How much water does a citrus tree need

How Much Water a Citrus Tree Needs a Week? | Home Guides

By Contributor Updated November 28, 2018

A thriving citrus tree enhances your garden with bright colors, fragrant blooms and fresh edibles for cocktails, salads and snacks. All citrus trees prefer well-drained soil and deep, regular watering. Whether you're seeking a bumper crop of Meyer lemons (Citrus limon 'Meyer'), Satsuma mandarins (Citrus reticulata), Bearss limes (Citrus latifolia) or another variety, the age of the tree, weather conditions and the specific environment in which your tree is planted all affect the amount of water it needs. Most citrus trees are happiest in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 or 9 through 11. If you live outside of these regions, you can experiment with bringing potted varieties indoors to protect them from cold weather, which will require additional water monitoring. Learn to assess the conditions of your particular citrus tree to know how much water it needs.

Newly Planted Trees

Young trees need deep, regular watering until they are established, which can take two or more years. Dig a basin around a newly planted citrus tree about 8 inches from the trunk and fill it with water several times to help the soil settle and ensure that the root ball stays moist. Keep the root ball of the young tree healthy by continuing to water every other day for the first two weeks, then twice weekly for the first several months. Adjust your watering schedule if it rains. For the first two years, if there is no rainfall for five or more days, additional watering might be necessary.

Established Trees

Potted citrus trees of any age need to be watered regularly. Test the soil in a pot for dryness by inserting your finger 2 inches into the growing medium. If the soil is completely dry, it's time to water the tree. Citrus trees planted directly in the ground establish more expansive root systems that can access water even during dry spells. Healthy, mature citrus trees that are more than 4 years old that are planted in the ground and producing fruit regularly only need watering in drought conditions. These trees generally thrive with regular rainfall and giving them additional water can damage them.


Remember that all citrus trees can die from overwatering as well as insufficient water. Potted trees are at particular risk for being overwatered. Never water a citrus tree when its soil is soaking wet. Do not let your potted citrus tree remain in a saucer filled with water for longer than a few hours. Too much water can hurt the roots and prevent the tree from getting adequate nutrients.

Watering Techniques

When you have determined that your tree needs water, use good watering techniques. Place a hose on a low flow setting at the base of a potted tree several inches away from the trunk and let it run until water flows out of the bottom of the pot. For a young tree planted in the ground, use the same technique, but place the hose a foot or so from the trunk and let the hose flow for about 20 minutes. Older trees need less frequent intervention, but when they do, use the hose technique. Never spray trees with water because water droplets can catch sunlight and burn the leaves or encourage diseases on stems, blossoms and fruit. You can also use a watering can to water lemon trees, but you might need to refill your container several times to provide the same amount of water. Installing a soaker hose or drip system is an efficient method of ensuring that water reaches the entire root ball of the tree.


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  • University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources

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How Often to Water a Citrus Tree? — Here's Your Answer!

Citrus trees are a favorite among gardeners because of their dark green foliage and bright, delicious fruit. There are many varieties of citrus, with the fruit of all different colors and sizes.

Citrus trees love direct sunlight and warmth and do not take well to cold temperatures or too much shade.

When it comes to water, however, citrus trees are quite sensitive, especially when they are still young.

Make sure you know your way around watering your citrus tree so that you can give it the best chance at a long healthy life!


How often to water a citrus tree?

Citrus trees need their soil to be kept gently moist at all times. Soak the ground completely when watering and don’t water again until the soil’s top is dry. Citrus trees require soil with excellent drainage and do not like to be left sitting in water.  


Watering Citrus Trees in Pots

If you are growing citrus trees in pots, you should water them as soon as the top 1–3 centimeters of soil are dry, depending on the size of the pot and the tree.

A small tree in a smaller pot may only need the first centimeter of soil to be dry before being re-watered, while a larger one will be happiest if allowed to dry down to three centimeters. The majority of the soil should be gently moist at all times. 

