I was talking to a customer today about a plant that was in a container that just up and died. Being that it was a Sky Pencil Holly (Ilex crenata 'Sky Pencil'), I thought it was strange. These things are fairly resilient. So, I dug a little deeper, thinking maybe they were not watering it enough. Every other day, except when it rains was the response. So, I went the other way, does the pot have adequate drainage holes? Oh, no, there are no holes what so ever, so I put a layer of rocks on the bottom. BINGO! I proceeded to tell her that was a bad idea and more than likely is what killed the plant. She was going home to fix it. I can hear some of you now, I have been doing it for years and never had a problem. Well, either there is something else going on, you actually have some drainage holes, or have been extremely lucky! Let me explain why this is a bad idea.
To promote good drainage, the old advice has been to line the bottom of your pots with a coarse layer, such as gravel, stones or old broken pots. This is a practice known as crocking. Crocking was supposed to encourage water to pass down from the potting mix into the gaps in the coarse layer below and out through the drainage hole.
Sounds good so far, right? That is probably why so many folks still do it to this day. Yet soil scientists have known for years that crocking doesn't help drainage. In fact, it can hinder it.
I am not going to get ultra-physics on you, but suffice it to say that in the 1800's a man named Henry Darcy explained how water moves in the soil. He proved that before water will move from a fine-textured soil to a coarse-textured soil, the fine-textured stuff must first become saturated.
So, to give this a little more of a mental image, if you slowly pour water onto a fine-textured potting soil that sits atop a layer of gravel, the potting soil must be saturated before the water begins to drip. Granted, once the water hits the rock, it will quickly drain to the bottom of the pot, but the potting mixture above will still be saturated. Here lies the problem. Unless you keep putting water into the potting soil, that saturated soil will just sit there. Instead of extra water draining immediately into the gravel, the water ‘perches’ or gathers in the soil just above the gravel.
Here is a test to try, with a sponge and gravel. Take a big old sponge (this is your soil) and place it on some gravel. Then pour water into the sponge. The water won’t run out into the gravel, or out of the pot, or anywhere until the sponge (soil) is saturated. Does the gravel make the sponge drain faster? No, the sponge fills up, and it won’t drip until it cannot hold another drop of water.
Now, you have this saturated soil sitting there, not going anyplace. If water pools around plant roots too long, they will starve for oxygen and then it will develop root rot which will damage and eventually kill the plant.
What is root rot? Early symptoms include soft stems, usually near the base of the plant and moving upward. As the rot progresses, the plant may develop the smell of rotting plant material. If you remove the plant from the pot, the roots will feel soft and appear brown. Plants suffering from root rot wilt, with both new and old foliage drooping and dying. Usually the bottom leaves wilt first, followed by the rest of the foliage. Once most of the plant wilts, the problem has likely already killed the roots, and it's difficult to save the plant.
The cause of root rot is a fungus. Species of the Pythium, Phytophthora, Rhizoctonia, or Fusarium fungi are the usual culprits. These fungi thrive in wet soil, and the spores of these fungi remain dormant in the soil until the conditions become right for them to grow and spread to the plants.
Hopefully, I have convinced you by now, not to put rocks, gravels, or pot shards in the bottom of your pot. On top of everything else mentioned above, it makes your pot extra heavy. What is that, you say? What about things like styrofoam peanuts or something similar? Well, consider what you are actually doing by growing a plant in a pot, then adding something that it can not really grow in. The space is already so limited as you’re cramming that plant into a container and then you add a few inches of gravel, peanuts, etc. for drainage, what it does is reduces the volume of soil available to the plant roots. Basically, it means you make a pot even smaller in size and as a result get an unhappy crowded plant. All of this should defeat the myth that refuses to die. Even though there is solid scientific evidence to the contrary, it seems that every book or website on container gardening recommends placing coarse material at the bottom of containers for drainage. Don't believe everything you read, unless it is from The Citrus Guy! If you have any questions about this or any of my other articles, do not hesitate to send me an e-mail to TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com. Don't forget you can follow me on FACEBOOK or check out my WEBSITE for even more articles, pictures, and other things going on. Happy Growing! Darren
Crossing different things with each other is as old as time itself. Mother nature has been doing it forever, sometimes with the end product being rather humorous. Look at the Duck-Billed Platypus and I will rest my case. It looks like a duck/beaver cross.
