We have several varieties of citrus trees, ranging from kaffir lime to tangerine, and while our backyard isn’t the biggest, we have them fairly spaced out. But we’re looking at getting more citrus trees soon and we’re wondering exactly how far to space them out. So, how far apart should you plant citrus trees?
When it comes to spacing citrus trees, dwarf trees should be 6 to 10 feet (1.83 to 3.05 meters) apart, semi-dwarf should be 12 to 18 feet (3.66 to 5.49 meters) apart, and standard trees need to be 18 to 25 feet (5.49 to 7.62+ meters) apart. Spacing out citrus trees is important to allow for growth and less competition.
Below, we’ll go over how close you can plant citrus trees together, whether or not you can plant different citrus species near each other, the best places to plant citrus, and how far citrus trees should be grown from the fence. Let’s dive in.
How Close Can You Plant Citrus Trees Together?
How close you can plant citrus trees together depends on the size of the tree. The larger the tree, the more expansive the roots. Therefore, for their root systems to have enough room to grow, larger trees need to be planted further apart than smaller trees. Similarly, larger fruit trees will also have a greater width, so they’ll need more space for their branches and leaves to develop without obstruction.
Below, we’ll go over the different citrus tree sizes and how far apart you should plant each variety.
- Dwarf trees are the smallest variety of citrus trees. They are approximately 8 to 10 feet (2.44 to 3.05 meters) tall and wide when they are fully grown. Depending on the environment, they usually start producing fruit sooner than the larger varieties. It’s best to plant dwarf trees approximately 6 to 10 feet (1.83 to 3.05 meters) apart.
- Semi-dwarf trees are 12 to 15 feet (3.66 to 4.57 meters) tall and wide. The semi-dwarf tree can produce twice the fruit as a dwarf tree without using up a lot more space. Trees of this size should be planted approximately 12 to 18 feet (3.66 to 5.49 meters) apart.
- Standard citrus trees usually grow to be 18 to 25+ feet (5.49 to 7.62+ meters) tall and wide. They are slower to produce fruit than dwarf and semi-dwarf trees, but they make a more considerable amount once they do. They need to be planted approximately 18 to 25 feet (5.49 to 7.62+ meters) apart. However, this varies depending on the type of citrus.
Can You Plant Different Citrus Trees Together?
Different types of citrus trees can be planted together, and in fact, it’s encouraged. Having various citrus trees will promote biodiversity, water retention in the soil, and better rates of cross-pollination. Whether it’s oranges, lemons, or any other variety, it’s completely safe to plant them near each other.
A common misconception about planting different citrus near each other is that cross-pollination between the different citrus species will change the fruit’s taste. This has shown to be false since cross-pollination will only affect the fruit’s seeds, not the taste of the fruit itself.
In fact, for many kinds of citrus, cross-pollination is a good thing. Many citrus varieties are parthenocarpic, which means they can produce fruit without pollination (also known as self-pollinating). Since these fruits can fertilize themselves, they are generally seedless.
Self-pollinating trees often produce fewer fruits and drop their fruit earlier than cross-pollinated trees. However, when you cross-pollinate these self-pollinating trees with other citrus varieties, they tend to have a larger fruit yield and produce bigger fruits.
The largest downside to cross-pollinating is that the fruits can become seedier. Overall, if you can promote cross-pollination, even for self-pollinating citrus trees, it will most likely be worth it (even if you have to hand-pollinate with a toothbrush).
Where Is the Best Place to Plant Citrus Trees?
The best place to plant citrus trees is in an area that gets at least 5 hours of sun, doesn’t get frost, and has soil that is well-draining with a pH of 5.5-6.5. Additionally, citrus trees should have enough space from other trees as to not compete with them (usually between 6-18 feet, depending on the tree’s size).
When planting your citrus trees, you should consider the area’s climate, sunlight exposure, nearness to competing plants, and soil drainage. Let’s take a further look at what this all means for your citrus trees.
Warm Climate Year-Round
Citrus trees originated in tropical and subtropical climates, so they prefer similar climates. Generally, citrus trees thrive in warm temperatures ranging from 55.4°F to 100°F (13°C to 38°C).
Naturally, this means that citrus trees do not do well in cold weather. If they are exposed to frost, chilling winds, or extreme cold, they’re likely to die.
So, if you’d like to grow citrus trees, but you live in a colder climate (USDA hardiness zones below 9), it’s likely best that they’re grown indoors in a pot or a greenhouse.
If you’re determined to grow them outside in a colder climate, then you can try different methods to keep them warmer such as covering them in the winter or planting them along a southern-facing wall for maximum sunlight and warmth (walls reflect a surprising amount of heat).
