How to water citrus trees

How to Deep Water Citrus Trees – Couch to Homestead

If you’ve been reading posts or watching videos about citrus trees, chances are you’ve seen someone mention “deep watering”. But if you’re newer to gardening, you may not know what it is yet. I know it took me several times of seeing it mentioned before I did some research and found out more. Now, I strive to adjust most of my plants to deep watering. So, if you’re not yet sure, how do you deep water citrus trees?

To deep water citrus trees, use a hose on a low flow setting and place it a few inches to one foot away from the tree base. Let the water run for 20 minutes. For potted plants, water until it flows out of the bottom of the pot. A soaker hose or drip system can also help provide enough water for the citrus tree.

Whether you just got your first citrus tree or are adding to your garden, knowing how to properly deep water them is a vital step. By learning this simple skill, you can keep your trees from drying out and dying. Keep reading to learn more about deep watering and how to do it.

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What Is Deep Watering?

Deep watering is the practice of watering your plants at least eight inches below ground. This mimics a long rainfall, which trains plants to grow deeper roots and store more water. Because of this, it helps them survive in times of drought. On the other hand, shallow watering keeps the plant’s roots shallow.

Shallow watering can also evaporate fast if it’s sunny and warm outside. Additionally, using sprinklers that shoot through the air increases the rate of evaporation. But getting the water deep in the pot, or underground, keeps cool water and retains it in the ground. Your citrus tree can then use the water over a few days, so you don’t have to water as often.

Even with deep watering, still water your citrus tree about once per week on average. But the frequency and amount your tree needs depend on a few factors, like size, age, and location.

How Much Water Does a Citrus Tree Need?

A citrus tree may need more or less water at certain times. For example, a smaller tree in a pot will need a different watering schedule than a larger tree in the ground. You can tell if your citrus tree needs watering if it starts curling its leaves (source).

Both potted and young planted citrus trees need water about once a week. To water, provide potted trees with water until it flows out the bottom, and planted trees with a 20-minute deep watering session. When the citrus tree is mature at 2-3 years, it will need watering only when there’s a drought.

Providing your citrus tree with 2 inches of mulch will greatly improve the amount of water that gets absorbed and blocks the sun from drying out the soil. To mulch, use straw, leaves, or standard (non-toxic) mulch. Mulching also benefits the tree with a slow-release of nutrients as it breaks down into the soil.

Here are a few factors to consider when determining when to deep water your trees.

Planted Trees

If you planted your citrus tree in the ground, water it about once per week. Make sure you soak the ground completely and there’s sufficient drainage around the tree. That way, your citrus tree can get enough water but it doesn’t stagnant and cause root rot.

Water the tree at least eight inches to two feet below the surface. Soak the soil so that it is clearly wet, but don’t overdo it. If you aren’t sure when to stop watering, check your tree’s soil every few days to see if it’s still moist. If it drys out within a day or two, it needs more water. From there, determine how often and how long to water your plant each week.

Potted Trees

If your citrus tree is potted, monitor the soil to make sure it doesn’t dry out. When the top 2-4 inches of soil does get dry, add more water. Trees in pots don’t have access to the same soil and root network as trees in the ground, so you may need to water them more often.

When watering, the soil should stay moist, much like citrus trees planted in the ground. Make sure you water the pot evenly so that one side isn’t significantly wetter than the other. If it takes a while for the water to clear, check for any drainage issues with the pot and soil and adjust the soil if necessary. If there are drainage issues, and the soil is sopping wet, root rot can occur. However, root rot can be fixed if you identify it early and repot the soil.

If you keep your potted citrus tree outside in the warmer months, and it’s drying out too quickly, consider moving it to an area with afternoon shade and mulching the top of the soil.

Tree Age

If you have a young citrus tree, it will need to establish its roots first, which means it needs more water than a mature tree. To water young citrus trees, dig a shallow basin around the base of the tree (careful not to damage the shallow roots), then add water and let it drain multiple times. This will help the root ball get used to the watering. After that, water your young citrus tree every other day to keep the soil moist and help it grow.

Once your citrus tree is a 2-3 years old, you won’t need to water it as often. If the tree is planted in the ground, and properly adjusted to deep watering, you’ll only need to water it during a drought. This is because the tree will have deeper roots which access water deeper in the soil. Deep roots will also hold and store more water in the soil, which benefits other nearby plants.

So, overall, an adjusted mature citrus tree can get most of its water needs through the ground, while citrus trees in pots will still need water every week or so.

Tree Size and Season

The amount of water you need to give your citrus tree also depends on its size. Consider the diameter of the tree canopy to help you get an idea the width and depth of the roots. Generally, the 20-minute deep watering session will provide enough water even for the largest of citrus trees. When in doubt, check the moisture of the first 8 inches of soil a day or two after watering. If it’s dry, consider watering longer or providing a higher amount.

