Q: Why are my citrus fruits splitting?
A: Fruit split is a water problem. Too much water in the later stages of fruit maturation will cause the flesh to expand beyond capacity of the rind. Hamlin and Valencia and young trees are more prone to splitting than other varieties and older trees. Water citrus once a week when rainfall is lacking and fertilize as recommended to produce a tougher rind.
Q: I get lots of citrus blooms, but they drop without setting—why?
A: Citrus must be planted 3–4 years before it becomes mature enough to set fruit. It may bloom prolifically, but it will drop blooms. Even mature citrus sets only a very small amount of its bloom (less than 10%).
Q: Should I mulch my citrus trees?
A: Mulching is an excellent practice for most plants, but not for citrus because it is very susceptible to "wet feet" diseases like foot rot and root rot.
Q: How do I fertilize citrus?
A: Citrus is to be fertilized three times per year: February, June, and November at the rate of one pound per year of the tree's age with a maximum of thirty pounds per year per application. A 6-6-6 or 4-6-8 citrus special with minor elements or trace elements is the recommended analysis. Apply the fertilizer to the entire rooting area which extends from the trunk out to several feet beyond the drip line of the tree.
This article originally appeared in the August 2008 issue of the Neighborhood Gardener.