Is it possible to transplant a mature citrus tree?

avalon2007April 16, 2009

Hi folks,

some of my 15 -20 year old citrus trees are in too much shade during the winter. There is nothing that I can do about the shade, because it is the result of my neighbors' privacy hedge and the fact that the original owner of our property planted the citrus far too close to the property lines. The privacy hedge cannot be trimmed enough to allow more sun in without losing its privacy function.

So, is it possible to safely transplant fully grown citrus trees, and if so, HOW?



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Those are very old trees and even if you hire the best people for the job, there's a good chance they may never fruit again. I would try just one tree and see what happens.

First, you must root prune the trees. At least half the distance from the trunk to the drip line, dig a trench around a foot wide and four feet deep. Clean any rocks and roots from the soil you remove from the trench and then refill it with that same soil.

Wait four to six months to allow new roots to form and then move the tree. Dig the new hole first, making sure that it's deep enough and wide enough to accommodate the old tree. You'll need a backhoe or some other large piece of equipment to carry the tree from the old hole to the new one.

Cut the branches back by a third before moving and water in good once the tree is in the new hole.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2009 at 11:00AM
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I'm thinking of buying some citrus trees. Should I wait for winter or can I plant them any time?

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 8:05AM
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Plant them now.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 8:47AM
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Since I may be replacing my old declining grapefruit tree, I was interested in this post.

What IS the oldest age for a citrus tree that ensures succesful planting? I don't want to replant with a 2 foot tree. How old/large can you go and have it be successful?


    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 1:53PM
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saintpfla---Citrus trees do not like to be transplanted so when you plant a tree be sure that is where it is to stay. After a citrus tree gets established successful transplanting chances go down.

How old is the grapefruit tree? Perhaps you could just cut back the tree by about 1/3 of its size to rejuvenate it.


    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 2:51PM
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Saintpfla -Citrus that is in a container can be transplanted into the ground even if the tree is huge. However, Transplanting from ground site to ground site is difficult.

Fawnridge - Thanks for your reply. After reading your post and considering the logistics of transplanting, I have decided that three of my trees are far too large to be transplanted. I will just support them as best I can until they just can't take the shade anymore.


    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 10:53PM
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My plans are definitely not to move a citrus tree from location to location.

My tree is very old and they don't live forever and is showing a lot of signs of decline. Since I don't want to wait 20 years for a tree to grow, I'd rather buy a large nursery tree. I don't know what the optimal age is for planting mature citrus trees.

I am assuming there are some inherent guidelines on this pertaining to success rates of planting mature trees, ie: 2 year old trees do better than 7 year old...etc.?

I really have no clue and I think most nurseries just want to sell you a tree so won't tell you the bottom-line on this item.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 9:56AM
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The larger the tree, the sooner you'll get fruit. Buy as large as your budget can stand.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2009 at 12:37PM
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A few weeks ago we transplanted a lime tree that had been growing in the ground for about 5 years. We were advised to plant it into a whiskey barrel planter. We followed all the directions of a professional but the tree looks dead and did so the day after transplanting it. I am very concerned because we were not told to prune the tree first and to not worry about how many roots we had to cut. We were told that the tree could lose 70% of its roots. We were also told to water the tree on a slow drip for 48 hours prior to transplanting. I have since read that the ground should have been dried 2-3 days prior and that we should not have cut the roots. I guess we basically did everything wrong! What do you think the chances are for this poor tree? Did we fail miserably? Were these completely wrong instructions? We moved and wanted to take the tree with us.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2012 at 9:14PM
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