Also, the season can affect how much water your citrus tree needs. June, July, and August are the months where your tree will need the most water. On the other hand, your tree won’t need much water during the winter when the tree is more dormant and not growing much.

Best Time of Day to Water Citrus Trees

Water your citrus trees in the morning or evening. That way, the tree has plenty of time to absorb the water before it evaporates in the heat or gets too cold overnight. Avoid watering your trees during the middle of the afternoon on a hot day.

However, outside of summer, you don’t have to follow a set schedule. Instead, monitor your citrus tree each day or every few days for water. Check the soil to see if it’s dry and add water if it is or if it’s almost dry.

Once you get into the groove of watering your citrus tree, come up with a schedule that works for you. That way, you can focus on what your tree needs based on your location and the plants around it.

What Happens if You Overwater Citrus Trees?

Overwatering citrus trees can happen if you don’t check the soil before adding water. Also, setting up a hose and not turning it off soon enough can overwater your tree. Using too much water can be just as bad for your citrus trees as underwatering.

A few things can happen when you overwater your citrus trees. Consider learning how to tell you’ve overwatered and what problems can develop from it.

How to Tell if You Overwatered Your Citrus Tree

If you see stagnant water around your citrus tree, especially if it sits for several hours to a couple days, you added too much. This can be easy to do if you don’t have good drainage in your pot or around your citrus tree. While, it can be hard to correct this issue, you can elevate planted trees or repot container trees for better drainage. However, transplanting citrus trees can cause transplant shock and potentially damage the tap root, so only transplant if your tree definitely needs it.

You may also have stagnant water if you water too often. In most cases, watering your citrus trees once a week is plenty. Try not to water more often than that unless you feel the soil is completely dry. Always check the soil before you add more water so that you don’t overwater your citrus tree in the future.

Overwatering Problems

When you overwater your citrus trees, a few things can happen. You may notice the leaves start to turn yellow. The leaves may also feel more brittle, and they can start to droop after getting too much water. If your tree has started growing fruit, it may fall before it ripens, or it could split.

Root rot can also happen if your tree gets too much water. The roots can start to decay from the fungus, and that can affect the rest of the tree. Lastly, overwatering can keep your citrus tree from getting enough nutrients as they leach through the soil.

Avoid Watering the Leaves

Letting water sit on the leaves can give way for diseases to develop, but also increase the risk of sun exposure and burning the leaves. Don’t add more to the leaves because the leaves can get what they need through the roots and the soil.

Final Thoughts

Deep watering citrus trees usually requires a hose or a drip irrigation system, but make sure not to overwater your tree. Experiment and set a schedule that’s best for your trees based on where your tree’s location and your local climate.

Water potted and young citrus trees weekly, and get more mature citrus trees used to deep watering. Once adjusted, they’ll need very little watering and will be largely self-sufficient, except in times of drought. Remember that mulch is your best friend when it comes to using less water and helping the tree take care of itself.


  • The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension: Irrigating Citrus Trees
  • Arbor Day Foundation: How to Properly Water Your Trees
  • Hunker: Overwatering 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 citrus fruits at home?

Dwarf oranges, lemons and their relatives are a great decoration for the home. With good care, they start bear fruit, delighting the owners not only with landscaping, but also with fruits. Here it is important to initially acquire young and viable plants by purchasing citrus trees for the home. At we can pick up an instance of interest with automatic watering, which will greatly simplify care. During the first for several months, the owners will not have to spend a lot of time maintaining the tree, so you can explore everything cultivation details.


1. Choosing water

2. How often to water citrus fruits

3. Mistakes in watering

4. Eliminating the consequences of overwatering

Citrus fruits like moderate watering - moisture gives them strength for growth and full development. At the same time, beginners gardeners are sometimes zealous and pour the soil, which is also not good. It is necessary to properly care for the plant, excluding drought or excess water.

Choosing water

For the plant, it is desirable to use high-quality water, in which there will be no chlorine and other harmful impurities. By For these reasons, plumbing samples are immediately discarded, especially in urban areas. But if you live in countryside and has its own well, or the settlement is supplied from ground sources, it is allowed use this water.

Citrus fruits are very sensitive to the quality of moisture, so this issue should not be messed with. Of course everyone you won’t check the sample in the laboratory, but you don’t need to openly violate the elementary requirements for content plants.

Water from the following sources can be used to irrigate an orange, lemon, or other representative:

  • well;
  • well;
  • in rare cases - plumbing;
  • pure melted snow;
  • from the tank after the rain.

Most florists simply collect melted or rain water by placing a container on the balcony. But even in such cases, purification with preliminary settling is required. For filtration, an ordinary fine sieve is suitable, which also washed periodically. Before watering, the container should be left for several minutes in a heated room, until it warms up to room temperature.

