Planting Citrus Trees

Planting Citrus trees in the ground in Houston

The best time to plant citrus is in March or April after the chance of frost is hopefully gone. Choose a spot with a high elevation where it drains well (not a sink hole). Citrus trees need at least six hours of sunlight to fruit reliably. More sunlight would mean more fruit.
If you plant in the spring prune any overly aggressive branches sticking out from the formed head. Do not prune in the fall. Pruning stimulates new growth.
Dig a hole twice the size of the pot and only as deep as the pot. Fill the hole with water to make sure the water will drain.  If it does not drain in 4 or 5 hours you will need to build a raised bed for the tree. Put the plant in the center of the hole and fill around it with the soil that came out of the hole. It is ok if the level is an inch higher than the ground, but not ok if it is an inch lower. That will cause ponding and roots don’t like to drown. Do not add compost or fertilizer to the soil you are putting back in.
Top dress with three inches of mulch and/or compost to the drip line but not touching the trunk.  Mulch helps insulate the soil, aids bio-activity, decreases the amount of water you need to add, and controls weeds.
Water in well. For the first two weeks you will need to deep water every three days or so, then change to a deep watering once a week if it does not rain. You can tell by the leaves if it is thirsty.
I recommended you fertilize citrus in April, May and June using an organic fertilizer like micro life citrus and fruit fertilizer (6-2-4). Most other trees I fertilize on Valentines Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, but with citrus Feb 14 is too soon to stimulate growth. The first year use about 4 cups of organic fertilizer in April and 2 cups in May and 2 cups in June. Sprinkle the fertilizer on the ground a bit past the dripline.
In year two and three double that amount. It should not be necessary to fertilize after year three.
Do not fertilize in the late summer or fall. If any pruning is needed do it in April.
It is a good idea after a year or two to prune off the lower branches so that the fruit does not sit on the ground.

Potted trees
Improved Meyer lemon, Satsumas, Key limes, kumquats and Calamondin oranges all can grow in a pot especially if grafted to flying dragon dwarfing rootstock.
If you plan to keep the tree in a pot you should repot it to a 20 gallon pot, 18” to 20” in diameter. Buy a quality potting soil like Nature’s Way citrus mix and plant the tree in the new pot at the same height that it was in the smaller pot. Water thoroughly once a week most of the year, but you will have to water every other day in a dry August. Citrus does not like soggy soil, but never let it dry out completely. Make sure the water is getting to the roots and not just running out the drain holes.
Fertilize as recommended above but every year because it cannot mine for nutrients from the soil.