How much water for citrus trees

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.


  • Home and Garden Television
  • 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.

The right water for irrigating citrus fruits


Water for irrigating citrus fruits: what to use, where to get 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 errors

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 significantly 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 over- or under-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.

Lack of moisture causes lemon leaves to curl up

Excessive watering is the cause of 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.

Watering with too cold water is also a mistake, 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 should be loosened, this contributes to its uniform moisture. Also, loosening contributes to a better supply of oxygen to the roots.

It is especially important to keep your lemon hydrated during the growing season, 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.
You can periodically wash the leaves of the plant with a damp cloth, this will also have a positive effect on the condition of your plant.

In addition to watering, there are other important factors in growing citrus plants, such as top dressing, light and transplanting - about them in the article Caring for Pavlovsk Lemon

How to water citrus fruits - AinoTech

Proper watering depends on the successful growth of our indoor plants, different plants require their own individual approach in terms of watering, and citrus plants are no exception, and moreover, all citrus fruits are very demanding on the quality of irrigation water. Let's take a closer look at how to properly water our lemons, oranges, and most importantly, what.

All people who grow plants at home can be conditionally divided into three categories.

The first category — minimalists: “Given a plant, when they remember it is occasionally watered, they don’t use fertilizers at all, it dries up — well, okay.” The second category of people is Maximalists: “I bought an exotic plant, every day, or even a couple of times a day, I water it, fertilize it, spray it, wipe the leaves.” Well, the third category - Rationalists, these are people who take care of their plants as they should, doing only the necessary procedures, they do not forget and do not fall in love with them. Most often, the first and second are people who do not have much experience in indoor growing citrus fruits, or maybe not at all. As the saying goes: experience is acquired, and in the process of gaining experience, you can’t do without “bumps”.

If you just got a lemon, tangerine or any other citrus, try not to fall in love with it. Excessive watering, fertilizing and transplanting are no less harmful than insufficient care. Well, having read smart literature and various forums, never follow blind rules (water every 4 days, and feed with fertilizer every 10 days). Based on your individual conditions (soil, temperature, humidity, light, etc.), try to develop your own care system for each specific plant. In other words, the process of caring for citrus trees must be approached creatively.

Selection of water for irrigation

It would seem that the choice of water for watering indoor lemons is the simplest thing possible, you took water from a tap or a well and immediately water it, but it was not there. As practice shows, all citrus trees are very picky in terms of water quality, and choosing the wrong source can kill your pet. How to water citrus fruits?

Tap water

Tap water (city water supply) is not suitable for irrigating lemons due to its high chlorine content. If you constantly water citrus fruits with chlorinated water, over time, all mycorrhiza on the roots will die from chlorine (a beneficial fungus that is directly involved in the nutrition of citrus plants). It is possible that in some cities a water purification system is used without the use of sodium hypochlorite NaClO, but such systems are very expensive both to install and maintain, so the old proven, and most importantly cheap method of water chlorination is used almost everywhere.

What to do if you live in a city and there are no other sources of water. In this case, there is a way out, tap water can be filtered by systems such as a set of filters with reverse osmosis. After such filtration, you will get clean water without chlorine, salts and heavy metals. The only drawback of such a system is the high cost of installation and maintenance.

If you do not have the opportunity to install a filter yourself, you can go the other way, more economical but less efficient. Collect water in a container with a wide mouth (basin, bucket, saucepan) and leave it to settle for at least a day (the more the better) in order for the chlorine to disappear. After settling, it is advisable to boil the water for 10-15 minutes. As a result of boiling, the water will become softer, a certain amount of salts will settle on the bottom and walls of the kettle. Of the minuses of this method, I can note weathering will not remove 100% chlorine, and boiling will not help get rid of heavy metal impurities.

Well water

If you compare tap water with well water, I would probably choose well water only because it does not contain chlorine. But well water is very far from ideal, and is not really suitable for watering indoor plants. And all because the underground water, before breaking through to the top, passes through many rocks, and in the process of filtration it is saturated with a variety of mineral microelements and the result is mineral water. Not all wells will have the same chemical composition, but the general trend is that well water is oversaturated with one or two elements. Well, if the well is located within the city, then almost the entire Mendeleev's tablet can be found in such water.