Then, you have some of the more common, human combinations, Peanut Butter and Jelly, Chocolate and Peanut Butter (two great tastes that taste great together, let's see who remembers THAT commercial) and salt and pepper. These are examples of two things being mixed together but still retain their individuality. Mankind has been doing some mixing of things in the plant kingdom to make an individual entity, such as in the world of Citrus, a Lemonquat (Lemon and Kumquat cross) or a Tangelo (Tangerine and Grapefruit cross). I won't even get into the Plum/Apricot blends of Aprium, Plueot, and Plumcot. My wife always wants to know if we can't just leave things alone?! Well, today, we are going into the world of flowers. The ever lovely, Black-Eyed Susan (Rudbeckia) has been married to the Cone Flower (Echinacea) to create the Echibeckia!
Let's start with the Rudbeckia.
The most commonly thought of Rudbeckia is the traditional Black-eyed Susan, a daisy-like flower with gold petals and a dark center seed head. It also has the well-known scratchy, hairy leaves, which are not one of its best features. They start blooming in mid-summer and can repeat bloom into fall. Full sun is preferred but can handle some shade. Deadheading (removing the spent flowers), water until they are well established, and some very infrequent fertilizer is all they really need. Deer don't even like them once they get the hairy leaves, wait a minute, maybe those leaves are a good feature. Many are annuals, some are perennials. Usually grown in Zones 4-8 (This is an important fact to remember)
Then, there is the Echinacea.
Photo Courtesy of AmericanMeadows.com
Echinacea, commonly called “coneflowers” for their cone-shaped flowers that are capped by a prickly dome of seedheads, will grow well in the home garden when provided with the right conditions. Echinaceas are important sources of nectar for butterflies and many birds (particularly goldfinches), who flock to the plants to devour the seed. Echinacea is, in this way, “two for one” plants. You get to enjoy the gorgeous flowers, as well as the colorful wildlife they attract. As with the rudbeckia, they are drought tolerant once established and are not heavy feeders, unless your soil is really lacking in nutrients. For many years, Echinacea has been used medicinally to treat a variety of ailments, including infections and wounds. Flowering is at its best in full sun, although plants will tolerate light shade. These are considered perennials that can handle very cold winters. Usually grown in Zones 3-9 (Again, an important fact to remember)
Now, the question needs to be asked, if these two flowering plants are so great, why would you cross them to create an Eckibeckia?
Eckibeckia is considered an intergeneric cross between these two popular perennial/annuals offering the appearance of Rudbeckia with the hardiness of Echinacea. The advantages are longer lasting flowers, a long bloom season from summer through fall and extra large flowers. The Echibeckia plants seem to be sturdier plants that may not need support, like many of the Echinaceas and Rudbeckias. Another interesting fact is the fuzzy leaves and stems on the Echibeckia. Slugs are not interested in this plant and deer don't seem to like it either. There are many of the same characteristics from both of the parents here, they are drought tolerant, take full sun or partial shade, and are a real butterfly magnet.
The first two have a multitude of colors, the Echibeckia is no exception. The trade name for these flowers are Summerina, and have some exotic names like 'Butterscotch Biscuit', 'Pecan Pie', Pumpernickel, and 'Electra Shock'. There are more subdued names too, like 'Yellow', 'Orange', and 'Brown'.
Hopefully, these things will stand the test of time like it's parents have. You just mention either Rudbeckia or Echinacea, and people know what they are. Mention Echibeckia and people wonder if you might be confused, kind of like tell somebody about a Chiweenie Dog and they give you a strange look.
If you have any questions about this or any of my other articles, please feel free to contact me at TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com. You can follow me on Facebook as The Citrus Guy or check out my new Website
Oh, never heard of a Chiweenie Dog? It is a cross between a Dachshund and a Chihuahua. Happy Growing! Darren
One of the recent common questions that have been asked in the garden center of late has been, "WHAT, are those metallic looking bugs and are they actually eating my plants?" If you haven't seen them yourself, maybe you have seen some damage like this?
Those metallic insects and this kind of damage is none other than, The Japanese Beetle! Popillia japonica as it is commonly known throughout the eastern half of the country, and probably many other parts of the world. It is just over one half inch long and just under one half inch wide. They are an iridescent copper and green color.
