Feeding citrus

I have revised this post to provide more detail because there have been a few enquiries recently about fertiliser requirements for citrus, particularly trace elements.
Time to fertilise
There is no set time of the year for fertilising citrus as different species produce fruit in different seasons. Many citrus trees are producing crops at this time of year (through winter) and it is not a good time to give them a good dose of fertiliser. As citrus go through a growth cycle after fruit has matured, a good general rule is to apply fertiliser to the soil surface, under the outer part of the canopy, after fruit has been harvested, then cover the fertiliser with about 5-8 cm of organic mulch. Avoid scratching fertiliser into the soil surface as citrus roots lie close to the soil surface, and never apply fertiliser to dry soil, as it will burn tree roots. Repeat the fertiliser application in approximately six months, but avoid applying fertiliser in very hot weather.
Suitable citrus fertilisers
Citrus trees require a good supply of fertiliser that contains a full range of both major and trace elements for good growth, and pest and disease resistance. Trees to five years of age can use up to 500 g of complete organic fertiliser per year, as the inclusion of organic matter in soil will make nutrients more readily available. This should be divided into 2 applications. Older trees may require a little more. Very young trees should receive a proportional amount, as they will also benefit from the occasional application of manure tea. Too much high nitrogen fertiliser will attract aphids, scale, the citrus butterflies and citrus leaf miner. Over fertilising can also kill citrus trees.
Compost is the best fertiliser for citrus, but worm castings, poultry-based fertilisers, and well-rotted manures will also keep trees healthy.
Major nutrient elements are: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium and sulphur. Part of the role of phosphorus in plants is to promote root formation and early growth. Heavy applications of high nitrogen fertilisers can make phosphorus unavailable to plants. Phosphorus is also only available within a narrow pH range. Keeping the soil pH around citrus trees close to neutral will improve their growth, and phosphorus from organic sources is more readily available to plants. Citrus have a fairly high requirement for the major element magnesium. Signs of magnesium deficiency appear first in older leaves where yellowing begins at the outer edges of the leaves and moves inwards, resulting a green V shape at the stalk end. It can also cause cupping of leaves and lack of sweetness in ripe fruit. This problem is common in citrus in autumn when fruit it maturing. This deficiency can be corrected quickly by watering in some Epsom salts: about 250 g for a young tree up to 2 kg for a fully-grown tree. If pale leaves have occurred on your citrus trees in the past, in future, apply one handful of dolomite per square metre of tree canopy when fertilising after harvest. In soils of SE Queensland that contain high quantities of magnesium, this problem will only occur where far too much potassium has been applied, or where soil has become quite acidic.
Yellow leaves in late winter, or early spring, are often caused by cold soils, if the tree has been adequately watered and fertilised. This problem will correct itself as the soil warms, and the tree begins to extract nitrogen from soil.
Trace elements
As mentioned above, citrus trees require a full range of trace elements. These are: iron, copper, zinc, molybdenum, manganese and boron. Their availability to plants is dependent on soil pH and the presence of organic matter in soil.
Copper deficiency will cause fruit drop and can, in more serious cases, cause gum to form inside and outside fruit, and on shoots. Iron deficiency reduces citrus crop size and causes leaves to gradually become pale green, and then fade to pale yellow, preventing the tree from manufacturing carbohydrates. Zinc deficiency reduces fruit bud formation, and manganese deficiency prevents vitamins forming in fruit. Zinc and manganese deficiency both produce yellow mottling between veins on young leaves, but in zinc deficiency leaves are smaller than normal and bunch together. Boron is essential for flower production and fruit quality, but boron toxicity can be a problem where laundry grey water containing borax has been used for irrigation.
Trace element deficiencies can occur if your soil, or the fertiliser you have been using, does not contain a particular micronutrient. However, they are most commonly caused by your soil being too acid or alkaline where nutrients are locked into compounds that plants can’t absorb. Humus in soil has a pH of around 6.5 where all nutrients are available to plants. Humus is also able to hold trace elements in a form that is easily absorbed and prevent nutrients leaching away through soil.
It is unwise to apply trace elements individually because, as the name implies, they are only required in tiny amounts, and excess applications can be toxic to plants, causing another range of problems.
To avoid trace element deficiencies, add a moderate amount of compost to the soil surface around your citrus trees. Organic mulch will also produce humus after friendly microorganisms break it down, and earthworms distribute it through soil. Also apply a liquid seaweed extract, at weak black tea strength, in autumn and spring to ensure your trees have access to a full range of trace elements. Seaweed also contains a good quantity of potassium to improve fruit quality and build plants’ resistance to pests, disease, frost and drought by strengthening cell walls. If you are experiencing serious problems with the health of your citrus trees, I suggest you test and correct your soil pH, or problems will continue.
Reasonably priced Soil pH test kits are available from most nurseries.

