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How to Plant Citrus Trees: Everything You Need to Know

Planting a citrus tree is a mix of art and science. Learn more about how to plant citrus trees here, and how to ensure your growing efforts are successful.

First, they're sour, then they're ... still sour. Of course they are, they're citrus trees!

And while the fruit they produce is citric-ly sour, the process of growing them and having your fresh produce is oh so sweet.

Want to learn about having your own little citrus orchard and learn how to do it right?

We're walking you through how to plant citrus trees (whether you're planting one or twenty) below.

Finding the Perfect Planting Site

To determine where in your yard you can plant a citrus tree, you need to know your USDA Hardiness Zone Level. That will tell you whether or not you can plant a citrus tree successfully in the ground or if it needs to be in a pot.

Also, check out our citrus tree temperature and climate information for more insights on growing citrus trees indoors and out.

Most of the time if you're in zone 8 or below (think the southern part of Tennessee and below) your tree will be fine in the ground.

You'll still need to cover it up if there's an early (or late) freeze, but it will thrive in the warm, humid weather.

If you live above the bottom of Tennessee (zones 7-1) you'll need to move your citrus tree inside during the winter, so invest in a sturdy planting pot.

In-Ground Planting

If you're planting your tree in the ground, you'll want to dig a hole somewhere with 50% sun (at least). Measure the height of the root ball and dig your hole at least 8 inches bigger than that.

Before you plant the tree and cover the roots, fill the hole full of water.

Your budding tree doesn't need anything but soil to grow, so pack it nice and tight, with the bud union above the soil or at the soil line.

You'll need to water your tree daily or every other day, depending on your rain schedule. The soil should get dry in between waterings.

If needed you can fertilize three months post-planting with a citrus-based fertilizer.

In-Pot Planting

When choosing soil for your citrus tree, think about the soil where these trees thrive. Places like Florida, Texas, and more tropical places have semi-sandy and easily-draining soil.

Talk to the person at your local nursery to find the right mix of soil for your budding tree, depending on what they have available.

While you're there, pick up a pot. You want it to be anywhere from 5-15 gallons (remember, you'll have to be able to move this inside during the winter, so keep weight in mind).

Place enough soil in the bottom of the pot so that the root ball has enough to rest on. Then pack the soil tight and follow the watering directions above.

*Planted trees will dry out quicker than those planted in the ground.

Winter Care

Your citrus trees don't want to be cold. They can handle freezing temperatures (28-32) for a couple of nights, but not regularly.

Move trees inside or cover them during extreme cold.

How to Plant Citrus Trees

Starting trees from seeds isn't recommended for beginning citrus growers. For beginners, we recommend starting with a tube tree or a sapling!

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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