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?
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.
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