Tag Archive for: When to fertilize citrus

Well, I wish I could say that the new addition is my completed vegetable garden….but although we have made some progress, it is till not finished.

But, we did add something new to our back garden.

Citrus Tree

Citrus Tree

This is our new, small orange tree.

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To be honest, I’m not sure why it took us so long to plant a citrus tree.  In our first home in Phoenix, we had three beautiful citrus trees that we enjoyed.

What really caused to finally plant one in our back garden is the fact that our three youngest kids love to pick the oranges from the tree at their grandparent’s house.

However, since my father-in-law’s death, my mother-in-law will eventually be moving and there will be no oranges for them to pick.

When we told the kids that we were planting one of our own, they were so excited!

Citrus Tree

They were so anxious to help.

We dug our hole nice and wide so that the roots could grow outward easily.  The depth of the hole was the same depth as the rootball.

We chose a young tree because they transplant much easier, not to mention having to get it out of the container.  Plants experience ‘transplant shock’ when planted in a new area.

The variety that we selected is ‘Arizona Sweet’.  It does very well in our area and are suitable for juicing and peeling.

We didn’t apply any fertilizer because it would stimulate top growth before there is a large enough root system to support it.  Wait a year before fertilizing.  Then you will fertilize three times a year in February, May and September.  An easier way to remember it is to fertilize around Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day.

I told the kids that we would probably have to wait 2 – 3 years before we see any fruit.

**I can just picture my own grandkids picking oranges someday from our tree.

Citrus trees

In the Desert Southwest, we are fortunate to be able to grow citrus.  In early fall, your citrus tree probably looks like the one pictured, with green fruit that is getting ready to ripen in this winter.

It is time for the third fertilizer application to your citrus trees if you have not already done so.  Mature citrus trees require three applications of fertilizer – around Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Citrus trees require nitrogen more than any other nutrient.  I recommend using a granular fertilizer specially formulated for citrus because, in addition to nitrogen, they also contain micronutrients, (iron, zinc, manganese), that are vital to the health of your citrus tree.  Citrus fertilizer spikes are also an option.

If you choose to use only organic fertilizer for your citrus, there are some natural products available, or you can use composted cow manure, working it into the top few inches of soil and watering it in afterward.


– Fertilizer should not be applied to newly planted trees – wait until they have been in the ground for one year.

– Water the soil around the tree before and after you apply fertilizer.

– Follow the directions on the fertilizer bag.  Be sure that you divide by three the annual amount of fertilizer needed by your tree – do not apply all at once!

– When in doubt, apply slightly less fertilizer then you think you need.  You don’t want to over-fertilize and end up with fertilizer burn.  Smaller trees require less fertilizer than larger trees.

– Apply granular fertilizer around the perimeter of the tree, extending just past the drip line.  Work into the top few inches of soil.

– Do not apply a foliar fertilizer when air temperatures are 85 degrees F or above because there is a danger of burning the foliage.

– For mature Grapefruit trees, (over six years old), apply only 1/2 the amount of fertilizer recommended on the fertilizer label because high amounts of nitrogen promote a thick rind (peel).

Get ready to enjoy the fruits of your labors this winter and get ready for March when we will discuss the correct way to prune and plant citrus.

Iconic Desert Tree, The Palo Verde