Most citrus varieties are easy to grow in Perth. Particularly lemons, however thin skinned mandarins are the most difficult.

While our climate in Perth is great for Citrus, our sandy soils are not. This can lead to disappointment. Improving soil conditions and ensuring trees get the correct amount of water and fertiliser will make a big difference in how successful your trees are.

Best citrus varieties for Perth

Lemons

Eureka has a high fruit yield over a long period of months with fewer thorns. Lisbon also yields heavily but has more thorns and only fruits in winter and spring. Meyer lemons are less acidic although does not have a summer crop in Perth.

Oranges

Navelina and Newhall are early varieties cropping in winter. Washington and Atwood are mid season and Late Lane and Chislett are late varieties. Valencia oranges will produce sweet fruit through summer.

Grapefruit

Marsh (white fleshed) and Rio Red and Star Ruby (red fleshed). Red fleshed varieties are sweeter and have better colour in the north of the state and if grown in Perth need to be left on the tree until at least September to develop.

Mandarins

Imperial and Daisy Bear  – May to July

Hicksons – July to August.

Afourer -August to September

Mystique and Murcott from September to October.

Tangelos

Mandarin and grapefruit crosses that produce good fruit from July to October. Varieties for Perth include Minneola and Orlando.

Lime

The Persian or Tahitian lime is seedless and more cold tolerant then the West Indian lime.

Kumquats

A small round or oval fruit good for jam making as they are prolific bearers.

How to Plant Citrus Varieties and Improve Soil

  1. Start by looking for trees with healthy green growth, no leaf yellowing or leaf drop that look proportional to the pot they are growing in.
  2. Select a site that is protected from strong winds with a sunny aspect. If frost is prevalent, plant trees in spring.
  3. Dig a hole 75cm deep by 75cm wide and apply a mixture of compost, superphosphate at 500g per tree and trace elements at 100g per tree. Mix this up in bottom of hole and place some soil without fertiliser over the top (so roots don’t get burnt).
  4. Place tree into hole, making sure the bud union (where the variety is attached to the rootstock) is well above ground level. If the bud union is covered with soil this can allow diseases such as collar rot to develop in the tree.
  5. Soil ph should be between 6 and 7. If your soil is poor you should add organic matter (compost and manures).
  6. It is a good idea to prune the top of larger trees after planting. Cut back to three well balanced branches 15 to 20cm long.
  7. Spread mulch around base of tree to cool the soil and reduce water loss in summer. Apply enough water to keep the soil moist to a depth of 30 – 40cm. During the growing season apply 20 to 35 grams (half a handful) of urea to each tree every 6 – 8 weeks.

Fertilising citrus trees

Citrus trees need a lot of nitrogen and potassium, and small amounts of phosphorous and trace elements. A fertiliser program should be put in place because of Perth’s sandy soil. Apply 50g of NPK to each tree every 5 weeks in spring (3 to 4 applications).

Apply a commercial citrus fertiliser during the growing season and one or two additional trace element liquid sprays in spring and during fruit set. Organic matter will encourage earthworms and other beneficial organisms and reduce summer soil temperature.

Citrus are shallow rooted with the main mass being located in the top 30 to 40cm and concentrated under the soil canopy. As the spread of water in sand is poor the full root perimeter should be watered.

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Pest and Citrus Disease

Mediterranean fruit fly is the most destructive pest that will attack your citrus plants, especially thin skinned mandarins. The most common fungus is collar rot on the trunk and root rot. Excessive heat causes young fruit to drop and strong sunlight can burn the fruit.