Photo Courtesy of WashingtonTimes.com
It is not very destructive in Japan, where it is controlled by natural predators, but in North America, it is a serious pest of over 200 species of plants, including Rose Bushes, Grapes, Peaches, Crape Myrtles, Apples, and others. If you have ever complained about quarantines being in place, here is an example of why they exist. As the name suggests, the Japanese beetle is native to Japan. The insect was first found in the United States in 1916 in a nursery near Riverton, New Jersey. It is thought the beetle larvae entered in a shipment of iris bulbs prior to 1912 when inspections of commodities entering the country began. "The first Japanese beetle found in Canada was in a tourist's car at Yarmouth, arriving in Nova Scotia by ferry from Maine in 1939. The destructive rest, as they say, is history. The eastern U.S. provided a favorable climate, large areas of turf and pasture grass for developing grubs, hundreds of species of plants on which adults could feed, and no effective natural enemies. The beetle thrived under these conditions and has steadily expanded its geographic range. The life cycle of the Japanese beetle is typically one year in most parts of the United States. Eggs are laid in the soil one to four inches deep in mid to late summer and hatch after about two weeks. The young grubs feed primarily on the roots of lawn grasses until the onset of cold temperatures where they go deeper into the soil for the winter.
Japanese Beetle Grub-Photo Courtesy of https://georgeweigel.net
As the soil warms again in the spring, the grubs move upward to resume feeding on roots until pupating near the soil surface in early summer. Adults usually emerge in early to mid-summer, but apparently this year they were not paying attention to the calendar, plus the weather has been so crazy here, who really knows what time it is!?
So, they are here. What to do about them? I will cover a few ways, from least toxic to the nuclear option. If you have a small yard or a light infestation, you can just pluck the critters off and drop them in a bucket of soapy water. Leave this bucket out where the other beetles can see it, there is some evidence that the carcasses of other dead beetles may repel new invaders.
Photo Courtesy of Johnson County Extension - Kansas State University
Traps are sold widely for Japanese beetle monitoring and control. Traps are highly attractive and draw beetles to them over large distances, so putting a trap in your yard will draw beetles from the surrounding landscape. Many of the attracted female beetles do not get trapped and end up landing on foliage nearby and feeding or mating then laying eggs in the soil near the trap, this creates a hot-spot for next season. So this may not be a good idea.
Milky spore, Paenibacillus popilliae, is a bacterium that, when present in the soil, can help in the control of the grubs. You would need to get your neighbors to apply this also because such a large area needs to be treated for a significant impact on the beetle population, it is usually not an effective treatment for individual homeowners.
Neem Oil can be useful. It is labeled for organic use, it will suffocate some, has some repellent activity by deterring feeding and it can disrupt the reproductive cycle. It is actually interesting how this oil works. Neem enters the system and blocks the hormones from working properly. Insects "forget" to eat, to mate, or they stop laying eggs. Some forget that they can fly. If eggs are produced they don't hatch, or the larvae don't molt. Hence, the cycle is broken. If you use it every year, you eventually will dwindle their numbers. Make sure you read the label and don't apply if the temperature is over 75 degrees. Apply either early in the morning or early evening. Spraying as many of the insects as possible.
Getting into the nuclear options and these should be a last resort. Pyrethroid products such as Bayer Advanced Insect Killer and Permethrin products such as Spectracide Triazicide Insect Killer for Lawns & Landscapes Concentrate generally provide 2-3 weeks of protection. Carbaryl or better known as Sevin dust and others, provides immediate control of beetles present during the application and affords 1-2 weeks of protection . This is a stomach poison, so if beetles eat treated foliage they will also receive a higher dose. This can be a good control of Japanese beetles since they eat so much that a strong dose of insecticide is taken up. However, you, your family and the environment are also exposed to this poison. There is a threshold of the amount of damage that can be tolerated to your plants. I only recommend the nuclear option if that threshold has been surpassed. Make sure you read and follow the directions on the label, it is the law!!
I foresee myself getting ready to pull the nuclear option. This is what my grape vines look like:
I can't seem to get home in time from work to catch them and use the neem, so I will probably put down some Sevin dust in hopes that will work.
As always, if you have any questions concerning this or any of my other articles, feel free to e-mail: TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com You can find me on Facebook as The Citrus Guy or my new Website Happy Growing! Darren
I have been absent from my blog for a couple of months now, but I am back! The reason behind my absence is, I was writing a new book that was most definitely needed here in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Let me start with a little background. I have been the manager of Terra Bella Garden Center in North Charleston since October of 2016. I have been in the nursery/garden center business here since 2003, and I have been playing with plants/gardening since I was about 5 (1971). So I actually do know a thing or two about plants.