Frequency of watering citrus fruits

Such trees are very fond of water and it can be difficult to flood them, but with gross violations of the regime, they still have certain risks. Sometimes beginners are too zealous, as a result of which waterlogging of the soil occurs. BUT after all, if you initially know all the features of the maintenance of such plants, they can be provided with complete care.

The frequency of watering depends on the time of year, the temperature in the room and directly on the condition of the soil. If a the soil is moist and soft, it is better to postpone irrigation for a few days. It is necessary to carry out such checks, controlling the growth and development of the tree.

Recommendations for watering frequency:

  1. In summer - water is applied as the soil dries out. If the room is hot, daily watering is allowed. in small portions. Also, under these conditions, spraying the leaves with a spray bottle is recommended. At temperature 19-21℃, you can make water every other day, controlling the condition of the soil.
  2. In winter - on average, such a need arises once a week. Also, do not be zealous, because in case waterlogging the soil to dry it can be quite difficult. In winter, the citrus tree is much smaller needs moisture.
  3. In the off-season - here they look individually at the condition of the plant. So, in the spring you can increase multiplicity from weekly to 2-3 times in 7 days. In autumn, on the contrary, the tree prepares for rest, so watering is necessary reduce from daily to 1 time per week. It is necessary to take into account the temperature in the room.

Watering Mistakes

Even the most experienced growers have made mistakes in the past and that's quite normal. It is important here to understand what exactly was done wrong and correct your defect. Naturally, the sooner the better, so that there is time for rehabilitation.

When growing citrus fruits, the most common mistakes are insufficient or, conversely, too frequent watering. These features are reflected in the table:

Error Characteristic
Overflow The soil becomes sour, mold may appear, the roots gradually begin to rot. The peculiarity is that nutrients are absorbed worse in such soil and domestic flora begins to hurt. In severe cases, marginal leaf death appears, which requires urgent rehabilitation.
Under watering Short-term drying has no negative effects, especially when cool temperature. If the soil remains without water for a long time, this is fraught with the death of the plant. To avoid dangerous consequences, it is necessary to water the soil as it dries.

In order to avoid overflowing or water shortages, it is necessary to draw up a schedule when leaving. The soil must be irrigated with certain intervals according to the time of year. You also need to monitor the condition of the soil and the plant itself, so as not to exclude the presence of diseases.

We eliminate the consequences of overflow

The worst thing about keeping a plant is overflow, which can occur at any time of the year. With a small waterlogged, you can try to dry the ground, carrying out daily loosening. If this does not help, you need change soil.

To do this, a careful transplanting is carried out, which includes:

  • preparation of a new pot, which must necessarily be with drain holes;
  • pebbles or gravel are poured onto its bottom, then sand and new dry soil, a hole is made in it;
  • the plant itself is watered abundantly and left for 10-15 minutes to make the soil soft;
  • then remove the tree along with a large clod of earth, trying not to damage the small roots;
  • , a landing is carried out in a new place, after which the soil is watered and the adaptation of citrus is monitored.

Overflow is not as bad as its consequences - if you leave the plant without care during severe waterlogging, there is serious risks. In such cases, the roots begin to rot, foliage necrosis appears, and the citrus fruit gradually dies. Parasites or infections can complicate the situation, so do not hesitate to transplant.

Caring for citrus plants at home

Citrus fruits grown on the windowsill cause surprise and admiration for many, but few people know that lemon has been grown indoors in the middle lane since the time of Peter I, that is, almost as much as we know potatoes.

So, during this time, the behavior of citrus fruits at home has been well studied and working recommendations for the care of citrus fruits have appeared. Of course, a lemon or calamondin requires more attention than a dollar tree, but when created favorable conditions, citruses also grow well at home.

If you would like to grow citrus fruits, you need to look towards grafted plants. In our catalog you will find already fruiting citruses - in this case, you can enjoy self-grown fruits after a few months. By the way, indoor citruses, contrary to popular belief, taste good. On the contrary, ungrafted plants have an unpredictable taste. By the way, an adult lemon in room conditions can produce 15 or more fruits per year. True, they ripen rather slowly - from six months to 8 months. Now we will share tips that will help grow citrus houseplants.

So, what does it take to successfully grow citrus at home? It is necessary to monitor three parameters: air temperature, air humidity and lighting.


Temperature is the most important parameter in this trio. Citrus fruits do not tolerate sudden changes in temperature and drafts. And, most surprisingly, despite their southern origin, they do not like heat - with low air humidity, a temperature of 25 ° C and above can lead to the fall of leaves, buds and ovaries.

Lemon, calamondin or kumquat will feel most comfortable at a temperature of 18-22 °C. In winter, with a decrease in daylight hours, the temperature can be maintained at 15-18 ° C and watering can be reduced to once a week. An important nuance: watering should be reduced only when the temperature drops, because if the room is hot, the earthen ball will dry out quickly and this will lead to twisting and falling of the leaves.

