Sunday, January 31, 2010

Now isn't THAT odd?

Not all Citrus are the tasty Oranges or Grapefruits, or even the sour Lemon and Limes. There are some out there that, yes, they are eaten in a way, (more on that later) They are just plain weird!
Meet Citrus medica 'Buddha's Hand'

This is one of mine that was still maturing and nowhere near ripe at time of this photograph. Sadly, I don't have any pictures of it being ripe, something happened to it and it fell off and rotted. I think an animal came trough the yard and either rubbed against it or the wind blew it against another tree and damaged it. Either way I enjoyed it while I had it.
I mentioned that it can be eaten. For any of you that have ever eaten Fruitcake. This is the same family that the little colored pieces of fruit come from. Candied Citrus peel. The Buddha's hand and most of the other Citrus medica are almost all peel and pith, little to no pulp. They make great candidates for just candied peel. There are plenty of recipes on the web to try it.
I have a variegated form of this also, it has yet to produce any fruit. I am hopeful that this is the year.
This is one that can easily be grown in a container. For all that information check out my posting on container grown Citrus.
Don't have any idea where to get one? No problem! Check these fine folks out at:
They even have a picture of a ripe one on the page. I have used these folks before and the plants have always been very healthy!
Happy Growing!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Don't tell me that!

I have always been one of those people where if you tell me you can't do something, I am going to try it. Whether it be just to prove them wrong or to learn why it can't be done, I am not sure.
Yea, I know there are certain things that just are NOT going to work. Growing a Coconut Palm in South Carolina in a greenhouse, won't work! For those of you that don't know why....a coconut palm will reach heights of 100 feet. That's a BIG greenhouse!!
I had many people tell me you can grow a Papaya in a container, but it won't fruit for you. I think the next two pictures will tell you how well THAT worked out!!

The fruit was/is fantastic! These are pictures from a couple of years ago. I had eight fruit on it this year. They are still ripening as of this posting.

Cactus was one of the first plants I really got into. This guy is about 15 years old. Yea, I know what you are saying.....of course you can grow Cactus in containers, but this big?!

This is an overall shot of my Citrus all in containers. This was back when I had 109 varieties. Lots of work.

This one is a little harder to do. These are brambles, (Raspberries, Blackberries and Boysenberries) The Teepee type supports work and you need to keep a close eye on the watering. It is well worth the extra work for the Jelly and Jams that I have made, not to mention the occasional snack while working in the yard.

The biggest thing I would like you to take from all this is:
Don't let people tell you that something can't be done!! It may be a little more work, you may need to put a little extra time into it, but the rewards are a great motivator.
Happy Growing!

Friday, January 29, 2010

The Swap

I figured today would be as good as any to get this thing officially announced. I am still tweeking the official copy, so I borrowed this rewrite from my buddy Jenion. Thanks Dude!
April 10th, 10am set-up and browse....11am swap...immediately afterwards...LUNCH!
This year we are having it at Park Circle in North Charleston, by the Gazebo. There are picnic tables, bathrooms and LOTS of room for kids to play and even more room for plants, parking and food.
Pretty much everybody in Charleston is familiar with Park Circle....there are numerous ways to get to it, depending on which way you are coming. If you want or need directions you can E-mail me, I will get it and respond ASAP.
The way we swap will be the same... the basic Free For All. I will say go, everybody will grab ONE (1) plant and take it to their hiding area. After everybody has a plant, we repeat the process. Nice and Simple!
We will have plates and napkins and such, Please bring your own drinks and food for as many as you can. We like to do a Pot Luck style picnic and encourage everybody to stick around and participate. The socializing afterwards is as much fun as the swap itself, please try to give yourself enough time to stay and enjoy yourself!
If you have any other questions, please feel free to ask.
Tell your friends, neighbors and anybody else you can think of....2010 will be the best Plant Swap YET in Charleston!
Happy Growing Folks! Get those seedlings and cuttings started!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Name Dropper

I thought I would drop a few names of some of the more interesting Citrus I have either grown or are now growing.
There are many, many varieties of Citrus. Books upon books have been written about the cross breeding of the different varieties, both of natural crosses and man made. This list is not by any standard an all inclusive list, but makes an attempt to list some varieties that are worth searching out and trying to grow.
Taste is highly subjective. If you prefer very sweet fruit, you may be disappointed with many of these. If you don’t mind a little sour occasionally, these will tickle you to the highest level. So let’s get started.

