Have you ever wanted to grow a lemon or orange tree at home? These plants are pretty easy to care for, but they need a lot of fertilizer so they can grow up strong and healthy. Not to worry—we’ve answered all your frequently asked questions, so you can put your best foot forward during the next growing season!

Question 1 of 6:

How often should you fertilize citrus trees?

  1. Nourish your tree once every 1-2 months when the tree is actively growing. When your tree goes through a dormant period, or a time when it stops growing, fertilize it once every 3 months.[1]
  2. 2
    Nourish your tree throughout the growing season when it starts producing fruit. Unfortunately, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all recommendation for citrus trees—it really depends on when you live. Most experts agree that you should feed your citrus tree multiple times during the growing season, so it gets plenty of nutrients.[2]
    • The “growing season” is whenever your citrus tree produces fruit.[3]
    • In a dry, hot climate, fertilize your citrus tree on Valentine’s Day (February 14), Mother’s Day (second Sunday in May), and Father’s Day (third Sunday in June).[4]
    • If you’re growing your citrus indoors, fertilize it between mid-spring and late summer/early autumn.[5]
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Question 2 of 6:

What is the best fertilizer for citrus trees?

  1. Unfortunately, there isn’t a universal fertilizer recommendation for citrus trees, since citrus trees can be grown in different climates. Conduct a soil test to see what nutrients your tree is lacking.[6] [7]
    • You can buy a soil test online, or from a home improvement store.
  2. 2
    Pick a fertilizer based on the NPK recommendation in your test results. Your NPK ratio, or Nitrogen-Phosphate-Potash ratio, describes what percentage of each nutrient your soil should have. Choose a fertilizer that matches this ratio, so your trees get lots of nourishment.[8]
    • For instance, if your NPK recommendation is 15-5-10, you’d use a fertilizer with a 15-5-10 NPK ratio for your plant.
    • Some experts recommend using a fertilizer designed for acid-loving plants.[9] Other experts from hot, dry climates suggest using a 13-13-13 or 15-5-10 fertilizer.[10] It really depends on where you live!
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Question 3 of 6:

What fertilizer is best for potted citrus trees?

  1. Citrus trees need to be watered pretty often; unfortunately, this can wash out the nutrients quickly. To counteract this, pick a slow-release fertilizer, so your tree receives nutrients gradually.[11]
  2. 2
    Epsom salt is another good option. Citrus trees thrive in acidic soil that’s somewhere between 5.5 and 6.5 pH. Thankfully, products like Epsom salt or agricultural gypsum can keep your citrus tree healthy and well-nourished, especially if your tree’s nutrients get washed out.[12]
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Question 5 of 6:

How much fertilizer do citrus trees need?

  1. For reference, a 4-year old tree needs 4 to 6 lb (1.8 to 2.7 kg) of fertilizer, a 5-year old tree needs 5 to 7 12 lb (2.3 to 3.4 kg), a 6-year old tree needs 6 to 9 lb (2.7 to 4.1 kg), a 7-year old tree needs 7 to 10 12 lb (3.2 to 4.8 kg), and so on. If your tree is 12 years or older, use between 12 to 18 lb (5.4 to 8.2 kg) of fertilizer.[14]
    • Don’t give your citrus tree all of this fertilizer at once! Spread out this total amount over the growing season.
    • These measurements apply to chemical fertilizers.
  2. 2
    Young trees need more fertilizer than mature trees. During the first year, apply 12 lb (0.23 kg) of fertilizer to your tree each month between February and October. During the second year, spread 1 lb (0.45 kg) of fertilizer over your tree each month. Once the third year rolls around, spread 2 lb (0.91 kg) of fertilizer around the tree.[15]
    • For these particular measurements, use a fertilizer with an 8-13% nitrogen content. If your fertilizer has a 17-21% nitrogen content, divide these measurements in half.
    • If you’re using a balanced fertilizer (like 13-13-13), experts recommend using at least 1 lb (0.45 kg) of fertilizer on 1-year old trees, 2 lb (0.91 kg) on 2-year old trees, and 3 lb (1.4 kg) on 3-year old trees.[16]
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Expert Q&A

  • Question
    What is the best balanced fertilizer?
    Matt Bowman
    Matt Bowman
    Gardener & Owner, Tradition Market & Garden
    Matt Bowman is a Gardener, Landscaper, the Owner of Georgia Farm to Table, and the Owner of Tradition Property Services in Atlanta, Georgia. With over 20 years experience, he specializes in organic gardening, landscape maintenance, handyman services, homecare services, and supplying Christmas trees. Matt earned a BA in Journalism from the University of Georgia.
    Matt Bowman
    Gardener & Owner, Tradition Market & Garden
    Expert Answer
    The best fertilizer for your soil depends on the balance of nutrients in the soil. Do a soil test to help you figure out your soil's needs so you can get the right fertilizer.
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About This Article

Matt Bowman
Co-authored by:
Gardener & Owner, Tradition Market & Garden
This article was co-authored by Matt Bowman and by wikiHow staff writer, Janice Tieperman. Matt Bowman is a Gardener, Landscaper, the Owner of Georgia Farm to Table, and the Owner of Tradition Property Services in Atlanta, Georgia. With over 20 years experience, he specializes in organic gardening, landscape maintenance, handyman services, homecare services, and supplying Christmas trees. Matt earned a BA in Journalism from the University of Georgia. This article has been viewed 41,105 times.
27 votes - 90%
Co-authors: 8
Updated: December 26, 2022
Views: 41,105
Categories: Fertilizers
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