The most popular dooryard fruit tree in Florida is citrus, and learning exactly how to plant a citrus tree in Florida is essential. Florida has unique soil and growing conditions and some are not conducive to citrus growth. Citrus trees are sensitive to certain conditions, so planting a citrus tree properly can make the difference between success and failure. To ensure maximum growth and yield, you must plant citrus trees to the proper depth and spacing. If planted and cared for properly, you will be harvesting enough fruit in a few years for you and your neighbors.
Things You'll Need
Compost or rotted manure
Prepare the Planting Site
Select a site. Citrus trees need full sun and as much protection from wind as possible. Plant citrus in a south or west location if possible. Allow at least 10 to 15 feet between trees and 20 to 25 feet between rows.
Remove all weeds and debris and rake the area. If planting a citrus tree where another tree grew previously, remove all dead and rotting roots from the ground to avoid the spread of disease and termites.
Prepare the rootball for planting. Remove your citrus tree from the pot and check the roots. Most container-grown citrus will be pot bound, which will cause restricted root growth after the tree is planted. Slash the root ball vertically in several places and remove any crowded roots before planting. Loosen the bottom roots so that they will have proper soil contact.
Dig the hole three times the diameter of the pot for potted citrus trees, and wide enough to accomodate the roots for bare-rooted trees. Dig the hole 3 inches deeper than the root ball.
Put 3 inches of manure or compost into the bottom of the planting hole to feed the tree while it is getting established.
Plant the Citrus Tree
Place the tree into the hole with the top of the root ball about 1 inch above ground level. Be careful not to bury the bud union where the tree is grafted to the rootstock, as this will cause rot and death.
Fill the hole halfway by alternating the original soil with the compost or manure in 2-inch layers.
Fill the hole with water, and while it is settling, take the handle end of the shovel and poke it around the hole to ensure there are no air pockets.
Finish layering soil and manure or compost to within 1 inch of the top of the hole.
Using the remaining soil, build a water well around the tree that will hold 3 gallons of water.
Sprinkle 1 cup of Epsom salts around the watering well, and fill the well with water. Epsom salts help roots get established. Allow to soak in and fill with water two more times.
You may mulch your tree, but keep the mulch 6 inches away from the trunk to avoid disease and insect damage. It is actually best not to mulch citrus, but to remove all grass within 2 feet of the trunk of the tree. Never put fertilizer in the bottom of the hole, or fertilize a citrus tree right after planting, as this can burn the roots.