When – and How – to Fertilize Your Citrus Tree

All trees do better with regular feeding, and citrus is not exception. Like all plants, citrus trees need nutrients to grow and, if you want an abundant harvest, you should fertilize them regularly. Citrus trees can be tough plants, but the difference between one that receives regular feeding and one that doesn’t is easy to see.

What type of citrus tree fertilizer should I use?

The good news is that all citrus trees have similar requirements when it comes to fertilizer – you won’t have to search for specific types, like orange tree fertilizer or satsuma tree fertilizer. A good, all-around citrus tree fertilizer, whether it’s fertilizer for trees grown outdoors or fertilizer for citrus trees in pots, will be rich in nitrogen and contain plenty of micronutrients including boron, copper, iron, manganese, magnesium and zinc.

Citrus does best in soil that is somewhat acidic, and an acidic fertilizer (like those made for cacti and succulents) can also be beneficial. The best citrus tree fertilizer one especially formulated for citrus trees, like the NPK fertilizer found in Citrus.com’s own All in One Kits and Soil and Care Kits.

When should I fertilize my citrus tree?

When it comes to citrus, people most often ask the same two questions: when do you fertilize trees, and how often do you fertilize them?

The time is important. It’s best not to do anything that will encourage growth or activity in your citrus tree during its inactive times (i.e. the fall and winter months) including fertilizing and pruning. A young tree can be fertilized every once every 2-3 months during this dormant period, but mature citrus trees should only have fertilizer applied during the spring and summer, about once every 1-2 months (increasing the time between feedings to once every 2-3 months once the tree matures).

Too much of a good thing also applies to fertilizing – keep in mind that, if you fertilize your citrus tree too often, you could wind up with less fruit or fruit of a poorer quality. To know how often you should fertilize your citrus tree, keep track of its appearance – a tree that is healthy, with lush, dark-green foliage and fruit that doesn’t fall off easily, does not need to be fertilized as often as one that has sparser, lighter color foliage and drops its fruit before it ripens. You should always fertilize your tree when it’s “hungriest” – that is, when it’s in bloom – regardless of appearance.

How do I fertilize my citrus tree?

Fertilizing is the process of replenishing nutrients that have been absorbed from the soil into the growing tree. In short, when you fertilize your citrus tree, you are feeding it. The process of fertilizing citrus trees is the same for all varieties.

Always apply citrus fertilizer according to the directions on the fertilizer package, which will be to either spray the fertilizer onto the leaves of your citrus tree or spread it out around the base of the tree as far as the canopy reaches. Do not place fertilizer near the trunk of the tree. If you are unable to find a citrus-specific fertilizer, use a complete acid-type fertilizer such as azalea food. Avoid using fertilizers formulated for turf or lawn grass, because these contain higher percentages of nitrogen that will grow glorious green trees, but far less blooms and fruit.