I honestly believe that not a day goes by that we get somebody at Terra Bella that is not from around here, wants to do some work in their yard or garden and have no idea of what the plants are that they are looking at. With the constant influx of new folks coming into the area due to the incredible growth we are experiencing, I am sure it will just get worse. Many are from the north, some from the upper midwest, and some from the west coast, they all have one thing in common, "Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore!" The diversity of what we can grow coupled with the realization that some of their favorites won't grow here causes all kinds of confusion.
Enter my new book, "A Beginner's Guide to Lowcountry Gardening and Landscaping." The book is 370+ pages, 16 chapters, with over 8 dozen pictures. I discuss over 100 plants, shrubs, trees, vegetables, and fruiting plants. I also discuss, when to plant your gardens, some of the diseases you may see, insects, what kind of soils you will encounter, plus typical weather patterns and much more! It definitely is not a stand-alone, all-inclusive book, but it gives you a really good basis to start with.
Here is just a small sample:
Landscape Plants, What Can I Put Where!?
When it comes to plants for your landscape, there are hundreds, if not thousands to choose from. You will need to figure out a laundry list of variables for where you want to plant something, such as:
Is it mostly shade, morning sun, or afternoon sun?
Does it stay damp all of the time?
Do you want it to stay green all year, or do the leaves falling every autumn not bother you?
Do you want it to flower, fruit, or just sit there?
Are the plants going to be used as a privacy fence?
How big do you want them to be at maturity, does it matter?
Many plants are poisonous to pets and/or children, do you have any?
Are there HOA restrictions?
Do you mind pruning or do you want something that is almost maintenance free?
Are you looking for a tropical feel, Mediterranean feel, or something else?
I am sure there are many more possible variables, but you get the gist. If you have not lived
through a Lowcountry summer, it is much different than other places.
A plant that is listed as a "Full Sun" may do fine in 10 hours of sunlight in the northeast. July in
the Lowcountry will turn that same plant into a crispy critter. That is why knowing morning sun or
afternoon sun is so important. There are many plants that you may have been accustomed to that just
won't work very well, or even at all because of the sun reason, humidity, or just the plain old heat of the late summer. A couple of quick examples would be Peonies, Lavender, and Hostas.
Though the last one will survive, but not necessarily thrive like they do up north. One of the good
garden centers listed in Chapter 15 will be able to definitively tell you if a certain plant will or will not work here. Do not trust the selections in the big box stores, the plants are probably fine, as long as you know what you are getting. They receive plants from a central buyer that may not be aware of the different growing conditions associated with their different locations. Just because they carry it does NOT mean it will thrive here! This is where the expertise of a locally owned garden center comes in handy if they are worth their salt they will only carry things that will grow here, or at least tell you if they should be grown as an annual (something that needs to be replaced every year).
Yes, in Chapter 15, I list many of the good local garden centers around the Lowcountry. Yes, I work at one of them, but I list others too! It has always amazed me about this industry, we may all be competitors theoretically, BUT, we all know each other and if something bad happens to any one of us, the "competitors" are the first ones on the phone, "We heard what happened, what can we do to help?" It truly is a wonderful industry to be involved with.
During this whole, new book release, I have also launched another website: The Citrus Guy Hortbooks Bookstore. There, you will find my other book, "How to Grow Citrus Practically Anywhere" and eventually there will be other titles, I can only write just so fast! The prices on my website are the lowest you will be able to find them, I even have the MSRP from Amazon listed, where the books are also available.
I truly appreciate you taking the time to read this, I know it was not really garden related in the direct sense, but I wanted to let as many people know about my book and maybe if you have somebody that could use a little help in figuring out what to do with their yard you can point them to this.
If you have any comments, questions, or problems, please do not hesitate to contact me:
I come to you today with a slightly unusual article. Back in late January, I received an e-mail, complimenting me on my blog and a question. The subject was about reviewing a product that was very similar to what I blog about. I was intrigued so I answered. It was from http://www.museumtrees.com This company is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and they have come up with a range of artificial plants and trees which look incredibly realistic. I was very skeptical but went along with it, if nothing else to see what these things looked like. They offered me the chance to choose something, so I decided on something that I not only was familiar with but would look kind of cool on my desk at Terra Bella Garden Center where I work. I figured what better place to see how realistic they look than at a garden center. My desk is one of the first things that customers see when they come in, plus, I am right by the register, so the plant, a small pomegranate tree, will be obviously seen. I chose the pomegranate because I am not only known for citrus, but for growing many other kinds of fruit. It was the perfect test. So, after a little over a month, and many customers eyeballs upon it, I have YET to have somebody say anything about it being made of silk and plastic until after I show them. It even fooled a few of my fellow employees briefly. We are around plants all day, so we are a little tougher to trick when it comes to artificial plants.
