Picture this: you're cooking dinner in your kitchen and realize you need a lemon or lime for your dish and don't have time to run to the store. Instead, you walk out to your lemon or lime tree, grab a ripe one, and head back to finish cooking for your friends and family. How easy and convenient would that be? That's why we believe there's nothing better than planting citrus trees in your garden.
Not only that, but these citrus trees are popular among home gardeners for good reason! They produce delicious citrus fruits, add a pop of color to your yard, and can even add a bit of extra shade, turning lemon and lime trees into a must-have for every garden. The best part is: They aren’t incredibly difficult to grow on your own, as long as you have the weather and resources.
These trees have basic requirements to ensure they properly grow and bear fruit. However, if their basic needs aren't met they can struggle with fruiting.
If you’re interested in planting lime or lemon trees in your garden, we’re here to help.
Let’s take a closer look at specifics of citrus plants and how you can combat common issues that affect these trees from fruiting.
The Origin of Citrus Plants
If you didn’t know: Citrus plants come from tropical and subtropical regions of southern Asia, Australia, and the South Pacific.
These trees grow in many sizes, from bushes to large trees. The size and shape of the fruit they produce are different too. All citrus plants grow best in warmer climates. Zones 8-11 can easily plant and grow citrus plants year-round. While zones 7 and colder may run into some issues during the colder months.
Citrus plants don’t start to bear fruit until they're at least three years old. Sometimes it can take as long as six years for the fruit to grow from your trees, so you’ll need to be patient.
When to plant your citrus trees
If you live in Zone 8-11, you’ll want to plant your citrus plants outside in the early spring. This way the trees can settle during the warmer months before winter arrives. In some areas in zones 8-11, you can plant citrus trees year-round and not run into any issues.
Keep in mind: Lemon trees are cold-sensitive, and they will need protection from unwanted frost during colder seasons.
Common issues that affect trees from fruiting
If you already planted your citrus trees but haven't been able to harvest fruit the way you expected, there could be an underlying reason that's preventing your plant from fruiting.
Here are some of the most common issues gardeners face:
Not Enough Sunlight
Sunlight is essential to their survival. Most citrus trees need at least six to eight hours of direct sun every day. When planting your trees outside, make sure they aren’t in a shaded area and will receive optimal amounts of bright sunshine. As a rule of thumb: lime and lemon trees can’t tolerate temperatures under 50 degrees.
Poorly Used Soil
If you plant your citrus trees in poorly drained soil, they won’t be able to grow properly, which can stall them from fruiting. Always aim for fertile organic soil, which can provide your lemon and lime trees with the nutrients and support to flourish.
Needs More Organic Compost
Citrus trees need high amounts of nutrients to grow properly, since these trees feed on the soil around them and quickly suck up all of the nutrients in their surroundings. To ensure they never run out of nutrients, you'll want to use organic compost.
We recommend the Bokashi composting method using our EM Bokashi. This organic rice bran is full of effective microorganisms, making it great for creating nutrient-rich soil and compost. Add to your outdoor or indoor compost to speed up the breakdown of organic matter, and to prevent any unpleasant odors.
Pro tip: Take your citrus plants to the next level with our Dynamic Gardening Duo. It combines EM Bokashi with our EM-1 Microbial Inoculant to provide the probiotics needed to grow robust plants that grow stronger and produce more fruit.
Not Getting Enough Nitrogen
Unlike other plants and trees, lemon trees need at least two to three pounds of nitrogen every year. Nitrogen is an essential ingredient that helps strengthen roots and promote growth. However, the nitrogen in store-bought fertilizers has a low bioavailability, meaning your plants might not be getting an adequate amount of nitrogen. To get that extra nitrogen into your soil, you’ll need EM-1. EM-1 contains microbes that feed on these essential nutrients in the soil and release them back to your plants in a form they can easily consume.
Not Pruning Enough
You'll need to prune your lemon and lime trees regularly. Doing this will ensure your fruit trees produce the highest quality of lemons and limes. You’ll notice that the fruit buds will start to grow on the limbs with the best air circulation and light infiltration, which should be your goal when pruning.
Be careful! You don’t want to over-prune your citrus trees. It can result in too much produce during one season. This means the following year may not have the best productivity. Over pruning can also make your branches too weak, so your lemon or lime trees won't be able to combat the colder weather when fall and winter roll around.
If you live in an area that gets below 29 degrees Fahrenheit, your lemon and lime trees won't be able to grow. These aren't the right conditions for growing lemons, and it may be why you aren't seeing any fruit on your trees.
If you live in a colder climate, you can choose to shelter your citrus trees. As long as they're protected from the northern winds but are positioned in a sunny area, you might be able to keep them alive. However, being in a climate under 40 degrees for an extended period can cause frost damage.
Not Getting Enough Water
These citrus trees love water! When you first plant a lemon or lime tree, you'll need to water more frequently, at least every other day for the first week. After the first week, you can start watering once or twice a week, depending on the weather and the season. Watering weekly with EM-1 improves the water permeability of the soil so you can save on cut back the amount of times you need to water which also saves on water costs.
Tips for planting citrus plants
Avoid potting your plants during the colder months:
Citrus trees don't do well when they're planted during the fall or winter. If you're planning on growing your citrus plant indoors, you'll want to wait to pot them until spring or summer to avoid root rot.
Consider container growing:
Citrus trees are great for container growing, and it's easier to keep your lovely plants at a more manageable size. You can add them into a decorative pot, put them indoors, or place them on your balcony. This is especially great for locations that have colder weather.
Harvest begins in June:
Most citrus plants will drop young fruit in June. This is how your tree decides which fruits to focus on and fully develop. When you grow lemons and limes, they may look riper than they are. You'll want to do a taste test before you start to pick them all off the tree. Once they're ripe: you can store them indoors or keep them on your tree.
Fun Fact: Citrus plants are self-pollinating!
Protect your citrus from ants:
Ants do more harm than good. Keep your eye out for ants, mites, and other harmful pests around your citrus tree. You can choose to use soaps or oils: or any other organic treatments. Never forget to spray underneath the leaves as well.
How TeraGanix Can Help
Growing your own delicious lemons and lime is easier than you might think. Sometimes your plants need some extra help to ensure they’re receiving the nutrients, sunlight, and water they need to thrive.
If you think your garden needs extra TLC, consider checking out our gardening products here. Most of our solutions contain beneficial probiotics that can help your lemon or lime trees flourish throughout the year, and provide them with the nutrients they need to thrive.