How much water your tree needs will depend on the size of the pot, the size of the tree, the time of year, and whether the pot is being kept indoors or outdoors.

A good general rule is to make sure that the soil has been soaked through and has subsequently been allowed to drain until the top 1–3 centimeters of soil are dry to the touch. 

During the summer, while the tree is being kept outside, it will require more water than usual. Check it twice per week and water it when necessary.

During the winter, while the tree is being kept indoors, it will require less water. Checking it once per week is enough during this dormant season.

If you live in a cooler climate and have moved your citrus tree indoors for the winter months, you will need to make sure that your plant is not being dried out by the indoor heating.

If you notice that the leaves of your citrus tree are becoming crisp or are browning, try making a homemade humidity tray by filling a drip tray with gravel or clay pebbles and covering them with water.

Then place the potted tree (with the usual drip tray) on top of the humidity tray.

Make sure that the water’s not absorbed into the soil of the plant. When the water evaporates it will add humidity around the tree.  

It is extremely crucial that you plant your citrus trees in containers or pots with drainage holes.

If your tree is in a pot with no drainage hole, its roots will sit in water for too long and this will likely be fatal for it.  


Watering Citrus Trees in the Ground

When watering a citrus tree in the ground you need to water it deeply. Make sure you are watering it for long enough and that you are thoroughly drenching the soil.

Citrus trees in the ground require slightly less regular watering than citrus trees in pots for the simple reason that there is more soil for them to draw water from.

A general rule is to water your citrus tree once every ten days during the summer, and slightly more often during particularly sunny weeks. Allow the topsoil to dry completely before re-watering the tree again thoroughly. 

If there has been a lot of rain recently, you do not need to water your citrus tree that week. 

Make sure that you plant your citrus tree in a well-draining area. Try to plant it on sloping ground or a hillside. Alternatively, you could plant it in a raised bed. 

You can test the drainage of your planting spot by digging a hole of approximately 30 cubic centimeters and filling it with water. Allow it to drain before refilling it.

If an hour passes and it doesn’t drain for the second time, the drainage is poor. In order to improve the drainage, you will need to remove a good amount of the natural soil and replace it with fast-draining compost.

Alternatively, find a new location to plant your tree. 

If you have just transplanted your tree from a pot to the ground, you will need to water it more frequently than usual––approximately twice a week–– until it begins to show new growth.

After that, you can revert to a standard watering schedule. 


Frequently Asked Questions about Watering Citrus Trees


The leaves on my citrus tree fall off after I water it. Why is this?

If the leaves of your citrus tree are falling off after you water it, this is often because you have allowed the tree to dry out for too long before watering it. Confusingly, citrus trees that are too dry retain their leaves until they are watered again and only lose them after being watered.  


What will happen once I overwater my citrus tree?

If your citrus tree receives too much water, its leaves will become yellow and fall off, and the skin of its fruits may split. If left sitting in water for too long over a long period of time, citrus tree roots will suffocate, and the tree may die.


What will happen if I underwater my citrus tree?

If your citrus tree receives too little water, its leaves will curl upwards, become dry and crisp, and fall off. If the citrus tree goes too long without water, it will die.

Citrus plant care / Plant care / Blog

Citrus trees are known and valued for their fruit all over the world. In addition, they are pleasant to look at, especially when they have colorful fruits on them. Citrus fruits are plants that are somewhat more difficult to care for than other (house) plants. By following the tips below, you can certainly take good care of these plants.
A citrus tree can be taken outside (balcony, terrace) in summer, but in winter it must be placed indoors, because. it does not tolerate frost. Make sure that the temperature difference is not too large, because the plant is not used to it. These plants love lots of sunlight and not too wet soil. Therefore, always make sure that the water can drain properly. Indoors, you can put a saucer under the planter.

