If you are searching “Phoenix Valley Citrus Tree Easy Care Guide”, you are looking for a guide that will help you understand how to care for your citrus trees in the heat of the Phoenix Valley. Growing citrus trees in the desert environments that are common in Phoenix, Mesa, Gilbert, Queen Creek, and other Phoenix Valley cities is different than other areas of the state and country.
Appropriate Watering is Key
Master gardeners in the state of Arizona explain that the biggest problem for home gardeners growing healthy citrus trees is watering. When you water your citrus trees the area on the ground that you water should be about a foot wider than the canopy of the tree. Generally this is about how far the root system extends and is where your tree is searching for the moisture and nutrients it needs.
How To Water
It is best to water slowly and deeply to help push salt build-up past your roots. Watering should be slow and long enough that the depth reaches about 2 feet into the soil around your tree. Newer trees should be watered deeper for the first 3 years after they are planted. It is important to water deeply yet allow your soil to dry before you water again.
New Tree Pruning
Newly planted trees do not produce fruit for the first number of years after you plant them. The fruit that does grow on newly planted, young trees should be removed. Suckers and dead branches should be the limit of your pruning with young fruit trees. Any shoots that are growing quickly and headed straight up are described as suckers and should be removed. They should be pruned below the bud union. This will depend on the type of rootstock you choose, and not the fruit tree variety you buy or have planted.
Citrus Tree Pruning Tips
Typically in the Phoenix Valley the best time to prune citrus trees is from about mid February until March. You just want to wait until there is zero chance that there will be a freeze. It is best to get this done before it is warm and your tree starts to have new growth.
Provide Some Shade
Leaving enough branches and leaves to create a skirt around your tree is an important factor in growing healthy citrus trees in the Phoenix Valley. Leave enough new growth to provide shade for the trunk of your tree so it does not get sunburned. If your tree trunk gets too much sun it can affect how healthy your tree is, and how much fruit it can produce. Even if you are watering properly too much sun will hold you back. Young trees can be covered with a shade cloth that helps block the intense afternoon sun.
Protecting The Tree
There will be branches, new growth, and parts of your trunk you will be unable to provide enough shade for with the canopy. For these areas you can cover them with a specially formulated paint which is made for trees and helps protect them from over exposure to sunlight. You can purchase this tree trunk paint at your local citrus tree nursery.
Fertilizing Citrus Trees
Newly planted citrus trees don’t need to be fertilized for the first few years. Nitrogen can be used once the tree has had a chance to establish itself and you see new growth. Trees that have been planted for 2 years or more need to be fertilized 3 times per year. A lot of Phoenix Valley citrus tree lovers choose to make it easy and just apply fertilizer on 3 easy to remember holidays: Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, and Labor Day.
Citrus Tree Problems & Solutions
When we plant our citrus trees we all have different visions of how we will use the fruit, but share a hope that there will be a lot of it and it will taste great! Being able to pile fresh and healthy line, oranges, or lemons into a basket is the goal of every citrus tree owner. Making this a reality in the low desert of the Phoenix Valley is definitely possible with the right watering and application of fertilizer.
Fruit Dropping Too Early
Some fruit dropping from citrus trees is normal as they tend to set more fruit than can be carried to maturity. When a citrus tree drops an excessive amount it is typically a sign that there is a problem with fertilizing or watering.
Thick Fruit Rinds
It is fairly normal for young orange or grapefruit trees to have thick rinds here that protect the tree against out dry and hot climate. If gardeners continue to experience thick rinds in their mature trees it many times can point to excessive nitrogen fertilizer being used. While thick rinds might not be ideal it does not usually affect the taste of the fruit.
When your citrus tree leaves start curling inward from the edges or turning to a dull green you need to step up your watering. It is best to remember slow and deep watering that completely saturates the soil about 2 to 3 feet deep and then letting the soil dry out. Avoid trying to “catch up” by over watering.
When your fruit is reaching maturity and cracks it is a sign that watering wasn’t sufficient earlier on during development. Dry or hard rinds are caused by improper watering and cannot expand as fruit grows. It’s best to establish a watering schedule, and keep it with calendar reminders or automated watering systems.
Granulated or Dry Fruit
Some types of grafting will result in trees that are more sensitive to drought conditions. Adhering to a consistent watering schedule and fertilizer program will help avoid or alleviate these issues in subsequent years of growth. When you know you have this challenge it is best to pick the fruit as soon as it is ripe.
Yellow or Brown Leaves
There are two types of scenarios when leaves can be an indication that something is wrong with your citrus tree. You will find that these conditions manifest themselves by either being just the tip of leaves, or entire leaves. Read more below to nail down which problem you might be having.
When the whole of the leaves are turning yellow or pale green instead of just the tips you can guess that you have a problem with over-water or a nitrogen deficiency. This can be corrected by adjusting your watering schedule to allow soil to dry between watering, and increasing your soil’s nitrogen content.
Yellow Leaf Tips
When you have leaves that have tips or edges that have yellow that fades into brown it is a sign that you have an accumulation of salt in the tree tissues. Desert water supply and soil has a high content of mineral salts which can pose a challenge for citrus tree lovers. This problem is resolved by, you guessed it, watering correctly. When water is too frequent and shallow the salt tends to collect near roots and get pulled into the tree.
Citrus Tree Care Help
If you live in the Phoenix Valley and need help getting started, growing healthy fruit, or have questions the our team is there to help at 4 Phoenix Valley locations. We grow our stock right here in the Phoenix area and know what it takes to plant, grow, and harvest the best fruit. Let us help you get the most out of your gardening by calling one of our stores, or just stop by.