Monday, September 7, 2015

2015 Southeastern Cold Hardy Citrus Expo

The 2015 Southeastern Cold Hardy Citrus Expo is coming to the Charleston, SC area November, 21.
It is being held at Cypress Gardens in Moncks Corner.
I am particularly excited about this for a number of reasons.
The first, being obvious, it is a Citrus Event!!
Second, the group that I started here in Charleston, The Lowcountry Fruit Growers Society, is the hosting entity.
Third, I will get to see a bunch of my Citraholics that I have not seen in quite some time.
Fourth, if you have never been to one, you have missed out. They are LOTS of fun!!
Finally, I will more than likely, end up with a bunch of seeds of some new Citrus that I am not currently growing.
Just to give you an idea of what is going on that day:
There will be a fruit competition, to see who can grow the prettiest, largest, most unusual and sweetest piece of nature's candy! You will be able to taste test some yourself.
Also on the agenda, a Jam and Jelly contest, door prizes and lots of good food and information.
Below, you will find out all of the information. Please feel free to get in touch with me if you have any questions.
Share this info with anybody, that you know, that might be interested.
Happy Growing!

Cypress Gardens, Moncks Corner, SC
Saturday, November 21st, 2015
Fee this year is $10 (Admission to Cypress Gardens)
Senior Citizens-Military and AAA Members $9

Schedule for the Citrus Expo
Saturday, November 21st, 2015
7:30-10am Vendors and exhibitors set-up in Dean Hall or on patio
8 am to 10 am Citrus Fruit and Jam/Jellies Entries accepted in the Conference Cottage
Judging from 10 to 11
9:50 am- Expo Officially Starts with Opening Announcements (Darren Sheriff and Kathy Woolsey)
10am-Dr. Merle Shepard- Citrus Growing in Faraway Places
11am- Darren Sheriff- Citrus Greening quarantines and what it means to you
12- 1:30 pm Lunch
Friends of Cypress Gardens- Hot Dogs, Hamburgers and Chili or “on your own”.
Catfish Food truck will be on premises!
1:30pm Expo Resumes (Darren Sheriff)
More Speakers:
1:30pm- Jim Strohm-Bees and their importance to Citrus Fruit
2:30pm- Tim Armstrong-The occurrence of extreme cold across the Southeastern U.S and its effects on Citrus
3:30-4:15-Question and Answer period for panel of experts
4:15-Fruit and Jam/Jelly Awards Announcements
Happy Hour Social 5-6 BYOB & Citrus Fruit Tasting
Citruholics Banquet 6-8 pm. Heritage room. (Separate $20 fee to attend this)
Sit down BBQ dinner (cooked by a certified BBQ Judge) Green Beans, Corn Bread, Sweet Potatoes, Beverages and Citrus Themed Dessert Cart
Please register at or call Cypress Gardens at (843) 553-0515 Loretta and 3030 Cypress Gardens Rd, Moncks Corner SC 29461

There will also be door prizes as well as vendors of all kinds. Citrus trees, books and much, much more.
You can find more info at or get in touch with Darren: or (843) 200-5818

The Jam and Jelly rules are as follows:
Bring entries to the Conference Cottage, Cypress Gardens between 8am to 10 am.
Entries must be in by 10 am.
All types of Homemade Jams, Jellies and Marmalade will be accepted and subdivided into 4 classes.
Class 1. Best Tree Fruits (apple, pear, peach and others) red ticket
Class 2. Best Brambles and berries (strawberry, blueberry, grape and others) blue ticket
Class 3. Best Vegetables (Pepper, tomato, watermelon and others) green ticket
Class 4. Best Odd balls and mixed fruit (cactus, daylily, guava and others) yellow ticket
The Best of the Best Trophy – selected from the 4 top winners in each class.
We will have plates, crackers and spreading utensils on hand.

The ruling that we received about bringing Citrus Fruit to the competition is:
“I appreciate your dedication and concern for both citrus and the quarantines. The way the law reads, only plants and plant parts are regulated. Fruit is not a regulated article and can be moved freely under the Asian Citrus Psyllid and the Citrus Greening quarantines. In Florida it is different because they are also under quarantine for citrus canker in which case the fruit is regulated. So short answer is that yes, fruit can moved into and out of Charleston County as long as there are no leaves, stems or any other plant parts attached or moved with it.
Don’t hesitate to contact me if you have any other questions or need any further assistance.

