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A Fertile Start: A Beginner's Guide to Fertilizing Citrus Trees

So you're thinking about growing a citrus tree, but how do you ensure your tree has a healthy start? Here's your guide to properly fertilizing citrus trees.

Research shows that gardening boosts your wellness and can help you live longer. Citrus trees make a great addition to your gardening practice because they are easy to care for and add a fun visual element to your space. 

If you've ever thought about growing a dwarf tangerine tree or wondered, "How fast do orange trees grow?" then this guide will help you.

Your first step is understanding the technique behind fertilizing citrus trees. Follow this guide to ensure that your citrus tree has a healthy start. 

Know When to Fertilize

Fertilization is very important for the first few years of your tree's life. Before you begin, speak with a nursery professional about the types of fertilizer they supply. You can also read our citrus care guide to learn more about caring for your tree.  

The perfect time to fertilize your citrus tree is just before bud break. This is because your trees will be starting their yearly growth cycle and eating the most food. 

Remember, not all citrus trees will need fertilizer every year. How do you know what your tree needs?

Measure your tree's growth in winter or early spring while it's still dormant. Depending on the measurements, you'll know which trees need fertilizer and how much they need.

Know How to Fertilize

When you're ready to start fertilizing, the first step is to choose the right kind of fertilizer. No two fertilizers are made alike. For example, lemon tree fertilizer will be different from peach tree fertilizer. 

First: Choose the Right Fertilizer

Fruit trees will grow better with an organic, high-nitrogen fertilizer. This is because nitrogen is an essential nutrient for your tree's health. 

Make sure you don't burn your tree with too much nitrogen, though. Using organic fertilizer instead of a synthetic option will be the safer option. 

Second: Measure the Right Amount of Fertilizer

Now that you know the importance of using too much and too little fertilizer, you'll need to measure out the perfect amount. This is the most important step.

The amount of fertilizer you should use is calculated based on the nitrogen-value on the package and the age or size of the tree. Follow these steps to do your calculation:

1. Measure the trunk diameter in inches and write down that number. You can also write down how old the tree is. 

2. Multiply that number by 0.10. This is because your tree needs 0.10 pounds of "actual nitrogen" per year of age or per trunk diameter. 

3. Look at the packaging of your fertilizer to find the NPK numbers. The "N" number listed is the amount of "actual nitrogen" per pound of fertilizer. 

4. Divide the amount of actual nitrogen your tree needs by the amount of actual nitrogen per pound in your fertilizer.

This is the number you need to measure out how much fertilizer to apply. 

Third: Apply the Fertilizer

Finally, evenly apply the fertilizer starting a foot away from the trunk and ending at the "drip line." You can spread out the fertilizer and rake it in or dig small holes around the trunk. After that, spread a layer of compost around the tree and water it well. 

The Rewards of Fertilizing Citrus Trees

Fertilizing citrus trees is easy to do and helps your tree stay healthy. Be diligent every year and soon you'll be enjoying the many health benefits of citrus fruits. 

Growing trees is fun, but if you want to have delicious, seasonal citrus fruit right away, join the Craft Citrus Club!

Get a curated box of fresh-harvested citrus fruit from South Texas sent to your door every month!

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