This is the one on my desk.
This is a second one they sent me for at home.
They both stand a foot tall, including the pot. The pot is about 4" wide and reasonably heavy. It doesn't fall down at all, even if the door is open and a gust of wind comes through.
I remember silk and artificial flowers from my childhood, they always seemed "fake" looking to me. The colors were never really right, and they just looked cheap and not very realistic.
The advances that technology has made with the manufacturing of products is pretty amazing.
So, if you have a brown thumb and even my advice has not helped, or you have a really tough spot in your home or landscape and just need something there, why not give my friends at Museum Trees a visit. They might just be able to help you fill that empty space.
Well, at least it is a sunny, reasonably warm day today. A FAR cry from what many in the country have experienced already this year. I bring this up, not to brag, but to preference that, here in Charleston, we have had a very nasty cold winter so far. Personally, I have had 7 inches of snow and days upon days of sub-freezing temperatures. This is South Carolina, NOT South Dakota, so that kind of weather is rare, not unheard of, but very rare. Needless to say, many plants have been hurt badly by this kind of weather, especially tropical and sub-tropical like Citrus. This is, unfortunately, an all too common picture here around the Lowcountry.
These are Calamondins, a kumquat hybrid. Yes, they are in containers, and yes, they stayed outside in the snow. They looked like this with the white stuff on them.
Yes, same tree. It is still alive, there is green under the bark. There are many, many trees that look like this either in the ground or in containers that were left outside. The purpose of this article is not to depress you more or cry over the tree's appearance. I am still an advocate for growing citrus in the ground in Charleston! Mamma said there would be days like this! Or years! No, the purpose of this article is to give you an option of how to grow your citrus. In Containers! Everybody that has been following me or knows me, knows that I grow my plants in containers for among other reasons, emergencies like this. Of course, the logical thing to do would be to put them in a greenhouse or garage when this kind of weather is approaching. That is fine and dandy if you have one or two trees. I have dozens. Some of my "special" trees got to go into the greenhouse. Just for the record, even with an electric heater in there, it dropped to 27 degrees a couple of times. The damage? NONE! This is what I saw when I opened the door.
Now, I did have them pretty packed in there and when I did water everything, there were a few missed and those ones look sad, but only because they did not get enough water. They will be fine. I know what you are saying, "I don't have a greenhouse or even a garage to use, so what then?" Glad you asked! I posted this picture before the storm hit, wished them luck, and hoped for the best. It looked like hell, but, hey, I was almost in desperation mode because nothing else would fit in the greenhouse.
What is in that trash pile of, a frost cloth, a tarp, and a crocheted blanket? A dozen citrus trees, ranging in size from 7 gallons to 30 gallons, all laid down on the ground. I watered them really well, laid them down, and stacked a few on top of each other. No other protection. This was on January 2nd that I created this disaster. The snow, ice, and wicked cold temperatures came and went. I was afraid to even peek under there. Well, today is January 21st, just 2 days shy of three weeks, I decided I needed to clean this up and face the destruction. I took all of the coverings off and stood everything back up.What I found is absolutely amazing! LOOK FOR YOURSELF!
If you look closely at the second picture, on the right-hand side is a bunch of dead looking leaves. That is a Lemon tree that was under there. I have always said that lemons and limes are more cold sensitive.
This is a Key Lime that was also under there, probably THE most cold sensitive of all of the citrus trees. It is still alive, I saw green under the bark, it is just not happy right now.
