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How To Grow Citrus Trees in the UK

Citrus Trees are tender plants, native to tropical and sub-tropical parts of Asia and with care and winter protection they can be successfully grown in our cooler climates.

Citrus trees make fantastic specimen plants for large pots on the patio in summer - not only for the wonderful fruit which they bear - the small white star-shaped blooms are beautifully scented, and the foliage is freshly fragranced too.

What could be more refreshing and rewarding than a tart slice of zesty homegrown lemon, Mexican lime or Spanish orange squeezed into a long drink at the end of a hot day?!

Key Information

Position: Full sun, with shelter from strong winds

Soil: Well-drained and fertile

Flowering Period: Usually late winter, but can often flower all year round

Harvest: Autumn to winter

Hardiness: Tender perennial

Where & When To Plant Citrus

Citrus Trees are best planted in pots which will allow you to bring them undercover in winter for protection from harsh weather and cold temperatures.

The size of the pot depends very much on the size of your plant. Initially, choose a pot twice the size of your plant. As your Citrus grows and matures, it can be re-potted into a larger container every few years.

If all danger of frost has passed, usually from the end of May, then you can place your freshly potted Citrus tree straight outside in as sunny a spot as possible where you can enjoy your plant and care for it best.

Citrus can reach an eventual height of 3m with a spread of 2m wide when grown in ideal conditions.

How To Plant Citrus

1.

Half fill your pot with a mix of loamy compost, grit and leaf mould or well-rotted manure. Good drainage is essential for Citrus as they do not like to sit in wet soil.

2.

Make a hole in the centre of your soil and place your plant into it once you have teased it from its pot and gently loosened its roots.

3.

Fill in around the plant with the same compost mix whilst gently firming in.

4.

Do not fill the pot all the way up to the rim with compost as you will need space at the top to water your tree plentifully before allowing the water to drain through.

What To Plant With Citrus

A Citrus tree is a fantastic feature plant in a large pot on your summer patio and makes a wonderful addition to a Kitchen or Mediterranean garden.

The top of the bare soil in the pot can be planted with undemanding, low-growing annual plants which will add colour and interest to the soil surface if this is desired.

Please do contact our friendly and knowledgeable Customer Care Team at Hayloft if you would like any further help or planting ideas for your Citrus Trees.

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How To Care For Citrus

 Pruning & Deadheading

 

In early spring, prune any crowded, damaged, or dead stems from your plants and remove the tips of all new growth and any suckers which may appear at the base of the main stem. This will ensure you have a healthy and well-shaped bushy plant.

Replace the top 5cm of soil with a mix of nutrient rich compost each spring and re-pot your Citrus tree every 2-3 years into a slightly larger pot with a fresh soil mix.

 Watering

 

Citrus are hungry plants which require feeding throughout the year. From March to October, feed your plants regularly with a liquid seaweed or tomato feed diluted according to the instructions on the bottle and water regularly with rainwater, if possible, to keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged. For the rest of the year, use a specialist citrus feed once a month to feed your tree.

 Cold Protection

 

As tender perennial plants, Citrus must be given winter protection and ideally moved into an unheated greenhouse which is bright and has some airflow. Take care not to overwater your Citrus trees in winter as they do not like to sit in cold damp soil. Allow the soil to almost dry out completely before watering. Mist trees regularly during the winter months to increase moisture and avoid leaf-drop. Citrus do not like a dry environment as they originate from tropical climes, they are therefore not usually suitable as houseplants.

 Pests & Diseases


As an exotic plant which is native to hotter climbs there is some degree of extra care required for citrus plants. A weekly check of both the upper and under sides of leaves is recommended in order to keep your plant in prime condition. This in itself is a great preventative measure - as healthy plants are fall less likely to succumb to fungal infections such as Greasy Spot, Melanose, Citrus Canker or Sooty Mould all of which can attack a citrus plant that has a weakened structure is some way. There are, however, specialist sprays available if your plant does show signs of infection liquid copper and horticultural oil are the most utilised. In addition to these fungal and bacterial infections, snails may also love to munch on your citrus so take the same preventative measures as you do in the garden (a topping of sharp grit to your citrus pot is a great repellent to slugs and snails). During your weekly checks you should also look for curled up leaves as they may be a sign of attack from thrips and if you have yellow or brown spots on the leaves check for Brown Soft Scale insects which suck the sap from the plant. Rest assured you are more likely to have a healthy, thriving citrus than to contract (or attract) any of the above. Swift treatment with a proprietary spray in accordance with the packet instructions means it is relatively straightforward to restore your citrus plant to optimum health in the same way as other fruiting trees.

How To Propagate Citrus

1.

Use a sharp knife to remove a cutting which is around 10-15cm long just below a place where a leaf is attached to a stem.

2.

Remove the lower leaves, leaving three sets intact at the top of the cutting.

3.

Dip the cut end into hormone rooting powder or gel before inserting it to just below leaf level into a pot of peat-free compost with added grit or perlite to assist drainage. Water the pot carefully then cover it over with a clear plastic bag secured with an elastic band to help retain humidity.

4.

Place your pot in a bright spot to take root. Check your cuttings every few days to ensure they are kept moist, watering and misting as necessary. The cuttings can take 2-3 months to root before they are ready to pot on into a larger pot.

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