  • Watering
  • Light and warmth
  • Transplant
  • Fertilizer
  • Maintenance
  • Flowers
  • Toxicity
  • Diseases

  • 40 cm

    15 cm


  • 70 cm

    21 cm


  • 135 cm

    46 cm


  • 70 cm

    21 cm


  • Watering

    How much water does a citrus tree need?

    In the garden, the plant is watered during dry periods when there is no rain. Make sure the soil is not too wet. It is best to check the moisture by dipping your finger 3-4 cm into the soil. If the soil seems dry, you can water again.
    Watering is carried out with warm water, the regularity depends on the season. In spring and summer, water daily or every other day. In autumn, watering is reduced to 3-4 times a week, in winter (provided that the plant is in a cold wintering) it is watered 1-2 times a week.


    The citrus tree does not tolerate dry climates, therefore it is important to carry out daily spraying of the crown and regularly ventilate the room with the plant (but at the same time avoid drafts). It is also advisable to spray the foliage with fertilizer spray from time to time. This can ensure that the plant produces and retains the best fruit. Spray fertilizer can add decorative value as it also removes dust from the leaves.

    Light and warmth

    The citrus tree is a Mediterranean plant found naturally in warm Spain and Portugal. In these countries, citrus trees receive sunlight throughout the day. This allows them to develop and grow well. In northern countries, where the intensity of the sun is much less, it is more difficult for the plant to develop.

    Therefore, it is important that the tree gets as much direct sunlight as possible. Place your citrus tree in full sun. Can be placed: in front of a south-facing window or in the garden in a sunny position. Try to place it as far away from drafts as possible. Make sure the plant gets 5 to 6 hours of sunlight per day.

    Especially in winter it is important that the plant receives enough sunlight. In summer, a lot of direct sunlight is also important. Direct sunlight ensures that the fetus can develop. This species does not tolerate frost, so we recommend placing the citrus plant indoors in winter. Make sure that the change in temperature when moving from outside to inside was not too great, the plant does not like this either.

    Minimum temperature

    During the day: 15℃
    Night, evening: 0 ℃


    When should a citrus tree be repotted?

    It needs to be repotted if the current pot becomes too small. In this case, the plant is often two or three times the size of the pot. Choose a pot that is about twenty percent larger than the current pot so that the tree has enough room to develop further. Also make sure the pot is not much larger than that 20 percent. More soil also means more moisture retention, which can potentially cause root rot.

    Before transplanting into a new pot, check that it has a good drainage. Be sure to drill holes in the bottom of the pot if there are none. Then put a good layer of drainage on the bottom and fill the pot with potting soil that allows a lot of water to pass through. If you are placing the plant indoors (in winter), it is best to place the planter on a saucer/tray.


    When should I feed my citrus tree?

    Citrus fruits need more nutrition. Especially when a citrus tree begins to bear fruit, it is advisable to feed it. This is during the growing season from March to September. Always use the recommended amount when top dressing, overfeeding is very harmful to the root system. It is best to buy a fertilizer specifically designed for citrus fruits. In winter, we recommend not to feed the plant, because. it is at rest.

    Citrus tree care

    Leaf discoloration

    Leaf discoloration is often a sign of too much water. If the leaves turn yellow-brown, it is advisable to water the plant less. It may also happen that water accumulates at the bottom of the pot, in this case, drill a drainage hole in the bottom of the pot so that excess water can simply drain.


    Pruning a citrus tree has two advantages. Firstly, it becomes more beautiful if you shape the crown of the tree. As a result, the tree retains its beautiful shape and appearance. Secondly, it is useful for the plant. A citrus plant needs to spread its energy through fewer branches, which is good for plant viability. Sunlight can also reach the crown core.

    Pruning of citrus fruits is best done in the spring before new shoots appear. As a result, when the growing season begins, the plant puts its energy into branches that are not pruned. Trimming the plant later will make it difficult to restore.


