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Autumn is a fantastic time to plant a new citrus tree, as the soil is still warm enough to encourage root growth and the tree can start to establish before the cool winter weather arrives. There’s nothing like picking your very own citrus fruit like sweet mandarins, tangy lemons and juicy oranges and dwarf varieties of citrus trees mean they can be grown in small spaces

Planting Instructions

When planting citrus into containers, choose a well-drained pot that’s at least 40 cm in diameter and use a good quality potting mix.

When planting a new citrus tree into the ground, mix some Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food into the bottom of the planting hole. This improves the quality of the soil and supplies the newly planted lemon with gentle, organic nutrients as it establishes.

  1. Find a warm sunny spot in the garden with well-drained soil.
  2. Dig the planting hole twice as wide, and to the same depth, as the tree’s root ball.
  3. Mix some Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food into the soil in the bottom of the hole.
  4. Position the citrus tree in the hole, backfill with soil and water well.

Citrus roots rot very readily if the soil is heavy or clayey, or citrus bark can decay and begin to lift from the lower trunk (this is a classic symptom of collar rot). To combat this, avoid planting in poorly drained areas and plant in pots or raised garden beds filled with Yates Premium Potting Mix, or Yates Nature's Way Organic Potting Mix. If pots aren't an option, improve your soil by incorporating organic matter, like Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food, plus gypsum to improve the soil drainage. If your garden soil is super-heavy, check out our 5 Tips on Soil Improvement.

Caring for Freshly Planted Citrus

Keep the new tree well-watered, particularly during its first summer. It’s also beneficial to apply a few cm of mulch  (old manure, pea straw or compost) over the soil surface, which will help the root zone stay moist. Keep the mulch a few cm away from the base of the trunk to allow good air flow, to reduce the risk of collar rot disease.

One thing that citrus trees really hate is having to compete with grass growing right up against their trunks. Grass is greedy, so it will gobble up any nutrients it can get at. Clear grass away from the base by hand, or carefully spray with Yates Zero Rapid 1-Hour Action Weedkiller Ready to Use

Lemons, like other citrus, are heavy feeders and require lots of nutrients to support all the foliage, flowers and developing fruit. Feed your citrus with Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food three times a year, in autumn, summer and early spring. When the tree starts to produce fruit (normally in its 3rd year), feed it weekly with Yates Thrive Citrus Liquid Plant Food. Dilute 1 – 2 capfuls in a 9 L watering can and apply around the root zone. While established trees are flowering, growing new foliage or carrying fruit, feed them every week for best results.

Control Insect Pests & Fungal Issues

A common question about citrus trees is how to control curled leaves. Unfortunately, once the leaves are twisted the damage is permanent (until the leaves naturally fall from the tree). Early treatment is the key!

The insect pests that usually cause these deformed leaves are aphids. They are small sap sucking insects, which can be green, brown, grey or black, that typically congregate underneath vulnerable new citrus leaves and stems, depleting them of important sugars and nutrients. Aphid damage can ruin the look of a tree and aphids can also attract the disease sooty mould, which grows on the sugary honeydew that aphids excrete.

During the spring foliage flush, new growth needs to be protected from aphid damage by spraying the leaves with Yates Nature’s Way Organic Citrus, Vegie Ornamental Spray. Spray lightly, just to the point of run off, including undersides of the foliage, as soon as aphids appear. Respray each week while aphids are active.

Citrus trees are also attractive to a number of insect pests. Sap-sucking pests such as aphidsmealybugs and scale can be controlled with Yates Natures Way Organic Citrus, Vegie Ornamental Spray Ready to Use.

If your tree is under attack by the lemon tree borer, keep in mind the adult beetles are flying at night from mid-spring to autumn, on the lookout for trees to lay their eggs. The scent of freshly pruned citrus trees attracts them like a magnet, so it’s wise to restrict pruning to between April and August. A good solution for protecting fresh pruning cuts is Yates PruneTec, which seals off the wound and forms a physical barrier against larvae boring into the tree.

Citrus fruits are susceptible to citrus brown rot and verrucosis (citrus scab). Treat them with Yates Copper Oxychloride Fungicide if you notice these problems.

Why use Yates Dynamic Lifter?

Yates Dynamic Lifter adds organic matter to the soil which improves the quality of the soil by increasing water and nutrient holding capacity, improves soil structure and provides food for beneficial soil microorganisms and earthworms.

Yates Dynamic Lifter helps give the new citrus tree the best possible start by providing gentle slow-release organic nutrients which promote root growth.

For a boost, feed in the growing, flowering and fruiting seasons with Yates Thrive Citrus Liquid Plant Food.

Whether you have the biggest backyard or a small patio, balcony or veranda there are lots of opportunities to start gardening during autumn.

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