Sherry P. Aultman
Interim State Plant Regulatory Official
CAPS Program Coordinator
Organic Certification Program
Clemson University
Department of Plant Industry
Southeastern Citrus Exposition
Cypress Gardens
 Moncks Corner, SC
November 21, 2015

Fruit Entry Form

Exhibitor Entry Number _______________
(Will be provided by event officials)

To enter, you must present 3 or more fruit of each variety, with (if possible) one stem and leaf attached. One of the fruits must be cut in half crosswise (as you would cut a grapefruit to eat), to display the interior of the fruit. Those in quarantined areas are exempt from the leaf and stem request.
Display plates will be provided.
Category of Fruit:
Class 1. Sweet Orange: Cultivar_____________________________
Class 2. Sour Orange: Cultivar______________________________
Class 3. Mandarin: Cultivar_________________________________
Class 4. Kumquats: Cultivar_________________________________
Class 5. Grapefruit & Pomelo: Cultivar________________________
Class 6. Lemon: Cultivar____________________________________
Class 7. Lime: Cultivar: _____________________________________
Class 8. Hybrids & Other (specify if possible)____________________
Class 9. Seedling Crossed by grower___________________________
Class 10. Citrus Bowl ( 5+ different fruit named ) _________________________________________________________


>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>Fold form here>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

TO ENSURE THE CONCEALMENT OF THE PARTICIPANT’S IDENTITY DURING JUDGING, THIS SIDE MUST REMAIN DOWN. (Unfold and display the entire form after all judging is complete) Please complete the following. Where grown: ________________________ _________________________ State & County/Parrish USDA Hardiness Zone __________ Thank you for your participation. Good luck!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

It's Almost Planting Time!!

Yes, you read that correctly and it is still August!
Most people think of spring as the time to start planting, I am here to tell you, that ain't necessarily so!! Granted, you can plant in the spring and everything will be fine. The stores and garden centers certainly play to that. Let me give you a little food for thought.
Fall will be here, officially, in about 4 weeks. Avoid the rush and start prepping now.

Many people prefer January through March, at least for us here in the south, for planting, but the fall months of September through December have distinct advantages. Lets start with us humans first.
We gardeners are slowly migrating back outdoors after, in many places, record-breaking heat this summer. We love to garden, but the heat and humidity can really take a toll on the body. If you are anything like me, you have been struggling through and gardening anyway, so you are at least in a "little" bit better shape than you will be after a long winter of inactivity. So right there, fall makes more sense to be planting.
How many times have you planted something in the spring or summer and have it do this:

You know that it is stressed, but do you know why?
When shrubs and trees are brought home and transplanted, they may suffer varying degrees of shock or stress. This may be from root loss (for field-grown or ball and burlap plants) or it could be the changes in how they were being cared for (container-grown plants). They might have been watered more often or the water pH could be vastly different. Weather conditions and the condition of your soil can also have an impact on how well and how quickly a plant adjusts to its new location.
The shock or stress is caused by the demand of the plant tops for water and the limited ability of the root system to supply it. Again, this is where fall planting is better. The plant may be getting ready to drop its leaves anyway, so there is no need to continue supporting them.  A plant's demand for water is far less in cooler and often rainy, fall weather. The plant has a better chance of a quick recovery in these situations, especially if it gets to develop new roots. Fall is also the time it builds up nutrient reserves needed for healthy growth come spring. Most of the country have soils that are warm enough throughout the fall and early winter that we can get good root growth. The thing to remember is the activity below ground goes right on until the deep soil temperature drops below 40 degrees.

