Don explained why the orange tree (Citrus sinensis) shown in our segment was dying. It was struggling to survive in a damp, shady position, in heavy clay soil, with competition from the surrounding lawn. Don advised the garden owners not to try and save the orange tree, but to plant another one in a more suitable part of the backyard.
These evergreen trees are valued not only for their fruit, which is rich in vitamin C, but also for their fragrant, white flowers and their glossy, green leaves. They grow best in warm, frost-free areas.
Don’s citrus tips
Citrus need a warm position in full sun (a northerly aspect is ideal).
Citrus need good drainage, because they are susceptible to root rot. In heavy soils plant in raised beds and correct any drainage problems.
Before planting, dig some chook, cow or horse manure into the ground.
Feed established trees with complete fertiliser in late winter and late summer (August and February). Water well before and after fertilising. It is good to alternate fertilisers – say Dynamic Lifter in August/September and Complete Citrus Food in February.
Keep trees well watered when young fruit is forming in spring and early summer. Use a sprinkler twice a week to deep water trees in the warmer months.
Grass and citrus don’t mix. Keep the area beneath your citrus free of grass and weeds. Cover with a mulch such as lucerne hay, composted leaf litter or compost, but keep the mulch away from the tree trunk to avoid collar rot.