Citrus Growing Guide

5 Steps to Citrus Planting Success

  • Pick a citrus variety based on your garden and cooking needs and choose a consistently sunny spot sheltered from cold winds.
  • Prepare your soil with organic matter like compost and sheep pellets.
  • Add a layer of citrus and fruit mix to plant into. In New Zealand plant citrus in spring, autumn and winter (where frosts aren't prevalent).
  • Feed your citrus in spring and summer to encourage maximum fruiting and flowering.
  • Mulch and water well, particularly over the warmer months.

Follow our full guide below to a bumper crop of homegrown citrus.

Citrus trees laden with juicy lemons, oranges, limes and mandarins ready to be plucked from the branch are a quintessentially Kiwi addition to many home gardens. Plant in your garden or in pots.

Choose a variety

Before you get started, choose a variety suited to your garden and cooking needs. Below are some popular orange, lime, lemon, mandarin and grapefruit varieties to plant.

Orange: Best Seedless, Harwoods Late, Ruby Blood, Seville.

Lime: Bearss lime, Kaffir lime, Tahitian lime.

Lemon: Eureka, Meyer, Lemonade.

Mandarin: Burgess Scarlet, Clementine, Satsuma.

Grapefruit: Golden Special, Orlando, Wheeny.

Discover top citrus varieties

PREPARE

Choose a suitable spot: citrus trees are frost tender and they do best in a consistently sunny environment with adequate rainfall, in an area sheltered from cold winds.

The better the soil, the better your plants will grow. If you are starting with an existing garden bed dig in organic matter like Tui Sheep Pellets and compost to your soil. Then you can add a layer of Tui Citrus & Fruit Mix. This mix contains potassium, magnesium and iron necessary for flower and fruit development and healthy green growth. SaturAid soil wetter channels water directly to the roots and added seaweed extract stimulates root development whilst improving overall plant health. If planting in pots or containers, plant in Tui Citrus & Fruit Mix.

Clear the area before planting, removing any weeds.

PLANT

Planting citrus in the garden:

  • Soak your tree in a bucket of Tui Organic Seaweed Plant Tonic before planting and allow to drain. This will help prevent transplant shock and give your citrus a healthy start. 
  • Add a layer of Tui Citrus & Fruit Mix to the planting area.
  • Dig a hole, approximately twice the depth and width of the root ball of your plant.
  • Gently take the plant from the current container, loosen the root ball and remove any loose or dead plant material and roots.
  • Fill in with Tui Citrus & Fruit Mix. Press mix gently around the base of the plant.
  • It is a good idea to stake when planting, as citrus don't like having their roots disturbed - this will help support the tree.
  • Water your plant well and continue to water regularly.

Planting citrus in pots and containers:

  • Soak your tree in a bucket of Tui Organic Seaweed Plant Tonic before planting and allow to drain. This will help prevent transplant shock and give your citrus a healthy start. 
  • Half fill your container with Tui Citrus & Fruit Mix.
  • Gently take the plant from the current container, loosen the root ball and remove any loose or dead plant material and roots.
  • Position the plant in the centre of the new container and fill with Tui Citrus & Fruit Mix up to 3cm from the top.
  • Gently firm the mix around the base of the plant. The mix should be at the same level on the plant as it was in the previous container.
  • Water your plant well and continue to water regularly.

NOURISH

Replenishing nutrients used by your citrus plants ensures they will grow to their full potential, producing abundant and juicy crops. Feed your citrus in spring and summer to encourage maximum fruiting and flowering.

Citrus require higher levels of potassium and magnesium, and Tui Citrus Food is specially blended with all the nutrients needed for citrus planted in gardens. Feed citrus planted in containers with Tui NovaTec Premium fertiliser.

Magnesium deficiencies can be common in citrus, shown by yellowing leaves. Apply Tui Epsom Salts around the drip line of the tree (where the leaves extend to), to correct the deficiency.

Citrus require more watering over the summer months - and well watered, well nourished citrus will have a better chance of keeping insect pests and diseases at bay.

The weather, weeds, pest insects and diseases can all impact on the success of your citrus. Protect your plants from the elements with layers of mulch, to help keep their roots moist. Keep the area around your citrus weed free.

If you have lemons that are ready to be harvested, try Christine's Lemon Brownie recipe to enjoy your bumper crop. 

Tui Tips 

  • Prune if you need to for either a desired shape, to remove any diseased stems, or to improve air circulation. Remember leaves are the life of the tree, so don’t cut unnecessarily, particularly before the tree has matured. If you are pruning, avoid September/October as there is risk of lemon tree borer laying eggs in fresh cuts.
  • In the first year after planting your citrus, remove any fruit that sets. This allows the tree to establish itself and encourages better fruiting in the following seasons.

Click here for more top citrus tips >

When should I plant
in
  • Jan
  • Feb
  • Mar
  • Apr
  • May
  • Jun
  • Jul
  • Aug
  • Sep
  • Oct
  • Nov
  • Dec
  • Harvest in 2-4 years