Want the whole run-down about caring for a citrus tree?
Check out our educational seminar from the 2023 PBS Garden & Landscape Expo.
Caring for your tree
Can I re-plant my tree?
We do not recommend re-planting your tree until at least two weeks after you receive it. This allows the tree time to readjust to its new environment after the stress of shipping and delivery.
There is no need to re-plant your tree at all until about six to nine months after you receive it, at which point we recommend re-planting it into a two-gallon pot. This is not completely necessary, as your tree can live its entire life in the pot you received it in. However, re-planting it into a bigger pot will help it produce more fruit.
If at any point you see roots growing out of the bottom of your pot, that is the biggest indicator that your tree could use a bigger pot. With that being said, citrus trees actually like being root-bound. When they are root-bound, it signals to them that they should start to produce fruit. If your tree is about as big as you would like it to get, you can leave it in its pot and it will be happy. Otherwise, continue to plant it into larger pots until it gets to the size that you would like it to be.
What kind of soil should I use?
The soil that we planted your tree in is a perfect example of the type of soil that a citrus tree needs. If you need to change the soil or re-plant your tree, you will need to use freely-draining, slightly acidic soil.
The best soil for the tree is Frank's Soilless Mix, which is currently available for purchase! Frank's mix contains the following:
-3 parts coconut chips (no larger than ¼” pieces)
-1 part medium perlite
-1 part soil amendment, such as peat moss, coconut coir, soil, compost, etc.
We also carry a premium version of Frank's Soilless Mix that includes the addition of biochar. This helps balance the pH of your soil and retain nutrients.
If you want to create your own mix, the 2-1-1 ratio can be altered depending on your liking. For example, in hot summers, you may want to use a 3-1-2 so that you do not need to water daily. If you are looking for a less costly mix, you can also create a 1:1 mix of peat moss/coconut coir and perlite.
These materials can be purchased at your local garden store.
However, purchasing all of these materials together can be costly. That's why we recommend saving your time and money by purchasing a 2-gallon bag of Frank's Soilless Mix!
I have never owned a citrus tree. How do I know what to do?
If you have questions before you purchase a tree, we recommend visiting our "Am I Ready for a Citrus Tree?" page. Also remember that every tree comes with a free citrus care guide so that you can feel prepared to care for your tree.
If you still have questions about your tree that are not answered on this page or in your citrus tree care guide, reach out to us and we will be happy to help you.
How often should I water my tree?
Only water your tree when the soil is dry.
The best way to know if the soil is dry is to feel the weight of the tree. When you water it, ensure that you saturate the soil. The water should run out of the pot freely. Discard any excess water, as citrus trees do not grow well with wet feet.
Pick up the tree and feel how heavy it is. This will give you a good way to gauge when the soil is dry, as it will be significantly lighter.
You could also consider purchasing a moisture meter for your tree. If you use a moisture meter, you should water your tree when the moisture level is at the lowest point possible before allowing the tree to wilt.
Should I use fertilizer?
Yes! Any well-balanced fertilizer with a 2-1-1 ratio (or another relatively even ratio) of NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) and micronutrients will be great for your tree and help it to produce fruit.
If you are not sure which fertilizer will work, or are looking for a specific product recommendation, we also carry the fertilizer that we use on our trees - the best fertilizer for citrus trees that we have found! Click here to check out our 13-6-6 fertilizer!
Ensure that you follow the fertilizer's instructions for the best outcome.
When can I pick the fruit?
The amount of time needed for the fruit to ripen will depend on the variety of tree.
In general, kumquats typically take 5-7 months to ripen, lemons typically take 9-12 months to ripen, and oranges typically take 11-12 months to ripen. You will know the fruit is ripe when it turns from rock-hard to a softball-like consistency.
We have provided rough estimates for fruiting on each product page. Please refer to these estimates, but know that these are not guaranteed. The time a tree takes to fruit is dependent on many variables, such as soil, size of the pot, and other environmental factors.
Why are my tree's leaves dropping or turning yellow?
This could be caused by a few different things, including insufficient sunlight, improper watering, nutrient deficiency, or low temperatures.
Ensure that you are giving the tree enough sunlight (4-8 hours minimum, depending on variety), watering appropriately (when the soil is dry), and using fertilizer as recommended.
You are most likely to experience these issues during the cold season, especially if the tree is kept next to a drafty window. If the bottom of the pot is cold or the roots of the tree are cold, you should consider moving the tree to a warmer location or using a germination/heat mat under the pot (get the same heat mat that we use here!).
If you have addressed these necessities and your tree is still losing leaves or yellowing, please reach out to us and we would be happy to work with you to find a solution.
Do I need to prune my tree?
Generally, pruning your potted citrus tree is unnecessary. However, there may be certain instances in which you will need to prune some branches.