Don't necessarily go to a lot of trouble to put in peat moss or compost in the hole with the soil. Research has shown plants actually grow better if they are planted in the same soil you dug it out of. This is where a soil test is beneficial. If the soil you are planting in is really poor, with lots of clay, no nutrients, etc. by all means add some compost or other soil amendments. The theory for this is, if the soil in the planting hole is much more nutrient-rich than the surrounding soil, the roots won't want to spread beyond it and will grow in circles instead of out like a web. Make sure that you mulch with 2 or 3 inches of some type of pine straw, compost or some kind of organic material. Water it thoroughly to get rid of air pockets and so it has a good supply of water. The greatest cause of death of newly planted trees and shrubs is planting them too deep. The general rule of thumb is, make your planting hole one inch less than the rootball.
Do not fertilize the tree or shrub. This is fall. We do not want to encourage foliage to grow; it will only weaken the plant, taking energy away from root establishment, and the foliage will just get burned by the cold or frost. Fertilize in the spring. This also goes for pruning. Pruning encourages new growth, which has the same detrimental effects in fall as fertilizer. This being said, if there are broken branches or crossing branches, you will want to cut them off. If you buy from a reputable nursery, you should not have either of these problems. 
All of this information is also applicable to moving a tree or shrub from one spot to another in your yard.
Every plant in the landscape should serve a purpose. Ask yourself if you want a plant for screening, for privacy, or for shade. How large will it be five years from now? Plants, like people, grow up. Remember, that a small one-gallon-size plant will look entirely different after a few years of growth in your landscape. If you're wondering how fast a tree or shrub grows, the easy answer is this: If you want it to get big fast, it'll be slow-growing. If you really want it to stay small, it will grow quickly!!
Okay, all joking aside, here is a recap:
If you plant a shrub in spring, it must acclimate itself to its new home and begin growing immediately.  At the same time, it has to produce leaves, flowers, and then endure the rapidly arriving summer heat. Plant the same shrub in fall, and it becomes happily dormant above ground soon after planting, but the roots have several months to grow and become comfortable and strong in their new home. Fall planting gives your plant’s roots a wonderful “head start” over spring planting. 
Isn't all of this a good reason to be getting your shovels back out?
If you have any questions, comments or concerns about this, or any of my other articles, please drop me a line at: You can also find me on Facebook as The Citrus Guy.
Happy Growing!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Resistance Is Futile!

No, I have not become a part of the Borg collective. Only Star Trek geeks will get this.
Actually what I want to talk about is food. When you are hungry, you go get something to eat, right?
When any animal gets hungry, they go get something to eat?  Right again!
We, as human gardeners, enjoy growing our own food to eat? Right one more time!
Well, unfortunately, we have competition in our garden, and it isn't even only our fruits and veggies that are the target.
You all know who or what I am referring to here.
The White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) can be seen bounding through South Carolina's woods year-round. They are plentiful in our state, and in 1972 the legislature named them the official state animal. Ten other states recognize the White-tailed Deer as their state animal, too!

You might call them Bambi.
You may think they are cute, and they are, from a distance. As long as they stay out of my yard I have no trouble with them.
Being in the nursery business, they go by another name, Damn Deer!!
I understand the whole, "they are a living thing and they need to eat too!" Yea, yea, but what were they eating before my cucumbers and pepper plants were here?!
Again, I know what you are thinking, we are taking away their habitat and their food supply. I get that also. I am not! But yet, I am the one that feeds them my tomato plants, my peach tree and anything else that they see.
But enough about my complaints.
I hear it every single day at work, I can't have a nice yard because the deer keep eating everything. Is there anything I can do to stop them, short of enclosing my yard in barbed wire?
I usually tell them to electrify the barbed wire too, but that doesn't go over well.

Deer damage on Hostas

Here in South Carolina, the current estimated deer population is about 750, 000. That is a lot of hungry animals.
Hunting is the only sure fire way to bring those numbers down, but that is frowned upon by not only animal rights groups, but HOA's where the houses are extremely close together.
So if you can't put up a fence, shooting them is out, what else can you do?
You can encase each plant in fencing, but that kind of looks stupid. There are all kinds of deer repellent sprays on the market. The down side to them is, one, they stink and two, you have to reapply after every rain or irrigation event. There is one product on the market that seems to work pretty good, I have even tested it myself....Milorganite. It is actually a fertilizer.  It is composed of heat-dried microbes that have digested the organic matter in wastewater.  Milorganite is manufactured by the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District.  The District captures wastewater from the metropolitan Milwaukee area, including local industries such as MillerCoors.  This water is then treated with microbes to digest nutrients that are found in it, and cleaned water is returned to Lake Michigan.  The resulting microbes are then dried, becoming Milorganite fertilizers.
Sounds cool, huh?
Okay, so maybe that isn't your cup of tea either.
Your last hope is either artificial plants or ones that they don't tend to eat. Now mind you, the list I am about to share with you is just a guide to plants that are not USUALLY eaten by deer. If they are hungry enough they will eat anything.

