By Heather Rhoades
Citrus trees, like all plants, need nutrients to grow. Because they can be heavy feeders, fertilizing citrus trees is sometimes necessary in order to have a healthy and fruit bearing tree. Learning how to fertilize a citrus fruit tree properly can make the difference between a bumper crop of fruit or a bummer crop of fruit.
When to Apply Citrus Fertilizer
In general, you should be doing your citrus fertilizing about once every 1-2 months during active growth (spring & summer) and once every 2 -3 months during the tree’s dormant periods (fall & winter). As the tree gets older, you can skip dormant season fertilizing and increase the amount of time between active growth fertilizing to once every 2-3 months.
To find the best citrus fertilizing time frames for your tree, judge based on the tree’s physical appearance and growth. A tree that looks lush and dark green and is holding onto fruit does not need to be fertilized as often. Fertilizing too much when the tree has a healthy appearance may actually cause it to produce inferior fruit.
Citrus trees are most nutrient hungry from the time they bloom until they have firmly set fruit, so make sure you apply citrus fertilizer when the tree is in bloom regardless of health so that it has enough nutrients to properly produce fruit.
How to Fertilize a Citrus Fruit Tree
Citrus tree fertilizing is either done through the leaves or through the ground. Following the directions on your chosen fertilizer, 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.
What Kind of Citrus Fertilizer Does My Tree Need?
All citrus trees will benefit from a slightly nitrogen rich or balanced NPK fertilizer that also has some micro-nutrients in it like magnesium, manganese, iron, copper, zinc and boron. Citrus trees also like to have somewhat acidic soil, so an acidic fertilizer can also be beneficial in citrus tree fertilizing, though not required. The easiest citrus fertilizer to use is the kind made specifically for citrus trees.