But, as you can see, aside from those two, the trees pretty much came out unscathed. What else was under there? A kumquat, a few tangerines, a lemonquat, a flame grapefruit, and a few other assorted hybrids. I gave each one an attaboy and a good drink of water while they were enjoying the sun again. I am not trying to brag here! To be honest, I tell people to use blankets and such on top of the trees that are laid down on the ground all the time, but after the severity of all of the bitterly cold temps and snow/ice, even I had my doubts about how these would look. I said above, I will always be an advocate for planting citrus in the ground if you can. This kind of weather is not an every year event. But maybe, just maybe, you might want to consider growing them in big pots and laying them down for a nap when the wicked winter weather does come for a visit! If you have any questions about this or any of my other articles, please feel free to send them to TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com. There is still time to get signed up for my monthly newsletter of Citrus Growing Tips, slated to come out February 1st, 2018. You can sign up for it HERE Happy Growing! Darren
The start of 2018 has been anything but happy here in the Southeast. January 3rd we started with freezing rain, ending with snow. In some places of the Lowcountry, up to 7 inches of the white stuff fell. As of today, January 7th, there are still roads covered in ice, inches of snow on the ground, and business' closed. The good news is, tomorrow, Monday, we are in for a real warm spell and by the end of the week be at 70 degrees. I have received many e-mails, phone calls, and messages on Facebook asking if the citrus trees are going to be okay here in Charleston? The best answer I can give them, maybe. Some of it depends on whether the cold weather we had prior to this long cold/snow spell was enough to get them to go into their semi-dormancy. Another factor will be if the tree was healthy going into all of this. Here is a list of what to possibly expect, what is happening, and what you should and shouldn't do.
Freeze damage on citrus trees occurs when the water inside the fruit, leaves, twigs, and wood of a tree freezes rupturing the cell membranes. Unlike deciduous trees which protect themselves from the cold by shedding their leaves in the fall and entering a dormant state, citrus trees continue growing year-round. Extended periods of cool weather prior to a freeze may allow a citrus tree to prepare, by going into a semi-dormancy. This is why sharp freezes following warm weather are more damaging than gradual temperature changes. Virtually all freezes will cause damage of some kind. Regardless of what steps you take, there are times when nothing you have done helps and your citrus is damaged by any freezes. However, as long as the damage is not too severe, your tree can recover! One of the keys to dealing with freeze damage is not to do something right away but to wait awhile until the extent of the damage becomes apparent. In some instances, twig and branch death from a severe freeze can continue for as long as several months after an event. Act too soon and you run the risk of either pruning away parts of your tree that can recover on their own or missing parts that look healthy enough at first glance but are really fatally damaged.
The appearance of citrus leaves damaged by freezing can be a little deceptive in that they can appear firm and green at the outset. It is only later, as they thaw, that they soften and droop, very much like the picture above. In instances where the damage is not severe, freeze-damaged leaves can recover. However, if the damage is fatal, the leaves will lose their structure completely, dry out and fall.While alarming, leaf fall alone does not indicate tree death. If the wood remains healthy, the tree will recover and put out new growth in the spring. As for twigs, the damage will almost invariably result in leaf death. In the case of serious damage, the leaves will dry out but may stay attached for a time, several weeks in some cases. If the twig is not badly damaged, the leaves will fall more rapidly. Signs of freezing damage in branches and trunks include the loosening and splitting of bark. Patches of damage may appear oozing canker-like areas, occasionally mistaken for the disease gummosis. Keep an eye out for this, especially being that it looks like it will be a quick warm up. The first step in the pruning process is to wait until late spring or the summer following the winter the damage occurred. This will give you time to assess the damage. Many times the dead wood on a twig or branch will become a grayish color, that is an easy way to tell where to prune. In addition, freeze-damaged trees occasionally put out a false start of new growth in the early spring which soon dies back. What is happening here is, the damage is farther down the branch than expected. It warms up and the leaves want to start flushing out. The stored energy between the damaged branch and the growth tip is quickly used up and it can't receive any deliveries from the root system, so it dies. Delaying pruning until after this could occur will save you time and energy.