    Citrus fruits can be propagated in three different ways. First of all, it is a cutting method. You make a cutting about 25 cm, the ideal option is a strengthened branch with a young shoot. Then you plant this cutting deep into the ground. Only the top leaf bud can protrude above the potting soil. Place the cutting for several weeks in a warm and bright place so that it remains moist, where the first roots can form. After that, the stalk can be transplanted into a pot.

    The second method is called deflection. You bend the branch of the plant towards the ground and make sure it stays in the ground. You can do this with rope or stone. It is important that the substrate is loose so that the branch can take root quickly and easily. If there is enough sunlight and water for a few weeks, the branch can be cut from the plant in about three weeks. After that, the new plant can continue to grow on its own.

    A third cultivation method is possible, from the seed. The stone must first be placed in water in which it develops roots. After that, it can be placed in the ground. This method can take a long time and is not always successful.


    Citrus flowers are orange and white. Flowering occurs around the end of May - beginning of June. If the temperature is good and the summer lasts long, there is a chance that the ovary will take place. In this case, the tree will begin to bear fruit.


    The citrus tree is not poisonous, neither the stem nor the fruit.

    Pay attention! If you just bought a citrus tree and the plant is already bearing fruit, chances are it has been chemically treated! The first fruits are not recommended to be eaten!


    This species is susceptible to pests, both mealybugs and scale insects. In this case, we recommend chemical or biological control. More information about pests can be found on the pest control page.


    The variety of citrus trees is great. For example, on sale there are plants with many different fruits. In addition, plants are available in the form of a shrub, spherical shape, fruit trees on a trunk.
    View our full range of indoor plants

    The right water for citrus watering


    Water for citrus watering: which one to use, where to get it and how to improve yours?

    It would seem that watering is one of the easiest points in the care of citrus fruits. But in fact, proper watering is half the success.
    In this article, we will look at the main mistakes and figure out what watering rules are important to follow if you want to grow a healthy and beautiful lemon tree.

    Watering mistakes

    What are the most common mistakes in citrus watering? Ignorance of simple rules can quickly destroy a houseplant. How to make water useful for watering a lemon?

    One of the most common mistakes is watering with ordinary tap water or water from wells and wells. This is wrong, since such water is considered hard and contains a lot of salts that alkalize the soil. Because of this, white salt deposits appear on the soil and sometimes on the lower part of the tree trunk. Because of this, the plant may soon lose the ability to absorb important mineral elements for it. This can cause your tree to stun, ache, and wither.

    If the tap water contains chlorine, this may not be the best way to affect the condition of the plant.

    In general, knowing the pH value of the soil in which your lemon is grown is quite important. It has been experimentally found that at pH values ​​in the range close to neutral (from about 5.5 to 7.5), citrus fruits grow much better than on more acidic or alkaline soils. Therefore, it is important to monitor the pH values ​​​​of the soil in the pot of your plant, and improper watering greatly affects this value.

    The next error is excessive or insufficient watering, which greatly affects the condition of the plant. If you water the lemon too infrequently, the earth dries up. This leads to the death of the roots, yellowing and dropping of leaves, and in especially advanced cases - to the death of the plant.

    In case of lack of moisture, lemon leaves curl up

    Excessive watering is the reason for the souring of the earthen coma , the soil begins to smell rotten, does not have time to dry out completely, and because of this, the roots of the plant begin to rot.

    It is also a mistake to water with too cold water, due to the low temperature of the water, the roots of the plant may experience shock. Also, mineral elements of the soil are poorly soluble in cold water.

    Proper water: what is it?

    The most suitable water for irrigating citrus trees is rain or melt water. There is a small content in such water, because of it it is also called "soft". Rainwater is generally considered the softest, it can be collected, brought to room temperature and watered plants. You can also mix clean rain water with settled tap water, this helps to eliminate its excessive softness.
    Other types of water: tap water, water from wells and streams are not suitable for irrigation due to the high salt content. This leads to a significant increase in soil alkalinity.