Citrus plants grow best in locations where they receive full sunlight at least 5 hours each day. When exposed to enough sunlight, more sugars can accumulate inside the fruit, making them taste sweeter.
So, when selecting a location for your citrus trees, remember, the sunnier, the better.
Similar to climate, if you want to maximize your citrus’ sun exposure, place them near a wall (ideally southern-facing). The wall will reflect some sunlight onto the citrus tree, giving it a bit more sun exposure.
Soil With Adequate Drainage
Citrus trees do best with soil that is aerated and well-drained. If the soil is too heavy and holds water for too long, the citrus trees’ health will decline. Additionally, they prefer soil with a pH of 5.5-6.5 and are heavy nitrogen consumers.
To test if your soil drains well:
- Create a small hole where you plan to plant your tree.
- Fill the hole with 2 inches (5.08 cm) of water. If your soil is draining well, it should absorb approximately 1 inch (2.54 cm)of water each hour.
- Recheck the water levels in two hours. If there is any water left in the hole, you may have a drainage problem on your hands.
If you find that your citrus trees’ soil is high in clay, or isn’t draining well, feel free to check out this guide I made for how to make and mix your own citrus tree soil. I spent a few hours researching it and putting it together, so it should help when you’re planting your trees or amending their soil.
Away From Competing Plants
Even the largest of trees can have competition. While planting citrus trees too close to each other can increase unnecessary competition, other, smaller plants can also compete. However, instead of competing for sunlight, they compete for nutrients and water in the soil.
To lower the amount of competition your citrus tree has, remove any competing plants such as weeds or grass, from the area where you’ll be planting your citrus trees.
If you have other trees in your yard, make sure you place your citrus an adequate distance away from them since citrus roots don’t compete well for nutrients and moisture with other plants. A good distance to follow is the same distance provided at the beginning of this article.
How Far Should You Plant Citrus Trees From the Fence?
Citrus trees should be planted about half of their width away from fences and property lines. This means citrus trees that will be 14 feet tall and wide should be planted at least 7 feet away from the fence. Planting this way will reduce future issues such as disputes or invasive roots from damaging property.
The distance your citrus tree needs to be from the fence depends on its size. More extensive trees will need to be further from the fence, so their branches, leaves, and trunks will remain on your property when the tree is fully grown.
Additionally, planting a citrus tree too close to a fence can damage it as citrus trees can have fairly invasive roots.
Planting your citrus trees too close to the fence may result in the limbs hanging over into your neighbor’s yard, which can result in legal problems depending on your state’s laws. Or, if you plant your tree too close to the barrier, you may be unable to harvest the fruits on the fence-facing side of the tree. Lastly, the shade from the fence can prevent your citrus trees from getting the sunshine they need to thrive, especially when they’re younger.
So, try to plant your trees at least half its width away from your property line. For example, if you have a standard variety of citrus tree (not dwarfed), the tree should reach 14 feet tall (4.27 meters) and 14 feet (4.27 meters) wide.
The goal here should be to plant it at least 7 feet (2.13 meters) away from the fence. If you’d like to be more cautious, then planting 10 feet or more in this case can help.
However, we know planting your trees this far from the fence may not be possible if you don’t have a huge yard. If you have to grow your trees closer to the fence, you should be fine, but be prepared to face the obstacles listed above.
We’re currently shopping for our next citrus tree, and we now have a good understanding of how far to plant it from the others. While there are some variables to consider, it really isn’t too complex.
To recap, how far apart you should plant citrus trees depends on their size. Smaller dwarf trees need 6 to 10 feet (1.83 to 3.05 meters) between, middle-sized, semi-dwarf trees need 12 to 18 feet (3.66 to 5.49 meters), and full-sized standard trees need approximately 18 to 25 feet (5.49 to 7.62+ meters) of space.
Citrus trees require this much space between them because they have extensive root systems that spread underneath the ground to get their nutrients and moisture. If another citrus is planted too close, they’ll compete for the resources, which means your trees won’t be as healthy or productive. Remember, if you have a fence or border wall, consider planting about half of the width of the tree away to avoid future issues!
Need More Help?
You can always ask us here at Couch to Homestead, but you should know the other resources available to you! Here are the resources we recommend.
- Local Cooperative Extension Services: While we do our best with these articles, sometimes knowledge from a local expert is needed! The USDA partnered with Universities to create these free agriculture extension services. See your local services.
- 7 Easy Steps to Grow Fruit Trees (Free Guide): Need more fruit tree help from the ground up? See our free guide to make growing fruit trees a breeze.
- Ask the Free Community: Join The Couch to Homestead Community and connect with other members discussing gardening, homesteading, and permaculture.
- 30-Day Permaculture Food Forest Course: Learn how to turn your backyard into a thriving food forest in just 30 days with our online course.