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Last updated: February 22, 2021
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Citrus plants are versatile in the sense that they can be grown both indoors and outdoors. Even though the nutritional requirements of indoor potted plants are the same as those for citrus plants grown outdoors, you will need to micromanage them as the fertilization schedule for the two vary slightly. Fertilizing practices include either spraying fertilizer onto the leaves or spreading it around the base of the tree.
But regardless of the fertilizing type, the best fertilizer for citrus trees will typically have more nitrogen and potassium than phosphate as the first two nutrients experience faster depletion. Here we have compiled five of the best such fertilizers that will nourish your indoor and outdoor plants. Our editor’s pick is a standout product with optimal NPK levels to ensure excellent growth in all parts of the plant from the leaves to the roots, so you get good fruit development.
Other things to keep in mind when selecting the right fertilizer for citrus trees include its pack weight, fertilizer type, frequency of use, which citruses it works on and tips for tree care. You will also need to take a look at other micronutrients that the fertilizer should have for optimal plant growth. To help you narrow your choices down, we have put together a tabular comparison of the five best fertilizers in this category and given detailed product descriptions of each. We’ve rounded off this article with a buying guide to tell you exactly what to look for and how to care for your indoor and outdoor citrus trees.
The Jack’s Classic Citrus FeED food fertilizer is an ideal choice for any gardener looking to nourish their new citrus plants or possibly bring them back to their former greener glory. Using the highest quality nutrients possible, you’ll be more than pleased with the professional looking results this fertilizer has to offer.
Designed to bring you the best possible combination of nutrition for tropical fruiting plants, this plant food formula includes enhanced micronutrient levels and high NPK levels with a ratio of 20-10-20. Such high-level ratios will provide plenty for high leafy growth, good fruit development, and root growth resulting in better plant functions overall. You’ll end up with a plant with stronger branches, greener leaves, and more fruit.
This particular container has 1.5 pounds of fertilizer and though some find the price a bit high for the size, it’s a great starting point for those willing to try it out or who don’t have that many citrus plants to care for.
The Jack’s Classic fertilizer can both work as an additive in small amounts (one teaspoon per gallon per watering), or in larger amounts over a long time (one tablespoon per gallon every 7 to 10 days). A spoon is included for easier measurements.
One con for the fertilizer itself is that not all of its ingredients are organic. But if you’re looking for a good fertilizer that otherwise specializes in nourishing citrus fruits from oranges and Meyer lemons to mangos and kumquats, our Editor’s Pick is the best option for you.
A great fertilizer option for fruit trees in particular, The Dr. Earth Natural Wonder organic fruit tree fertilizer is the best on our list for the job. It’s not restricted to citrus and works on all sorts of fruit and nut plants, including berries bushes, trees, avocados, and vine plants such as grapes.
The 5-5-2 NPK formulation is one that prioritizes fruit and leaf development, meaning you’ll be looking at beautiful, lively-looking, fruitful results. The fertilizer is enriched with plenty of multi-minerals, proteins, carbs, and humic acids that help create the most nutritious soil possible. The levels of NPK are relatively low, however, meaning you’ll likely need to add larger amounts of fertilizer to see significant results.
For those concerned about safety, Dr. Earth Natural Wonder fertilizer would not be an issue. It’s safe for people and pets, as verified by the certified organic and non-GMO labels and ingredients. There is nothing toxic or synthetic in this fertilizer. All the ingredients used are sustainable and USA made.
This is a 4-pound bag, capable of feeding 16 5-gallon containers (or 60 square feet) of plants for up to 2 months.
The only downside to the Natural Wonder fertilizer according to users has to be the odor. No manure actually goes into the fertilizer, but it releases a strong odor as if there were.
What we liked:
Very versatile applications for any kind of fruit plant
Formula ratio ensures leaf and fruit development
Certified organic and non-GMO ingredients
What could be better:
Fertilizer has a strong odor – may cause disturbance if used indoors
The Nelson Citrus Fruit and Avocado Tree plant food is, as the name says, designed for citrus fruit trees, avocados, as well as fruit vines and nuts. This quick-release formula is also made to last, supplying the fruit plant’s heavy nutrient upkeep for an extended period of time, leaving you less worried about the flavor outcome of your fruits.
Nelson and their fertilizer products are well known for their quality and reliability, so when buying from a name well-known among plant foods, you can rest assured that it’s a worthy purchase.
Promising immediate results, the NutriStar formula includes all the right nutrients in the right amounts to boost their growth as soon as possible while making sure the benefits last. The 12-10-10 nutrient ratio gives your plants the right amount for proper tree growth and fruit production making it one of the best fertilizers for citrus fruit trees. An added amount of calcium increases the size and strength of the trunk and limbs, while the high amount of potassium (K) will help your tropical citrus plants get through the colder weather.