In very severe cases, a citrus tree may be damaged all the way to the ground. In such cases, the root area may still put out new growth and the tree may, in time, recover. The above picture shows that, what I thought was a completely gone tree, sent a new shoot up from the roots. I knew this tree was on its own roots, so I allowed it to grow and be prosperous again. It took about 3 years before I saw fruit. However, if the original tree was grafted and the tree is killed off below the graft, any resulting new growth will be of the variety of the rootstock and not of the graft or scion. It will be up to you to decide whether to re-graft, allow the rootstock to continue growing or start over again. Be very observant of the leaves that come up, if they look like this:
It is either Poncirus trifoliata or some hybrid of Poncirus. The fruit will be edible, just not really tasty. If you have any doubt as to whether your citrus will come back or not, time is the only thing that will tell. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment on this article or any of my others. If you want to ask me anything in an e-mail or send me pictures, you can do that via this address TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com. You can follow me on Facebook. Or touch base with me on my new Website Happy Growing! Darren
With all of this crappy winter weather here in the Southeast, snow, ice, cold temperatures that feel like they have been here forever, a LOT of people are starting to get cabin fever, Especially Gardeners! I will be upfront and honest, there are links associated with Amazon on my blog, and this article has many of them, only because I REALLY like this product. On a lark, about a month ago, I went ahead and hooked up something that a friend gave me sometime over the summer. I truly appreciated it, but never really had the time to get it hooked up, not that it took very long. I guess I really had my doubts that it would actually work. Boy, was I wrong! I am talking about something that Miracle-Gro puts out, it is called the AeroGarden. From their own website, it states: Enjoy big harvests in just weeks, you just drop in the seed pods, add water and nutrients, and watch it grow. It sounded too good to be true, and you know that old saying about anything sounding too good?! My friend actually gave me one of the AeroGarden Ultra (LED)and three of the smaller, Miracle-Gro Aerogarden Sprout Led - Black, one of which was not working properly, but I didn't care, I like fooling around with things to fix them. Well, I used the three little ones, more for the lights for my Citrus seeds. I sprouted the seeds then transferred them to the lights. Take a look at them now:
I know, I am not using this product like you are supposed to, and you can buy a setup or make one yourself for this purpose. That is not the point of this article. I am coming to you today to tell you about these things because of the way the AeroGarden Ultra is working out. Like I said, I put this thing together in a matter of maybe 5 minutes just a little over a month ago. Look what I have NOW!!
Yes, folks, those are tomato plants! It is a type of Cherry Tomato and, you can't really tell from the picture, they will be flowering in about another week! It is really amazing how easy it is to set up, plant, and monitor. It tells you when you need to do everything, from when to add water to when you need to add nutrients. It comes with seed pods or you can use your own seeds of whatever you want to grow. Add water, nutrients, drop the pods into the holes, then follow the prompts on the screen. Seriously, that easy! I have always wondered about Aquaponics and wanted to toy around with it some, this makes it easy. I plan on getting a few more of these for next Winter so I can be gardening, truly all year round!! If you have any questions about these things or about any of my other articles, please do not hesitate to ask! You can reach me at TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com or Follow me on Facebook. I have also launched my new website: http://thecitrusguy.com/ swing by there, check it out and tell me what you think, I am always looking for ways to improve and make it easier to pass out information. Happy Growing! Darren
Happy Freekin New Year! Mother nature apparently is NOT in the holiday spirit! Charleston is going to get Cold, which means folks to my west and north are going to be even colder!! The Citrus will not be happy. The past few days have been okay, lower 30's at night, so I was not worried. I looked at the next week or so and suddenly I was a little concerned. 28 is my "Take Action" forecasted low, I am looking down the barrel of 36-28-24-24-25-22-24-28. The highs will only peak into the upper 30's. The good news is, with the colder nights we have had, the citrus trees have had a chance to go into their semi-dormancy. The bad news is, that is too many nights in a row, NOT to take action. So I did just that this morning. I also figured I would throw some tips out there for folks that might also get a little concerned about their Citrus. The first thing you should do, while the temps are still decent is, Make Sure They Are Well Watered! A well-watered, hydrated plant can handle the cold much better than a dry one. This goes for in ground and container plants as well. If they are in the ground, you might still have time, get some frost cloth. Check the big box stores, hardware stores, etc. My friend Stan McKenzie, up around the Florence SC area, is getting his in-ground trees ready.
I have NEVER said growing citrus is easy! You can also put some Christmas lights, the ones that get hot, or a couple of 100 watt light bulbs in there to help keep in some heat. Now, those of us that grow them in containers have a few more options. I put what I could in my greenhouse, did they all fit, not a chance. My greenhouse stretcher is still in the developmental stage. What did get put in there got watered to within an inch of its life, shoved together, and my little electric space heater is at the ready. As long as it keeps it at 32 or higher, I am happy. If you only have a couple of trees, I would suggest at least putting them in an unheated garage, storage shed or something along those lines to keep it a little warmer. If your tree is very small, and this can go for in-ground or container, flip a large trash can over it. The ground will help keep it a couple of degrees warmer. What did I do with the ones that would not fit in the greenhouse? There are a few that I gave some encouraging words to and told them they will be fine, which they should be, most of them are pretty cold hardy, down into the 20's type. The rest of them got laid down on the ground, overlapping each other, and covered with a tarp, a blanket, and some frost cloth. It ain't pretty, but it will work.
