We have several citrus trees in our garden including lemons, oranges, tangerines and limes and while they are doing well we are looking for ways to increase their pollination and therefore their fruit production. This led us to look at companion planting. So what are great companions for citrus trees?
The best companion plants for citrus trees are wildflowers, nasturtium, lavender, rosemary, and chives. Ideally, companion plants will attract pollinators, build soil, repel pests and be visually appealing. Depending on shade tolerance, some plants can be planted under the tree itself.
So while these plants make good companion plants for citrus trees, what exactly do they do to help and what other plants can we use? Let's take a closer look.
Benefits of Companion Planting
Companion planting isChoosing specific plants to put together for benefits,such as increasing pollination or repelling pests. Sometimes these benefits are one-sided, while others are mutual.
A famous example isthe three sisters- Plant corn, beans and pumpkin together. corn providesgradeIn order for the beans to rise, the squash provides aground cover, and the beanfix nitrogendown to the ground. Also, they all offer food!
Here is a list of the benefits that gardens gain from companion planting:
- increase pollination
- repel pests
- avoid weeds
- fix nitrogen
- change the floor
- cover the floor
- reduce evaporation
- Provide a living trellis
- maximize the space
- produce more food
To learn more about the benefits of companion planting, see my other post:Top 10 benefits of companion planting.
1. Wild Flowers
Wildflowers are one of the best companion plants for citrus trees, mainly becauseattractsA variety ofuseful insects,as pollinators. These pollinators includebees, butterflies and hummingbirds.
The variety of wildflower colors is visually appealing to pollinators and provides a good mix of nectar to use for energy.
So which flowers are classified as wildflowers?
Wildflowers are defined as any flower that has not been genetically manipulated (Those ones).
- bee balm
- Queen Anne Lace
- purple sun hat
- crane beak meadow
- black eyed susan
Increasing wildflower pollination is important becauseAlthough most citrus trees are self-pollinating, they can still benefit from cross-pollination.In short, they have lessfallen fruitand sometimes even bigger fruit.
If you want more information on citrus tree pollination, read my last post:Pollination of citrus trees and its benefits.
This aromatic plant is a great companion for almost anything, including citrus trees. They are hardy perennials and have a high resin content, which meansIts leaves and flowers are usually too tough and oily to be of interest to pests such as deer, rabbits or squirrels..
Its fragrant purple flowers also attract beneficial insects such as bees, which are among the best pollinators in the world.
Lavender is known forDefense against ticks and fleasdue to its powerful oils and can even repel mice andthe steering wheelfor. Both plants like hot, dry conditions, making them a good choice for gardens that experience intense summer heat.
Rosemary usually blooms early, around the same time as citrus trees. This is a huge advantage for pollinating citrus flowers.
Plants like rosemary and lavender also have relatively short roots, which is good as the deeper roots can compete with the roots.the shallow roots of the citrus tree.
Like lavender, rosemary prefers warm, dry conditions. This makes it perfect for growing with citrus trees in places like California. On the other hand, frequent rains can make growing rosemary a bit difficult in climates like Florida.
For this reason, consider planting rosemary in mounds (around citrus trees) to improve soil drainage.
Comfrey is one of the most popular companion flowers right now because it doesn't just take some getting used to.attract pollinatorsbut grows incredibly fast and tall - eventually falls off and has a nice figurefertilizerfor other plants.
This mulch reduces evaporation, provides protection from the elements, and adds nutrients to the soil.
comfrey toofixes nitrogendown to the ground. Because of this, comfrey is a great plant to cultivate and improve poor soils.
So if you need more pollination, mulch or nitrogen in your garden, grow comfrey!
For best results,Plant comfrey next to fruit trees like citrus fruits and vegetables like asparagus.However, comfrey grows well with almost any plant.
Remember that although comfrey has no enemies, itit couldgrow and spread aggressively. For this reason, many gardeners prefer to growrussian comfreybecause it has sterile seeds.
To see more companion flowers, check out my other post:.
Nasturtiums are edible, beautiful and grow quickly. They are great companions for citrus trees becauseattract pollinatorsEattractsaphidsabsentFrom the tree.
I once had aphids on my kaffir lime and they were a pain to deal with (I eventually found that spraying with a light stream of water knocked them out and they haven't come back since). At that time, it would be nice to know nasturtium would help too!
Nasturtium flowers come in a variety of colors, and their sand dollar-shaped leaves are a real eye-catcher. you also haveno problem growing in bad soil– as long as it drains well.
Because they quickly rise through the ground, they are amazingground cover.As a result, it protects the soil by reducing evaporation and provides a useful habitat for garden life.
You can transplant nasturtiums with any of the plants on this list to add extra color to your citrus tree. However, avoid planting nasturtiums with cauliflower and squash, as they can compete.
6. Allium (scallions, garlic and onions)
The Allium family, including chives, garlic and onions, hasnatural antifungal properties. For example, when spring onions are transplanted to apple trees, they help fight fungal scab (Those ones). Since citrus trees are equally susceptible to fungal infections, plantscallionnearby should also help prevent yeast infections.
Leek is great tooDefense against certain pests such as aphids, mites, grubs, as well as rabbits and deer.They are so effective at this that some impediments are made of them (Those ones).
Furthermore, allium roots are relatively shallow, growing to a depth of12-18″. This makes them good companion plants as they do not disturb or compete with the shallow roots of the citrus tree.
Chives also bloom in spring and summer with beautiful purple flowers thatattract pollinators.They are easy to care for and versatile in the kitchen!
Allium has many companion plants, but avoid planting them with legumes and other alliums.
