Like all plants, citrus trees need nutrients to grow and produce an abundance of fruit. Citrus trees are heavy feeders, so choosing the right fertilizer is necessary in order to ensure healthy trees and a bumper crop of tasty treats.
In this article, you will learn how and when to fertilize your citrus trees, and take our expert advice on the best citrus fertilizers available online. Once you’ve read this actionable advice you’ll know exactly how to produce a bountiful crop of delicious citrus fruits.
Are you excited already? So are we! Let’s delve right in…
- Best Citrus Tree Fertilizers
- What Kind of Fertilizer for Citrus Trees?
- 10 Best Citrus Tree Fertilizers Reviewed
- 1. Jobe's Organics Citrus Fertilizer Spikes 4-6-6
- 2. Down To Earth Organic Citrus Fertilizer
- 3. Miracle-Gro Fruit & Citrus Spikes 5-10-15
- 4. Jobe’s Organics Citrus Fertilizer With Biozome
- 5. EarthPods Organic Citrus Fertilizer Spikes
- 6. Espoma CT4 Citrus-tone Plant Food
- 7. Miracle-Gro Continuous Release Citrus Fertilizer
- How to Fertilize Citrus Trees – Step by Step
- When to Fertilize Citrus Trees?
- How Often to Use Citrus Tree Fertilizer?
- Verdict: Best Fertilizers for Citrus Trees
Best Citrus Tree Fertilizers
If you’re short of time take a look at the summary below for the best citrus tree fertilizer for all situations.
Best Fertilizer Spikes
Pre-measured fertilizer spikes are designed to be pushed an inch into the ground to provide a slow-release feed right through the growing season.
Best Fertilizer for Potted Citrus
Pre-measured fertilizer spike designed to be pushed an inch into the ground to provide a slow-release feed right through the growing season.
Best Top Dressing Fertilizer
Organic citrus fertilizer Down to Earth’s 6-3-3 formula, great for citrus fruit and avocados. Performs particularly well as lemon fertilizer.
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What Kind of Fertilizer for Citrus Trees?
Citrus trees require a balanced fertilizer with an NPK 6-6-6 or similar. Micronutrients including iron, copper, manganese, boron, and zinc are also essential for healthy growth and good fruit production.
However, NPK is not the golden rule, in fact, your citrus tree will benefit from any good fertilization schedule, the important part is that you’re offering the tree a balance of all three nutrients. But you need to think practically about the tree in your backyard and what it means to buy ‘the best’ fertilizer for it.
This Citrus Fertilization Chart from The University of Arizona, helps commercial growers match their fertilizer ratio to the required application or dosage, to meet the plant nitrogen requirements. For example, if you grow an 8ft tree it will require 0.75lb-1.0lb of nitrogen fertilizer per year. So a 6-6-6 fertilizer (6% nitrogen) will need to be applied at a rate of 12-16lb per year for commercial growing purposes. But are you really going to apply that much fertilizer to your tree? Of course not!
So my point is…forget the optimum fertilizing schedule as it’s unrealistic. What makes ‘the best fertilizer’ for citrus trees is all relative. NPK is one thing, but practicality is another major factor. That is why I am a big advocate of slow-release fertilizers, and long-lasting forms, such as fertilizer spikes, that last up to 8 weeks per spike.
Liquid Fertilizer Spray or Concentrates
Are generally in a concentrated form and need to be diluted with water, but you must read the instructions on the fertilizer’s label to see how to dilute the liquid and how to apply it.
Citrus Tree Fertilizer Concentrates are for use with indoor plants and require dilution with water. This type of fertilizer is ideal for colder climates where dwarf trees are grown in pots in glasshouses or conservatories. They are popular in the United Kingdom and other cooler regions. We have three hand-picked products on our list specifically catering to this type of application.
Citrus Fertilizer Granules
Do not require diluting or mixing with anything else. They are ready to use with just a scoop to sprinkle around the soil as a top dressing, or they can be dug in. The instructions on the product’s packaging will tell you how many scoops are required based on the size of your citrus tree.