This fertilizer works for in-ground and container-grown trees both indoors and outdoors, and is sold in a choice of 2-pound, 4-pound, 15 and 20-pound containers. We recommend it as our best fertilizer for potted citrus trees.
What we liked:
Added nutrients like calcium for better size growth and potassium for cold weather
Sustains plant for extended time
Works for a good variety of fruit plants
Reliable name and quality
What could be better:
Quick release may be too instant for slow-release gardening
For those looking to keep their gardening habits organic, there’s a great affordable option – the Espoma CT4. With this list’s Budget Pick, you can grow a great fruit garden in an environmentally-friendly, all-natural manner.
The CT4 fertilizer is, of course, perfect for citrus fruit, avocados and nut trees. It has been approved for organic gardening and is filled with all-natural ingredients including an enhancement from thousands of living microbes within. This helps grow your fruit safely, providing no risk to the people around you and little toxic runoff.
With the 5-2-6 formulation, this fertilizer helps in the development of the entire tree, providing a complete balanced feeding. The result is a healthy tree bearing abundant and flavorful fruit. Due to the relatively lower NPK level, you may need to feed your trees more often for ideal results.
The CT4 fertilizer comes in a 4-pound bag and can be used indoors and outdoors. However, do note that the instructions are for outdoors only and it’s recommended to use less than prescribed for best results on indoor plants so as to not overfeed them. One other thing to note – the only main downfall to using the fertilizer indoors would have to be what can be described as a pungent odor that can be disruptive to those sensitive to the smell.
What we liked:
Only all-natural, approved organic ingredients used
No risk to people and pets
Encourages entire tree growth and abundant fruits
What could be better:
Requires more frequent feeding due to lower NPK levels
EarthPods Premium Fruit and Citrus Plant Food is a great premium-grade eco-friendly fertilizer that can help you draw fruit trees and citrus plants, and everything is organic and safe to use.
What makes this fertilizer stand out from the rest on this list is that it comes in a packet of one hundred individually portioned concentrated capsules which makes for no mess, smell, or measuring required. In fact, this is one of the best fertilizers for citrus trees in containers that is a no-hassle product.
These “earth pods” break down and slow-release the nutrients directly to the roots. Just push a pod into the soil mix near your plant and water. No manual water dissolving is required.
These pods include a variety of sustainable ingredients with nutrients, minerals, natural growth hormones, and plenty of microbes, all of which boost flower, leaf and root growth.
On top of all this, the packaging itself is spatially economic and stores easily. The compact paperboard tube that the pods come in is recyclable.
One issue that customers have with the EarthPods plant food is not necessarily with the product itself, but the pricing. For one hundred capsules that can finish quite quickly (depending on the number of plants you’re feeding), this eco-friendly fertilizer can add up and be quite expensive.
What we liked:
All-natural and organic ingredients used
Capsules allow for no hassle, no smell, and no mess
Planting a citrus tree is a great away to make a room, home, or garden look better, smell better, and feel better. If you are someone who has or wants to invest in a citrus tree, then there are some pointers you’ll need to keep in mind, one of the most important being the fertilizer you use. Within the following buying guide, you’ll learn what is important for your fertilizer and what your citrus tree can benefit from the most.
What nutrients work for citrus trees?
There are two types of nutrients a citrus tree needs; macronutrients and micronutrients. Macronutrients are needed in a larger quantity than micronutrients and include the following:
Nitrogen – most used nutrient by citrus plants. It’s used to produce the leaves, flowers, and eventually fruit
Phosphorus – helps store energy and digest nutrients. Mandatory nutrient used in cell division
Potassium – used to help produce fruit, flowers, and leaves, similar to nitrogen. Calcium also performs this task
Magnesium – used during photosynthesis and promotes phosphorus intake
Sulfur – improves root growth and is an essential component of multiple proteins
Micronutrients used by citrus plants are:
Iron – vital component in the production of chlorophyll
Zinc – utilized in carbon metabolism
Boron – essential for sugar translocation
Manganese – helps ensure all nitrates are usable to the plant
Copper – used in a variety of systems inside of the plant
Molybdenum – helps with the formation of starch and vitamins
How to fertilize citrus trees
Citrus trees actually only need to be fertilized three times a year in order to reap a good harvest. The first feed should be in February, the next in May, and the last in August.
Always stick to a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen. There is a chance that the packaging instructions on your fertilizer may ask for too much of an application, so always apply a little less.
For further directions on how to fertilize your citrus tree, take a moment to view the following video:
Citrus trees types
A citrus tree does not simply refer to a lemon tree. There is a whole family of citrus plants that share qualities and specifications when it comes to aspects such as temperature, season, and nutrients.