For more pest repellent companion plants, see my other post:7 companion plants that repel pests
7. Cover cultures
Many legumes such as clover, peas and green beans (along with some grasses) are also mentioned.cover culturesas they are great pioneer plants for impoverished soils.
Secondary crops are used to improve soil healthSlow erosion, retain water, prevent weeds and control pests and diseases.They have even been shown to increase crop yields.
During the 2012 drought, corn and soybean growers reported a 9.6% to 11.6% increase in yield when using cover crops, which is likely due in part to the capacity of the cover crop.Add 50-150 pounds of nitrogen per acre.Those ones
These cover crops fix nitrogen in the soil, stimulating beneficial bacteria that take nitrogen from the air and store it in the soil as nitrate for other plants to use (Those ones). This is incredibly valuable for citrus trees as they are often neededgoodnitrogen compared to other fruit trees.
How comfrey can youfertilizerCover crops for even more nitrogen and other nutrients (in addition to reducing evaporation), and many cover crops provide a good source of biomass and food.
With cover crops like clover, you can even grow them and place them among citrus trees.bedthrough the alleys. Your livestock will receive free feed, many pests will be repelled, and your citrus trees will receive incredible fertilizer in the form offertilize.
8. Mexican Sunflower
Mexican Sunflowers (Tithonia diversifolia)attract pollinatorslike crazy and grow best in USDA hardiness zones 9 and higher, so they're great to plant with your citrus trees. This flowering plant grows 4 to 6 feet tall.
I first heard about Mexican Sunflowers from Pete Kanaris at Green Dreams Farm. He claimed that's when it's mulchedthe same amount of nitrogen pound for pound as chicken manure.For this reason, they are often referred to as green manure. And based on growing your backyard food forest, I'd say it clearly works!
see mexican sunflowerfertilizerin action, check out this video of Pete.
9. Hibiscus (Roselle)
Hibiscus are flowering plants native to temperate, subtropical and tropical regions, making them easy to grow as companion plants to citrus trees. Most hibiscus varieties grow best in USDA hardiness zones 9-12.
Hibiscus mainly benefits from citrus treesattract pollinators.
There are many varieties of hibiscus, ranging from small plants to woody shrubs and small trees. However, the most popular one isHibiscus sabdariffa, also called rosella. This plant is best known for a red, tart herbal tea made from its flowers. Another common name for hibiscus tea is carcade (Those ones)
With good care, a hibiscus plant can grow up to 8 meters tall.Those ones), ThenPlant them near your citrus trees.(and not below!).
You might be thinking, "How can aherbmake this list? But what is another weed if not a plant we think we don't want?
The reason we see dandelions growing everywhere is because they are one of the first plantsecological succession. That is, it grows because it takes advantage of degraded soils and seeks to improve them. As a result, dandelion roots are greatfix nitrogenon the ground, similar to comfrey.
I also like comfrey, of course dandelionprotect the soilerosion and extreme temperatures and in general - are highly effectivefertilizer.
For all these reasons, dandelions make a great companion plant for citrus trees (especially lemon, orange, and lime trees).
As a bonus, the dandelion also hasedibleleaves and flowers and are commonly used in many homemade products.
Other flowering companion plants for citrus trees
Along with the flowering plants mentioned above, you can plant some of these flowers to attract pollinators to your citrus trees and encourage a good harvest:
Because avocado trees have similar needs to citrus trees, they share many of the same companion plants. If you would like to see more companion plants that are also suitable for citrus trees, check out my other post:The 10 Best Companion Plants for Avocado Trees.
Where to plant companion plants for citrus trees?
For companion plants that need more sun, such as wildflowers, lavender and rosemary, consider planting them outside the canopy. Others, such as nasturtium and chives, prefer partial sun and can be planted under the citrus tree.
Companion plants can usually be planted alongside or under citrus trees. The two main factors are how much sun or shade the companion plants need and the size of the citrus tree.
In general, younger citrus trees can compete with other plants in establishing their root base. When the citrus trees reach 3 feet or more in height, you can start planting companion plants underneath. just make sureKeep companion plants at least a foot away from the tree trunk.
What not to plant near citrus
If you plant near citrus trees,Avoid plants with deep rootsas they compete with and can even damage the shallow roots of citrus trees. These plants include tubers and root vegetables such aspotatoes, sweet potatoes and carrots,along with other fruit trees.
While most fruit trees have 90% of their roots in the first 2 feet of soil (Those ones), have some deeper roots that can compete with citrus trees. For this reason,Plant other fruit trees 18-25 feet apart.
If you want more information on citrus tree spacing, you can check out my other post:How far away to plant citrus trees.
Can potted citrus trees have companion plants?
For potted citrus trees,generally not a good ideaplant a companion plant in the same pot. This can affect potted citrus tree growth due to root spacing. Potted citrus trees have a limited amount of soil and will need to be repotted into a larger pot (withfresh soil for pots) every 3-5 years.
While it's not a good idea to combine citrus fruits and a companion plant in theThe same thingPot, you can definitely use a pot for each plant and keep them together. There is no minimum distance to be observed here. However, avoid touching the two plants together, as mold or disease can spread from the soil or leaves.
Need more help?
you can alwaysask ushere on Couch to Homestead, but you should be aware of the other resources available to you! Here are the resources we recommend.
- Local Cooperative Advisory Services:While we do our best with these items, sometimes a local expert's knowledge is needed! The USDA has partnered with universities to create these free agricultural advisory services. Moneyshe is readyto view your local services.
- Permaculture Advice:Need help with a bigger project?Send us a message.
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