What Not to Plant Near Citrus Trees

When considering the health of your citrus trees, you want to avoid planting anything under or very near these trees that will compete for the available moisture and nutrition in the soil.

When deciding what to plant near your citrus trees, it’s important to remember these trees do require a moderate amount of water and lots of potassium-rich fertiliser to produce an abundance of fruit.

This should give you a general idea of what not to plant near these trees.

Avoid planting anything that will compete

When considering the health of your citrus trees, you want to avoid planting anything under or very near these trees that will compete for the available moisture and nutrition in the soil.

Although citrus trees do like a decent amount of moisture, they don’t like growing in constantly damp soil. The surface soil needs to dry out a little in between watering.

For this reason, you don’t want to plant anything that is overly thirsty below your citrus trees or within the dripline of the tree.

Another thing you want to avoid is too much disturbance of the root system of your citrus trees. For example, you never want to plant root crops very near your citrus trees.

Avoid planting too close to the trunk of your citrus trees

Most citrus trees that are grown in gardens are grafted. This means that the top fruit-bearing part of the tree has been grafted onto a hardy rootstock.

To keep your citrus tree healthy, you want to keep an eye on the graft and always remove any new growth from the trunk section that is beneath the graft.

For this reason, it’s important to keep the trunk fairly clear so that you can inspect it regularly. This also ensures that there’s no moisture build-up around the trunk as this could result in collar rot. 

lemon tree garden lawn | Plant care

Essentially, you want to avoid planting anything closer than 30 cm from the trunk of your citrus tree.

This will also give you adequate access when it’s time to give your citrus tree a trim or harvest the fruit.

Avoid planting tall trees or shrubs near your citrus

Another thing that you want to avoid is planting tall trees or shrubs near your citrus trees. Citrus trees need a full day’s sunlight in order to thrive and grow.

lemon tree in sun | Plant care

For this reason, you want to ensure that you don’t plant anything that will eventually overshadow your citrus tree and block out the sunlight.

You might also find that anything that grows too tall or large, will have roots that are likely to compete with your citrus tree for both available moisture and nutrients in the soil.

Avoid growing grass or lawn up to the trunk of your citrus trees

Ideally, you don’t want to grow your citrus tree in the middle of a lawned area. When you mow the lawn and do some edging, the garden implements that you use could easily damage the trunk of the tree, no matter how careful you are.

If your lawned area is the only sunny spot in your garden, create a garden bed for your citrus tree to keep the grass at bay. Essentially, this should be a space that is around 30cm out from the trunk of the tree in all directions.

Place a barrier between the lawn and the bed your citrus tree is growing in so that the grass is contained and doesn’t encroach onto the area your citrus tree is growing. 

Grow herbs or flowers under your citrus

If your citrus tree is quite large, you can plant some herbs or flowering plants underneath it as long as you keep these around 30 cm from the trunk.

Some good companions include basil, borage, nasturtiums, marigolds and alyssum. But, avoid digging into the ground so that you don’t disturb the roots of the citrus. 

Instead, just add a layer of compost and plant your herbs and flowers into this.

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Annette Hird

Annette Hird is a gardening expert with many years of experience in a range of gardening related positions. She has an Associate Diploma of Applied Science in Horticulture and has worked in a variety of production nurseries, primarily as a propagator. She has also been responsible for a large homestead garden that included lawn care, fruit trees, roses and many other ornamental plants. More recently, Annette has concentrated on improving the garden landscape of the homes that she has lived in and focused a lot of energy on growing edible plants as well. She now enjoys sharing her experience and knowledge with others by writing articles about all facets of gardening and growing plants.


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