KUMQUATS: Don’t forget to eat the peel and all!
Meiwa….one of the better ones for eating fresh
Nagami…most often the ones found in grocery stores
Chang Shou

Kimbrough Satsuma
Owari Satsuma
Early St. Anne Satsuma
Keraji Mandarin
Juanita Tangerine

Ambersweet Orange
Hamlin Orange
Parson Brown Orange

Duncan Grapefruit
Marsh Grapefruit
Pink Marsh Grapefruit
Ruby Red Grapefruit

Meyer Lemon…not a true lemon, a cross between a Lemon and a Sweet Orange
Ujukitsu Lemon
Eustis Limequat
Trifoliate Orange…ornamental, nice smelling flowers, fruit uses…hybridization and target practice!
Like I said, this is nowhere NEAR a complete list!! Many of these are pretty easy to find, some are a little more difficult. Do some Google searches or you can ask me where there are some good seed sources. Don't forget, if you like a fruit that you get at the grocery store, plant may someday have a source of LOTS of fruit.
Happy Growing!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

An excuse to grow something else

I have written articles in the past describing the problems of CG (Citrus
Greening)and ACP (Asian Citrus Psyllid) on citrus here in the Lowcountry. Everybody has heard and read about the problems and quarantines. New research has shown there is possibly some help in the future.
Researchers at the University of Florida Indian River Research and Ed Center are investigating a fungus that someday could be used in the fight against Psyllids.The vector that spreads Citrus Greening disease. The product is a microbial insecticide called PFR-97. The active ingredient is a naturally occurring fungus, which spreads among the pests after application. The product has been shown to be fairly benign to beneficial insects. It has also been shown to kill a wide variety of other citrus pests beside the psyllid. There are plans for larger field studies.
Then, there is the hope that planting and growing Guava with citrus will help repel the psyllid. In 2006, South Vietnamese farmers reported that planting guava trees among citrus trees reduced psyllid infestations and kept greening out of their groves. In 2007 horticulturalists and some growers went to Vietnam to evaluate the situation. While there, they observed that the guava effect appeared to be true. Scientists surmised that there must be something in the guava leaves because the psyllids were kept out all year round and fruit is on the tree for only part of the season. The scientists then discovered that damaged guava leaves produced dimethyl disulfide, which is very toxic to most insect species. Hence, it appears that when guava leaves are wounded by insect attack, they produce the dimethyl disulfide. This is one possible explanation for the repulsive effect of the guava on the psyllid. There is hope that some kind of method can be developed that uses these findings and keep the psyllids out of citrus groves and slow the spread of Greening.
This then gives us a good excuse to grow some more unusual plants. Like we needed a good excuse right? Why not plant a guava tree? The guava thrives in both humid and dry climates. It basically can be treated like citrus. Some frost protection maybe needed. Older trees, killed to the ground, have sent up new shoots which fruited 2 years later. The guava seems indiscriminate as to soil, doing equally well on heavy clay, light sand, and tolerating a pH range from 4.5 to 9.4. It is somewhat salt-resistant. Good drainage is recommended but guavas have been seen growing spontaneously on land with a high water table,too wet for most other fruit trees. Guava seeds remain viable for many months. They often germinate in 2 to 3 weeks but may take as long as 8 weeks. Guava trees grow rapidly and fruit in 2 to 4 years from seed.
Water requirements are right around 60 inches per year, (Charleston averages around 50). So, needless to say, planting a guava could be a good choice for another unusual tropical plant to keep your citrus company, it may also protect it from ACP and CG attack.
I have one Guava already growing and this past Fall, I planted a couple of other varieties. I will be ready, if/when the Asian Citrus Psyllid raises it's ugly head in MY yard!
Happy Growing!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Bringing them back in