19 thoughts on “Feeding citrus

  1. Hi. Great article. Very informative. Thank you. Wondering if you will be able to help me.
    I got a 4 year old dwarf potted meyer lemon from a nursery in Jan this year. I live in Victoria. It had lots of green leaves and fruits. In about 2 months all the fruits and most leaves dropped and I was left with 4 tiny lemons which matured after four months.
    Towards August I gave it a prune and moved it to a bigger pot. It flowered like crazy but none of it set fruit and have now fallen off. I see bees around the flowers. I fed it with yates thrive citrus food initially fortnightly and then weekly when it flowered, as mentioned on the bottle. I’ve stopped that since the flowers started dropping. It grew a few small leaves which look green and fine but they are quite small and not growing in size. It’s getting more leaves and growth now.
    Also since we’ve had heavy rains for the past two months, I water it only weekly or sometimes once in 10 days. Last week I saw a yellowing branch which is now turning brown. I hope my plant isn’t dying

    Hi Shaz,
    For starters, it is natural for citrus to produce a mass of tiny fruits from pollinated flowers, and they drop the ones that are excessive to what the tree can manage to mature.
    I’m wondering if you have a drainage problem with your potted tree. Did you put some coarse gravel in the bottom of the larger pot before you filled it? Did you check the pH of the potting mix before replanting?
    Does the pot have only one drainage hole in the base? Is it sitting on a hard surface where excess water is not able to escape through the bottom of the pot? Large pots that are not easily moved need to sit on pieces of tile to keep the drainage hole clear.
    The frequency of fertiliser recommended seems excessive for a young potted tree. Have a look at this post,
    Yellow leaves potted citrus and if you think any of these are not the cause, get back to me. – Lyn

    1. Hi Lynn,
      Thanks so much for responding and for the link to the post. Looks like I should test the soil ph. Will get a kit and test it, hopefully it will give some information.
      I use the standard plastic pots from bunnings and they have 8 to 10 good sized drainage holes around the edge of the pot and I do see water flowing out after watering. I haven’t used any gravel, just potting soil. Yes, could be an issue with over fertilising. Will try to go with slow release fertiliser instead once in 2 months and some seasol.
      I’ve uploaded two photos of my plant to imgbb. All the growth you see in the first pic are new over the last 2 months. As you can see the leaves are tiny. Tl
      The second pic has the branch that is dying.
      Thanks again..

      HI, Shaz. Go lightly on the seaweed fertiliser. As it says in the post I referred to, too much seaweed fertiliser can cause pale leaves. Seaweed is a complementary fertiliser, which has also been added to a lot of other fertilisers in recent years. Definitely, test the pH of the potting mix, and make any necessary adjustments to get it close to 6.5. I suggest using the Manutec brand from Bunnings. It avoids misreadings that can occur with probe testers.
      From your photos, I think part of your problem is that you are killing the tree with kindness. The way you have pruned it, has reduced the growing tips where new leaves form and produce the energy it needs for growth. The leaves on the two lower branches look much healthier. Don’t prune it again except to completely remove that dying branch and the couple of branches that grow into the centre of the tree, as these will cause problems later. It would be wise for you to get pruning advice from someone who has experience in growing citrus trees.
      I notice there are no shadows in your photos. If the day was overcast, that’s understandable. However, if the day was sunny, your tree may do better if moved to a warmer spot, protected from wind. Hope this helps. – Lyn