    Ways to improve your water

    What if there is no way to water your lemon with rain or melt water?
    There are ways to improve ordinary tap water to make it softer without harming your plant.

    The first and easiest way is settling . You just need to pour tap water into an open container and leave for about two days. After this time, a little lime will leave the water and chlorine will evaporate.

    The second method is boiling . Tap water should be heated to a boil, cool and water the plant with this water. After such a procedure, chlorine will be removed from the water, and lime will settle on the walls of the container. But this method has a minus - the amount of oxygen will become less.

    Tap water can be made suitable for irrigating citrus fruits by adding a small amount of wood ash (about half a teaspoon per liter of water) or fresh peat (about 50 grams per 5 liters of water, wrapped in cloth and dipped in water for about a day).
    The next method is filtering. Just pass your tap water through a filter, it will trap harmful impurities.

    Various chemicals can also help improve your water. Various acids can be added to the water: citric (0.5 g per 3 liters of water), acetic acid (4-5 drops per liter of water) or oxalic acid (2 g per 10 liters of water).

    Succinic acid not only “softens” water, but also has a beneficial effect on the condition of plants

    Another acid that can improve your tap water is succinic. It can significantly improve the processes of their growth and development. This acid has a number of useful properties:
    - stimulates plant growth;
    - improves the absorption of nutrients from the soil;
    - activates the growth of roots;
    - increases the stress resistance of the plant;
    - absolutely harmless to plants, the environment and humans, does not require any special disposal measures.
    Succinic acid also has a positive effect on the soil in which citrus is grown. It improves soil microflora, destroys toxic substances and technogenic pollution in it.

    Watering Rules

    For healthy citrus growth in an apartment, some watering rules must be followed. The ground under the tree should always be sufficiently moist.

    How do you know when it's time to water your lemon? the frequency of watering is determined by several criteria: the volume of the plant pot, the size of the tree, the temperature and humidity of the air in the apartment, the composition of the soil, and a number of others. If the pot is not very large and the earth in it is loose, it will dry out quite intensively, and the plant will need frequent watering. The larger the tree, the more often it will need a new portion of water.

    Before watering, loosen the earthen ball to ensure even watering

    The easiest and most effective way to determine whether it is time to water a lemon is to take a small amount of earth with your fingers and squeeze it. If it sticks together, then the plant does not need watering yet, and if it crumbles, it's time to water the lemon. Also, the plant itself can signal the need for watering: the leaves curl up into a boat, and the young non-lignified shoots droop.

    Irrigation conditions differ in summer and winter. In summer, the plant needs watering daily or a little less often, depending on the air temperature and the rate of drying of the earth. In winter, the plant needs less moisture, so it needs to be watered less often: just a couple of times a week.
    The optimal time for watering is early morning or evening, the water will not evaporate much and will have time to be absorbed.

    The plant should be watered with a thin, weak jet so as not to wash away the roots. You need to pour water before it appears in the pan. After a couple of hours, the water from the pan must be poured back into the pot, repeat these steps until the pan is eventually empty.

    Water temperature for irrigation should be equal to the room temperature or a couple of degrees higher.

    Before watering, the soil must be loosened, this contributes to its uniform moistening. Also, loosening contributes to a better supply of oxygen to the roots.

    It is especially important to keep your lemon hydrated during periods of its life such as vegetative, budding and flowering. It is best to water them in several stages: first you just need to wet the ground with water from the surface, and then gradually moisten the entire soil to the bottom so that water appears on the pan. After a couple of hours, the roots will again suck this water back.

    In addition to watering under the root, the crown of a lemon should be sprayed.

    Lemons also have a positive attitude to spraying the crown. In apartments where the air is dry, this is especially necessary. This procedure saturates the air with water vapor and makes it more humid. Therefore, it is important to spray the lemon from the spray bottle a couple of times a day. This will create the most favorable conditions for them.

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