Barberry : Berberis thunbergii
Spirea : Spirea sp.
Dogwood : Cornus florida
Viburnum : Viburnum sp.
Juniper : Juniperus sp.
Pyracantha : Pyracantha coccinea
Mahonia : Mahonia aquifolium
Pieris : Pieris sp.
Yaupon Holly : Ilex sp.
Society Garlic : Tulbaghia violacea

This is just a very small list. A Google search will reveal many others. Clemson actually has a very good page that has a fairly extensive list of what they don't usually eat and what they love. It can be viewed HERE. It is from 1996, but still has some very useful info on it. I want to stress here again, just because somebody lists a plant as deer resistant, it DOES NOT mean they will not eat it, just that they don't prefer to eat it.
Then there are the plants that, if you plant them, every deer within 100 miles of you will come by.
Two, off the top of my head are, Hostas and Knockout Roses. You wouldn't think that they would eat the roses, with the thorns and such. I know of a homeowner here in Charleston that, because they live in a heavily populated area, they were not going to listen to my advice and not plant certain things. I told them, do not plant the roses, pittosporum and hostas. They assured me, I won't have any problem, there are too many people around, the houses are too close together, and there is always activity around to scare them off. I wished them luck.
The very next morning, they were back. The deer ate EVERYTHING they planted!! Almost $800 worth of plants. Right down to the ground. They even ate a few things I didn't think they would eat, like ligustrum and liriope.
Do I have the answer for this problem? Not really. I can suggest plants that they don't usually eat. Encourage you to build a fence. Maybe tell you to get a big dog that will stay outside all night.
This is actually a common sight in many of the neighborhoods around here.

So, in the end, resistance is futile. Maybe we should just learn to live with them?
 Not me, I will continue to use milorganite and encase my plants in cages, even if it does look stupid!!
If you have any questions or comments about this, or any of my other articles, Please let me know.
I can also be found on Facebook as The Citrus Guy.
Happy Growing!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Never Give Up!

As I write this on the 28th of June, it is almost 90 degrees outside. We haven't been below 70, even at night, for well over 6 weeks, and yet, I am dealing with cold damage on one of my citrus trees.
How is this possible?
Good question!
This article is actually going to dove tail from another one I just wrote last month. If you would like to catch up on that first, here is the link: Citrus Pruning
It covers when and how to prune citrus. It also covers what would happen if a branch is damaged from the cold closer to the trunk.
A quick recap: Cold damage on citrus trees can be very deceiving. If the damage is low on the branch, there might be enough energy in it to initiate growth, but, if the damage is not allowing nutrients from the roots, it will be a short lived flush
SO, with that being said, what am I dealing with now? An entire tree!!

This was a Republic of Texas Orange. It had started out with a real nice flush of growth and I though it was going to be fine. It survived the winter of 2013/14, so I had no reason to doubt it survived the 2014/15 winter when I saw all the leaves coming out.
About a week ago it all started to wilt. With as hot as its been, I figured it just wasn't getting enough water. So I gave it a good soaking. It never even started to perk up. 
I had waited until the new growth looked good before I cut all the dead material off, as you can see in the picture below, it was quite a bit.

I really thought I was in the clear, until the wilting started. So, I went on a search to see what was wrong. I guess I wasn't really paying attention, or I just overlooked it. 

You can probably see the problem better in this picture. Did you notice all the cracks in the trunk, just above where the large branch was cut off? 
That is cold damage. 
Apparently, there was enough stored energy in the tree above that damage to initiate some new spring growth. However, when that energy was used up, it could not receive anymore from the roots. Hence the wilting and death of the leaves.
I pretty much had given up on this tree and was going to toss it, but I have been really busy as of late and hadn't had a chance.
Then, the tree itself showed me that I should never completely give up, at least not right away.
There are a few roots that are growing just above the soil line and lo and behold, this showed up:

If this was a grafted tree, I would not be as excited. That would just be the rootstock coming back and depending on what it was, might not be worth keeping. This tree is growing on it's own roots, so this is the Republic of Texas coming back!!
It will be a few years before I see fruit again, but as Dr. Frankenstein once said, "IT IS ALIVE!!"
Everything eventually will die for one reason or another, that is a fact of life. If you get nothing else from this article, remember this, when one of your plants look dead, look at all of the factors of what may have killed it, it might be reversible, or it might be salvageable. The truth is, Never Give Up, until it is an absolute surety of its demise!!
If you have any questions about this, any of my other articles or something else pertaining to gardening, please feel free to e-mail me. I can also be found on Facebook as The Citrus Guy.
Happy Growing!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

A New Japanese Monster Movie?