  2. Hi all, This year’s crop of lemons have been disappointing, I guess due to the continued hot summer on the new crop. The lemons are the usual size, but when cut open, found to be dry and brown in colour and maybe not safe to use.
    My neighbour has given me some “Bare essential Borax” powder and told me that this product at a rate about teaspoon should be sprinkled around the tree base and then watered in. MY QUESTION Is this recommended product for citrus tree? how often? This product does come within the gardening products on the shelf

    Hi Graham, brown, dry patches in citrus are most commonly caused by water loss. Fluctuations in irrigation, or hot, drying winds result in the tree withdrawing moisture from the fruit to the foliage.
    Boron deficiency shows as death of terminal shoots and thickened, curled, wilted and necrotic leaves. While boron is an essential micronutrient, it is only required in tiny amounts and boron toxicity is more common in citrus than boron deficiency.
    If you truly suspect boron deficiency, the most effective treatment is to improve irrigation and apply a complete organic fertiliser in July and November. (So apply it ASAP.) Poultry-based fertilisers contain boron and so do seaweed fertilisers such as Seasol. And, because organic fertilisers contain all the other nutrients required for healthy fruit, this is a safer way to correct any micronutrient deficiencies.
    Micronutrient availability to plants depends on soil pH and organic matter in soil. Check that your soil pH is not too alkaline, and adding a layer of compost covered with organic mulch to see it through the summer should see the health of your next crop improve. – Lyn

  3. Good afternoon, your article was very informative. I have a small grove of citrus plants, oranges, mandarines, lemonades and lemons. I planted them on a hill facing north a year ago. My ground is clay based so when we core drilled the holes I filled them back up with compost. most flowered last year and I removed the fruit to help them focus on growing stronger trunks, I feel that they have not grown as much as I would have envisaged. I fertilised with Yates citrus fertaliser in the green bucket in spring and again in April – may. Late last year I gave them a feed of Epsom salts as I read it will help to improve their immune system, I also put sugar cane mulch out of the goat pens around the base and sprinkled a small hand ful of dynamic lifter. I would of imagine with the regular watering and feeding they would have put a lot of growth on but they haven’t, what else can I do?
    Hi Therese, you haven’t said where you live, but I think the clue to your problem is “My ground is clay based so when we core drilled the holes ….”. As I said in my post Planting Trees and Shrubs, “Always make planting holes wider than deep. Feeder roots are situated under the outer foliage canopy where rain drips from the plant. A wide planting hole allows the easy spread of roots as the plant grows. Wide holes are extremely important where soil is heavy”. What you have actually done in your clay soil is replicate the conditions they would experience in a pot because young roots find it difficult to push through clay soil. As the feeder roots expand in size so does the foliage canopy. To correct the problem, you need to loosen the topsoil around the trees well beyond the width of the foliage and mix compost through the topsoil. The only extra fertiliser I would apply until new growth shows is a dose of seaweed fertiliser diluted to weak black tea strength. This helps the immune system, tolerance to heat and cold and stimulates root growth. Epsom salts are usually given to citrus in autumn as they have a high need for magnesium.

  4. i have all the trace elements in my store and want to know about fruit tree flower strengthening that flower not drop by heavy rain and wind. i heard that have to use iron , copper as a foliar . Can someone answer me how much to mix 1000ltr water iron and copper. or another TE ? thanks andy

    Hi Andy, citrus trees commonly produce many more flowers than will produce good quality fruit, and they drop the excess flowers or pea-sized fruits. Citrus trees do not do well in windy positions and flower drop would be more common in those situations. As you haven’t said where you live, I cannot say the particular cause of your flower drop as I do not know the climate or soil type where your trees are growing. – Lyn

