How to Fertilize Citrus Trees

Citrus is a genus of flowering trees and shrubs in the rue family, which includes citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, grapefruits, pomelos, and limes.

A Standard sized Citrus Tree can grow somewhere between 18 to 22 feet, whereas dwarf citrus varieties only grow to about 8 to 12 feet.

Most citrus varieties are self-fertile, meaning you can start producing fruits with only one tree.  Grafted Citrus trees usually begin to bear fruit between 3 and 6 years old depending on the variety. 

Like all plants, citrus trees need nutrients to grow healthy and produce a large harvest. Because Citrus trees are heavy feeders, learning how to properly fertilize a citrus fruit tree is necessary in order to help your tree thrive. There’s nothing like a crop of sweet, tasty, and juicy citrus fruits.

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The best and simplest way to feed a citrus tree is to use specially formulated citrus fertilizers.  Citrus trees require nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), as well as micronutrients like sulfur, iron, boron, magnesium, manganese, and copper. Citrus fertilizers may also include varying micronutrients, depending on the manufacturer.


In general, you should feed your citrus once every month or every two months during active growth and once every three months during the tree’s dormant periods. As the tree reaches bearing age you can skip dormant season fertilizing and increase the amount of time between active growth fertilizing. Continue to provide nutrients to help branch growth and replace nutrients that may be lost during fruit production.


Citrus tree fertilization can be done either through the leaves or through the ground, depending on the type of citrus fertilizer you have. Always follow the directions of your chosen fertilizer label, it will either be to spray the fertilizer onto the leaves of your citrus tree or spread it out around the base of the tree.

Best Practices

  • Always check the manufacturer’s directions. 
  • It never hurts to consult with garden experts.
  • Fruit thinning is unnecessary for citrus trees.  Citrus Trees naturally drop a number of their immature fruit during late spring or early summer (called the “June drop”)
  • Do not place fertilizers too near the trunk of the tree
  • Wait to apply fertilizer if the tree is lush and green and holding onto fruits.

Indoor/Potted or Dwarf Citrus tree

Have no place on your property for a citrus tree? Go dwarf! Dwarf citrus trees are just regular citrus trees that are grafted onto smaller plant rootstock and planted into a pot. You can get that same sweet juiciness without having to plant and care for a full-size tree.

And most importantly, it’s literally well within your reach! Dwarf citrus trees generally grow somewhere between 6 to 12 feet tall.

The fruit from a dwarf citrus tree is the same size and quality as that of the standard-sized tree. Incidentally, dwarf types produce a larger crop to size ratio than standard-sized trees.

The nutritional requirement of dwarf and indoor citrus are the same as the citrus grown outdoors. They both need to be fed with Nitrogen and micronutrients regularly. Apply a slow-release plant fertilizer designed for indoor plants, preferably a citrus fertilizer or an all-purpose plant fertilizer, that contains micronutrients such as iron, magnesium, zinc, and boron. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. Ideally, you should apply citrus fertilizer at least three times a year between January-February, May-June, and September-October.