What would grow well under citrus trees

tbug(z7 SC)January 10, 2003

I'm looking for a companion plant for my orange and grapefruit trees, preferably something easy to take care of. Is there anything I could plant under them that would benefit them, maybe a garlic or a clover? Any suggestions would be helpful.



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Tsapatsaris(9 MID FL)

I'm in central Florida as well. I've always been told not to plant anything under citrus trees and keep grass from growing there as well. That said, I do know ginger (the root you buy in the grocery store) likes to grow in the shade and does well here in Orlando. Maybe it would be a good companion. It grows a couple of feet tall and resembles small bamboo. TSAPATSARIS (Hoe Czar)

    Bookmark   February 4, 2003 at 9:28AM
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AngelOfRapture(z9/14 Livermore)

I have violets under my lemon tree, and they just thrive with almost no care. I wonder why you shouldn't plant beneath them? The tree and the violets both seem to be doing fine.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2003 at 2:12PM
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Citrus has a shallow root system, which is why it wouldn't like competition from vigorous growers which have extensive root systems, like tansy for example.

Hope this helps.


    Bookmark   November 8, 2003 at 5:01AM
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meganxxx(north NSW Aust)

still, does anyone know about the clover idea? i have thought of it, having recently inherited a 100 tree citrus orchard myself. grass is a problem, poison is unacceptable, and slashing seems to take out more irrigation pipe than grass. i know citrus need to breathe underneath, but if the tree is pruned to lift its lowest hanging branches to a good distance above the clover, & you fertilize to allow for the extra nutrients to support the clover (its not like the grass wasn't stealing nutrients anyway), and the added benefit of attracting pollinating bees,could it be bad??? i know mulching is ideal, but 100 trees worth of nonseeding straw and back breaking weeding and laying of cardboard underneath etc. is just downright unappealing. i'd rather throw a couple of kilos of clover seed about & let it crowd out the grasses. is this just a pipedream?????

    Bookmark   January 27, 2004 at 8:03PM
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karen22(z9 fla)

I would post on the California forum as well, they are doing great in the northwest area, Napa Valley with cover-cropping and interplanting. I have thought about inoculated clover too for the nitrogen, but hesitate about putting anything in my container citrus.

    Bookmark   February 17, 2004 at 2:36PM
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kates_spade(s. california)

I live in southern california and have a 60-year old valencia orange. I have leatherleaf fern and clivia growing along the drip line on the shady side, lavendar, society garlic, and lamb's ear on the sunny side.I keep the area directly under the tree free of growth of anykind and mulch there with shredded bark. No fertilizer in years. This tree never fails to produce an abundant crop of excellent oranges.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2004 at 4:50AM
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Jimbeaux123(z9 LA)

The problem with growing plants/grass under citrus trees from what I understand is not so much the plants but the watering. Citrus trees need a certain amount of drought conditions and very little to no fertilizer. My brother fertilized his orange tree and all the blosoms fell off. When my wife and I moved into our house we had an orange tree in the backyard. I watered it religiously and got a very small crop of oranges. I did some research and found that watering and fertilizing citrus will limit your harvest. Hope this helps.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2004 at 12:20AM
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I planted wildflowers and native grasses around my citrus trees. I keep the ground clear about two feet around the trunk of each. As I understand it, the reason you don't want to plant anything directly beneath a citrus (close to the trunk) is foot rot, which citrus trees are prone to in FL. I don't know if it's a problem out in CA or other areas. I wanted wildflowers and grass just for the country orchard look, but I'm also hoping that the flowers, especially the milkweed, will attract beneficial insects and help the citrus.

This thread is a couple of years old. Maybe you've already planted something?

    Bookmark   June 19, 2005 at 9:51PM
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I know this is an old thread, but clover is often used as a ground cover crop. Since it is in the legume family, it is a nitrogen fixer and a good companion for citrus or most other plants. It's used a lot in organic gardening. It also usually requires less water than grass, since the root system goes much deeper and naturally aerates the soil. Just try to keep the trunk clear of vegetation. It probably won't kill the tree is it's well established, as long as it's not consistently moist, but it's better to keep it cleared up.

    Bookmark   October 22, 2012 at 2:07PM
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I've had my citrus leaves go white on me due to shortage of nitrogen so I've planted legume (runner beans) which are perennials in my climate and helps fertilize my lemons and I get beans also some garlic cloves to help with repelling insects also any low root zone flowers or herbs to attract bees for pollination.

    Bookmark   November 24, 2014 at 7:46AM
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The best thing to put under citrus is mulch. Just don't put it up against the trunk. If you want flowers, keep them at the perimeter.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2015 at 8:40AM
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