Friday, May 7, 2021

What The......?! More Texas freeze aftermath issues!!

     Here we are, the beginning of May, and I am still getting huge amounts of e-mails from folks in Texas worried about their citrus trees after the horrible February Frozengeddon. Not only are many folks just wondering if the new growth is what the tree originally was, NOW they are sending me a different issue! Ambrosia Beetle damage or some other tree borer. 

     I wrote about this pest some years ago, so I figured it was time to bring it out of mothballs and update it slightly for the current issues. Granted, the first writing had to do with Avocados, BUT, it is VERY RELATIVE to Citrus also!

     As I go through my Master Gardener career, one old saying keeps popping out at me, "The more I learn, the more I realize I DON'T know". This came to light again just the other day. I received an e-mail from one of the many horticulture and gardening websites that I subscribe to and it was about a fungus and a beetle causing havoc with the Avocado crops in California. 

     I know what you are asking, If you live on the east coast, WHY are you worried about an Avocado problem in California? There are a couple of reasons: 1) I am a geek and I like to know what could possibly end up here due to somebody inevitably bringing it here by mistake or stupidity. I am attempting to grow Avocados. 2) I buy Avocados in the store on occasion, and I want to know why the price could/is going up. Anyway, while I was reading this article there was a picture that sent off all kinds of "familiar" images in my head, I KNOW I have seen this before. Recently, I have gotten many similar ones from the folks in Texas. That picture was this:

     What you are looking at are strings of compacted sawdust being pushed out of the trunk of the tree. I was right I had seen it before. This damage was being caused by an Ambrosia Beetle and I had them in a Royal poinciana (Delonix regia) tree that I was growing. The tree died and had these strings of sawdust coming out. I disposed of the tree, which in hindsight was a good idea, because at the time I had NO IDEA what the heck it was. 

I do now. 

     There about 3,000 known beetle species employing the ambrosia strategy. Ambrosia beetle is a generic term used to refer to a number of beetles. This "strategy" is a relationship between the beetles and the Ambrosia fungus. This is how it works. The beetles dig holes, usually in dying or stressed trees but some species use live, healthy ones. These tunnels are called galleries. The beetle carries spores of the Ambrosia fungus with it and then deposits them in these galleries. The fungus penetrates the plant's tissue, digests it, and grows near the surface of the beetle's gallery. The beetles then feed upon the fungus.
     The tree ends up dying, in the case of a live tree infestation, because the fungus in essence "clogs" up the trees arteries. The beetle that is causing the problem in California is known as the Tea Shot Hole Borer. It is an exotic ambrosia beetle smaller than a sesame seed. The information is still coming in as to how expansive the damage is. 

     Down in Florida they too are having a problem with Avocados, but because of a different beetle. There, it is the Redbay Ambrosia Beetle. This one was first detected in Port Wentworth, Georgia in 2002. Back in that year, this beetle, Xyleborus glabratus, was the twelfth species of non-native ambrosia beetle known to have become established in the US. All are suspected to have been introduced in solid wood packing materials, such as crates and pallets. 

     One other beetle I am trying to keep an eye on is the Granulate Ambrosia Beetle (Xylosandrus crassiusculus). This one was introduced to South Carolina from Asia in the early 1970s. It has since spread throughout the southeast, gulf coast, and as far north as Maryland. This tiny beetle is a pest of woody ornamental, fruit, and nut trees and can cause significant damage in nursery, landscape, and orchard settings. Here in the southeast, Georgia and South Carolina, the ambrosia beetle’s first flight occurs with mild weather typically in February but possibly as early as January. Young trees in nurseries and trees that have been in landscapes for less than three years old are vulnerable to attack even if they are not obviously stressed. Ambrosia Beetles come in many shapes, sizes, and colors, as seen by this picture:

     They are all usually very small. How to tell if you have an infestation? 
I mentioned the strings of sawdust protruding from the tree. This may not always be visible however because rain and wind can knock this very fragile powder off. Other signs to look for are, piles of fine, whitish dust found around entrance holes or at the base of the tree. Wilting of the new leaves, which can also be associated with other problems, is a secondary confirmation sign. 

     You should also monitor the bark very closely for holes as small as 1/16 of an inch. Keeping your trees healthy is one of the most important defenses against attack. Preventative applications of pyrethroid insecticides can protect trees, if sprayed when the beetles are active at the first signs of warmer weather, late Winter, early Spring. Read the label of anything that you use. When looking for an insecticide to work on Ambrosia Beetles, look for some type of borer listed on the label. Specific beetles will not appear on the label. Organic products such as Pyrenone or PyGanic may be used, but are expensive and may not be available in small amounts. Their effectiveness has not been well studied. 