I have mentioned in previous articles about my guilty pleasure of occasionally watching Japanese monster movies. You know, Godzilla, Mothra, etc. I have no idea what attracts me to these creatures invading Tokyo and destroying everything in sight. I spent some time in Japan, I loved it there and the people were wonderful!
However, I don't like the idea of a new Japanese movie being made in my back yard, with monsters destroying many of my plants, yet it is happening! It might very well be going on in your yard too.
Do you have plants that the leaves look like this?

This is my Seedless Concord Grape, or what is left of it. The skeletonized leaves are the result of the monster known as......dum....dum...dummmmm

This beetle, Popillia japonica 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. 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. 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.

Japanese Beetle Grub

So, they are here. What to do about them? I will cover a few ways, from least toxic to a 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.
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 Lawn & Garden Multi-Insect Killer and Permethrin products such as Spectracide Bug Stop Multi-Purpose Insect Control 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!!
With just about every monster movie, there is a lot of worry about the approaching invader and the damage that will be done. There is also the answer to all of the problems associated with the invading monster. Hopefully this article has given you some ideas on what to do, what not to do, and how to avoid a remake of your yards version of a Japanese monster movie!!
As always, if you have any questions concerning this or any of my other articles, feel free to e-mail:
You can also find me on Facebook as The Citrus Guy.
Happy Growing!

Thursday, June 4, 2015

A Salted

Being in the nursery business, I get to talk to a lot of people about all kinds of plants and their problems. It can range from, needing something for a shady, wet spot to a hardy plant that can handle extreme temperatures and sun. Deer resistance and a natural fence to block obtrusive neighbors are also on the list. One of the toughest questions to answer is salt tolerance.
As humans, we all know that too much salt is bad for us. High blood pressure being the first thing that comes to mind. Plants can have health issues too, if given or receiving too much salt.
The most commonly used salt, whether found in the closet  or in de-icing during the winter, is sodium chloride. Salt occurs in a variety of forms, including the mineral halite, which is mined and used in rock salt. Sodium chloride is sold in several different particle sizes depending on its intended use. Rock salt is very coarse and consists of crystals that have the consistency of loose gravel. On the opposite end of the scale, common table salt and popcorn salt have very fine granules. In between is kosher salt, which is made up of coarse flakes, and compressed pellets that are used in water softeners.

Most of us think of only these kinds of salt, but salts in irrigation and soil water that we use for our plants are in fact formed from many minerals. These minerals come mostly from the weathering of rocks and soils, dissolved over millions of years. Salts can also come from fertilizers and soil amendments such as gypsum and lime. They can also come from water tables and sea water intrusion. The last two are the problem most people come into contact with when it comes to living on the coast.
Sea water intrusion occurs in coastal freshwater aquifers when the different densities of both the saltwater and freshwater allow the ocean water to intrude into the freshwater aquifer. So you may think that your well water is fine, however, in drought years this difference in densities becomes more lopsided towards the salt water. Too much salt in the soil is a problem for several reasons, including toxicity, inadequate amounts of moisture and oxygen, and a high pH that makes necessary nutrients unavailable to plants. 
Contact your local extension office and get your soil tested if you suspect your soil is too salty.
What kind of symptoms should I look for?
Good Question!

This picture shows a very clear example of what might have happened after a cold, icy, winter, where you threw salt down on your sidewalk to melt ice. Dead, brown plants are an obvious indicator.
What about something a little less obvious?

