds nitrogen to the soil, promotes worm activity, helps keep weeds down, retains moisture and eventually breaks down to nutritious compost. If you unable to obtain Lucerne, sugar cane mulch can be used as a substitute, but remember DO NOT use pine bark as mulch.

Don't cultivate around citrus trees, as they have feeder roots close to the surface. Water well during the Summer months - a long deep soaking once or twice a week is preferable to short daily sprays. When the citrus begin to bear fruit, watering should be increased.

Pruning

This is generally done when all danger of frost is past and the weather is warming up. Keep the centre of the tree open and airy for the general good health of the plant; otherwise just remove the weak straggly growth and diseased limbs.

Harvesting

It is best to remove most of the fruit for the first two or three years to enable the citrus tree to fully establish itself. After this period you can let the tree hear it’s full crop.

Citrus in Tubs

Any variety may be grown in a tub, providing the container is a decent size. Cumquats, calamondins, meyer lemon and lime trees are especially suited to tub life. Once the citrus has grown itself into the largest manageable tub, consideration should be given to future root pruning every few years. This will keep the citrus in good health and prevent it from deteriorating

Problems

  •  Yellowing leaves - This can he caused by mineral deficiencies in the soil and is identifiable by continued distinctive pattern of yellowing on the leaves. The common deficiencies are either Zinc or Manganese which cause mottling of the foliage. Bring a sample in to your local GreenGold Garden Centre for further advice and treatment. Foliage may be yellowish during winter or after a heavy cropping of fruit; this is not uncommon. Correct with fertilising in spring. Yellowing leaves can sometimes occur if the ground is too wet. If this is the case drainage must be improved or the tree will never grow well.
  •  Bronze Orange Bug - Commonly called the 'Stink Bug'. This develops into a large flat beetle about the size of a 10 cent piece. They are much more active in the warmer months. It sucks sap from foliage and emits a foul odour when touched or alarmed. It is best not to venture too close to these bugs, as if the secretion they squirt comes into contact with you it can cause temporary blindness, allergic reactions and a discoloration of your skin for some time. If you must pick them off wear gloves and protective spectacles. If you want an easy method a spray such as ‘Baythriod’ can be used.
  •  Citrus Leaf miner - Squiggly lines on distorted and twisted new growth in late summer and autumn can make the tree look dreadful. Spray with Pest Oil, or Eco Oil from mid-Spring onwards every two weeks as a prevention. This oil is also excellent for Aphid and Scale control.
  •  Fruit Fly - If this pest is a problem, control with Confidor. Ask for further advice regarding Fruit Fly control at your local GreenGold centre.
  •  Fruit fall when small - This could be due to the plant is too young and frail to cope with the large quantities of fruit, or else the tree is getting insufficient and irregular amounts of water.
  •  Leaf drop - Many reasons, but mainly due to inadequate watering, poor drainage which results in 'wet feet', and malnourished trees.
  •  White louse scale – This appears on the trunk and limbs can only be controlled with Lime sulphur - (white oil is ineffective against this scale.)

Varieties

  Oranges  

  •  Seedless Valencia - the best for the home garden. Thin skinned and juicy. Heavy fruiting in spring and summer.
  •  Washington Navel - Large, juicy and seedless, fruiting in winter and spring.  Plant one of each for an extended fruiting season.

Lemons

  •  Eureka - By far the biggest seller as it fruits almost all the year round. Large rough fruit, almost thornless and ideal for warmer areas.
  •  Meyer - A good lemon for cooler areas, growing smaller and suitable for large tubs. Smooth and thin skinned with an orange colour.
  •  Lisbon - This is a thorny lemon bearing large thin skinned fruit from winter onwards.
  •  Lemonade - This one can be peeled and eaten raw as it has a delicious sweet lemon flavour. Makes a great drink and fruits all year.

 Limes

  •  Tahitian - Very popular, bearing small rich flavoured round fruit with some seeds. Most fruit in autumn.  
  •  Kaffir Lime – Is grown especially for the leaves which are used extensively in Thai cooking. Unusual shaped foliage, and very thorny.

 Grapefruit

  •  Marsh's Seedless - Large almost seedless fruit with excellent flavour. Crops in winter and spring.
  •  Wheeny - This variety is ideal for cooler climates, with very large and juicy fruit. Rather a lot of seeds. Crops late Spring to early Autumn.

 Mandarins

  •  Emperor - This is large, loose skinned, with sweet and juicy fruit ripening in winter. About the most popular of the mandarins.
  •  Ellendale - This ripens after the Emperor, with large well flavoured fruit, though rather seedy!

 Cumquats

  •  Calamondin - Round very decorative fruit. Use for preserves. Ideal grown in tubs. Variegated foliage variety available.
  •  Nagami - Oval shaped fruit. Slightly smaller fruit than the others. Ideal as a tub plant. Preserve the fruit.

 

   

  


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