Planting Citrus Trees

I’ve shared my brown thumb history in my last post, Growing a Greener Thumb.  dead treeNow this post is about my first attempt at the GREEN!

A year or so ago, I bought a lemon tree from Home Depot (because I waited too long and Costco was out of them).  I drug the hole and then the tree sat on our back patio as I waited to collect all the things I needed to plant it.  A couple of weekends later, my helpful husband planted it himself.  He was very well-meaning but I was so disappointed because all the research I had done on how to plant it properly was no use anymore.  Instead of trying to save it, I gave up on it and it died.

This year I decided to try again.  My research told me that March was the best time to plant citrus so I put a reminder in my calendar on March first to plant my trees.  Then February came around and Costco had their citrus trees again.  Even though I wasn’t to my March goal, I decided to buy them.   After analyzing each one (not really knowing what made a good tree), I picked up a Valencia Orange and a Lisbon Lemon.  Though they did have one lime tree, it was some odd lime that said it was not a true lime so I decided to look around some more.  When I brought the trees home, I put them in our house next to our sliding glass door to keep them safe until March.  My husband did keep moving them to the patio but they survived just fine.  ; )

This last Saturday was March 2nd so it was time to plant!  My boys and I had dug the first hole after a big rain that we had a few weeks earlier.  The wet ground made it very easy to dig.  I didn’t even have to ask for assistance, my boys were begging for their turn with the shovel.  They did the majority of the work on that first hole.  The next two holes I was waiting on location approval so they didn’t get dug until planting day, but thanks to my handy husband’s amazing tools and my little helpers, they were also a breeze to dig. 3 diggersMost of the online directions and the tag directions said to dig the hole twice as wide and the same depth as the root ball.   Once the holes were dug, we used the hose to add water.  I didn’t fill the hole completely but added enough to make it soupy and then left it to soak in.Planting 2

As in most things you research, their was varying information on what to do next.  Most information said to add some sort of mulch and or top soil (some however said not to).  There was also varying information on how much soil/mulch to add.  Some said 50/50 others 25/75.  We have very rocky granite soil so I ended up using half a bag of organic top soil with mulch in it.  I think this was a little less top soil than native soil but close to 50/50  I don’t know if that was the best or not…guess we will see.

We started by mixing some of the bagged soil with the native soil right in the hole and the pushing it off to the sides to leave space for the root ball.  Then we poured in a gallon of water mixed with 1 teaspoon of SUPERthrive.  My sister had recommended I use this vitamin mixture to minimize the transplant shock.  Next I carefully cut one side of the plastic bucket that the tree came in and carefully lifted the root ball out.  I was careful never to handle the tree by the trunk.  Once the root ball was in the hole I made sure that the height was good so that the top of the root ball was about even with the ground and NOT any lower.  I guess it is ok to be a little higher but not lower than the ground because you don’t want water to collect around the base of the trunk.Planting

We kept adding a little native soil and bagged soil and as I mixed it around with my hands to fill in around the root ball.  Every once in a while we would spray the dirt mix with water to keep it all moist.  Because I was being so meticulous, my husband joked that I took more time planting these trees than I did giving birth to our boys.  : 0 It really didn’t take me that long.

After we had all the dirt filled back in, I made a 1-2 inch dirt border around the hole to create a watering well.  Next we poured a little water into the well to see how level the dirt was.  Then I moved around a little dirt until the water stayed evenly and did not pool in any one area.leveling dirt



After getting it as level as we could, we finished watering the tree with one gallon of water enhanced with 1 tsp of SUPERthrive again.

Watering: According to the research I did, people often over water citrus which can cause the tree’s roots to grow too shallow and can create an environment for root rot disease.  You only want to water the trees once every 3 days for the first two weeks after planting and then once a week during the summer and once ever 3-4 weeks during the winter.   One of the websites also suggested that on the one day each week that you do water during the summer, you should water once in the morning and once in the evening.  So in order to help my green thumb along, I put our watering schedule into my google calendar to remind us to water every 3 days for now and then every Saturday AM and PM after the first two weeks.

During the first week after our 3rd day and 6th day waterings, I checked the level of the dirt again and made any adjustments for settling to avoid pooling.  Once I got it relatively level I put a layer of composted mulch down in the watering well.

So here they are now!  I hope I can post an update with them thriving this time next year.planted

Here are some of the “ingredients” we used…planting ingredients

Yes that is one of my kids’ sand diggers.  It worked great for mixing the soil!


AZ Citrus, Greenfield Citrus

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