Well, the weather is fixing to change yet again! We have had some great weather the past 10 days or so, Broke 70 a couple of times and never saw lower than 37 for lows. I am looking at the temperatures for the next few days and tonight is suppose to drop to 31. Which normally wouldn't be a problem, but if you read "Playing with Fire" entry, you know for me it will be a problem. I am also looking at a 30 Saturday and a 28 Sunday night.
So, with all that being said, I pulled all the citrus back into the greenhouse after work today. I was looking them over and toyed with the idea of "They should be okay tonight, it's only going to be 31" Then, I started noticing all the nice new growth and flower buds on a few different cultivars. I also know how "accurate" the weather folks are with their educated guesses. Just a degree or two lower and the trees could be in some trouble, especially the flower buds. So in they came.
One other note, we received another 2.25 inches of rain Sunday night, Monday morning. This on top of the couple inches of rain we received middle of last week. I bet you can't guess how much a 30 gallon pot, with a 6 foot Key Lime in it weighs when it is completely water logged? Me neither, I am waiting for the report from my back in the morning.
Happy Growing!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Feeling a little ill Mr. Citrus tree?

I would like to start my blog out today on a little different note.
Today is my 18th Wedding Anniversary, I married one of my best friends and have not been disappointed. Happy Anniversary Punky, I Love You!
I would also like to give a shout out to a couple of folks I consider friends, both of whom have blogs you should really check out.
Jenion who runs "Our Park Circle Homestead"
and Kari who runs "Offshoots"
They are very well done and are doing great things with them. Good job you two!

Now, is your Citrus tree feeling a little under the weather? It maybe coming down with a disease.
There are a number of diseases that can infect Citrus. Greasy Spot, Citrus Scab,
Melanose, just to name a few. This article is not long enough to cover all of them. SO, I will cover the two biggest ones right now. Citrus Greening and Citrus Canker.
I have mentioned this before, but it is important enough to mention again.
IT IS ILLEGAL to ship, transport or smuggle Citrus out of the state of Florida!!
The USDA forbids the sale of citrus trees going out of state. I know what some of you are saying, the airports and roadside stands sell the little citrus trees for us to take home. They are using a loophole, on the box that the cute little Key Lime or Lemon comes in states "Grow your own Citrus tree indoors". The law somehow or another does not apply to "Houseplants". One of the biggest problems with this is, what do most people do with their houseplants during the Summer? Yup, they bring them outside and expose them to all the little nasties.
Let me tell you a little about each disease.
Citrus Greening, also called Huanglongbing or yellow dragon disease, is the most serious diseases of citrus in the world. Citrus greening disease is a major threat to the U.S. citrus industry. Other than tree removal, there is no effective control once a tree is infected and there is no known cure for the disease. Greening is spread by an insect, the Asian Citrus Psyllid and possibly by aphids. Infected trees may produce misshapen, unmarketable, bitter fruit. The trees in the orchards usually die 3-5 years after becoming infected and require removal and replanting.
The most characteristic symptoms of citrus greening are a blotchy leaf mottle and vein yellowing that develop on leaves attached to shoots showing the overall yellow appearance. Leaves with citrus greening have a mottled appearance that differs from nutrition related mottling in that greening induced mottling usually crosses leaf veins. Another characteristic is the blotches are not mirror images. If the left side of the leaf vein does not mirror the right side, it could very well be Greening disease. Nutrition related mottles usually are found between or along leaf veins and ARE mirror images.

Notice the uneven blotches on either side of the center vein.

Citrus Canker, caused by the bacterium Xanthomonas axonopodis is a leaf, fruit, and stem spotting disease that affects numerous species, cultivars, and hybrids of citrus and citrus relatives. Symptoms, Young lesions are raised on both surfaces of the leaf, but particularly on the lower leaf surface. The pustules later become corky and crater-like with a raised margin, sunken center and are surrounded by a yellow halo. Fruit lesions vary in size because the rind is susceptible for a longer time and more than one infection cycle can occur on the fruit. Major outbreaks of citrus canker occur when new shoots are emerging or when fruit are in the early stages of development. Frequent rainfall in warm weather, especially during storms, contributes to disease development.
Citrus canker is mostly a leaf-spotting and fruit rind blemishing disease,but when conditions are highly favorable for infection, it causes defoliation, shoot die-back, and fruit drop. In January 2006 eradication of citrus canker affected trees ended, they gave up, saying it CAN NOT be controlled. The disease does not hurt humans, but looking at the picture....I wouldn't want to eat it.

