No matter if you live in the tropics or in a cold environment, growing indoor citrus trees is an exciting undertaking with lots of uses and benefits. In addition to proper light conditions, and suitable temperatures, one key part of caring for trees such as limes, lemons, and kumquats are choosing the proper potting soil. By choosing a great potting soil, it’s easy to provide your citrus tree with the water and nutrients it needs. Read on to learn more about how to choose the best soil mix for your indoor citrus.

The Best Soil for Indoor Citrus Trees

The Best Soil Mix for Indoor Citrus Trees – The Essentials

Citrus trees prefer a well-draining potting soil that provides a mix of aeration and water-holding capacities. They thrive in soil with a pH between 5.5 and 7.0. A good potting mix for citrus trees includes 2 parts peat moss, 2 parts perlite, and 1 part aged compost.

Why Using the Correct Soil is Important

Why Using the Correct Soil is Important

Soil plays an essential role in plant health by serving several important 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 mix of materials is key to growing healthy plants.

Soil is also involved in several important plant functions, including the following:

  • Structural support: Soil acts as a base for roots so plants can remain upright.
  • Nutrient holding and exchange: Many nutrients form chemical bonds with soil particles until the plant is ready to use these nutrients. Organic material and clay hold the most nutrients.
  • Water holding: Soil composition greatly impacts water holding capacities and therefore a plant’s ability to uptake water.
  • Aeration: While soil is important, the lack of soil is also crucial. Air spaces in between soil particles allow for gas exchange and drainage.

If you choose the wrong soil mix for your citrus tree, it will be susceptible to a wide variety of issues. The good news is that with the proper information you can choose a soil mix your citrus trees will love.

Do All Citrus Trees Need the Same Soil?

Do All Citrus Trees Need the Same Soil

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

When you’re choosing a 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 is unable to 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 for Citrus Trees

Common Signs You’re Using the Wrong Soil Mix for Citrus Trees

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 will be unable to exchange gases.

Another cause of yellow leaves is a lack of nutrients. If you use 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 a difficult time obtaining nutrients when they are in a 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 waterlogged 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.

What Soil pH Levels are Best for Citrus Trees?

Citrus trees prefer soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH. Look for a soil mix that has a pH between 5.5 and 7.0.

Citrus trees including limes, Meyer lemons, kumquats, loquats, and oranges will all thrive in a soil mix with a pH of 6.0.

At this pH, many nutrients will be available for plant uptake.

How Planter Type Impacts Soil Choice

The type of planter doesn’t impact the soil you choose.

Indoor citrus trees in terracotta, plastic and ceramic containers will all thrive in a well-draining, slightly acidic potting mix.

When you choose a planter, make sure it contains drainage holes. Even if you use a well-draining potting mix, excess water still needs a place to escape.

Choosing a Soil for Repotting Citrus Trees

When you repot your citrus tree, you should use a potting mix that is the same as the one you originally used.

If you’re worried about compacted or infected soils, you should repot using fresh soil. Simply brush the old soil off of your plant’s roots and add in new soil.

The Ultimate Indoor Citrus Tree Potting Mix Recipe

The Ultimate Indoor Citrus Tree Potting Mix Recipe

Now that you know the characteristics of the best potting mix for indoor citrus trees, it’s time for the details.

Making your own citrus tree potting mix is easy. 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.

Indoor Citrus Tree Soil FAQ:

What Soil pH is Best for Indoor Citrus Trees?

Indoor citrus trees do best in soil with a slightly acidic pH. Remember that a neutral pH is 7.0, and 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 for Indoor Citrus Trees?

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

What are the main soil considerations when repotting an indoor citrus tree?

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

How do you mix citrus tree soil?

To make the citrus tree soil mix, add all the ingredients to a large container then add water until just moist. Thoroughly mix the ingredients together and then fill your citrus tree pots.

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.

For more, see our in-depth guide to the meaning and symbolism of citrus trees and whether citrus trees are pet friendly.

Contributing Editor | Full Bio | + posts

Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.

Author Briana Yablonski

Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.

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