San Diego’s climate is ripe for the picking when it comes to growing citrus trees. No matter your palate preference—limes, lemons, oranges, grapefruits—these sun-loving trees all require the same kind of care. That’s according to David Archer, owner of Bonita Creek Nursery, who filled out our tip sheet on how to care for your citrus tree.
Green Thumb: Suggested
You can never have enough sun; but not too much water. Follow this advice and your citrus tree should prosper. Still, it can be a difficult crop for a novice gardener who’s unfamiliar with fertilizers or who is tempted to leave fruit hanging on a tree for the sake of appearance. To avoid your tree overexerting its energy, pluck fruit as soon as it’s ready, when it’s fully colored and slightly softened.
The more sun, the merrier. “Full sun all day,” Archer says, will bear the best fruit. So find the sunniest spot in your yard for it. Side note: Also know what type of tree you’re purchasing. Semi-dwarf varieties will grow six to 12 feet tall, while standard trees might tower between 10 and 20 feet.
Watering a citrus tree is all about what you can’t see—the roots. You want to fully saturate the root zone and then let the soil dry out between waterings, to encourage the roots to grow outward in search of moisture. Where’s the root zone? Typically, it extends to about halfway between the tree’s trunk and its canopy. Pro tip: Invest in a soil moisture sensor to best gauge when the soil has dried out again.
Don’t overlook the importance of fertilizing. Archer recommends applying a complete time-release fertilizer with micronutrients to ensure your sapling grows into a stunner. Also, choose synthetics over organics (at least in the beginning), or a combination of the two, until the tree doubles in size.
PRICE: Starting at $60 for a seven-gallon tree
3440 Proctor Valley Road, Bonita