  5. My son recently purchased a house at Inverell at north west NSW which has two neglected fruit trees in the yard one one Navel Orange with good size Fruit which is sour,one mandarin which is very small with loose skin. What can I fertilize or feed these trees to improve next years fruit; Kind Regards, Peter Adams
    Hi Peter, first of all, I would check the soil pH around the trees. As the post above explains, soil pH controls availability of nutrients to plants and you will be wasting fertiliser if the soil is too acidic or too alkaline. If you follow the instructions for fertilising in the above post, the trees’ health should improve. A weekly deep watering in dry weather will ensure that the trees can absorb the nutrients they need for delicious fruit, as plants can only absorb nutrients as water-soluble ions. – Lyn

  6. Hi Lyn, Very nice blog….I would like to seek for your advice.. I just bought an Australian Cumquat (Calamondin) 2 weeks ago. The tree has a lot of fruits in it. We just transfer it to a pot that contains an organic soil mix, cow manure and put a fertiliser. I just would like to ask if it’s a good idea to just remove all the fruits so that the plant energy will be focused on settling on the new pot. In terms of feeding, we already have a slow release fertiliser mixed with the soil and on top of the soil. We are also using Seasol weekly at this point. And finally, we are thinking of putting Powerfeed water soluble fertiliser two weeks from now. Are we feeding the plant to much? Thank you very much..
    It is a good idea to remove fruit from young citrus trees for the first couple of years after purchase. You want to encourage strong growth rather than plant energy being put into fruit production, and the fruit can weigh the young branches down resulting in branches splitting away from the trunk, or a poorly shaped tree, or general poor growth.
    As you have given your tree ample fertiliser to date, I would not fertilise your tree again for at least a month and then I would only apply Powerfeed (liquid organic complete fertiliser) each month. I would not give your tree any more Seasol until at least spring. Seaweed fertilisers are supplementary because they contain a lot of potassium and the Powerfeed and other fertilisers you have already applied have adequate potassium for your tree’s needs. Too much potassium can prevent the tree absorbing magnesium and citrus have a high magnesium requirement. – Lyn

  7. Hi Lyn. After monitoring the tree since my earlier post, i’m happy to report it has greened up nicely, and the new growth now matches the old growth in colour. I’ve also added a tree-guard band which works well to control the ants, and in turn black fungi, and i’ve even had some ladybirds make a new home which is good news. Had a few leaves affected by leafminer but some PestOil applications have kept them at bay. Now all i’m waiting for is blooms and fruit 🙂 Thanks again..

    I’m pleased that the leaf problem has been solved CK, and that you have ladybirds in your garden. The tree guard band is a good idea to cut down on the ants. I occasionally get some leaf miner after a few electrical storms when the lightning delivers nitrogen with the rain. It’s excess nitrogen in the new leaves that the leaf miners target, but I no longer treat the miner after I noticed that the ladybird larvae were using the curled leaves for shelter and the pest oil will kill them, too. – Lyn

  8. Hi Lyn, Some great articles, many thanks for posting. I have an almost 2 year old dwarf Eureka lemon tree in the garden bed, that has been quite slow growing and the young leaves appear pale in colour overall (almost white) while the older leaves are dark green (no yellowing).

    Almost a week ago I added 2 x 25L bags of well composted chicken manure across the whole garden bed thinking it was a nitrogen deficiency. Its probably still a bit early to tell any difference, but was wondering if I’m on the right track? I’ve checked soil pH prior to the manure and it was a good 6.5 near the lemon tree.

    I am in NSW. The tree is in a full sun (north) facing position, and about 6 months back I added 2 x 25L bags each of compost + potting mix so the soil is fairly good. I’m mainly concerned with the slow growth and pale colour of the younger leaves (quite large younger leaves). Thanks.

    CK, the discolouration you described for the young leaves of your tree usually indicates an iron deficiency. This often occurs when soil is too alkaline and is known as lime-induced chlorosis. However, you say that your soil pH is 6.5, where roots should be able to uptake enough iron in soil. Too much nitrogen or phosphorus can also cause iron deficiency.

