A lingering legend would say that citrus fruits are not very greedy in water. From this belief arise many cultivation failures, all the more so when these fruit trees very greedy in water are found cultivated in pots!
Actual needs of citrus fruits in water
Citrus fruits are native to South East Asia, areas bathed by frequent and heavy rains. Admittedly, they appreciate the heat and are cultivated in the south of Spain, in Morocco, in Florida or in Corsica, country where the rains are rarer which has undoubtedly earned the famous legend of citrus fruits resistant to drought. Except that in these regions, producers are racking their brains (and wallets) to irrigate to the right extent with substantial needs up to 5,000 m3 / year / ha. This, in the ground and on trees already well established, so imagine in a pot!
What happens if there is a lack of water?
Lack of water causes slower growth, a falling flowers as well as lower production. The fruits, if there are any fruits, are smaller and less juicy.
Another problem is the reduced resistance to pests and diseases due to the weakening ofshrub in water stress.
As you will have understood, the majority of the worries that gardeners encounter when growing citrus fruits can be caused by this famous lack of water.
How to water a citrus fruit in a pot?
A potted citrus must be watered throughout the year because the evaporation is then very important and the substrate of restricted volume. The shrub cannot form roots to draw water from the depths as it would in the ground, so you have to help it and think about watering it.
Beware of the rain which may be insufficient in all seasons and beware of winter, if you leave your pot outside in the region known as the ‘orange tree’ because droughts lasting nearly 3 weeks are not uncommon! In short, do not rely too much on the rain, but rather on your good will or opt for an automatic sprinkler system which will free you from this chore and can be programmed according to the needs and the seasons.
If you water by hand, always water in the evening, abundantly so that the substrate absorbs water in depth. Water should never stagnate at the roots.
Water again as soon as the substrate is dry on 2 cm on the surface in summer. This can correspond to at least 6 liters per day in the middle of summer in the south of France!
In spring and autumn, if it is not too hot, space the waterings but keep the famous rule of 2 cm on the surface, and check this parameter even in the event of rain.
In winter, when the pot is wintered indoors unheated, but frost-free, arroevery 10 to 15 days if the substrate has dried over 4 cm. Otherwise wait a few more days and never leave a cup under the pot at this time of year.
Source: Au Jardin, conseils en jardinage by www.aujardin.info.
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