Hopefully, you will never have to deal with these two diseases yourself. Unfortunately, Citrus Greening has been discovered in Charleston County.....I don't have it on my trees, but I am keeping a very watchful eye.
Happy Growing!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

EEEWWWWW.....Now that's Gross!

Orange dogs.....No this is not some idea dreamed up in California to dye your pooch. Orange dog caterpillars (Papilio cresphontes) to be exact.
Orange dog caterpillars feed on citrus. They are mottled dark grey to light brown.
This is the one that looks like bird poop. When mature the caterpillar is about 1 1/2 inchs long. That little tongue like, forked thing, sticking out emits a really foul odor, I guess to something that is going to eat it, it may smell like bird poop.
On a large tree, a couple of these little guys may not give you much of a problem. On a small tree, that could be a whole different story. A few of these can defoliate an entire tree in just a day or two.
Every year I find some of these on my Citrus trees. Control is either by picking the little critters off, trying not to be touched by that tongue, or by finding the eggs and crushing them. The eggs are very tiny orange balls, about the size of a pin head.
I have even been known to chase the egg laying form around my yard with a net, watching where she lands and crushing the egg right away. There are many folks you like having the Orange dogs around because of what they turn into.
Meet, the adult form:

If you ever want some of these, just let me know...If I find them on my can HAVE THEM!!
Happy Growing!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Why you should buy from folks you trust

This is kind of a add on article to the one I posted Friday.Typically we think of uneducated consumers trying to “smuggle” a citrus plant back from their Florida vacation as the culprit in spreading diseases such as citrus greening or citrus canker. But I recently uncovered a story from November 23, 2009 that shows how a mother and son who own a family nursery were caught and arrested for knowingly trying to sell diseased citrus!
Courtesy of Nursery Management and Production online Magazine
“Florida Agriculture and Consumer Services Commissioner Charles H. Bronson announced the arrest of a Lake County man and woman for allegedly violating state statutes involving the movement of citrus products from a quarantined location.
Charged with knowingly trying to sell infected plants and improper use of a nursery tag were Gary A. Mahon, 31, and his mother, Shelby A.Mahon, 61. The family owns John’s Citrus Trees nursery in Clermont.
The arrests follow an incident in early October,when a rental truck containing citrus trees in which Gary Mahon was traveling in was inspected and detained at the Florida Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Interdiction Station in Suwannee County. Investigators determined that the nursery permit number had been falsified and suspected that the trees had come from an unregistered nursery.
Inspectors from the department’s Division of Plant Industry (DPI) were called to the scene and conducted an inspection of the citrus plants contained within the rental truck and determined that some of the trees were infected with citrus canker.
The truck was sealed, and the driver was ordered to return the trees to the nursery from which they came.
An ensuing investigation by Bronson’s Office of Agricultural Law Enforcement and DPI determined that the more than 500 trees that were intercepted by authorities allegedly came from the family’s Clermont nursery, which is currently under quarantine due to a citrus canker outbreak.
Following the arrests, the suspects were booked into the Lake County Jail on $2,000 bond.”
I know this makes it hard to know who you can trust. It kind of shows that some people are just not worried about what shape their plants are in, just as long as they make a buck. Do your research, find out if the plants are from a reputable nursery, if you are not sure ASK! The honest ones will have no problem telling you.
Happy Growing!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Don't Bring that Plant in Here!