    Nitrogen and magnesium deficiency both cause leave yellowing but this begins in the older leaves because both these elements are mobile in plants and they can be drawn from older leaves to support new growth.

    Although quite a few element deficiencies cause leaf yellowing, they each have certain patterns or characteristics. Is there any chance that you could email a photo of the discoloured leaves?

    As you have mentioned ‘Almost white’ colouring of young leaves, in the meantime, if your tree has not responded to the fertiliser I would try spraying the leaves with an iron chelate solution. – Lyn

  9. Hi Lyn, I have a Tahitian lime tree as well, and I’m fairly sure it has a mineral deficiency of some kind. I have just watered it with one 9L can of diluted Seasol cause it was doing the other plants and noticed the older leaves yellowing slightly in between the veins. I didn’t want to do anything without checking with someone first. I’ve got fruit growing, but it seems very slow this season compared to last, and I noticed a lot of the small fruits seemed to have dropped off (although we have had a lot of wind and storms lately). I’m based in Sydney, and did put a bag of fertiliser on it about 6 weeks ago, and have been giving it a good watering every two days or so. I have also just noticed the miner has come back again, which I’ve been checking for regularly as last year was pretty bad. Your advise would be greatly appreciated. I’ll email you pics now. Thanks in advance!
    If your tree has not responded to the Seasol application, it looks to me very much like iron deficiency. This can occur when the soil pH is too high and iron in soil becomes locked out. Applying Seasol won’t correct this problem as Seasol has a pH of 10–11 and the amount it is moderated in dilution would depend on the pH of your water supply. If the fertiliser you used was one of the poultry manure fertilisers, they can be quite alkaline, too. Have you checked the soil pH, Meaghan? If it is above 7, you can correct the problem by watering in iron chelates or applying elemental sulphur (flowers of sulphur) at 50–70 grams per square metre on loamy soil or 100 grams per square metre on clay soil. I know there is a variety of Seasol that contains chelated iron but this product has a pH of 9–10, and you need to reduce the soil pH to a level where all nutrients are available.
    Wind or dryness can make citrus fruit drop but well-pollinated citrus trees form a lot more embryo fruit than they can handle. It is common for them to ditch many of these, so I would not worry too much about very tiny fruits being discarded. – Lyn

  10. Dear Lyn.
    I have just read your article above, and the questions and answers which follow.
    Thank you for writing about the challenging question of when and how to fertilise citrus. I have a Tahitian Lime which had been moved to the garden from a pot. At about 6 to 7 years if age it has begun to produce lovely big limes, despite my experiments with pruning and fertilising. I now do much less of both but will follow your advice r. e. Yellowing leaves. Should I keep the canopy flat as I can’t reach it anyway? Kind regards.
    Natalie, Sydney, July 2014.

    Hi Natalie, it makes sense to prune citrus trees to make harvesting easier. Try to work to a softly domed vase shape when pruning so that fruit is easy to reach. Completely remove any branches growing into the centre of the tree, and any rigid, upright branches that grow higher than the rest of the tree. Do not shorten these branches as you may get more whippy branches or too much growth in the centre of the tree. The best time to prune citrus is soon after harvesting fruit, and before the tree can produce flowers for next season’s fruit, as this is the stage when citrus begin a growth cycle. Hope this helps. – Lyn

  11. Hi Janelle, from your photos, it does look like your potted tree has an iron deficiency, as yellowing is showing in the young leaves. This can be caused by a number of conditions:
    a) potting mix (or soil) that is too alkaline from excess bio-char or calcium in the mix or fertiliser containing a lot of poultry manure, b) cold and wet soil or growing mix especially in spring (as it may have been in Melbourne this spring), c) if there is a build up of fertiliser salts from synthetic fertilisers, or d) where there is an excess of potassium from synthetic fertilisers or over-use of seaweed liquid fertiliser.