Care of citrus fruits at home in winter is very important to reduce to the maximum preservation of the foliage of the plant. After all, the green mass is extremely important for lemons, not so much for decoration, but for the formation of fruits. It is believed that citrus blooms should not be allowed if there are less than 20 leaves left on the tree - in this case, the load on the plant will be too great and it may die. So, if in winter you were unable to maintain a lush crown, it is better to remove the buds and wait until the citrus acquires foliage.

Air humidity

Another important parameter is high air humidity. It is the key to the preservation of foliage and plant health. After all, if the air is dry, the risk of pests and diseases in citrus trees increases dramatically. Ideally, in the care of indoor citrus fruits, spray the leaves of plants daily. You can also maintain high humidity by using a humidifier or installing a pallet with expanded clay and water. Of critical importance is the maintenance of high humidity in the summer in the heat, as well as in winter when the batteries are turned on. If the citrus is next to a working battery, be sure to cover it with a cloth and regularly moisten the leaves of the plant.

Although citruses do not tolerate temperature fluctuations and drafts, they thrive best with good air circulation. In the spring and summer, it is optimal to keep a lemon or calamondin on the balcony. However, in autumn it is important to have time to bring the citrus tree into the room before the difference in temperatures on the balcony and in the room becomes significant, so as not to expose the plant to a sharp jump in temperature and do no harm.


The third important parameter in keeping citrus fruits at home is lighting. Lemons and calamondins really need an abundance of bright diffused light, especially during flowering and fruit formation. It is believed that windows of southern and eastern orientation are most suitable for growing citrus. Nevertheless, it is worth remembering that the scorching midday rays of the summer sun can leave burns even on the most light-loving plants, so in summer it is important to take care of shading.

Indoor citrus trees react very quickly to lack of light: the less light, the larger new leaves are formed in citrus trees at home. Despite the fact that lemons and calamondins are sensitive to change of place and moving, in order to form a harmoniously developed plant, you will have to gradually rotate the pot around its axis. In this matter, gradualness is important - it is worth moving the pot once every couple of weeks and no more than 10 °.

How often should I water citrus fruits at home?

We figured out the constant parameters, now it is important to understand how to ensure proper care in the matter of watering.

Lemons, calamondins and other citrus fruits are moisture-loving plants. The soil in the pot should always be kept slightly moist. However, you should not pour citrus trees, because if the root system starts to rot, it will be extremely difficult to save the plant.

The volume of the pot and the development of the root system, humidity and air temperature, as well as the composition of the soil determine how often citrus fruits need to be watered in summer. On average, indoor citrus trees need watering once every two or three days, but it is better to focus on soil moisture individually - after all, there are times when indoor citrus trees need daily watering in summer.

For irrigation, it is worth using well-settled water, as citruses do not tolerate the effects of microelements contained in large quantities in hard water.

How often citrus fruits need to be watered in winter depends on the room temperature and whether you use supplemental lighting. If the room is cool and you do not artificially increase daylight hours, watering once a week will be enough.

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Top dressing

Indoor citrus fruits need regular top dressing during the growing season (March to October). Without fertilizer, it will be difficult to get a rich harvest. Citruses, this is just the case when it is worth using a specialized fertilizer. It will be more suited to the needs of the plant than a standard all-purpose food.

Lemons and calamondins, like all plants, need nitrogen for rapid growth of green mass. But to start fruiting, you will need to apply fertilizers rich in phosphorus. At the stage of formation of the ovaries, it is good to provide an additional supply of potassium in order to avoid falling fruits. Potassium supplements also strengthen the immunity of citrus fruits and increase the resistance of trees to pests and diseases.

Fertilizers should be applied about once every 3 weeks for mature trees and once every 1.5 months for young trees. The nutrient solution is applied immediately after watering - do not replace watering with top dressing, because if you apply fertilizer to dry roots, you can burn them with chemicals. Feeding is not required in late autumn and winter.


Transplantation of citrus fruits is carried out in early spring once every 1-2 years, until the plant begins to bloom. To understand if an adult lemon needs a transplant this year, look into the drainage holes: if roots appear from them, it's time to transplant the plant.

Citrus fruits like acidic soil, so it is better to use a special soil. In most cases, citruses are transplanted by transshipment, so as not to cause too much stress to the trees. Do not bury the citrus root neck too deep into the pot, so as not to provoke it to rot and not to kill the plant.

If your citrus soil seems to be depleted in nutrients but the roots have not yet mastered the earthen ball, renew the topsoil - this will be a compromise solution.

Under the right conditions, citrus trees live indoors for several decades and reach a height of up to one and a half meters. A nice bonus: all indoor citruses release essential oils into the air, which help improve mood and prevent respiratory infections.

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