Again, I watered each one very well, tipped them over and covered. Hopefully, this will be the worst we get all year and it will be here and done! I mentioned it in my book, How To Grow Citrus Practically Anywhere as well as above, I have never said growing citrus is easy, it all depends on how much work you are willing to put into it as to whether you can grow citrus practically anywhere! If you have any questions about this or any of my other articles, please feel free to contact me via e-mail: TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com. You can also follow me on Facebook Happy Growing! Darren
I have stated before that there is a lot of misinformation on the Internet. I hear many of the same questions asked over and over again because the folks asking them saw something on a website and it freaked them out. So I figured, it was time to set some of the bad info straight on growing Citrus. This is in no particular order.
#1-"A Citrus tree HAS to be grafted in order to produce fruit"-FALSE! While a citrus tree that has been grafted will produce fruit faster than from seed, as long as the Scion came from a tree that is already producing fruit, it does NOT HAVE to be grafted. There are many trees that are on their own roots, which in some ways is better. You can easily root cuttings from a Citrus tree. The main reason being on its own roots is better, if the tree happens to get killed back by severe cold, it will come back as the same thing. If it has been grafted and gets killed to below the graft, the rootstock will come back and that could be a number of different things, most of which is rather untasty. Even Kumquats will grow on their own roots, some say not as well, I tend to disagree here, I have seen no real problems. As a bonus tidbit of information here, the rootstock of a grafted tree will in no way affect the seeds of the fruit that it produces. The rootstock only effects the size of the tree, cold hardiness, and what kind of issues the roots might have to contend with, i.e Nematodes or Salt Intrusion.
As you can see in this picture, the leaves in the upper part of the plant are large, normal looking leaves. The leaves that have three lobes towards the bottom is rootstock, some kind of Poncirus spp. starting to grow. Those should be cut off.
#2-"Citrus will not produce fruit if grown in a container"- FALSE! If the tree is a rooted cutting or a grafted scion, and it came from a tree that is already bearing, it could be very small and produce fruit. The trees I have are ALL in containers, normally a minimum of a trade seven-gallon container, usually a trade 15 or 30 gallon. I have seen trees in a 3-gallon pot with one piece of fruit on it. Besides, don't ever say that to my Kumquat tree, it may get its feelings hurt.
#3-"Citrus trees will die if the temperature gets below 40 degrees"-FALSE! Citrus can handle down to 28 degrees for a short period of time, as long as they are allowed to go into a state of semi-dormancy. If the temperature has been very warm, say 50's and 60's and it drops suddenly to 32 degrees, it will get hurt much more than if the temps have been upper 30's and 40's than suddenly drops to 28 (or lower). It also has a lot to do with the duration of the cold, how healthy it was going into the cold event, and how well watered it was. A dry plant will suffer much more than a well-hydrated one. Want proof?
This is a Republic of Texas Orange, grown in a container, that was subjected to a low of 18 degrees. I watered it thoroughly the day of the cold event.
By most accounts, it would be considered dead, correct?
This is that same tree the following Summer.
It did not produce fruit because it was putting all of the energy into leaf production. It is fine to this day.
#4-"Citrus trees will never produce fruit from seed"-FALSE! Granted, it may feel like forever, but it will eventually produce fruit. Just some of the generalized timetables are: Key Limes are your earliest producer from seed, averaging 2-3 years. Your oranges, lemons, Persian limes, tangerines will be in the 5-7 year ballpark. The grapefruit and pomelo will be the longest, taking anywhere from 8-12 years. This will, of course, depend on how good your horticultural practices are. If you feed it, water it, and give it plenty of sunshine, you may be able to shave a few years off of these times. I was once given some seeds from a Lemonquat, a lemon kumquat hybrid, I actually saw one piece of fruit within 18 months. Granted it was probably just a fluke, but it is possible.
#5-"You need more than one Citrus tree to produce fruit"-FALSE! As long as you have a tree that is flowering, it will produce fruit. Bees are your best pollinators, but, if you are growing Citrus inside, or there just does not seem to be many bees around, you will have to step in. Take a small artist paintbrush or Q-tip and dab from flower to flower. Basically, you are transferring pollen and fertilizing the flower. Just remember to buzz like a bee so you don't scare your tree. (The preceding statement was and is the only thing in this article that you should ignore)
And there you have it, 5 of the most common myths about growing citrus. Next time somebody mentions one of these, or you see it in print somewhere, call Buffalo Chips on them and send them to me! I will be glad to set them straight! If you have any questions about this, any of my other articles, or maybe you have some kind of garden myth you would like debunked, drop me a line to TheCitrusGuy@netzero.com Also, Don't forget to follow me on FACEBOOK Happy Growing! Darren