Fertilizer Spikes or Sticks
These work a little differently from granules. They are pre-measured so all you need to do is place the spike into the ground. These types of fertilizers are by far the most convenient for busy people who don’t want to spend money on buying a sprayer and spending time spraying each citrus tree. Overall they are generally slightly more expensive but much more convenient.
Spikes are often considered one of the best fertilizers for citrus trees in containers due to their convenience and easy dosage. Once you’ve worked out the required amount by following the manufacturer’s instructions, just rinse and repeat each time you want to feed your citrus tree.
10 Best Citrus Tree Fertilizers Reviewed
I’ve hunted far and wide to find the best Citrus Tree Fertilizers available for general consumers’ use. My main considerations are the quality of the citrus fertilizer nutrient balance, overall performance, and ease of use.
As well as my own tests and input from my gardening expert friends, I have also considered customer reviews across most major online platforms and gardening forums that show the full level of customer satisfaction with these specific citrus tree fertilizers we have on review.
Best Fertilizer Spikes
- Simple to use and organic with outstanding results
- Potted version available for use in pots or containers
- Protects the tree from disease and insects
- Use for Lemon, Lime, Orange, Avocado, and many other fruiting trees
- Hard or dry ground will need to be watered to soften the soil before inserting spikes
Citrus tree fertilizer spikes from Jobe’s are the easiest way to fertilize citrus trees, with a single packet providing the right level of nutrient support for the entire growing season. The 4-6-6 spikes are suitable for use from early spring, when the nitrogen will fuel cell production, right through flowering and fruiting with a good level of potassium and phosphors.
My tree is planted against a brick wall so I hammered one spike on either side of the tree, placed around 30 inches from the tree trunk, as per the instructions on the packet. I repeated this every 8 weeks across the year, so I used 4 pairs of spikes in total.
Pre-measured, each spike is designed to be pushed or hammered fully into the ground or soil to provide a slow-release action feeding the tree right through the growing stages.
Look out for the other fertilizer spikes in their range, for palms, evergreens, nut trees, and general trees and shrubs. Anyone who is familiar with my product reviews will know that Jobe’s fertilizer spikes are right up there as a ‘must have’ for me.
There is also a version for potted Citrus Trees, offering a smaller spike that is a perfect measure for smaller trees on your patio or grown indoors.
These products are suitable for Lemon Trees, Lime Trees, Orange Trees, Apple Trees, Pear Trees, Cherry Trees, Plum Trees, Avocado Trees, Peach Trees, Pomegranate Trees, and Nut Trees. A great balance of nutrients for fruiting trees directly (4-6-6) released into the root network reduces run-off or fertilizer waste that is often associated with granules or powder fertilizers.
I love how simple they are. Push or hammer them into the ground around the drip line of the tree and get on with life. The fact that I have a pet dog also leads me to appreciate the fact that this fertilizer goes below the surface of the soil and out of the ‘sniffing range’ of the dog’s big nose, which also gives me a bit more confidence. However, having said that this is an organic product that’s safe for use around pets and children.
How to use: All you have to do is simply insert the spike into the soil around the tree drip line. If your tree trunk diameter is 3 inches, you will need 3 spikes to feed it. The instructions on the packaging are simple and clear. In our sample, there were 8 spikes in one pack, or you can buy 15 spikes packs. If the ground is dry or hard, you will need to thoroughly water it to soften the soil before inserting your tree spikes.
Customer Reviews: Users were very satisfied with the quick results of these spikes with a noticeable improvement in the color and growth of citrus trees. 73% of users rated this product 5 stars matching our choice as the best fertilizers for citrus trees.
- Excellent for lemon tree fertilization, but also suited to all citrus, mango, and avocado trees
- Good value for money
- Great results with a mass of fruit
- Requires mixing with soil
Another organic citrus fertilizer is Down to Earth’s mix, which has an organic set of ingredients with a 6-3-3 formula, great for citrus fruit and avocados. It performs particularly well as a lemon tree fertilizer.