    The first thing I would do it check that your pot has ample drainage. large pots should not sit directly on a hard surface. While smaller pots usually have ample drainage holes around the sides at the base of the pots, large pots often have only one large hole in the base and this can easily become blocked resulting in poor aeration and/or a concentration of fertiliser salts if synthetic fertilisers have been used. Large pots should have pieces of tile placed under the pot to allow a small space between the base of the pot and the verandah or paving. If you notice crusting around the top of the soil line (fertiliser salts), flush the plant with clean water, once drainage has been improved.

    If poor drainage is not the problem, the next step is to check the pH of the mix with a test kit. A suitable pH is important to all parts of your garden as the pH in soil or mix controls the availability of nutrients. Test kits are very economical to use and readily available from larger nurseries. If you find that the pH is above 7.2, you could repot the tree using an organic-registered potting mix as organic matter is an important source of iron. However, to do so may result in the loss of this crop of fruit.
    The addition of flowers of sulphur (elemental sulphur) is the usual way to reduce pH in soils, but it is easy to overdo this in potted plants. You can apply iron chelates (the form of iron in organic compost) to the mix in the pot at the recommended rate. Citrus trees do not absorb iron chelates well through foliar spraying. Or, you can fertilise the tree with a weak solution of Multicrop’s Ecofish (1/2 teaspoon per litre of water). This is an organic-registered liquid fertiliser that contains soluble iron and has a low pH, which will help to reduce the pH in the pot. Repeat the application in a fortnight.
    As some of the older leaves in one of your photos and bare twigs indicate a possible mild deficiency of other trace elements, I’d be inclined to use the Ecofish as it contains iron, manganese, sulphur and zinc (trace elements needed by citrus) but unlike seaweed fertiliser, it does not contain a lot of potassium. Manganese deficiency is also caused by high pH or poorly-drained soil.

  12. Hi, I have a dwarf lemon tree in a pot. It’s been established 3 years this Christmas, so I am dreaming of my first harvest. It has flowered and now has fruit buds but the leaves are yellow with green veins. My research has lead me to believe it is either an iron or magnesium deficiency (young leaves are yellow green veins) I use a citrus fertiliser in spring and autumn. My mum suggested adding Epsom salts which seemed to fix her tree. Doesn’t appear to have helped mine. Any tips? I have a photo but don’t know how to add it.

    If Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate) hasn’t helped your tree, then it is not a magnesium deficiency. Magnesium, nitrogen and iron are necessary for leaves to form chlorophyll (green colouring). However, both nitrogen and magnesium are mobile in plants so that when one of both are deficient, the plant can move the nutrients to new growth and the older leaves become yellow first.
    Yellowing of young leaves with green veins suggests iron or manganese deficiency. Manganese is essential for the formation of carotene and ascorbic acid but too much can induce iron deficiency. Consequently, patterning of discolouration in leaves is extremely helpful in making an accurate diagnosis. You can email the photo directly to me at lyn@aussieorganicgardening.com via the link on the right side of the home page.
    Iron deficiency can be caused by a soil pH higher than 7.0 but is also common when soil is cold and wet. As you haven’t said which area you live in, I will wait to hear further information from you before suggesting a suitable treatment.– Lyn

  13. Hi, I have a Tahitian lime in a large pot in coastal Sydney. I applied homemade compost about mid autumn as the leaves started to yellow. The tree improved but now mid winter the leaves are yellowing again and dropping. The tree had a burst in flowers after compost was applied and so now have small fruit forming. I have not watered the tree as it has rained. Should I reapply compost or a slow release fertiliser. Thanks for your help.

    Hi Sandra, A photo of the yellowing leaves would help an accurate diagnosis as different causes produce different patterns on the leaves. Citrus have a high need for magnesium and this can cause yellowing of leaves, especially in autumn when fruit is forming. Or, the mixture in the pot may be too alkaline, and this can cause yellowing known as ‘lime-induced chlorosis’. Check the pH of the potting mix before you add any amendments.
    The fact the leaves are dropping as well as yellowing could indicate water-logging. Also check whether the drainage holes in the pot are clear. Some large pots only have one drainage hole and this can quickly become blocked especially if the pot is sitting directly on the ground. Pieces of tile placed underneath pots help to keep the drainage hole/s clear.
    I’ve found that worm castings are a great fertiliser for potted plants. They are easy to water-in, whereas compost sitting on the surface and not covered by mulch tends to dry out and lose some of its benefits. Also in pots, you don’t have the assistance of earthworms moving the compost (as castings) into the root area as you do in garden beds. If you don’t have a worm farm, an organic liquid complete fertiliser would be the next best thing. – Lyn