With Spring just around the corner, and all the snow birds down here in South Carolina and ESPECIALLY in Florida, I thought it would be a good time to revisit this article. The majority of this was from an article I wrote for the Master Gardener Newsletter back in the early part of 2009.
Back on March 10, 2009 a Newark, NJ Customs and Border Protection Agriculture Specialist discovered a plant bug, Hallodapus sp (Miridae) on a
commercial importation of thyme from Israel. The discovery of this
insect is the first of its kind in the nation. This species was
described as a quarantine pest that had the potential to cause economic
damage to a trillion dollar agriculture industry.
The discovery of a new pest or disease is nothing new for
agriculture specialists who have extensive training and expertise in
agriculture inspection.
Customs and Border Protection Agriculture Specialists at the Port
of Gulfport, MS recently made a significant and important interception
in a shipment of organic bananas from Colombia, South America during a
container tailgate inspection. During the routine inspection, alert
agriculture specialists discovered the insect, Faustinus rhombifer
Champion (Curculionidae). The insect was submitted to USDA for
identification. Similar species feed on the vegetation, stems and leaves
of a multitude of plants.
I wrote this article with the fact that the Asian Citrus Psyllid
and Citrus Greening disease have recently been found in Charleston
County, South Carolina. Both of these pests were indigenous to the Far East and Asia.
It got me to thinking of just how Exotic pests and diseases can very
easily be brought into this country and nobody knows for certain what
one of these newly introduced pests will destroy.
It also brings to mind how important it is to have quarantines in
place and why bringing plants into this country is so dangerous. Yes, it
is "Just one little plant" but that plant could have a pregnant bug or
some kind of disease on it that could wipe out the entire (Place your
favorite plant here) species.
Once a quarantine is in place, there is a VERY good reason why. I
don't know for sure, but I would be willing to bet that somebody thought
that cute little citrus tree that was bought in Florida and brought up
I-95 wouldn't hurt anything. Or that a citrus tree smuggled in a
suitcase from Asia brought to Florida wouldn't amount to any trouble.
Don't get me wrong I love trying new and exotic plants and when new
ones are introduced I am first in line. But please, only buy from
reputable breeders and nurseries. Let the experts find out if there is
any bugs or diseases on those newly discovered plants. Learn the laws
and regulations of plant importation. Pass this on to anybody that you
talk to about plants. If you do ANY traveling abroad and go to a nursery
there, remember...DON'T BRING THAT PLANT IN HERE!
I hope this will get you to think about transporting plants across state lines also. Just for the record, It is ILLEGAL to transport any Citrus Tree, leaves, stems or any other part of the plant out of the state of Florida. Fruit bought, usually has been inspected and declared okay to transport. Please don't stop along the road and pick any fruit and bring it could be carrying something. I will have more on the quarantines and such in later postings.
Happy Growing!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Playing with Fire!

I was at the Coastal Carolina Camellia Society meeting the other night and got talking to one of my friends there about my Blog. (Thanks Marilyn!!) She gave me some more great ideas for this thing.
Basically she said, "Good, we can follow you and do what you do" This excited me and scared me at the same time! I don't "always" follow the written in stone, concrete instructions. With that being said, I DO ALWAYS follow the instructions on pesticide labels, that is the law folks!!
No, when I say I don't always follow things, my feeding, pruning and overall growing basics tend to get "tweeked" a lot.
Let me give you an example. Here in North Charleston, as well as everywhere in the country, we had some pretty cold weather the first few weeks of January. I, of course, had most of my citrus in the greenhouse. Anything below 29 degrees forecasted gets my attention. We had 12 nights in a row below that threshold. Everything came out fine, it only got down to 33 in there on the coldest night. It dropped to 18 outside.
Well, on January 15th, the weather was predicted to be warm for at least a week....(if you call lows in the upper 30's low 40's warm) I pulled all the citrus out of the greenhouse, yes all 45 varieties. I knew there was some good rain on the I fed them! Anybody that knows anything about plants, the middle of January is NOT the time to be feeding anything. It will cause it to flush new growth and that new growth will be much more susceptible to cold and frost. Unless they call for sub 32 degrees again, they will stay outside to get as much sun and fresh air as they can.
If I am giving advice on when to fertilize your citrus trees, I have to take a bunch of things into account. If they are growing in the ground, wait until at least the end of February or middle of March to feed them. If they are in containers, are you willing to bring them in if it gets really cold again? If yes, go ahead and feed them. Just keep a GOOD eye on the weather. Also, your gut will help you a lot. If you feel the least little bit uneasy about a certain forecast, or if it is so borderline close, bring them in.
What do I usually feed mine? Again, here we go with the tweeking. I have a crazy schedule. I use this product called "Citrus Tone" it is made by Espoma. Probably the best stuff I have found. I don't remember the recommended application rates, I just sprinkle some on the soil of each plant every two weeks and either water in or wait for the rains. The alternate weeks, I use Fish Emulsion, sometimes as a foliar spray or sometimes as a drench. I know this sounds expensive, and it is. That is why I don't recommend it to everyone. The Citrus Tone could be used every 4 weeks or so.....maybe even follow the recommended rates on the bag?! What a concept huh? LOL
The fish emulsion can be used whenever. Citrus require large amounts of Nitrogen (the first number on fertilizers). I do this for my container plants because Nitrogen leaches out of the soil the fastest of all the nutrients. See my logic here?
In ground plants, once every 6 weeks is good for them.
As a side note, if you can't find the Citrus Tone, any water soluable fertilizer for Acid Loving plants is a great alternative.
Just to let you know, I did go off my beaten path above with what I fed mine on January 15th. I used some slow release fertilizer and blood meal, I told you I tweek mine every so often. To be honest, I was out of Citrus Tone!
Happy Growing!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A Satsuma by any other name:

