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Problem Solver: Selecting Optimum Containers for Cultivating Citrus

New! For photos and instructions on choosing the perfect container for your Four Winds citrus tree, be sure to check out our container slide show.

Overly wet roots are the leading cause of problems of container grown citrus. Many of those problems can be minimized with careful container choices. Clay pots and wooden containers are classic but heavy choices. Black plastic single walled pots when exposed to the sun can allow excessive heat in the soil. Wooden containers degrade, allow roots to grow into cracks and have irregular surfaces, making it harder to transplant. Modern plastic pots come in a wide selection of designs and colors, making them the ideal choice for citrus culture. Plastic containers are easy to drill with extra holes, are easy to handle, and resistant to breakage.
Four to five large (3/4"-1") holes are the minimum necessary for adequate drainage. We don't recommend the "self watering" designs which can cause overly wet roots.
Select a pot that makes it easy to inspect your tree or repot if needed. Smooth tapered sides work the best. Avoid shapes that are narrow at the top or other designs that would impede the root ball from easily sliding out.
Do not put gravel in the bottom of the container. Shim the container off the tray or ground to allow the water to exit the container after watering.
Get comfortable repotting your tree and inspecting its roots. It doesn't harm the tree unless the roots are exposed to direct sun for an extended period, or are allowed to dry out.