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When to Fertilize Citrus Trees in California?

Explore the optimal fertilization schedule for California's citrus trees, covering specific timings and nutrient requirements to enhance fruit quality and tree health.

Table of Contents

A typical citrus fruit needs several things ranging from sunlight to a perfect temperature. This is a reason why California is an ideal state in the US for growing citrus trees. It is important to note that the citrus family has many members, each with a different need for nutrition. 

In a province like California, generally, citrus trees are fertilized from February to September. But the answer is more nuanced than this. 

Let’s talk about it in this article 

The stages when it needs fertilization

The stages when it needs fertilization

Citrus fruits need fertilizers in different stages to produce high-quality fruit; let’s understand why:


This is the foundational stage of a citrus plant when it has small leaves, thin branches, and an underdeveloped root system. Therefore, an N boost at this time can provide the initial nourishment for bud formation and set up a strong base for a fruit tree. 

Early growth stage

In this stage, the citrus tree demands adequate amounts of Potassium to support its growth, flower production, and many other activities. Therefore, fertilizing it in this stage (early May- mid-May) could be a wise decision. 


During the maturation stage, some Californian citrus trees need fertilization. When a tree has curled leaves or yellowness between leaf veins, it means it needs Mg to support sugar production.

Specific times for fertilizing different citrus trees

Now that we know that Californian citrus trees need fertilizers at different stages, it is also important to address the unique needs of each of these fruits. 


For the most variety of oranges in California, January to March would be a good time to give it the initial N-boost. After 50-60 days (June specifically), it is suggested to give it another dosage to fulfill its Phosphorus needs. In case you live in colder climate zones in California, fertilization can be delayed. 


Specific times for fertilizing different citrus trees-lemon

In the case of lemons, the first application is ideal in March to give it a nitrogen boost for early development. The next application may be done during July or August. However, it is important to note that the fertilizer must be applied in limited quantities to avoid overfertilization. 


The first fertilizer application for lemon trees can be done in February-March. A second round of fertilization can be planned in June and July. For people residing in colder parts of the province, the first application may be delayed till the end of March or the beginning of April. 


The soil temperatures during February-March are ideal for enabling nutrient availability. Due to this, a first dose of nutrients can be done during this time. On the other hand, a Phosphorus dosage can be provided during early May (usually the first two weeks). 

Parting comments 

In a nutshell, citrus trees in California need some fertilizers throughout the year; however, the months from February to April and July to September are the most important. It must be ensured that the fertilizer application should be in the right amounts to get the best results.

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