You can prune any dead or unsightly branches, and we highly recommend immediately pruning any growth that occurs below the graft union. If these growths are not pruned, they may overgrow your citrus tree.
If you have the desire to shape your tree, prune no more than one-third of the tree at a time. Allow several months between pruning to give the tree time to recover.
Should I use a grow light? If so, what kind should I use?
During the summer time, you can put your tree outside and it will soak up all of the sun it can get! However, if you keep your tree indoors at any point in the year, you will need to make sure that it is getting enough sunlight in order to encourage the most growth and fruit production.
Generally (though there are a few exceptions), here are the light requirements by variety:
Lemon: 4-6 hours
Lime: 4-6 hours
Kumquat: 3-4 hours
Orange: 4-6 hours
Grapefruit: 8-10 hours
If your tree is not getting enough natural sunlight while indoors (or if it is not getting any natural light), it is a good idea to supplement with grow lights.
We carry the best grow light for your citrus tree (click here to check it out), but you can also purchase any 1000W grow light.
If your tree is getting full sun naturally in your home, only use the light as a supplement (as needed) to provide a maximum of 12-16 hours total of light per day for your tree.
If your tree does not get any natural sun, it is recommended to use the light to provide 12-16 hours of light per day.
An outlet timer from a local hardware store is suggested to ensure your light automatically turns on and off at the right times!
If you have questions or want to check what your specific tree requires for sunlight, visit the product page or contact us and we will be able to let you know!
Who/what is Frank's Fruit Trees?
We are a small business located in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. As one of the only dedicated citrus growers in the midwest, we take pride in providing quality trees and personalized customer service. You can take comfort in knowing that we (the owners of Frank's Fruit Trees) personally care for every tree that we sell and will be here for questions if you have them.
Where do you get your trees?
We propogate many of our trees ourselves in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin. Some of our trees may be sourced from family-owned USDA-certified growers. However, when we source our trees from other growers, we first purchase them and care for them to ensure they are healthy and pest-free. We will never send you a tree that we have not personally cared for.
What is the difference between a rooted tree and a grafted tree?
A rooted tree is a tree that is grown on its own roots. It may require more attention than its grafted counterpart, but it is still a great tree that produces fruit. It tends to adapt very well to being in a container and will stay substantially smaller than a grafted tree, growing more into a bush shape. If it is cared for well, it may flower and produce fruit sooner than a grafted tree. Citrus trees on their own roots can be more susceptible to disease and are less forgiving if they are neglected.
A grafted tree is a tree that is made of two conjoined trees. The roots and the bottom of the stem (rootstock) are one tree selected for disease resistance and other desired qualities, while the top of the tree is another tree - the tree you are purchasing. For example, our grafted calamondin tree may be grafted to a flying dragon rootstock. Since grafted trees have roots that have been selected for positive attributes, they tend to be more tolerant to their environment and may produce better quality fruit.
Do you use any pesticides on your trees?
We do not use any toxic chemicals or pesticides on our trees. When needed, we use a vegetable oil-based or salt-based pesticide that is non-toxic and not harmful to people or animals. Most ingredients in our "pesticides" can be found in your kitchen.
How do I know your plants are healthy?
We receive an inspection yearly to ensure that our plants are healthy and pest-free. We also keep most of our trees indoors, free from pests and diseases. Lastly, each tree is personally cared for and inspected by us to ensure that we are only selling quality, pest-free trees.
If you have concerns about the health of your tree upon receipt, please contact us as soon as possible so we can make it right.
Orders, shipping & delivery
Where is local delivery offered?
All products are available for local delivery in the Madison, WI area only. We may not offer delivery to all areas of Madison, WI. If local delivery is available in your area, you will see the option available at checkout after you enter your address.
How does local pickup work?
All products are available for free local pickup in downtown Sun Prairie, WI. Since we do not have a physical store location, we will send the exact pickup address after you purchase. Please ensure that you schedule a pickup time with our online scheduler when you place your order. We will have your order ready for pickup at the date and time you select. Local pickup may not be available every day or time of day, but generally we offer pickup between the hours of 9am and 7pm. We may not be able to fulfill requests for pickup on specific dates or at specific times, but we will do our best to work with you.
How does local delivery work?
All products are available for local delivery in the Madison, WI area only. If local delivery is available in your area, you will see the option available at checkout after you enter your address. Orders must be paid online before delivery.
When local delivery orders are placed, we will reach out to you by phone or email within three business days to schedule a delivery date. Local delivery may not be available every day or time of day. We may not be able to fulfill requests for delivery on specific dates or at specific times.
Can I request local pickup or delivery for a specific date and/or time?
If you would like to request delivery on a specific date or time, please reach out to us via chat or email at firstname.lastname@example.org as far in advance as possible and before you place your order. Although we cannot guarantee local delivery on any specific date or time, we will do our best to work with you.