This fertilizer mix contains micronutrients, such as iron, zinc, calcium, and sulfur as well as feather meal, fishbone meal, alfalfa meal, greensand, basalt, and much more, which are all the nutrients needed by citrus trees. The product helps promote new growth, more fruit, and fragrant blossoms. It’s not just ideal for citrus fruits; other fruit trees, vines, and ornamental plants will also benefit from this fertilizer.
One downside is that it requires digging in for best results, although it can be used as a top dressing if your soil is loose, then you can rake it in. The other issue comes from the organic ingredients used in the blend, which can attract interest from wildlife and pets.
How to use: For established trees, use up to 4 times a year. For new trees, more applications are needed. The product must be mixed with soil as per the instructions. Users were amazed to see how healthy their limp citrus trees perked up almost immediately after applying this citrus fertilizer.
Customer Reviews: A strong brand name in the organic market Down To Earth has a loyal following and you can count us in on that too. 4.5/5 in customer reviews, with excellent performance in lemon tree fertilization. A common complaint with this type of organic product is the smell, so avoid using it indoors.
- Provides essential nutrients to fruit and citrus trees directly at the roots, promoting healthy growth and high fruit yield
- Easy to use, simply insert the spikes into the soil around the tree’s drip line
- Feeds trees for up to 6 weeks, meaning less frequent fertilizing is required
- Spikes need to be stored in a dry place after opening
The Miracle-Gro Fruit & Citrus Fertilizer spikes are another very convenient product that is easy to apply and in truth, it’s hard to get the dosage wrong! You simply push them into the moist soil around the base of your tree.
The spikes are supplied with a plastic protective cap, allowing you to hammer them into the ground with a mallet. For dry soil, it is recommended to moisten it first to soften it before driving the spike into the ground. The primary benefit of spikes is the slow-release formula that can provide 6-8 weeks of feed depending on the amount of rainfall that washes over the spike.
As a general tree and shrub spike the Miracle-Gro product is an excellent option, however, when it comes to specific tree types such as fruit tree and in particular citrus, I prefer Jobes citrus spikes with their more balanced NPK being better for use over the entire season.
How to Use: The dosage works in pretty much the same way as Jobe’s Organic Citrus Fertilizer Spikes, in that you simply apply the recommended number of spikes based on the diameter of your citrus tree.
The nutrient ratio (N-P-K) is 15-5-10 so the spikes are a well-balanced feed and the manufacturer recommends just one application in spring and once in fall. The spikes are really only suitable for larger more mature trees, as they are large, each measuring approximately 4 inches.
Customer Reviews: As with all Miracle-Gro products the customer feedback across the many online platforms and forums is very positive. Easy to use, good reliable performance, with an average customer rating of 4.5/5. Spikes will need to be stored in a plastic bag after opening to prevent dampness or water ingress from softening them. Buy Miracle-Gro Citrus Spikes at Amazon.com.
- Use for Lemon, Lime, Orange, Avocado, and many more fruiting trees
- Easy to use
- Fast-acting results
- Not recommended for indoor use.
- It doesn’t protect the tree from fungus attacks like some other products
This 4-4-4 organic granular fertilizer from Jobe’s is suitable for both new and established fruit and citrus trees. It contains biozome, which is a microorganism that breaks down material for quicker results. You’re essentially getting the same fertilizer formula as Jobe’s spikes but in granular form.
The product promises to improve soil conditions, help the tree resist disease, and tolerate drought during the active growing season. Use for Lemon Trees, Lime Trees, Orange Trees, Apple Trees, Pear Trees, Cherry Trees, Plum Trees, Avocado Trees, Peach Trees, Pomegranate Trees, Mango Trees, and Nut Trees
You have the choice of buying 1.5, 4, or 16 pounds easy-to-pour bags, all of which you can buy Jobes Citrus Fertilizer here.
