oranges on a tree

Advice: For the Citrus Lover in Springtime (with unhappy looking citrus!)

William Sibley

Spring sees most of our fruit plants looking at their best with wonderful shows of blossom and a brand-new suit of lush green leaves. Not so the citrus plants, which take the lengthening days and wildly fluctuating temperatures of a typical UK spring to shed their leaf and all in all, begin to look just a tad scruffy.

It can certainly be a bit disconcerting for the gardener who is comparing their citrus with other plants in the garden and are left wondering what is going wrong, or even worse, what have they done wrong for their citrus tree to look like that?!

However, those dull and often twisted leaves are not an indication of an impending disaster. Far from it! In fact, the miracle of new growth and flower buds are right behind those deteriorating leaves.

What to do

During the ‘dodgy leaf’ period (that’s a technical term), which can last for up to two months, it will be quite normal for fruits to continue to ripen as well as grow larger. It’s all rather confusing! Our plant care advice is as follows:

  • reduce the watering (but don’t let the soil dry out)
  • stop feeding
  • re-pot if that is what you are intending

Just as soon as you start to see those tiny green shoots pushing through the bark at the base of the old leaf stalk:

  • increase the watering
  • start to feed

Good thing come to those who wait!

  • By June - things will be looking much better
  • By July - you will wonder what all the fuss was about!
  • As early Autumn rolls on, your citrus tree will be looking at its best with large glossy leaf and colouring fruits
  • Come Christmas - you will have fruits to place in the toe of the Christmas stockings

By the end of January your kitchen shall be filled with what is for me (and Paddington Bear), the best smell and sound in the world, marmalade simmering on the cooker.