Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Caring for Citrus Trees and Other Potted Plants

Here in the deep south, we have the luxury of growing citrus trees.  Occasionally, we do have a cold snap and have to worry with bringing the trees in, or covering them to keep them safe from frost and freeze, but most winters come and go without any extra cause for concern.  

As a precaution, I have raised my citrus trees in large pots.

If you grow any of your fruit trees or vegetables in pots, you may already know that the soil you plant them in will lose its nutrients quickly.  Maybe a few months, maybe a year, but with watering and and drainage holes, your important assets to feeding your plant is going to wash out of the bottom of your container.

That's why it is very important to keep up a feeding schedule for these plants.

I feed my citrus three times a year with a mixture called Citrus Tone.  I buy mine from my local nursery, but I think you can find it at Home Depot and Amazon as well.  It contains organic ingredients and makes it easy to add the proper mix of fertilizer to your trees.

I feed them once in late January when I first see blooms, and then I feed them again once I start seeing fruit (usually late spring), and then I feed them again in the late fall when the fruit is ripe or I've already harvested.  About a tablespoon sprinkled around the base of the plant seems to do the trick.

You will also know if it's time to feed them by yellowing of the leaves.  If you have a few leaves that are yellowish, you might need to give your tree an added boost of nutrients. 

Also, it's a good idea to cover the base of your tree with hay, straw, or some kind of mulch as potted plants dry out easily.

As your citrus tree matures and bears fruit, you will need to purchase or build a trellis to help bear the weight of the fruit.  My husband built this one out of a couple of 5ft stakes.  Shove the trellis into the soil as close to the edge of the inside of the pot as possible, so as not to hurt the root of the tree. You will then need to tie (with garden tape or twine) your heavy bearing  branches to the arms of the trellis.  Otherwise, the fruit will cause the branches of your young tree to break.

Right now is a great time to feed those citrus trees!

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