How to use: when planting citrus trees, mix one and a half cups of this granular fertilizer with some potting soil if you are growing your tree in a container of up to 16 inches. Use the same amount of fertilizer for a 10-foot square area in the garden. Apply every 2 to 3 weeks for continuous release of nutrients.
For established trees, use 3 cups of granular citrus fertilizer per 1 inch of trunk diameter at the drip line of the tree.
- A clever little capsule tapping into the Eco-minded consumer
- Very simple to use and will appeal to indoor growers
- Only suitable for dwarf verities or plants in containers
- Premium price
When we first came across EarthPods Organic Citrus Fertilizer Spikes I thought they may be a gimmick, but in hindsight, the results are very good. The company behind EarthPods has basically catered to the market interested in a convenient, easy-to-use organic product that taps into the food waste problem we have across the Western world. They use this food waste to feed vermiculture (worm composting) to turn out a nutrient-rich compost. This is then refined and supplemented with natural fertilizer ingredients to produce a powerful organic fertilizer capsule.
How to use: You get 100 capsules per container with recommended dosages ranging from 1-8 every 2-3 weeks depending on the size of the tree or plant. Simply push the EarthPod capsule into the soil for a slow-release effect.
Customer Reviews: Customer feedback is very good with an average score of 4.6/5 across all platforms reviewed. Convenience and results seem to shine through, but overall this product really appeals to those people who appreciate the ecologic ethos of the company by producing this organic fertilizer as a waste food by-product. Buy Earthpods online here.
- Easy to use
- Quick results and excellent fruit yield
- Excellent orange tree fertilizer
- Inaccurate dosage instructions for indoor trees
- It doesn’t protect the tree from fungus attacks like some other products
Espoma CT4 Citrus fertilizer is organically approved and full of living Espoma Bio-tone microbes. We have used several of the company’s products over the years including their Holly-Tone for acid-loving plants, and we have always been very impressed.
Citrus-Tone is well known for its high fruit yield and has slowly gained a strong and loyal following from its results. It has a long-lasting slow-release N-P-K of 5-2-6, which is well suited to citrus fruit including lemons, lime, and orange as well as avocados, and will also work well with nut tree species.
How to use: The application is recommended in January for a pre-bloom early kickstart, then post-bloom in May or June. It is optional to add a further application in fall/spring to top up and meet all overwinter nutrient requirements. You will be required to dig into this formula for the best results. Avoid fertilizing within 6″ of the tree trunk.
Customer Reviews: Scoring a fantastic 4.7/5 across all customer feedback with one common complaint…the smell. The product contains organic materials and that includes chicken manure so it’s no surprise there! There is nothing but positive feedback based on results and fruit yield from this citrus fertilizer. Recommended as an excellent orange tree fertilizer.
- Generous-sized bag
- Easy to apply citrus tree food
- Brings limp citrus trees back to life
- If used incorrectly, it can burn plants
The Miracle-Gro shake and feed fertilizer can be used on new and established in-ground citrus trees. It contains added sulfur, iron, magnesium, and potassium to improve growth. Purchase Miracle-Gro Citrus Fertilizer online here as a 1, 4.5, or 8-pound bag for up to 3 months of feeding.
How does it work? The microbes in this fertilizer break down the compost into nutrients and increase water efficiency for stronger plant growth.
What I like about this citrus fertilizer from Miracle-Gro is that you can use it anywhere: in-ground or in containers and there is no doubting the power of the Miracle-Gro brand. The stuff they make works and this citrus tree food is no exception.
How to use: follow the directions for use (on the back of the bag). For in-ground gardening, shake the mixture onto the soil but avoid contact with the trunk.
- For container trees: mix the product into the soil at planting time.
- For established trees, shake evenly onto the soil and water it afterward to start the feeding process. Never pre-mix the product with water.
Customer Reviews: 77% of more than 11,000 customers rated this continuous-release fertilizing product 5 stars because of how fast it works on flowering blooms. The most important advice from these users was to follow the directions carefully on the bag to avoid over-fertilizing.
