The Best Time to Plant Your Citrus Tree

You thought you might like to buy citrus trees for your yard or sunroom, so you searched for cheap citrus trees for sale, found your citrus tree online at, and now you’re ready to plant it. The question is, is your tree ready to be planted? When is the best time to plant citrus trees, anyway?

There’s nothing quite as satisfying as walking out into your backyard and picking a citrus fruit off your own tree. There are many citrus tree varieties, many of which can be grown right at home – in fact, from a grapefruit tree to a kumquats tree, you can grow a wide variety of citrus trees successfully right in your own home orchard.

Citrus Tree Care

When it comes to tree care, citrus might seem intimidating. The good news is that, while they do need consistent attention, citrus trees really aren’t very troublesome charges. What they need most of all is protection from cold temperatures, which is why citrus trees planted outside should be kept to USDA Growing Zones 8 and above (depending on the variety).

When to Plant a Citrus Tree Outside

In the right geographical location, a citrus tree can be planted at just about any time, but many home gardeners prefer planting them in the fall so the trees have lots of time to develop a strong root system over the winter. Also, citrus trees don’t need as much water in the wintertime, making them easier to care for in those early days after they’ve been transplanted.

Some dwarf varieties of citrus (like Meyer lemon trees) do well in containers full time and can be moved indoors when the temperature drops.

Where to Plant a Citrus Tree

While you’re pretty safe planting your citrus trees anywhere you like in USDA Growing Zone 9, it’s a good idea to have covers on hands in case there’s a cold snap. In USDA Growing Zone 8, you should plant your citrus trees where they’ll have protection from the wind – preferably on the southern or southeastern side of a building. As for timing, your local county extension office can give you tips for that. Indoor trees, of course, can be planted anytime, so long as you keep them in a sunny location.

Tips for When You Plant Your Citrus Tree

Different citrus trees may have different needs, but there are some good rules of thumb to follow with all citrus varieties:

  • Pick a sunny location. Citrus trees need at least 8-10 hours daily, so plant your tree in an area where it will receive full sun all day long.
  • Be sure to use a well-draining soil. Citrus needs a moisture but should not be waterlogged. Be sure the soil in which you are planting your tree retains water but doesn’t hold it.
  • Dig the right-size hole. Be sure to dig a hole that is big enough to accommodate your tree’s root system to a depth that is equal to tree’s container.
  • Remove outer soil from the tree’s root ball before planting. Carefully remove your new tree from its nursery pot and loosen the outer soil around the root ball.
  • Plant your tree. Place your new citrus tree into the hole you’ve prepared, making sure it’s upright and centered. Backfill the hole with soil over the roots, tamping to remove air pockets. If you choose to mulch the tree, be careful to avoid letting the mulch make contact with the tree’s trunk to avoid fungal problems (about 12 inches is a good rule of thumb).
  • Install tree guards. To protect your new, young tree from rodents, sun scald, and splitting, use a tree guard. Use netting to protect any existing, unripe fruit.
  • Water regularly. For the first week after planting, water your new tree two or three times, transitioning to twice a week afterwards. You should give it a deep soaking rather than a sprinkling.

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