Satsuma (Citrus reticulata), also known as Mandarin or Tangerine. All three words are interchangeable. There are several (many) cultivars of Satsuma, including Owari, Kimbough, and Early St. Anne just to name a few. There are taste differences, but the major difference is time of ripening. As a class, most Satsumas ripen before Thanksgiving. Believe it or not, some of the best quality eating is before the peel even turns orange. Of course they can be eaten when they turn, but if you start to see the least little tint of color, give it a try. If you don't like the flavor, wait a couple of days and try again. This works well if you have lots of fruit, if you don't, wait until they give you color. As your tree gets bigger, and you have more fruit, you will develop an eye for when they are perfect. Fruit do not hold well on the tree, they become large and puffy very quickly once reaching maturity.
One of the big selling points is they peel very easy, also being known as "kid glove" and "zipperskinned". This makes them great for kids.
Satsuma is considered the most cold hardy of commercial citrus, 18 degrees is pretty much it's lowest limit for short periods of time. Get down to 15 degrees and you can expect some pretty significant damage.
As for suggestions on the best variety, it will all be a matter of taste. I have and grow a bunch of different kinds. Owari probably being my favorite. It is very sweet. If you like a little bit more on the sour side, Keraji Mandarin is very good. There are many places online to find satsumas, with a little perseverance you can locate some of the harder to find cultivars.
Just to give you some food for thought, Juanita Tangerine came to be as a chance seedling from a grocery store tangerine. It was planted by a Juanita Barrineau of Barrineau, South Carolina. This tree actually survived 0 degrees in 1985. I mention this to encourage you to try planting any seeds you get in the fruit you are eating. Who knows, you might end up having the next great cultivar!
Happy Growing!