How to Fertilize Citrus Trees – Step by Step
How you fertilize your citrus tree is of utmost importance, but don’t let this task put a damper on your mood. Luckily, all fertilizers come with easy instructions on how to apply the product.
No matter whether you choose a pre-measured spike or one that requires mixing with soil, simply follow these quick steps to fertilize your citrus:
Step 1 Choose an organic fertilizer instead of a synthetic one so as not to burn your tree, especially if it’s not established yet.
Step 2 Measure the amount of fertilizer you want to use based on the size and age of your citrus tree. Follow these tips:
- Measure the tree’s trunk in diameter.
- Now multiply the number by 0.10 pounds (the nitrogen amount).
- Look at the fertilizer’s packaging to find the NPK numbers and the actual nitrogen amount per pound. N stands for nitrogen.
- Divide the amount of actual nitrogen your tree needs by the amount of nitrogen per pound in the chosen fertilizer. This is the number you need to determine how much tree fertilizer you need to apply.
Step 3 Apply the fertilizer evenly starting from one foot away from the tree’s trunk and ending at the drip line. Use a rake to dig small homes around the trunk in order to spread out the fertilizer.
Step 4 Put some compost around the tree and water it thoroughly.
- To fertilize young citrus trees, use about half a pound of 10-10-10 fertilizer in the first year. Make sure the product is specifically for feeding citrus fruit trees.
- To fertilize mature citrus trees, use a pound of fertilizer for every year of the tree’s age. For example, if your tree is 3 years old, it will need 3 pounds of fertilizer scattered several feet away from its drip line.
When to Fertilize Citrus Trees?
Citrus trees are hungry feeders, but they must also be fertilized at the right time for healthy fruit-bearing.
Fertilize fruit trees regularly during their active growth period in spring and summer. In fall and winter, you still need to fertilize the trees during their dormant period – but not as often. Remember they are heavy feeders so if you want your trees to start producing fruit as soon as possible, I’m afraid you can’t skip the fall and winter feeding.
By leaving the fertilizing until spring, your tree will fall behind in its growth. You may see it producing blossoms, but the fruits will come much later than anticipated plus they won’t be very big at all.
The good news is, once your citrus trees get older, you won’t have to fertilize them during the dormant season. You can also reduce the fertilizing period during the growing season – but only after your trees are mature enough to stand on their own feet…or trunk!
All in all, when it comes to determining when to fertilize your citrus, use your judgment. If the tree has lush, green leaves, it doesn’t need feeding. If its leaves are yellowing, go ahead and fertilize.
How Often to Use Citrus Tree Fertilizer?
Okay, so you now know when to fertilize your citrus trees. However, we’re not done yet as you also need to know how often to feed them. After all, you don’t want to burn or kill the tree by over-fertilizing it or deprive it of food by under-fertilizing! Always follow the directions on the fertilizer package for the best results.
With that in mind, follow our advice on how often you should be feeding your citrus tree right here:
As soon as the buds start swelling in February, give your young citrus tree its first dose of organic fertilizer.
In the first year, fertilize once a month during active growth and once every two months during dormant periods.
For potted citrus, fertilize every 2 to 3 weeks during the growing season (from March to August) using an organic liquid or granular fertilizer. Don’t fertilize in winter so as not to encourage new growth.
Once your citrus tree has passed its third year, fertilize it early in the growing season. As a rule of thumb, only feed the mature tree 3 times a year in February, May, and October.
Verdict: Best Fertilizers for Citrus Trees
There is no denying the importance of fertilization for citrus trees. Without it, your citrus tree may suffer from disease or not fruit as much as it should. When choosing the best fertilizers for citrus trees, consider organic products in the form of Jobe’s Organics Citrus Fertilizer Tree Spikes as they are easier to use and pre-measured so you won’t have to worry about over or under-fertilizing your citrus tree.
Citrus Fertilization Chart – The University of Arizona