Potted citrus trees (lemon orange kumquat etc): maintenance and repotting

The term citrus refers to both the shrub or tree and the fruit it produces. There are many varieties of citrus fruits and all of them can be grown in containers. These plants have foliage persistent, of a beautiful pure and brilliant green. The leaves of citrus fruits are generally aromatic, but it is even more their flowers of an immaculate white which exhale a very pleasant perfume, sometimes powerful. As for their fruits, they are delicious. It is very interesting to plant different varieties of citrus fruits in pots in order to enjoy them on the terrace, the balcony, or even inside the house. This also allows them to be sheltered from the cold as soon as necessary, especially in the most northern regions. Let’s see how to care for your citrus trees, when and how to repot them.

Take good care of your potted citrus fruits

It is possible to grow all kinds of citrus fruits in pots such as the lemon tree, the orange tree, the kumquat, the mandarin tree, the bergamot tree, the bitter orange tree, the yuzu (knowing that the tree and the fruit have the same name), and many others. In this way, you can enjoy a real enchantment, both in summer and in winter. But for citrus fruits grown in containers to remain healthy, it is important to devote some time to their maintenance. We therefore do not derogate from the following tasks.

Fertilizer is essential

Giving essential nutrients to its citrus fruits in pots is fundamental because in such conditions the substrate is very quickly depleted, unlike the cultivation of citrus fruits in open ground. It is therefore necessary to fertilize lemon trees, orange trees, kumquats, mandarins and others with a special citrus fertilizerbut at specific times, i.e.:

  • Before flowering, the time of which varies according to the species,
  • When the fruits have reached maturity,
  • In autumn.

It is obviously recommended to always respect the dosages indicated on the packaging by the supplier as well as the method of dilution.

Bring in your citrus fruits in the fall

Citrus trees can spend a good part of the year outdoors provided they can benefit from a beautiful light a you full sun. They can therefore be taken out of their shelter in the spring when severe frosts are no longer to be feared. In autumn, it is then necessary to think of protecting them from the winter cold.

For them to benefit from optimal conditions in winter, choose a cool room, where the temperature is between 6 and 8°C, but very bright. This kind of cold greenhouse or orangery is ideal for potted citrus fruits to spend the winter frost-free.

Carefully dosed watering

During the first two or three years after planting the young citrus fruit in pot, watering must be abundant during the summer. Citrus leaves should not dry out. Thereafter, it is necessary to adapt the waterings to the needs, not letting the substratum become very dry, but avoiding however that the roots are drowned.

On the other hand, during all the time spent indoors, from the current of autumn until the beautiful days of spring, when the shrubs, the watering must imperatively be minimized. They just need to prevent the foliage from drying out.

Controlling Potted Citrus Pests and Diseases

Throughout the year, both indoors and outdoors, you have to monitor your citrus fruits very regularly in order to react as soon as you notice a problem.

1 – cochineal, scourge of citrus fruits

Particularly sensitive to different species of scale insects, they must be dealt with as soon as possible. To do this, the mealybugs can be removed manually with a cotton soaked in rubbing alcohol and very generously spray the shrub with a mixture of water and black soap. Without intervention, the citrus fruit attacked by scale insects perishes very quickly because the biting-sucking insect extracts the sap.

When the eggs hatch, the new scale insects will take refuge on the branches, the twigs, under the leaves, on the stems. Each female will in turn lay a few hundred eggs. It is therefore absolutely necessary to put an end to this vicious circle. If methylated spirits and black soap are no longer sufficient to eliminate scale insects, it is necessary to rely on a specialist capable of offering a product adapted to fruit trees and which can control colonization of these insects.

2 – canker, bacterial disease of citrus fruits

It is also called critical canker or asian canker citrus fruits. The pathogen is Xanthomonas axonopodis pv. lemon. It is the leaves of citrus fruits which are mainly affected, then the fruits which end up falling prematurely. Fortunately, the citrus canker presents no danger to human health. You can therefore eat the fruits even if they don’t look very good. The recognizable signs of the disease are:

  • pustules,
  • Yellowish or black spots,
  • Abrasions on the leaves,
  • tears on the fruit,
  • Larvae on foliage and fruit.

The prevention of this bacterial canker requires avoiding the sprinkling of water on the foliage and the trunk and excellent sunshine for the trees. To fight against the disease already declared, it is necessary to eliminate the diseased branches and twigs then burn them imperatively so that they do not contaminate other plants. We disinfected then everything equipment which was used for this interview. As for the use of chemical control, it is of course to be avoided since these are trees that produce edible fruits. We can at most deal with copper saltbut by first taking information from a specialist in citrus growing.

3 – parasitic gummosis, fungal disease of citrus fruits

She causes the drying of the bark then, at the level of the parts affected by this fungus, we note the formation of a and. This eventually leads to blockage of sap flow. The citrus fruit withers and then dies.

The prevention of parasitic gummosis requires good soil drainage, especially if clay soil has been put in the growing pots (which is not recommended). You must also apply a systemic fungicide about three times a year, especially in high-risk areas. In case of wounds on a small part of the trunk, a curettage must be carried out, but if the entire trunk is affected, the only solution is to eliminate the shrub.

Repot your citrus fruits

A citrus tree must be repotted every two to three years in a soil specially designed for this type of shrub. We choose a special citrus soil or a horticultural soil which must be sufficiently enriched with fertilizers and in particular with nitrogen. Loam garden soil is not suitable.

We choose a pot a little larger than the previous one, but not excessively large, and whose fond is imperatively pierced. The procedure for repotting a citrus fruit is as follows:

  • If possible, wait until autumn because it is the best season for repottingknowing however that it is possible to tackle it from spring until November, but depending on the species because it is imperative that this be done away from flowering.
  • File a good drainage layer at the bottom of the pot (drilled) such as clay balls, shards of terracotta, gravel or small pebbles,
  • Spread some of the soil,
  • Position the citrus fruit in the center of the pot after untied its roots without hurting them,
  • Fill in all the spaces with the rest of the soil,
  • Pack well,
  • Water and add a little potting soil because it usually settles after the first watering.

Thereafter, until the next repotting, one must simply prune damaged branches or those that unbalance the silhouette of the shrub, between April and October.

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