Gardening: Citrus trees will repay care

SITTING down each week to write this column I'm always aware of how quickly the seasons come around.

Sometimes it is difficult to avoid repetition but there are some subjects that need to be repeated each year.

They remind gardeners of important chores - one of the most important being citrus care.

Having a citrus tree at home has become increasingly popular, firstly because of the cost of lemons and limes and secondly because they really are easy to grow in a pot or in the garden.

The choices of citrus are numerous, including all the dwarf varieties.

As well as the dwarf varieties, all citrus will grow in large pots if given the correct care, but if space is a problem I'd plant a lime or a Myer lemon. If you do have space in the full sun, the Eureka is best suited for coastal planting.

Cultivation-wise, it is necessary to remember that potted citrus can't be fed with poultry manure and citrus fertiliser as this will result in leaf drop.

I find Martins Organic Advance Plus or Bounceback ideal for feeding container grown plants - both fertilisers are slow release and safe to use.

If your citrus is looking a little yellow, apply Searles Flourish Fruit Booster, which is a soluble plant food, once spring arrives.

Citrus are able to cope with insect attack but keep an eye on increased activity and spray regularly with Eco-oil or Pest-oil.

It may be necessary to spray with Antiscale if this pest begins to take over.

Feed all citrus twice a year - during August/September and February/March.

This should be done carefully, remembering only to use poultry manure and citrus food on ground-grown plants.

Water before and after application out under the drip line.

Never mulch close to the trunk as this can cause collar rot.

Lack of juice can be attributed to lack of water during fruit production or fruit left hanging on the tree too long and they become over-mature.

Stress can occur if citrus are over fertilised or if the soil is dry - even windy conditions or a plant being pot bound will result in trauma.

It helps to prevent stressed trees from fruiting by removing an excessive amount of blossom.

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