     Once beetles are inside trees they cannot be killed with insecticides and fungicides are ineffective against the ambrosia fungus. You are better off doing everything that you can to reduce the stress of the tree or shrub in hopes that the plant will outgrow the attacks. If the tree is dead, burn the wood if possible so the fungus and beetles get destroyed. 

     Other management procedures to think about are, avoid spreading the beetle and pathogen to new areas, wood or wood chips from infested trees should not be transported out of the local areas where infected trees have been found. Many of the species target very weakened, dying trees, green logs, and unseasoned lumber. The beetles will only attack trees and logs with high moisture content. The moisture is needed to allow the Ambrosia fungus to grow. 

     This has been a very brief article on Ambrosia Beetles. Apparently, the folks in Texas are going to have a terrible time with these things after their killer cold in February. 

     There is much, much more online about these destructive insects, I encourage you to research for it. There are many species of these beetles and they attack many species of trees and shrubs. Hopefully, you can get two major points from my little rant: 
1) Keep your plants healthy. Plant the right plant in the right place. Give it space, water, and all of the other things it needs to remain happy. 
2) Be VERY careful of what you bring into your yard, neighborhood, or country. There very well could be an unwanted hitchhiker in that plant, soil, or pallet. 

Happy Growing! 

Sunday, May 2, 2021

Just Hanging Around!

     Every so often, I get asked to test a product, review a product, or just get asked my opinion. I try to respond to all requests.

     Today, I will give you a short review of one of the recent products I got asked about. It was a Set of 3- 12 inch Hanging coco planter baskets.  I know what you are saying, "I see those all of the time everywhere!" I would agree with you, so I was hesitant to try them. How much different could they be?


     I was PLEASANTLY surprised! 
The chain and basket itself are very sturdy, not cheap metal like I have seen some of them. It is made of cast iron with an anti-rust coating.
The preformed coco liner seems very durable like it will actually last more than one season.
And they just simply look GOOD!

     Because of the way the chain is designed, you can use multiple baskets and hang your plants at different levels to create an interesting layout and effect. The pot itself is 12" in diameter, 6" deep, and holds more potting mix than you might expect, so it will handle a good-sized plant. 

These are manufactured by a company called Emerging Green and they appear to have gotten this product right. They boast that 70% of their products are made of eco-friendly and biodegradable material. To top it ALL off, it even comes with a card enclosed so you can register for a 1-year warranty. They are based in Singapore but have VERY quick delivery. You can learn more about the company HERE.  They have many other really cool Home and Garden products. I have my eye on their wooden birdhouse if anybody needs a gift suggestion for me! 😊

If you are in need of some NICE looking hanging baskets, please check these out! You can find them on Amazon

     I have only used two so far, and I LOVE the way they look!

Other product test stories coming in the near future, so click that Follow Button to stay up to date on my future postings!
Happy Growing!

Monday, April 19, 2021

The Great Texas Freeze and What it Did to Your Citrus Trees

     Over the past month or so, I have gotten SO MANY e-mails, I just have not been able to reply to all of them, I would have had to quit work! So, my apologies to those in Texas that have e-mailed me and I haven't responded. 

     More than likely, if you are reading this, you are from Texas and googled what to do for your poor citrus tree after the freeze in February. For those that are just reading this from other parts of the country/world, let me lay a little groundwork. 

     February, 2021-Texas: A record low temperature at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport of −2 °F (−19 °C) on February 16 was the coldest in North Texas in 72 years.  While the damage is still being assessed, this will likely go down as the first billion-dollar disaster of 2021 globally, and potentially the most costly weather disaster for the state of Texas in history. (Excerpt from the National Weather Service) For another take on just how cold it was, Dallas had a high temperature of 22 degrees, 14, 18, 27 from Sunday, February 14th through, Wednesday, February 17th.


     Texas is considered a Citrus producing state, On average it produces close to 1.5 million boxes of Non-Valencia type Oranges, with an average weight of 85 pounds per box. They produce close to 5 million boxes of Grapefruit, with an average rate of 80 pounds per box. (Information courtesy of the USDA

Image courtesy of Texas Farm Bureau

     Okay, we have gotten the image, Texas produces a LOT of Citrus. The good news is, the current crop was pretty much picked and boxed when this nasty storm hit. So, the loss to the fruit was minimal, however, here is where the problem begins.

     Texas is NOT accustomed to these kinds of temperatures, and citrus CERTAINLY isn't. There are many factors that will affect how cold citrus can handle. 
How long the freeze is: One night of freeze may not hurt a plant too much, a week (or longer) could be another story.
The weather before the event: If you have had very cool temperatures and it has been rather consistent, that is a lot better than warm for a few days than a wicked cold spell.
Soil Moisture: Make sure plants are well watered before the event, the wind also falls under here. Cold and wind dry plants out. A dry plant is much more apt to be hurt by a freeze than a well-watered one.

