The desert landscape and environment here in metropolitan Phoenix is quite hospitable to a wide variety of citrus trees. Most citrus trees do very well, and will often yield sufficient fruit for you, and all of your neighbors. But some varieties of citrus do better than others given the hot summers here in the Valley of the Sun.
Generally speaking, Valencia oranges and Arizona Sweets are more hardy than navel or blood orange trees. Most citrus trees need to be five to six years old before they start producing a generous crop of fruit. Moreover, different types of citrus trees grow at different rates, and sweeter fruit grow slower than less sweet fruit. Which is why you’ll often see an overabundance of lemons.
Citrus trees do need diligent care and maintenance to thrive. First, citrus trees really aren’t trees, but are bushes that are trimmed to look like trees. If they are left to their own devices, they grow big and bushy, and actually will produce more and better quality fruit. But for aesthetic reasons, citrus trees are pruned to look like trees. Another quirk about citrus trees in Arizona is that because they are pruned and their trunks are exposed, they are at risk for sunburn. Therefore, the trunks of citrus trees in Arizona are often painted white for protection against sun damage (which cuts off the flow of nutrients and water to the tree).
The feeding and watering of citrus trees is critical to producing a higher yield of fruit. A high-nitrogen fertilizer three times a year plus generous watering throughout the year are requirements or citrus trees. Citrus trees require several hundred gallons of water about twice a week in the summer months. If you are interested in conserving water, a dwarf citrus tree or a smaller container citrus tree may be more your speed.
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