Treat citrus right and they will reward you with abundant fruit and beautiful lush foliage! They love the Sydney climate and are relatively easy to grow and reasonably pest free as long as you stick to a maintenance schedule.
- Read the label! Make sure that the plant you are buying is suited to the climate you live in. Don’t assume that because your local garden centre stocks the plant, that it is suited to your climate!
- When planting citrus, always ensure the ground is mounded. They need good drainage.
- Keep weeds and grass away from the base of the tree and always be careful not to disturb the ground around the base of the tree. Citrus have shallow surface-feeding roots.
- Make sure there is sufficient mulch around the base of the tree. You can use lucerne, pea straw, sugar-cane or good quality compost.
- Apply trace elements every year in September
- Apply iron chelates every year in January and September
- Apply certified organic blood and bone (at a rate of one handfuls per tree spread around the base out to the drip line) in January, April, July and October every year
- Apply seaweed or fish emulsion fertiliser every month to the foliage and roots
- Never feed citrus while it is in flower or otherwise you will end up with lush foliage and no fruit!
Pest and diseases
- Keep an eye out for aphids, leaf miners, scale, black sooty, stink bugs, ants or basically any insects crawling over your trees. Spray with Eco-Oil and the first sign of these, making sure to spray the underneath of the foliage and the trunk and bark of the tree. I usually find that I only have to spray a couple of times a year.
- Look out for beige coloured bulges on the stems of the tree. These are citrus gall wasp. Easiest way to get rid of them is to cut them off and put them in your rubbish bin.
- Remove any dead, spindly or congested growth from the tree to allow good air circulation and let the light in. This will help discourage pests and diseases and improve growth.
This might seem like a lot of work, but it shouldn’t take more than 3 hours per tree/per year to follow this schedule. Let me tell you, it is well worth the effort to have the luxury of homegrown, yummy citrus!