All gardeners along the gulf coast should have at least one citrus tree in the garden. The evergreen leaves are a glossy bright green, the flowers of the citrus tree smell better, in my opinion than anything else in the garden and the fruit from your citrus will taste so much better right off the tree than it will purchased from the grocery store. Citrus are easy to grow. All you need is the right place in your garden, the right amount of water, organic fertilizer and micronutrients for your tree and protection from the cold while the tree is young. All of these things are very easy to accomplish even for beginning gardeners.
Deciding what kind of citrus to plant will be your hardest job. So many types grow here on the Gulf coast and do very well. Look in your grocery bag. What kind of citrus do you buy? That is the type of tree you should plant. Lemons, limes, grapefruit and oranges are the most popular. My first citrus and still my favorite is a Satsuma. It is tangerine like, easy to peel, practically seedless and very sweet. Limes and lemons of any type are very popular. Improved Meyer lemons work extremely well in pots. Here at work the Bloomsweet grapefruit is an all time favorite followed closely by the Rio Red. Kumquats and clementines are also in demand. Come out and look at all the choices here at Maas and talk to us. We will gladly help you pick a citrus or two… or three.
Finding the right location for your citrus is very important to the success of your plant. The south side of your yard in a protected area is the best. Citrus need 8 hours of sun to produce an abundant crop of fruit. All yards have micro climates caused by trees, structures that provide shade, or corners that are protected from wind and cold. Look for a spot in your yard that meets the requirements of lots of sun and protection from wind and cold. Place your citrus in the spot while still in the pot and see if your plant is happy. Once citrus are planted and established they are not as picky about their location. The first three years in the ground are the most critical.
Plant your citrus tree according to our planting guide. Check our website or come in and ask for a guide if you don’t have one. The most important things to take away from the guide is to plant your tree 1/2 to 1/3 above the soil line, put only old dirt back into the hole you dig and remember to water your tree everyday it doesn’t rain for the first month or two. In the summer new citrus should be watered pretty much every day it doesn’t rain also. After a couple of years your citrus will be established and will not need as much water. Fertilize monthly during the growing season with a slow release organic fertilizer such as Microlife or Ladybug. Watch for silver tracks in your new leaves. These tracks are caused by leaf miner bugs. Spinosad is the preferred organic treatment for leaf miner. Other pests can be treated with Neem or Triple Action organic sprays. Both of these are good for fungus problems also. If you have a tree problem, bring us a leaf and some pictures. This will help us identify your problem and provide the right treatment. As winter rolls around be ready to protect citrus from freezes. We have Insulate freeze cloth or Plankets to cover your plants. If you have an electrical outlet handy you can wrap your trees with the old fashioned Christmas tree lights that produce heat. These will help warm your tree. Make sure to water your citrus thoroughly before a freeze. This will give it added freeze protection.
Now for some not so good news. Has anyone heard of Huanglongbing Disease?. No, it’s not some new flu. It is a citrus disease also called Citrus Greening. The bacterial disease is carried to citrus trees by the Citrus Psyllid. This bug has a distinctive shape as it raises up from the leaf. Symptoms of Citrus greening are mottled leaves or leaf yellowing on a single branch or section of the tree. There is no cure for Citrus Greening. It has become a real threat for commercial growers and a problem for home gardeners. The only cure for greening is to dig out the plant and destroy it. Because of this disease we are under a quarantine and cannot deliver or plant in certain counties. To see if you are in a quarantined county check the Texas State Department of Agriculture website. Our growers are now being required by the government to systemically drench the trees we are receiving with an insecticide. It is always a good idea to remove first and sometimes second year fruit to help the tree better establish itself. Because of the now required systemic drench, first year fruit should not be eaten. We are hoping all this citrus drama ends soon. The Aggies are probably working on the problem as you read this.
Having a citrus tree in your garden is a Gulf Coast must. They are beautiful trees with evergreen leaves, beautiful All gardeners along the gulf coast should have at least one citrus tree in the garden. The evergreen leaves are a glossy bright green, the flowers of the citrus tree smell better, in my opinion than anything else in the garden and the fruit from your citrus will taste so much better right off the tree than it will purchased from the grocery store. Citrus are easy to grow. All you need is the right place in your garden, the right amount of water, organic fertilizer and micronutrients for your tree and protection from the cold while the tree is young. All of these things are very easy to accomplish even for beginning gardeners.