No longer do you need a big, old-fashioned backyard to have citrus on hand. Plant breeders have brought citrus trees into the 21st century. No longer do you need a big, old-fashioned backyard to have citrus on hand. With new dwarf varieties, you can grow productive citrus trees in pots even on a sunny balcony.
To get the most from your potted citrus give it regular care and attention. One thing that is essential is sunlight. Citrus need full sun which means placing them in the sunniest part of your garden or balcony. As they fruit during winter, make sure the spot is sunny in winter.
Select a large pot to grow your citrus and put the pot into its final position before you begin to fill it with potting mix. Pots that are suitable must have several large drainage holes in their base and be elevated slightly off the ground. This can be achieved by raising the pot on pot feet or bricks. Don’t skimp on potting mix. Buy a good quality potting mix that meets the Australian standard (look for ticks of approval on the bag) and make sure you have enough potting mix to fill the pot to within about 4cm of the rim (to allow space for watering). For a large pot – that is one that’s over 40cm in diameter – you’ll need several bags of potting mix.
Modern potting mixes provide good drainage, but for a plant that’s going to be in a large pot for a long time it is best to add about 10 per cent soil to the potting mix, combining it well. This prevents the mix from slumping – that is diminishing in the pot so the plant is sitting well below the top of pot. Water the plant in well, firming it in to the potting mix.
Potted citrus need to be watered two to three times a week. In very hot or windy weather, particularly if this type of weather occurs when your tree is in flower or forming small fruit, it may need daily watering. Always make sure the water soaks into the potting mix and doesn’t simply run through without soaking in.
Citrus also need to be well nourished. The best way to provide all the nutrients they need is to use a complete citrus food. This should be applied in small amounts once a month from August to mid autumn. Water the pot well when applying any fertiliser. To avoid pest problems, regularly spray new growth with horticultural spray oil such as PestOil. This treatment controls citrus leaf miner and aphids along with sap suckers like spined citrus bugs.