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Planting a Citrus Tree

Almost always, the tree you buy at a nursery will be in a container. If you check the lower part of the trunk you will see the graft as a healed or healing cut area at a slight dog-leg bend in the trunk. (This bend will disappear as the tree matures.) The best time to plant is the period from fall through late winter allowing the tree to establish itself before the stresses of a hot dry summer. Ensure you have selected a good site to plant to tree.  Planting your tree is a relatively simple process.

1. The first step is to wash off about an inch or so of the potting material all around the root ball to allow the roots immediate contact with the surrounding soil. If the tree is severely potbound, it may be necessary to use a knife to make several cuts through the base of the ball to stimulate root growth.

2. The second step is to clear an area of bare soil in a minimum three foot diameter around the planting hole to allow for watering and to prevent any vegetation from competing with the young tree.

3. Next, dig a planting hole to exactly the same height as the root ball. This is critical. Never plant a citrus too deep as it is extremely susceptible to foot rot, particularly in the area around the graft.

4. Place the tree in the center of the hole, backfill about halfway up the root ball and then water. After watering, fill the hole with soil and tamp lightly. Then add about another inch of soil on top of the root ball to seal it with the surrounding soil in which the tree will grow and prevent the root ball from drying.

Finally, build a raised watering ring of soil, about six inches high, to surround the planting hole. Then fill the ring with water and allow it soak in. Check to see if the sinking water exposes any of the roots in the root ball. If it has, cover with a little more soil.