After I bought my potted Meyer lemon tree from the nursery, it was time to repot it. I had a 3-gallon pot, but I needed some extra potting soil. Unsure of what mix to buy, I took my search online. However, I wasn’t able to find a simple answer for which citrus potting soils were the best purchase. To find the answer, I had to do a bit of research. So, now that I’m done researching, here’s what makes the best potting soil for citrus trees.
The best citrus tree potting soil is loose, slightly acidic (pH of 5.5-6.5), and well-draining–but can still hold some moisture. While too much water retention can lead to root rot, maintaining moisture in the soil is helpful for the tree’s survival, especially in times of heat and drought.
While this summary may be helpful, let’s look a bit further at what makes citrus potting soils great and which options are the best buys for your money.
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What to Consider When Buying Potting Soil for Your Citrus Tree
Lightweight and Well-Drained
Citrus trees need to be planted in lightweight soil that drains easily. Non-compact soil provides citrus with enough water to keep them healthy while allowing any excess water to drain away.
If the soil is too dense or contains too many water-absorbing materials, it can hold too much water, which will harm, and possibly even kill your citrus tree.
It’s also important to know to not plant your citrus trees in native soil since it’s often too compact and can have a different pH (especially clay soils). Commercial potting soil is often a better option since it can be tailored to meet your tree’s specific soil needs.
If you find that the potting soil you purchase is too dense for your trees, mix in hardwood bark chips. Mixing in the bark will increase the spaces in the soil, increasing airflow and reducing its compactness. The bark will also break down over time and provide a slow-release of nutrients in the soil.
Contains Inorganic Ingredients
For the best results, make sure your potting soil contains inorganic ingredients such as vermiculite, perlite, peat moss, coconut coir, sand, or wood chips.
These ingredients can hold water while the rest of the moisture drains through the soil.
Inorganic ingredients’ ability to retain moisture is essential because citrus plants can’t withstand having water-saturated soil, especially near their roots. So, having these inorganic ingredients in your potting mix will keep your citrus plants hydrated without water-logging them.
Soils for Cactus, Palms, and Succulents
There are a limited number of potting soils that are explicitly marketed for citrus trees. However, there are many soil products on the market that are intended for cactus, palms, and succulents.
These plant species require similar soil conditions as citrus, such as loamy or sandy soils with higher acidity. Therefore, potting mixes intended for these other plants are also a great option for citrus trees.
The Top 3 Citrus Tree Potting Soils That You Can Buy
1. Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix
I’ve used Espoma’s Organic Potting Mix for my potted Meyer lemon, but also for my herbs, microgreens, and other houseplants. I first discovered Espoma at a local nursery, and later found out Amazon also sells it.
While I had to do a bit of investigating to find out the pH, I found this potting mix’s pH is between 6.5-7, which is borderline too alkaline for potted citrus trees. While your citrus tree would be fine if you only used this potting mix, I would recommend mixing in a small amount of sand, peat moss, or acidic fertilizer to lower the pH.
To see which acidic citrus fertilizers I recommend, check out my post on the top two citrus fertilizers.
- Organic and higher quality: Espoma’s potting soil is organic, which is surprisingly tough to find online. They use quality ingredients such as worm castings along with other organic materials.
- Found at many nurseries: As I mentioned earlier, I first discovered Espoma at my local nursery. So, it might be worth giving a few local nurseries a call to see if they carry it and how much they’re charging. It could be more convenient for you to pick it up, especially if the nursery is near you. Additionally, they might offer it at a better price.
- Higher cost: While Espoma’s organic potting mix is of higher quality, it can be expensive. However, if you only need a small amount of soil for your potted citrus trees, the extra few dollars is likely worth it.
- Higher pH: This potting mix is listed at a pH of 6.5-7, which can be slightly too alkaline for potted citrus trees, which prefer a pH of 5.5-6.5. However, this is an easy fix. Simply mix in 10% sand or peat moss, or the recommended amount of acidic citrus fertilizer.
2. Kellogg’s Organic Palm, Cactus, and Citrus Mix
While I haven’t used Kellogg’s Citrus mix, I have used their regular organic potting mix and garden soil for my outdoor garden with good results.
My only complaint about their potting mixes is that they’re a bit too woody and the pieces are large, which means the soil doesn’t hold water too well.
In my garden, I’ve had to add compost and other amendments to increase the amount of moisture the soil can hold.
Other than that, Kellogg’s is a good purchase at a great price, especially if you need large volumes of potting soil for your citrus trees.
- Premixed formula: This incredible soil is premixed, so all you have to do is plant your citrus, and you’ll be good to go.
- High customer ratings: Of those who reviewed this product, 89% said they would recommend this potting mix, given that it worked so well for their plants.
- Ideal for indoor and outdoor use: This soil can be used in a container or for planting outdoors. It’s also great for repotting. So, you can use it for all of your planting needs.
- Provides too much drainage: Kellogg’s formula contains sand, perlite, and peat, which allows the soil to drain. However, it can drain too much, requiring more frequent watering. For best results, consider mixing this potting soil with some moisture-boosting amendments such as compost or peat moss.
3. Miracle-Gro’s Cactus Palm and Citrus Potting Soil Mix
Miracle-Gro’s Cactus, Palm, and Citrus potting mix is third on my list. This is the only brand I have not tried. However, I couldn’t ignore it based on the positive reviews and how many times I’ve seen it mentioned across the web.
The main issues I have with Miracle-Gro’s citrus potting mix is based on a little bias. I naturally steer away from some of the larger brands, especially if they don’t offer organic options.
However, this is my bias, so if you don’t have any issues with these factors, then Miracle-Gro’s citrus mix is likely a good purchase for you at a fair price.
- Contains perlite: This non-organic ingredient helps keep the soil well-drained and loose, keeping your citrus trees happy and healthy.
- Includes Miracle-Gro Plant Food: Miracle-Gro’s specialized plant food formula contains a wide range of nutrients, which will provide your citrus trees the nourishment they need to grow.
- Relatively cheap: One 8 quarts (7.57 L) bag costs less than other options on our list.
- A few customers received bad soil: Some reviewers mentioned that the soil they bought contained gnats and fungus. However, Miracle-Gro offers a product guarantee, and they seemed responsive to getting them a solution.
When I needed to repot my Meyer lemon tree, I found that Espoma’s organic mix was the best choice for me. While I didn’t mix in sand or peat moss to increase the acidity (which I would recommend), I did provide some acidic compost and food scraps such as citrus peels, onions, and coffee grounds.
Remember that the best soil for citrus trees is one that’s lightweight, well-drained, and contains inorganic material. Citrus trees need similar soil as cactus, succulents, and palms, so it is okay to plant your citrus in a potting mix designed for these plant species.
If you think your potted citrus tree’s soil might be too alkaline, and want an easy way to check its pH at home, check out this video by Epic Gardening.
Homemade Citrus Potting Soil
If you’re not exactly excited about these options for potting soils, I spent several hours researching and testing the best ways to mix your own potting soil. Consider checking out my post on how to make homemade citrus potting soil.