  14. Indian Lime ……….My tree is 18 mounths old and has been planted in a good sunny position. the soil is sandy lome and has been given a good organic treatment over the last few years……..could you advise me when to expect to see flowers and fruit developing. no fertilizer has been given but the tree is growing well. I live in SE Queenland near Caboolture.

    If you have given the tree no fertiliser, I don’t understand what you mean by giving it “a good organic treatment”. Compost is an excellent fertiliser for citrus trees, but they are heavy feeders and some should be applied to the soil surface (under mulch) twice a year. Without adequate fertiliser, flowering and fruiting will be poor – unless the tree is so undernourished it thinks it is going to die and puts in an all-out effort to reproduce before it goes. You sometimes see this happen on very old citrus trees.
    Our Tahitian lime ripens fruits around Christmas time and the flowers appear late winter to spring, but yours may fruit earlier in a warmer climate. Mexican (or West Indian) limes require tropical conditions, but I understand they also take 3-4 months for fruit to mature.
    Citrus trees are ready to harvest when 3-4 years old, and then gradually increase the amount of fruit the tree carries. Harvesting fruit from very young trees, no matter how vigorous they seem, can weaken the trees and cause problems later. Any fruit should be removed from very young trees soon after it sets. Shorten any long branches to encourage side shoots. Fruit on long branches will weigh the branches down and permanently damage growth on young trees. – Lyn

  15. Although I am not familiar with pests in Israel Julia, it sounds as though your citrus are being attacked by Mediterranean fruit fly. Fruit fly lay their eggs in the fruit of stressed plants and there is no organic way to control the development of the maggots in the fruit. You can use exclusion bags to protect undamaged fruit, or protect the tree with mosquito netting as long as the netting does not touch the fruit. And you can set up traps to catch fruit fly before they lay their eggs. There is an organic bait called Eco-Naturalure that attracts both male and female fruit fly. The trick is not to put the bait near the citrus trees. Any bait worth its salt will attract the flies, and you don’t want to steer them straight to the crop you are trying to protect. However, I do not know if this product is available in your area.
    Fruit fly larvae pupate in soil, so it is essential that you remove all damaged fruit and kill the grubs by placing it in a sealed black plastic bag left in the sun for a week to cook the grubs. If you don’t break the breeding cycle of these pests, you will have continual problems with them.
    Julia, you may not like my answer to controlling pests as I don’t believe that sprays are the best answer. Simply relying on better sprays whenever you have a pest problem ensures that you will continue to have problems. Many organic sprays will also kill pest predators, ensuring that you will have a different pest problem in the near future. Pest attack is merely a symptom that your plants are stressed. I know that it is difficult to provide adequate water in drought conditions but, if you can provide adequate water for your plants and they are still being attacked, improve plant nutrition with liquid fertilisers. If you have provided them with adequate fertiliser, check your soil pH, as an incorrect soil pH can prevent plants absorbing the nutrients they need for good health. The secret to pest-free plants is to restore health to your soil, and my book “Easy Organic Gardening and Moon Planting” will show you how to keep it that way.

  16. I am new to all of this. I have just moved from a cold climate country to a warmer climate where I can grow citrus trees. I have a clementine tree on the property already. I am sure in the past many applications of pesticides have been used because when we moved here the fruit was perfect the first season. Last season the clementines were all really bad and this year they seem to have little black dots and I find tiny worms in a lot of them. I would like to know what I can do organically to keep the tree and fruit healthy? The only thing my gardener suggests is to spray it but I am sure there are other options.
    Thank you kindly,
    Julia in Israel

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