Fresh citrus has arrived at Rainbow Gardens and we’ve got all the varieties in that perform the best here in San Antonio. Take a look at a few citrus facts we’ve compiled to think about when picking out citrus for your home landscape. For smaller landscapes, be sure to check out our blog on growing citrus in containers. Everyone should have at least one citrus tree!
6 Citrus Facts for San Antonio Landscapes
One of the most important things to know about citrus is that they are subtropical to tropical plants. This means all citrus varieties are vulnerable to freeze damage. However, some varieties are more winter hardy than others, and these are recommend for your landscape in San Antonio. Winter protection is necessary for new, and sometimes times mature, citrus plants. For recommended varieties and their characteristics, see this list: https://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/fruit-nut/fact-sheets/citrus/table-1-common-texas-citrus-varieties/
Citrus requires full sun, and soils that are well draining and deep enough to provide space for roots to stretch out. Well-draining soil means soils should be able to drain within a 48 hour period. If your soil takes longer than that to drain, either plant your citrus in raised beds, containers, or find another location. Full sun means all day, hot, sunshine. If your citrus isn’t setting blossoms, check to see if your citrus is in an area with too much shade in the afternoons.
Most citrus are self-fruitful and don’t need an extra pollinator plant to produce fruit. If you only have a small area to grow plants, you can still enjoy one lemon or lime tree. However, keep in mind, that it is a fact that most fruit producing plants increase their yield when an extra pollinator plant is nearby. The more pollinating insects that can be attracted to your fruits, the better! So in this case, two is still better than one, although one will do. (A few citrus varieties, mostly mandarins and tangerines, do require cross-pollination.)
Citrus doesn’t need much pruning, hooray! Lower branches should naturally droop towards the ground when they are laden with fruit. Allow for 6-8 feet distance between planting multiple citrus trees, as well as offering that amount of space from buildings, fences, sidewalks and other pedestrian areas. This allows the tree to grow in its natural state to its full potential without the need to prune it back to contain its size.
When given the correct growing conditions, citrus encounters relatively few pests and disease issues, hurray! Pesticides are rarely needed or advised, especially because citrus is also a host plant for Giant Swallowtail butterflies. So if you notice a couple of your citrus leaves looking like they’ve been chewed on, check first for the larvae of this beautiful butterfly before spraying with any insecticide.
Most citrus fruits reach maturity and are harvested in fall or just before winter in San Antonio. I have a neighbor who graces us with the most delicious Christmas gift every year, a basket full of juicy mandarins! Some lemon, lime, and kumquat trees are an exception as they can set flowers and produce fruit throughout the year. (So you can still have that fresh lemonade or margarita by the pool in summer!)
Come browse through the fragrant citrus selections we’ve just brought in to Rainbow Gardens, Betcha can’t go home with just one!
~The Happy Gardener, Lisa Mulroy