Best Soil Types for Indoor Citrus Tree Success

Citrus trees prefer a well-draining potting soil that provides a mix of aeration and water-holding capacities. In my experience, they thrive in soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0. I find a good potting mix for citrus trees includes two parts peat moss, two parts perlite, and one part aged compost. In this guide, I’ll share my go-to home potting mix recipe and how to ensure your citrus trees thrive indoors.

The Best Soil for Indoor Citrus Trees

The Ultimate Indoor Citrus Tree Potting Mix Recipe

A young indoor citrus tree potted in a black planter with ripe fruits and green leaves
Citrus trees grow best in nutrient-rich and slightly acidic soil bases

Soil plays an essential role in plant health by serving several vital functions. However, not all soil is the same!

Soil mixes generally include organic materials such as compost and wood chips or inorganic materials like sand and perlite. Finding the right combination of materials is key to growing healthy plants.

Making your own citrus tree potting mix is easy. This is my tried and tested home recipe, simply combine the following.

  • 2 parts peat moss
  • 2 parts perlite
  • 1 part aged compost

The peat moss is acidic, so it will provide the lower pH citrus trees love. It will also help with nutrient and water retention without leading to compacted soils.

Perlite is an inert substance that helps with drainage and aeration. By mixing in perlite, you prevent compaction and water-logged soil.

Compost provides nutrients as well as a boost of soil life. It also helps with nutrient and water retention.

When you add compost, make sure the material is completely broken down. This will prevent the soil from settling over time.

If you prefer to buy ready-to-use soil instead of making your own, you have plenty of options.

Espoma Cactus Potting Mix is an organic potting soil designed for cacti, palms, and citrus trees. It is made from peat moss, perlite, aged forest products, and other ingredients.

Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm, and Citrus Potting Mix is another option. It is well-draining and includes a supply of inorganic fertilizer that can feed citrus trees for up to six months.

Do All Citrus Trees Need the Same Soil?

A collection of potted lemon citrus trees producing abundant fruits
All types of indoor citrus trees require similar soil bases for optimal growth

Fortunately, all types of citrus trees will perform well in a similar potting mix. That means you can use the same blend for your lime tree and your Valencia orange tree.

When you’re choosing potting soil for your citrus tree, you want to look for the following characteristics.

  • Well-draining: Citrus trees like soil that is moist yet not saturated. A proper soil mix will allow excess water to escape.
  • Able to hold water: While soil should allow excess water to escape, it should also hold enough water for citrus to uptake all they need.
  • Aerated: A well-aerated soil allows plants to exchange gasses and grow strong root systems.
  • Able to hold nutrients: If the soil cannot hold nutrients, fertilizer will wash out of your soil before the plant can take it up.

Common Signs You’re Using the Wrong Soil Mix

A person gathers two handfuls of soil from the pot of an indoor citrus tree
Soggy, poorly draining soil can lead to a number of health problems for indoor citrus

If you use the wrong soil, you may notice your citrus trees exhibit one or more of the following.

Yellow Leaves

Yellowing leaves (often coupled with citrus tree leaves dropping) can indicate several problems. Two of the most common causes of yellow leaves are overwatering or a lack of nutrients.

If you use a soil base that doesn’t provide enough drainage, your plants will end up sitting in moisture. If roots don’t have access to air, they cannot exchange gases.

Another cause of yellow leaves is a lack of nutrients. Using soil composed primarily of sand, perlite, and other large inorganic particles, nutrients will wash out when you water. Therefore, plants will not be able to obtain the nutrients they need.

Citrus trees can also have difficulty obtaining nutrients when they are in compacted soil.

For more, see our in-depth guide to pruning indoor citrus trees for cutting back old or decaying leaves and branches.

Root Rot

Root rot is a fungal infection that impacts plant roots. It occurs most often in saturated soils. 

While a proper watering schedule is one key to preventing root rot, selecting the proper soil is another important aspect.

Soils that are compacted or contain too much clay will not be able to drain excess water. If water cannot escape, roots will begin to rot.

Root rot prevents plants from taking up the water and nutrients they need. In extreme cases, it can even cause citrus trees to die.

For more, see our essential guide to watering citrus trees at home.

Indoor Citrus Trees Soil FAQs:

What Soil pH is Best?

Indoor citrus trees do best in soil with a slightly acidic pH. Remember that a neutral pH is 7.0; any number below this is considered acidic. Indoor Citrus Trees do best in a mix with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0.

Can you use cactus or orchid soil?

Cacti, succulent, orchid soil mixes tend to have similar beneficial characteristics (such as slight acidity and good drainage), suitable for indoor citrus trees.

What are the main soil considerations when repotting?

Always switch out your soil when you repot your citrus tree to remove any issues with compaction and diseases.

Do indoor citrus trees like moist soil?

Indoor citrus trees do best in a potting mix that holds moisture yet also drains well. Ensure your potting vessel has a drainage system so excess water can disperse during watering cycles.

Wrapping Up

Now that you know about the proper potting soil for citrus trees, you can choose a soil your plants will love. By planting into a great soil, you’ll set the foundation for proper watering and fertilizing. Remember to choose a well-draining soil mix with a slightly acidic pH.

Further reading: Discover the best types of indoor citrus trees to grow at home.

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