To water your citrus fruits with water from a well, it is desirable to filter it from all impurities. At home, achieving acceptable filtration is difficult, so I recommend using well water to water your plants only as a last resort.

Rain and melt water for irrigation

Absolutely all plants in the wild are watered with rain water, and this is the water that you need to water your lemons, oranges, tangerines and other citrus fruits. In winter, melted snow can be used to water indoor plants, in fact it is the same rain only in a frozen form.

Rain water is practically free of salts and other chemicals. elements, the least mineralized among all natural sources, but the chemical composition is no less diverse. As you know, rain is formed as a result of: evaporation of moisture from the surface of the earth and its subsequent precipitation in the form of precipitation. And the chemical composition of rainwater depends only on the state of the atmosphere in a given region. That is, raindrops on the way from the clouds to the ground absorb the ions contained in the air. Under our climatic conditions, rainwater contains from 3-4 to 50-60 mg / l of salts and has slightly acidic properties - about 5.6 pH.

Water for irrigation from rivers, lakes, ponds

In principle, water from rivers and lakes can be used, but if there is no rain water, it will be preferable to tap or well water.

Mineralization and chemical composition of water in lakes varies over a very wide range. Rivers with water salinity over 100-200 mg/l, no matter what conditions they are in, is a very rare occurrence, while the mineralization of water in lakes can be from very low, a few tens of mg/l (i.e., little different from rain) to very high 3-3.5% (salt lakes with brine to the limit saturated with salts). The vast majority of freshwater lakes, as well as rivers, are bicarbonate-calcium in terms of water composition, that is, they have an increased content of calcium (Ca2+) and bicarbonate (HCO3-).

It is also worth considering the pollution of the reservoir. After all, industrial waste, sewage, and even elementary rainwater that passed through a mountain of garbage on the shore of this reservoir can be dumped into a river or pond. If you are sure that the lake / river that is near you is not polluted, then such water can be used for irrigation. It is best to collect water from a river or lake from the surface, because under the influence of gravity, all salts and elemental dirt settle to the bottom.

How to properly water citrus fruits

In order to understand how to properly water citrus plants, you need to know how their root system works. And the root system of lemons, tangerines, oranges and other citrus fruits is based on the beneficial fungus Mycorrhiza, which lives on the roots and helps the plant absorb useful trace elements from the soil. The purpose of such cohabitation is mutual benefit. A fungus is a powerful pump and enzyme factory with which a plant is able to absorb many times more water from the soil and ten times more nutrients. In turn, the fungus receives from the plant up to 30% of the carbohydrates produced by it in the process of photosynthesis. Based on this, we draw conclusions: we will create favorable conditions for the fungus - we will do well for the plant. Mycorrhiza, like any fungus, lives in conditions of medium humidity, when the earth is not dry and not wet, but moist, while maintaining the optimum temperature.

The consequences of improper watering are stress, disease and possible death of plants. Optimal moisture conditions are the key to a healthy root system, and hence the whole body of the plant. When watering, you should always take into account the ambient temperature (air, soil in a pot), the condition of your plant and the type of soil in which the tree grows. In other words, each plant must be treated individually and never follow the generally established rules (water every 3 days, fertilize every 14 days). You need to water when the plant needs it.

If you follow the tips below, your citrus fruits will grow vigorously and steadily.

1. Periodically check the condition of the soil. Water the plant when the soil in the pot feels dry to the touch. It is even more correct to take a piece of soil from a depth of several centimeters and try to mold it, squeezing it strongly between your fingers. If a lump does not form, be sure to water it. If it does, no.

2. Do not let the soil dry out until the leaves wither. Most often, this will end in complete leaf fall, and even if the plant can be saved, it will take a long time to move away from such stress.

3. Water in such a way that a small amount of water flows out of the drainage holes. If overfilled, be sure to drain excess water from the pan.

4. Do not use chlorinated, hard or cold water for irrigation. Rain is best. In it, by the way, fertilizers dissolve without the formation of harmful substances, as is the case with other natural waters.

5. In summer, it is best to water the plants early in the morning or late in the evening, in order to prevent a sharp cooling of the roots on a hot day, when the leaves actively transpire water.

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