     As a general rule, Citrus can handle down to 28 degrees for a short period of time. This event was WELL below that threshold. 

     Ok, so what can be done in the aftermath. Sadly, from the e-mails that I have seen, there is not a lot.
Here are some of the pictures that I have received.

     And, sadly, I have many, many more similar to these. What I have been telling folks, is to give it a little time to see if they start to branch back out. Most of the time, they have not even after all this time. 
I have also advised starting as high as you can reach, scrape a tiny section of bark, if you see green under the bark, it is alive. If you see brown, go down a few inches and do it again. Keep going until you either see green or hit the soil line. If there is still no green, more than likely the tree is dead.

     Now, do not remove the tree immediately!
Here is where there is still a little hope. IF the tree was growing on its own roots, then there is still the chance it will come back. You won't see any fruit for a few years, but the tree will still be alive. If you know what the leaves looked like BEFORE the storm, then watch for something like those. Hopefully, they will appear. 

     Now, some more bad/mixed news. If the leaves come back but look like this picture:

Then, it was a grafted tree. The bad news, the original is probably dead and what is coming back is a type of Poncirus spp. or hybrid. Edible, but not necessarily tasty. The mixed news is, if you know how to graft, now you have all kinds of rootstock available. Even if they do not have the trifoliate type look to them, it could still be a sour orange type rootstock, so, you may want to let it go and see what you get.

     Again, my apologies for not being able to get to all of the e-mails. It has now been two months since this devastation, if you are not seeing green growth by now, it is probably a lost cause. I hate being the bearer of bad news, but this was truly a historical, nasty, cold event. My heart goes out to all of my fellow citrus growers, especially the ones that this storm has affected their lively hood!!

Good Luck!
If you get new trees or want to try grafting, Happy Growing!
Darren Sheriff
a.k.a. The Citrus Guy

Monday, January 13, 2020

A New Year and Change of Venue

     Happy New Year, Folks!
For my long-time followers, you have probably realized that I am no longer in Charleston, SC. If you are new to my blog, I had lived the past 22 years in Charleston and my blog was heavily centered on being in that location.

     Many of my articles were fairly generic and were useful for anybody, anywhere, in the world. Today, I wanted to give you some food for thought on what goes into a move from a gardener's perspective. Especially, if it is to a different USDA growing zone.

     If you have never seen this map, it is very useful when trying to figure out what to grow, when to plant it, and when you can expect cold/freezing temperatures. Just to let you know, Charleston was a Zone 8b, almost a 9a. I am now in a 7b, just over an entire zone difference.
     I know what some of you are asking, "What is the big deal?" It can't be that different?

Check out this, Average Last Frost Date and you tell me.

I went from March 15th being my last average frost to April 15th. I have lost a month of growing time. 
     Ok, before I move one, please do not think this is a whining article, I moved here knowing what to expect. The purpose of this writing is to help folks with some resources to learn about their new environment quicker that they may not have thought about, or, just open up some new information for you to seek out even if you have lived in your current spot for decades. This article is/was how I am learning my new surroundings.

     The maps above are one of the greatest tools at your disposal. Remember to take them with a grain of salt, they are just averages. Some years might be earlier, some later. There is always going to be a little luck of the draw when it comes to the weather. 

     Observation. When you are learning a new area while riding around, look at other yards in the neighborhood. A plant that looks really healthy, happy, and growing well is probably a good choice for you. If it looks like it has been whacked back by the cold, melted by the heat, or is just growing weird, you should take that into consideration too. For example, this Sago Palm.

If you are used to it being pretty all the time and move somewhere that might be a tad colder, this will require more work on your part. 

     County Extension Offices. Extension offices are departments located in local counties and universities. These offices are run by university employees and volunteers that are experts in local crops, landscaping, soil, gardening, pests, and more. Almost every single county in the United States has an extension office, and the offices are supported by state universities. Find Your Local Office

     Local Independent Garden Center. I am not talking big box stores here, they receive plants from a buyer that might be hundreds of miles away and usually have no idea of the proper planting times for things. No, I am talking about the mom and pop type places that are not national chains. There are literally thousands of them around the country. If you want an idea of what I am talking about, check out this link for the top 100 Independent Garden Centers in the country. 

     Finally, Common Sense. If you are new to gardening, then the above approaches should be utilized first. For the seasoned gardeners out there, a little common sense will go a LONG WAY. For example, you know that tomatoes love hot weather. If you have moved to Maine from Florida, chances are that you will need to wait a few extra months to plant. Of course, the opposite is true too. If you just moved to Florida, you can plant in February and brag to your snowed-in friends what you are doing.

