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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Citrus Care

Citrus are the easy fruiting trees. They are really big shrubs with a classic rounded shape. They store their fruit well and ripen slowely so that you can pick it over a long period of time.

January is a good time to feed your Citrus with all-purpose citrus food so that the spring rains will wash in the fertilizer.  This will help set the crop for next year. It is also a good time to give them a dose of chelated iron which is a soluble iron that is mixed with water and foliar fed or poured around the root area from a bucket. Feed Citrus again with iron in the late summer and water in well.

Be sure and pick all the ripe fruit each year and clean up any fallen fruit or "mummies" still hanging on the tree to help rid the area of diseases and pests that get into the fallen fruit.
Removing the fruit also helps next years crop to form in that energy isn't going into maintaining
the old fruit still hanging on the tree.

Citrus don't need a lot of pruning just trim any long branches that shoot out and keep them trimmed into a nice rounded, symmetrical shape. Avoid over-pruning as it opens up the canopy and allows the sun to scald the thin bark of the plants.

Prune other trees and shrubs away from your Citrus trees so they get plenty of light, water and nutrients on all sides.

Whitefly can be an issue for Citrus, if they are in an overcrowded area or are not getting enough light.
Hang traps for these pests and wash foliage frequently. Prune back any trees blocking the light to the Citrus.

In Summer, deeply water your Citrus twice a month by setting out a hose at the drip line of the canopy, letting the hose run very slowly for 20-30 minutes. Do this in 4 places around a large tree and two places for smaller trees. Even if you have irrigation the deep watering helps the trees develop juicy fruit- its mostly water after all!

When hard freeze is predicted in the winter cover the trees (if you can) with a cloth sheet (not plastic). Uncover as the freeze lifts.
Some folks put a light under the sheet to generate some heat for the tree.

If you can't eat all your fruit please donate it to the food bank- they really need the donations and appreciate it!

Enjoy the powerhouse of fruiting plants- Citrus!

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