Leaf tip burn.
Other things to keep an eye out for are:
Noticeable Delay in Spring “budbreak”/flowering
Stunted Foliage and Noticeably Small Buds
Reduced New Shoot Growth
Crown Thinning or Crown Tufting
Premature Fall coloration and defoliation (losing leaves early)

There is a list of plants that can tolerate salty soils (and salt spray if you live on the immediate coast).
Your local extension agent should have a copy for your area. Some of the more common ones, and this is just a small sampling, not all of these will necessarily grow where you live include:

Eastern Red Cedar-Juniperus virginiana
Common persimmon- Diospyros virginiana
Southern magnolia- Magnolia grandiflora
Live oak- Quercus virginiana
Beautyberry- Callicarpa americana
Japanese holly- Ilex crenata
Wax myrtle- Myrica cerifera
Pyracantha- Pyracantha coccinea
Oleander- Nerium oleander

Again, I encourage you to contact your local extension agent, get your soil tested and get a copy of the plants that will grow in your area that are salt tolerant.
As you can imagine, salt in the landscape would be much more difficult to deal with than it would be if you are growing things in containers. It can happen there too!

This is an extreme case.
If you over fertilize your plants, the salts can build up. If the container starts to develop a white crust, or it is seen around the drainage holes, you should look into a possible salt accumulation issue. The nice thing is, you can remedy it rather quickly.
First, stop feeding the plant as often, make sure you are following the manufacturers directions and application rates.
Second, you can try to flush the salts out with plenty of good, clean water. The best thing to do is start over by removing all of the soil and starting with fresh, new soil. In the case above, make sure you scrub the pot, you might even consider soaking the pot in clean water for a few days to try and leach some of the salt out.
As you can see, too much salt is bad for both humans and plants. Hopefully, you won't ever need to worry about this, but if you do, at least you have a little insight as to how to deal with your plants in the case they are ever a salted!!
As always, if you have any questions, comments or concerns about this or any of my other articles, please feel free to contact me at
Happy Growing!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Citrus Pruning in mid Spring

To say the past two winters have been rough is probably an understatement! Many citrus trees took a pretty good hit and some have not survived, though many more have. Is this reason to want to quit trying to grow citrus? Absolutely not!!
While there has been some major losses of entire trees, I have been getting reports of trees that were thought to be dead, coming back. Hence the topic for today's discussion, pruning.
I get asked very often, when is the best time to prune my citrus tree? My usual response is, why do you want/need to prune it? There is always a myriad of reasons, many of which are not good reasons, "aren't I suppose to", "I saw online that it has to be done", "my neighbor did it". Then there is the little more reasonable "it is in my way" or "I don't like the way it looks".
This is a case of where you should research the plant before putting it in the ground. In the last two cases, moving the tree or pruning might be your only course of action. We can go into a huge, long discussion about this.
However, like I said at the beginning, there have been some rough winters and some folks trees were getting ready to be kindling, but lo and behold, they have sprouted new growth. What should I do now?
Do you have a tree that looks like this:

 This is also the reason that I usually tell people to hold off pruning any cold damage until you are sure what is truly dead.
Here is another picture of the same tree:

If you would have seen this tree just a few weeks ago, you would have written it off for dead. I had a hunch it would be fine, the cambium layer, just under the bark, was still green in places. Do you see now why I say hold off?

If I had just started cutting away, I might have cut off some new growth. Cold damage on citrus trees can be very deceiving. If the damage is low on the branch, there might be enough energy in it to initiate growth, but, if the damage is not allowing nutrients from the roots, it will be a short lived flush. Waiting until mid Spring gives you a better idea of where you stand. When you are pretty sure you can start cutting, prune small sections at a time, just getting to some green, living material, then stop. You don't want to cut too much off, but you also want to make sure you get all the dead wood off.
I wanted to also share something else that, because I did not prune when it was damaged, is showing some good signs.

This is my variegated Calamondin. The winter of 2013/14 almost killed it. It had dropped every leaf and was nothing but a couple of sticks. I watered it and just let it be, this year it is going to produce fruit again.
There is no real manual for pruning citrus, you need to remember that, if you start cutting citrus trees, you will be cutting flowers and fruit off.
I wanted to end this discussion today with some encouragement for those of you struggling with your trees. As you may or may not know, I grow all mine in pots. I do protect some of them over the winter, but not all. This is just a few of my trees that are bearing fruit this year:

Seedless Kishu Mandarin

Harvey Lemon

Buddhas Hand, Fruit and Flower

Variegated Valencia Orange

Poncirus trifoliata 'Flying Dragon' (Rootstock Citrus)

As always, if you have any questions about this or any of my other articles, feel free to ask. My address is
Happy Growing!