     Gardening and yard work have always been a little luck, a little knowledge, and a whole bunch of trial and error. That will probably never change. But, if you go into it with as much knowledge and information as you can, your success rate will rise dramatically.

     If you have any questions about this or any of my other articles, please feel free to drop me an e-mail to or .com. You can also follow me on Facebook.

Happy Growing!

Saturday, December 14, 2019

On The 12th Day of Christmas-Citrus Guy Style

     Well, here we are, Day #12 of Gardener Christmas Gift Ideas. I saved the very best, most personal things that you could give anybody during the holidays.
Love and Time

Spend time with the ones you love. If they love spending time in the garden, give them a Gift Certificate to help, like this:

     Offer them Gift Certificates of your time. Not only will you get to spend quality time, they will appreciate the help.
     Isn't that what the holidays are TRULY about?
     Love, time spent with family, and caring.

I hope you have enjoyed this series of posts as much as I have writing them?
From the deepest part of my heart I want to wish every person that reads this a

Merry Christmas
Happy Hanukkah
Happy Kwanzaa
Insert Your Preferred Holiday Here
and a
Joyous and Prosperous New Year

Happy Growing!

Friday, December 13, 2019

On The 11th Day of Christmas-Citrus Guy Style

     Tomorrow, for the 12th day of Christmas I will have the biggest, bestest, nicest, gift of them ALL!
But first, for the 11th day of Christmas, let's bunch together the first 10 days in a neat little basket.

On the 10th Day of Christmas, we discussed little stocking stuffers.
On the 9th Day of Christmas, we discussed saving all that great food.
On the 8th Day of Christmas, we discussed gardening magazines.
On the 7th Day of Christmas, we discussed gardening memberships.
On the 6th Day of Christmas, we discussed indoor garden kits.
On the 5th Day of Christmas, we discussed organic pest products.
On the 4th Day of Christmas, we discussed garden fertilizers.
On the 3rd Day of Christmas, we discussed finding camellia plants.
On the 2nd Day of Christmas, we discussed many seed vendors.
On the 1st Day of Christmas, we discussed finding citrus plants.
On Black Friday we discussed The Citrus Guy's Books.

     So, how do we put ALL of this info into one neat little basket?
By putting them all in a NEAT LITTLE BASKET, of course!!

These are just a few ideas that I found on Pinterest. You can very easily use any of the links/ideas that I have been talking about for the past 11 days or more and create something special for your gardener.

This is again a Pinterest idea I saw. You can add some pretty artificial flowers, fruit or vegetables to yours to make it that much more personal.

     It does not even need to be a "basket" a pretty colorful pot, pail or bucket would work. What about a wheelbarrow, or utility cart? The only limits would be your imagination.

I hope you have enjoyed these Christmas gift ideas for your gardener. I enjoyed....what?
I didn't do the whole 12 days of Christmas? This only day 11?
Tomorrow is not here yet my friend.
The best always comes last!

     As always I am available to answer any questions, please e-mail me at or .net.
You can also follow me on FACEBOOK or check out my WEBSITE.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!
Happy Growing!

Thursday, December 12, 2019

On The 10th Day of Christmas-Citrus Guy Style

     Today, we will discuss a few smaller items that might be good for Stocking Stuffers or if you just need a small gift. These are miscellaneous things that, while by themselves may not seem overly exciting, they can and WILL be very useful! (Amazon Affiliate Links Alert)


My mother may disagree with me on this, but, tagging plants is very important! Especially when you have multiples of the same thing planted, i.e. seeds in pots. You need to know whether that little thing coming up is a carrot, fennel, tomato, or a weed. These multi-color tags are ideal for grouping things into different categories. All of your peppers could be blue, tomatoes red, etc.

#2-Twist Tie Roll-

This handy roll of 328 feet of coated twist tie material is ideal for tieing up tomatoes or other plants that are rather sprawly. Having a roll of this material with a handy cutter makes it easier to use as much or as little as you need for any particular job.

#3- Aluminum Plant Tags-

These tags are designed more for already established plants. I use them on all of my citrus, camellias, and fruiting plants. These plant labels are made of high-quality aluminum material, which is sturdy and durable, can be used for years in any environment. They are Waterproof and Sun Resistant and your label is permanent and remains legible for years. You have plenty of space to write on with a ballpoint pen, pencil, or another sharp object.

     Your gardener will love these little items. Again, they are not very sexy by themselves but believe me, they DO come in handy!

     As always I am available to answer any questions, please e-mail me at or .net.
You can also follow me on FACEBOOK or check out my WEBSITE

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays!
Happy Growing!