Guest Column

Kathy’s Gardening Guide: Citrus Trees


A wonderful perk to living in Northeast Florida is the ability to grow citrus trees in your own backyard! A citrus tree allows you the fun of harvesting fresh fruit and also gives off a delightful, sweet scent. Although you will need to protect your citrus trees during freezing temperatures, Meyer lemon, Persian lime and various orange trees grow well in our area.

Citrus trees prefer areas of full sun with well-drained soil. Be sure the location you choose for your tree receives a minimum of six hours of sunlight. When planting, dig the hole a little larger than the size of your tree’s container and add compost for nutrients.

Once the tree is in the ground, the top of the root ball should be even with or slightly above ground level. The new tree needs regular water, particularly as it becomes established, but be sure to allow the soil to dry out between watering. It is also not necessary to add mulch or topsoil around your tree as they can keep the soil too wet.

As your citrus tree grows, it is important to add fertilizer on a regular basis. Look for a fertilizer specifically made for citrus trees and follow the provided instructions. Apply fertilizer approximately a month after planting and then regularly throughout the growing season. Add the fertilizer evenly under the canopy of the tree and be careful that it does not pile up against the trunk.

When fruit is ready to harvest, twist and pull gently to remove it from the tree. Allow the fruit to fully ripen while still on the tree as citrus does not continue to ripen once harvested. With this in mind, remove and taste a piece of fruit to be sure it is ripe before harvesting the whole tree. You can also leave ripe citrus on the tree until you are ready to eat it; this fruit will continue to get sweeter on the tree and extend the time you get to harvest and enjoy.

Citrus trees are available in full size and dwarf varieties. They grow well in a landscape, but you can also plant smaller trees in containers. If you have limited space but want more than one type of citrus, consider a cocktail citrus tree. These trees are grafted to produce three to five types of fruit on a single tree and can include lemons, limes, oranges and grapefruits. Some cocktail trees can produce different types of fruit each year!

Now that warmer weather is here to stay, visit us at the nursery to select the perfect citrus tree to add to your landscape.

Flower of the Week: Salvia, blue

Please email Kathy at for any questions or gardening tips you would like to see in the future. For more information & ideas, visit Kathy’s Creative Gardens & Nursery, 196 N. Roscoe Blvd. The phone number is 904-655-7373.