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The Importance of Phosphorous for Great Lemons, Limes, Kumquats, Oranges, Calamondins, and Kaffir Limes

The Importance of Phosphorous for Citrus Plants and Fruit


Mani Skaria, Ph.D.




Phosphorus is found in the human body as phosphate, it plays an important role in the energy production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate. It is also important for pH regulation. Together with calcium, phosphorous provides structure and strength to bones and teeth.

The figure at the right is the symbol of Phosphorous as per the periodic table. P = Phosphorous, 15 is the atomic number (number of protons), and 30.974 is the relative atomic mass (protons + neutrons). It is a solid at room temperature. It was first made in Germany in 1669 by Henning Brandt.  Elemental phosphorus exists in two major forms, white phosphorous and red phosphorous. It is highly reactive; therefore, it is not found as a free element on earth.


Why Citrus plants need Phosphorous?

Here are the top seven reasons why citrus plants need phosphorus:

  • It is a component of the nucleic acid structure
  • Involved in protein
  • In energy transformation
  • Promotes root growth
  • Promote winter hardiness
  • Speed up fruit maturity
  • It is a component of lipids


How much is Phosphorous needed?

Not need in large quantities. About 260 grans (approximately, ½-pound of P2O5 per tree per year is expected to give very good yield result.

When is it need?

Early tree growth.

Phosphorous uptake occurs throughout the growth period.

How do I know my citrus plant is suffering from Phosphorus deficiency?

  • Reduced flowering
  • Small size fruit
  • Reduced juice content
  • Bronze color leaves
  • Older leaves with tip and margin die
  • Weak branches
  • Fruit spongy before maturity
  • Phosphorus deficiency is severe, plants show stunted growth.

Specific positive roles of adequate Phosphorus

  1. Increase yield
  2. Increase fruit weight
  • Increase juice content

Specific negative roles of too much Phosphorus


            Too much phosphorous can reduce the uptake of micro-nutrients

Read more

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