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Pests of Citrus

When compared to other fruit trees, citrus are basically carefree. They tolerate an amazing amount of neglect and still fruit reliably. Keeping citrus in optimal health will require some vigilance though as they are prone to a myriad of pests.
Scale, spider mites, aphids, citrus leaf miners and whitefly all attack citrus. If you want to look at the bright side, more times than not, you will not have to fight all of these critters at the same time. One year may be bad with aphids, the next year will be bad with whitefly. Doesn’t that make you feel better?
SCALE are white, brown or orange stationary insects that suck plant juices. They are most common on the undersides of leaves. Scale can be controlled with horticultural oil and or a non-systemic insecticide. NEVER use a systemic insecticide on a plant that you are planning on eating some part of and ALWAYS follow the label directions. The label is the law!
SPIDER MITES are tiny red or orange arachnids that also feed on plant juices. Spider mites can reproduce very quickly. The effect of spider mites usually is evidenced by yellow or orange speckles on the leaves. They can be controlled with horticultural oil and insecticidal soaps. If you use a type of pesticide, make sure the label reads for use on spider mites or miticide. Because they are arachnids, spider mites are not effected by certain insecticides.
APHIDS are another type of sucking insects. They like young new growth and can severely damage emerging growth in the Spring. Aphids are usually in the presence of ants. They get along with each other in a loving way. Ants feed on the sticky honeydew that aphids produce and ants protect and help move around the aphids. Introducing lady bugs to the area will go along way in controlling aphids. Insecticidal soap will also help.
CITRUS LEAF MINERS are a recent introduction to the United States. CLM’s are a nocturnal moth that lay their eggs on young flushes of growth. After hatching in 4-5 days, the larvae begin tunneling just underneath the leaf surface, creating a squiggly pattern on the leaf. Once in the leaf, the miner is impossible to control. Horticultural oil seems to help in discouraging the moth from laying her eggs.
WHITEFLY are particularly bothersome because the damage they cause shows up long after they are gone. They live and breed on the undersides of leaves and feed on the juices of the leaves. Insecticidal soap seems to be the best defense.
ORANGE DOGS & GRASSHOPPERS are leaf chewing pests. Orange dogs are the larvae of the Swallowtail Butterfly. Both of these pests can defoliate a young citrus tree in a matter of days if not hours.
These are your more common pests, I saved the biggie for last:
ASIAN CITRUS PSYLLID are the ones that spread Citrus Greening Disease (Watch for a new posting on this disease alone in the future) The female only lives for several months, but will lay up to 800 eggs, which will develop in 15 to 47 days, depending on the time of year. As long as the ACP has not been on an infected tree, they are no worse than an aphid. If it has been on an infected tree, your tree can become infected in 15 minutes of the start of feeding. All the normal controls used above will help, but be careful of insecticide resistance. Again, I will cover that in another posting also.
Do a Google search on any of these to see what they look like.
Happy Growing!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Growing Citrus in Containers

As many of you know, I grow most (okay, ALL) my Citrus in containers. I have a number of reasons for doing so.
I rent, so if I should move anytime soon they can all come with me.
If I don't like where something is, OR, it doesn't like where it is, I can move it.
I can control the soil PH, water, and fertilizers better.
If we happen to have some REALLY cold weather, like the 18 degrees we have had this Winter, I can move them safely into the Greenhouse.
It's easier to toss something away that happens to die. I don't have to dig and dig to get the stump out.
These reasons go for all my plants that I grow in containers, which are many.
In the above picture, you can see all my Citrus to the right, A yellow Brugmansia top left and some of my Tomato plants bottom left. Yup, all of these are in containers.

One of the first questions I get is, Do you actually get any fruit?
YES! This is a picture of some immature Meyer Lemons. They were in a 30 gallon pot when this picture was taken.
Would you like to try your hand at Containerized Citrus growing? Here is all the How's to do it.

