How to Care for Citrus Trees in Fall and Winter

Living Color garden center citrus tree

Those of us with citrus trees are excitedly preparing for our winter harvest, but if you’re new to fruit tree care, there are some things you should know as the season approaches. While your citrus trees typically have a big growth spurt through spring and summer, the care requirements change dramatically in fall and winter. Read this guide to ensure you’re giving your citrus tree everything it needs for a delicious harvest. 

Fall Citrus Tree Care

The fruits on your tree are beginning to ripen, but they’re not quite ready to pick! Until then, follow this fall care guide to ensure your citrus trees are on the right track.

Water Once Every 10 Days

A mature citrus tree needs to be watered 1–2 times a week in spring and summer, but in fall, you can reduce the frequency to once every ten days. Make a little dot on your calendar to keep track of your watering days. Water deeply so the moisture soaks down into the roots. We recommend using a soaker hose to make irrigation as fuss-free as possible. 

Fertilize in September

An essential part of citrus tree care is proper fertilizing. These guys are heavy feeders! September is when you should apply your final fertilizer application for the year to allow your tree to go into winter dormancy. Remember to use a fertilizer specially formulated for citrus tree care, fortified with micronutrients like manganese, iron, zinc, and copper. 

planting citrus tree Living Color garden center

Plant New Trees in September

Many people insist that spring is the best time to plant new citrus trees, but in Fort Lauderdale, we can get away with planting them in fall too! Since our winters are so mild, we seldom worry about trees experiencing cold damage. Plant your tree somewhere that gets 6–8 hours of direct sunlight, and add plenty of compost to the soil. If you suspect we may be hit with a sudden cold spell, use a tree wrap to keep your newly planted tree safe and insulated. 

Winter Citrus Tree Care

We always look forward to winter because our citrus trees are ready for harvest, and the care requirements scale back even more! Why not kick back and enjoy some freshly squeezed lemonade?

looking at citrus tree Living Color garden center

Get Ready for Harvest Time

Different varieties are ready to harvest at different times—for example, Valencia oranges tend to ripen later in the season. While you’d think color would be a good indicator of ripeness, truly, the best way to gauge ripeness is through a taste test. Your citrus fruits won’t continue to ripen after you pick them, so don’t harvest them until you’re certain they’ve reached the ideal flavor and sweetness. 

Reduce Watering

In winter, you only need to water your citrus tree once every 3–4 weeks! It might not seem like enough, considering that you need to water multiple times per week in spring and summer. But this will help your tree to remain in dormancy and build up the energy for next year’s growth spurt.

pruning citrus tree Living Color garden center

Prune in February or March

Prune off any damaged, dead, or diseased branches or crossed branches that rub together. Use sharp, sanitized pruning equipment to minimize tree injury or infection. Thinning out the tree will help increase air circulation, which prevents pests and diseases from appearing. 

Use Dormant Oil

Pest control isn’t anyone’s favorite part of citrus tree care, but if you use a preventative dormant oil in winter before the buds break, you can keep the bugs at bay!

Fertilize in February

After your break from fertilizing since September, February is the time to start back up again with monthly applications. Remember to use a formula for citrus trees that’s rich in micronutrients. 

Plant New Trees In February and March

Late winter is another great time to plant new citrus trees because the soil is still cool. This way, the roots of your young tree won’t be shocked by a drastic temperature change. Hot summer temperatures are too intense for a little citrus sapling!

For fertilizers, pruning equipment, and everything else you need for citrus care in Florida, Living Color Garden Center has a fantastic collection of trusted products for an amazing citrus harvest. Come check out our wide assortment of citrus trees for sale in Fort Lauderdale so you can start growing your own juicy, delicious fruits at home.

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