Lemons are probably what you first thought of when you heard citrus, but there are other fruits as well. Limes, oranges, grapefruits, kumquats, and tangelos are all also citrus plants.
All of these fruits come in many different types and can require different temperatures and environments to grow properly. It’s best to research the exact plant you plan on growing so you can plan out your fertilizer, soil, and where you will keep it.
Features to consider while buying the best fertilizer for citrus trees
There are a lot of considerations to take in when you purchase your fertilizer. Naturally, you’ll want the best nutrient provision for your plant while still being reasonable, manageable and easy to use. To find the best for you and your citrus tree, here are some features worth investigating before making any final decisions.
The price range for fertilizers isn’t a wide range. Typically, the price will remain in between $10 to $40.
Value packs can raise the price to $50 and above. These are a better choice since you are getting more at once at less a value than you would getting packets (spikes or spray) one at a time.
NPK refers to the three basic, essential nutrients all plants need to grow healthy and strong.
N stands for nitrogen, which is an important part of the photosynthesis process. It’s a prominent piece in amino acids which help construct proteins. Nitrogen helps the plant store and use energy.
You can find nitrogen in manure, blood meal, feather meal, and compost.
P stands for phosphorus. Phosphorus promotes proper root growth and blooming. It helps develop a strong structural stability in the plant and seed production.
You can find phosphorus in manure, blood meal, and compost just like nitrogen. You can also find it in bone meal.
K stands for potassium, which is used to help the size, shape, color, and taste of the fruit. The higher the levels of potassium, the better the pickings.
Potassium can be found in manure and compost as well. It’s also found in wood ash.
There is more than one way to fertilize your citrus tree, so you can find out which way suits you best.
You can spray the fertilizer directly over your plants, so they get their nutrients directly over their leaves. It also makes a quick job of maintaining your plants.
A spike will have the nutritional formula inside of it. All you have to do is insert the spike into the soil of your plant’s pot or directly into the ground by your tree. This will, overtime, give your plants the amount of nutrients it needs. It doesn’t last forever so be sure to check up on how much is left inside of the spike.
Once you invest in a plant, fertilizer is going to become a constant expense. To make this investment more economically friendly for your budget, try to always find a value pack or deal on multiple packs of fertilizer. It will cost you less in the long run if you decide to buy in bulk. You can even try to find a subscription that will offer you weekly, monthly, or even yearly service of consistent fertilizer so you never run out and never have to trouble yourself finding a new trustworthy brand.
Some fertilizers will promise to not only provide nutrients for your plants, but protect it from insects and potential diseases as well.
It is better to get a pesticide separately in the case of an infestation. Some fertilizers that also have pesticide inside of them are filled with chemicals. This means you have to use them less so as to not harm your plant.
How effective it would be?
Though the general idea would be to purchase a well-known brand of fertilizer, you should look for an organic solution. These work the best since they have minimum chemicals that the plant can absorb.
While organic fertilizers tend to better than chemical ones, chemical fertilizers can help protect from other factors, such as sunlight, pollution, and insects.
For the best effective performance, try to find a fertilizer that is organic and specialized for the citrus tree that you are planting.
Coffee grounds and eggshells have been found to be extremely nutritious for plants in general. Eggshells give much needed calcium to the soil while coffee grounds give nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous. They do this very slowly so you can leave them as they are for a long time. They can be great for a lemon tree growing out in your yard, just make sure your pH levels don’t exceed due to the coffee grounds.
It is possible to over fertilize your citrus tree. Giving it more fertilizer than is required can turn the leaves yellow, causing them to fall off before the season is over. This won’t allow for any proper lemons to grow out. It’s best to stick to the amount mentioned on the packaging of your fertilizer, and to be especially careful during the summer seasons.
Lemons consume mainly nitrogen as a source of nutrition. The best type of fertilizer would be one rich with nitrogen, with a ratio of 3:1:1 of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. If you can’t find fertilizer for lemons exclusively, then you can also use an avocado fertilizer since they require relatively the same type of nutrition.
Our choice for the best overall citrus plant fertilizer would have to be the Jack’s Classic Citrus FeED from J.R. Peters. It’s hard to argue with a premium quality citrus fertilizer that specializes in nourishing citrus plants and shows promise in professional looking results. With such high levels of NPK, you can be sure your fruit will grow plenty and flavorful.
If you’re looking for plant food for more kinds of fruit as well as citrus, the Dr. Earth Natural Wonder fruit tree fertilizer is a great choice. It’s not only versatile in applications, it’s safe, non-toxic, and contains all-natural organic ingredients only.
If you’re gardening on a larger, perhaps commercial scale, the Nelson Citrus Fruit and Avocado Tree Plant Food is the best fertilizer for citrus trees. This well-known brand name among plant foods is a trustworthy one that you know will be effective and efficient in quality, both immediately and overtime.