If you live in Arizona, you probably have a citrus tree in your yard or you know someone who does. If you are the proud owner of a citrus tree than you know how beautiful they are and also how frustrating they can sometimes be in their care. It seems that no matter what you do, sometimes your tree gets yellow curled-up leaves and it will not respond to anything you do. In this blog post we will share some lessons on how not to kill your citrus tree.
First, it is important that you understand the watering needs. Citrus trees need a lot of water, but not constantly. Mature trees need to be watered very well and then the soil needs to dry out a bit so that the roots can get oxygen. In the winter months the trees should be watered so that the ground around the tree is saturated with standing water for an hour. In the winter, watering 1 time every 14-21 days is a good rule of thumb. When the weather changes to Arizona’s well-known 100+ degree summer, increase the watering cycle to 2 times every 10 days.
One of the most important points to remember is that the watering should not be around the trunk of the tree but instead over the diameter of the entire canopy. Too much water will deprive the roots of oxygen, resulting in yellowing and leaf loss. Too little water will result in leaf shrivel and retarded growth. Both conditions create stress that over time can make your tree susceptible to other disease.
Important note: do not water the leaves. Water droplets on the leaves can focus and magnify the sun’s rays, resulting in sun burn. In addition, Arizona water is very salty and citrus leaves are stressed by salt. Too much salt will cause leaf loss.
Citrus trees are sensitive to the environment, especially heat. Pruning should be done in February before new growth buds appear. Citrus trunks should be painted with citrus paint if they are exposed to the direct sun, especially if there are any signs of blistering.
Finally, fertilize your trees 3 times a year: Valentine’s Day, Memorial Day and Labor Day. Use a good fertilizer that is designed specifically for citrus trees. Ensure that it contains significant amounts of iron because iron will prevent leaf yellowing.
With a little care and careful attendance, your citrus trees will produce plenty of fruit and look beautiful all year long.