by Annie Barbus
New and old residents of Georgia will be delighted to find that South Georgians can grow citrus. In the past few years the local extension office has begun rootstock trials for cold hardy citrus for Georgia Growers. At the leading edge of this introduction are cold hardy (field grown seedless lemon, mandarin, and grapefruit developed at the UGA Tifton campus by Dr. Wayne Hanna. Watch for these newly licensed and patented citrus at local nurseries. It is named as a “Frost” series.
When choosing citrus trees for home use, focus on local nurseries as they have the expertise to tell the origin of rootstock the tree has been grafted to, and that trees are free of the disease that is overtaking the Florida citrus industry. Look for satsumas, lemons, and grapefruit on trifoliate or flying dragon (dwarf) rootstock.
Tips for successful citrus in the home garden:
- Plant in an area protected from Northwest wind.
- Plant at same level the tree is growing in pot.
- Plant in well-drained soil.
- Hole should be twice the width of the pot and same depth that it is growing in the pot.
- Follow fertilizing directions using citrus fertilizer. This often seems like a lot, but citrus require more fertilizer than other fruiting trees
- Do not allow trees to set fruit for 3 years to encourage growth and hardiness.
- Excessive watering during fruit set will cause fruit to drop.
- Inspect for insect damage and use Captain Jack’s insecticide for most pests.