Container Citrus
Many types of Citrus can be grown successfully in containers, if you have a large enough pot. Don’t expect as big a tree as one grown in the ground however. Also, it is very important to find citrus trees grafted onto Poncirus trifoliata or Flying Dragon. This type of root stock dwarfs the tree (still giving you full size fruit) and gives it a few extra degrees of cold hardiness.
The biggest advantage of containerized trees is that they can be protected during freezing temperatures by temporarily storing them in an enclosed area. A nursery standard 15 gallon pot would be a good one to start out with. Once the tree out grows this one, you can move it up to a 30 gallon. A piece of advice though, either build a relationship with some really big, strong men or put casters of some kind on a 30 gallon, it gets pretty heavy. If you happen to see a landscape company working in your neighborhood, stop and ask if they happen to have any and if you can have one or two of either of these sizes. Many times they are more than happy to get rid of them. They won’t have to haul it back to their shop.
Be aware that plastic containers retain moisture longer than other types of pots. As with most plants, allow the upper surface of the soil to become dry to the touch and maybe an inch down, then water thoroughly. Citrus need lots of moisture, but don’t like wet feet all the time.
The potting mix you use is really a personal choice. Any good, well draining mix will work. I have found that a Cactus soil works well. A good blend of Peat, Sand, Perlite and Vermiculite will suffice. I have heard of people using Coconut Husk Chips, this author has no hands on experience with this however.
Good nutrition is essential but over fertilization can result in excessive vegetative or leafy growth, poor fruiting and possible death due to fertilizer salt accumulation. Salt accumulation is a common problem, often indicated by a white crust on the soil surface and around the drain holes. Slow release fertilizers with a ratio of 8-8-8 are excellent, particularly if it contains trace elements such as Iron, Magnesium and Manganese. An occasional foliar spray (spraying the leaves) with Fish Emulsion will also benefit the tree. If you are planning on moving the tree indoors during very cold nights (below 32) You can fertilize every three months and foliar feed every two weeks with a liquid fertilizer or the fish emulsion.
Citrus love sunlight, 8-10 hours if possible. Even in Winter, if the temps drop at night and you bring it in, bring it back out during the day after it warms up. If you forget or there is a long cold spell forecasted, don’t worry, your citrus tree will be fine for a few days in a garage or other sheltered spot.
Summer time can bring other problems with container citrus. The temperature in a black pot, outside in 8 hours of sunlight can easily reach 120 degrees. Two ways to alleviate this. First, shade the pot with low growing plants in other pots. This will give you a chance to have some flowers around your tree and make a very nice display. Second, paint your pots white. There are many paints designed for plastic, get some of them and paint them white. The white surface will reflect the rays of the sun and keep your roots many degrees cooler.
Container citrus have the same pest problems as their in ground counter parts.
I hope this has inspired you to try your hand at some Citrus in containers. In upcoming entries I will discuss pest problems, highlight some of my favorite varieties, some unusual varieties and some stuff you probably have never thought of trying to grow yourself.
Happy Growing!

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Camellias...Another passion of mine

Citrus is not the only plant that I have a true passion for. I have recently gotten into Camellias.
And I thought Citrus was a wide open catagory, WOW!
There are thousands and thousands of Camellias, man made and natural hybrids. Among my favorites are the Camellia japonica 'Pink Perfection' and 'Seafoam', just to name a couple.
This is a picture of them, should be obvious which is which.
Like I said, I just started getting into Camellias, there is SO much to learn. I am always willing to answer any questions you might have though, so bring them on!
I am also going to invite all my followers to the Coastal Carolina Camellia Society's 60th Annual Camellia Show
Here are the details:

Saturday, January 23, 2010 at Citadel Mall
Show and Sale open to public: 1:00-7:00PM
Free Admission
The Competition is open to all growers of Camellias
Exhibitors submit flowers 7:00-9:30AM; Judging: 10:00-12:00PM
Call for info: 843-364-8219

I hope to see everybody there!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

The beginning and the Big Freeze events

I wanted my first blog to be about something of real value. The temperatures here in North Charleston, South Carolina went well below freezing for 12 consecutive nights. As many of you may or may not know, Citrus can handle down to 28 degrees for short periods of time. When I say short periods, I mean 3-4 hours max. We are talking 10-12 hours here on some nights. So, with all that being said, I pieced together this information on what to do if your citrus tree received any freeze damage.

Freeze Damage of Citrus Trees
Freeze damage on citrus trees occurs when water inside the fruit, leaves, twigs and wood
of a tree freezes rupturing the cell membranes. Unlike deciduous trees which protect
themselves from 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 somewhat. This is why sharp freezes following
warm weather are more damaging than gradual temperature changes. However, 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 freezing. 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 to 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 two years after a severe
freeze. 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. In instances where the damage is not severe, freeze-damaged leaves can
recover. However, if the damage is fatal, the leaves will loose 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, damage to the twig 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. However, 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.
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.
In addition, freeze-damaged trees occasionally put out a false start of new growth in the
early spring which soon dies back. Delaying pruning until after this occurs 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.
However, if the original tree was a graft and the tree is killed off below the bud, 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 again.

I am looking forward to hearing from anybody that has Citrus trees, or
anybody that has a question about them.
Thank You for taking time to read my blog.