Growing & Caring for Citrus Trees in Arizona

20 Sep '19

One of the best things about living in Arizona is that the combination of warm sunshine and well-drained soil makes it possible to grow citrus trees in our area. 

As a homeowner, you may love the idea of picking a fresh orange off a tree in your backyard. However, you do need to know that citrus trees require special care to help them thrive. 

That warm sun can sometimes get too hot. There are also common soil conditions that can cause citrus trees to fail to bear usable fruit. Learning more about citrus tree care in our area helps you do your part to grow gorgeous trees and sweet fruit.

Know When to Plant Your Tree

Most citrus plants can be planted at any time of the year. That said, planting them in the early spring or fall gives them a chance to put down roots before harsher weather comes along. Ideally, you should plant the trees in March or April, or you can wait until September and October.

Focus on the Watering Schedule

Many problems that occur with citrus trees are caused by improper watering. Since the majority of the rainfall here occurs in the later part of the summer, you need to supplement during dry times.

New trees should be watered very frequently. You should water them about every three days during the hottest part of the summer. Then, you can scale back to around once a week once the weather is cooler.

Established trees should be watered every one to two weeks during the summer. In the winter, you can water every three to four weeks. Keep in mind that you should water the trees enough to fully soak into the ground, but it should have time to dry out before you water again.

Go For a Slow Soak

Citrus trees need more than just a splash of water. To make that juicy fruit, they need you to water long enough to reach the roots. Use a soaker hose or irrigation system to slowly water the trees to a depth of approximately two feet. Newer trees may need to be watered as deep as three or four feet. 

Make sure to extend the watering out to about a foot past where the canopy of the tree rests. The root systems on citrus trees are wide, and the water needs to reach all the way to the tips.

Fertilize Appropriately

New trees do not need to be fertilized, provided that your property’s soil is already in good health. Once a tree reaches two to three years old, it should be fertilized about three times a year. The months of February, May and August are good times for this.

Watch for Common Problems

People often worry about their citrus trees not bearing fruit. This is normal for new trees. After two to three years of growth, not seeing fruit could indicate a problem with the fertilization or watering schedule.

You should also watch for yellow leaves. Yellow at the tips could mean that the soil has a high salt content, and watering more often helps flush it out. Soil treatments may also be necessary to restore leaf growth on trees that lack proper amounts of nitrogen and other important nutrients.

Citrus trees can live for 20 years or more, and proper care helps them to bear delicious fruit that makes the hard work worth it. Keep an eye out for signs of a problem, such as yellowing leaves or a lack of fruit, so that you can adjust your care plan to help the tree thrive.

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