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How to Not Kill Your Lemon, Lime or Orange Tree in Containers

Here's some common fatal mistakes made when planting and caring for young tube citrus trees.

Planting Tips for Tube Trees:

  1. Use fresh potting soil, (not gardening soil) and fill to the brim of your container (do not pack soil).
  2. Use a container with holes in the bottom for proper drainage (or it should be a mesh type material which will allow for water to seep through).  Please do not use a cheap plastic cup as a container, make a good investment for your tree.
  3. Only plant a single tree in any container.
  4. Use the tube to push a hole into the center of the soil.
  5. Gently take out the tree from the tube and use your fingers to spread open the roots, but do not strip all the soil from the roots.
  6. Plant the tree into the hole created and gave a gentle push at the end then push the soil around it.

Watering

By far the most common error is under watering the plants.  If your tree is outdoors and in a container with proper drainage and it is starting to wilt, we would recommend more water.

There is a lot of information generally spread that overwatering is bad for citrus trees, and this is true.  However, this is not as applicable when the trees are grown in a container and it has proper drainage.  You do not want over water the soil and allow the roots to rot, especially in cold weather or if the tree is indoors and you are using a garden saucer.

During the first month after planting you should water at the base of the trunk so that you completely wet the roots daily for at least one month.

Heat

If you are keeping your tree in an area with extreme heat, especially in the back of a car or a garage where the temperature may go above 120°, be very careful as your tree may die in less than a day.

Ice packs or ice cubes directly on the soil will be helpful in these situations. Also, make sure to aggressively water the tree during these times to prevent tree death.

At temperatures above 90°, it is nice to give your tree a bit of partial shade, although they will do well even in 100° plus weather with direct sunlight as long as you are watering sufficiently.

Cold Exposure

A citrus tree will die with exposure to temperatures in the 20s in less than 24 hours. Keep in mind to add in factors such as wind chill when protecting plants.  During the wintertime, the trees should be brought in a garage or indoors, and do not neglect proper watering during these times.

Indoor Growing/Garage

Nearly all growers of citrus in the United States, except for those in the warmest climates, will have to bring their trees indoors or in a garage during winter.  It would be very helpful, to prevent excessive shock, to provide a grow light for 12 hours a day during the winter months, this will allow your tree to continue to thrive and grow.  A window with light exposure is not sufficient for citrus growth if there is not a lot of heat!Make sure to use a garden saucer with water and stones to increase the local humidity around the tree, as in the wintertime, heaters will blow very dry air.

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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