For pickups, please ensure that you schedule a pickup time with our online scheduler when you place your order. We will have your order ready for pickup at the date and time you select.
Can you bring the tree inside my home if I select local delivery?
We do not offer in-home delivery; therefore, we are not able to bring your trees inside at this time.
Where do you ship to?
We currently ship nationwide!* **
*Cold temperatures are here! That means shipping for trees in 2022 has ended. All supplies are still available for shipping (or pickup/local delivery), and trees are ONLY available for pickup or local delivery. We will resume shipping trees in Spring 2023, once we can no longer see our breath outside!
**Due to extensive shipping regulations, shipping will not be available in the following states: Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Guam, Hawaii, Mississippi, Nevada, Puerto Rico, US Virgin Islands, South Carolina, and Texas. If you are located in one of these states and would like us to offer shipping in the future, please let us know by reaching out to us on our "Contact Us" page. We may also be able to offer one-time shipping to your state if requested, but any associated costs will be added to the cost of your order. Please reach out to us if you are interested in this option.
How long is processing time for orders?
Processing times may vary between one and seven days, but some orders may require longer processing times. Please know that we are working to ship and deliver your orders as quickly as possible.
Do I need to be home when my tree is delivered?
You do not need to be home in order to receive your tree.
When we deliver a local order, we will leave the tree on your doorstep and mark your order as "Delivered."
Orders that are shipped will be left on your doorstep just like any other package.
Your tree will not be harmed if it is left in the box for a few hours. However, during colder seasons you should try to get your tree inside as soon as possible to avoid damage to the tree.
Can I be added to a waitlist if a tree is out of stock?
Unfortunately we are not able to offer a waitlist for out of stock trees. However, if a tree is out of stock you will have the option to provide your email and be notified when it is back in stock. If you would like to be notified when a tree is back in stock, go to the product page and click, "Notify me when this is in stock."
Can I place a special order or bulk order?
Yes, you can place special orders or bulk orders by reaching out to us via email at email@example.com.
Can I request a delay in shipping or delivering my tree?
If you would like to request a delay in delivery or shipping, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org within four hours of placing your order. If we do not receive your request within four hours, we may not be able to delay your shipment.
In your request, please include your full name and order number, as well as the date you would like your order shipped or delivered. We cannot guarantee shipment or delivery on specific dates, but we will do our best to work with you.
Can I get a tree delivered during the winter time/cold season?
During the winter, we will only be offering pickup or local delivery in the Madison, WI area. Depending on temperatures, we may be able to offer shipping in late fall and early spring. Shipping will be always available during the warm seasons.
If we are not offering shipping at any time, we will add a notice to our website to let you know that orders may be placed for pickup or local delivery only.
When will my order be shipped?
Orders are shipped as soon as possible, but processing times may vary between one and seven days. Some orders may require longer processing times.
Typically, shipments will be sent out on Mondays and Tuesdays to ensure that they are received during the week and avoid stalls in delivery over weekends.
Please know that we are working to ship and deliver your orders as quickly as possible.
Returns & refunds
Can I return my tree if I change my mind?
We have a 5-day return policy, which means you have 5 days after receiving your item to request a return.
To be eligible for a return, your tree must be in the same condition that you received it and in its original pot. You’ll also need the receipt or proof of purchase.
To start a return, you can contact us at email@example.com. Include a copy of your receipt or proof of purchase.
If your return is accepted, we’ll send you a return shipping label, as well as instructions on how and where to send your package. Items sent back to us without first requesting a return will not be accepted. Please note, all return shipping charges will be deducted from your refund.
Unfortunately we are not able to offer local pickup for returned trees.
What do I do if my tree arrives damaged or I receive the wrong tree?
Please inspect your order upon receipt and contact us within 5 days of receipt if the tree is damaged or if you receive the wrong item, so that we can evaluate the issue and make it right. Send a detailed email to firstname.lastname@example.org and include photos of the damage or issue along with your receipt or proof of purchase. We are not able to process refunds or replacements without photos and proof of purchase.
Can I make an exchange?
We do not offer exchanges. The fastest way to ensure you get the tree you want is to return the item you have, and once you receive a refund, make a separate purchase for the new item.
When will I get my refund?
We will notify you once we’ve received and inspected your return, and let you know if the refund was approved or not. If approved, you’ll be automatically refunded on your original payment method within 10 business days. Please remember it can take some time for your bank or credit card company to process and post the refund.
If more than 15 business days have passed since we’ve approved your return, please contact us at email@example.com.
Can I cancel my order?
Orders in processing status can be canceled by reaching out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org within four hours of placing your order. If we do not receive your request within four hours, we may not be able to cancel your order. We will respond to you as quickly as possible to let you know if the order can be canceled. Once the order has shipped, it can no longer be canceled. You may reach out to us within 5 days of receipt to request a refund as noted above.