A few more things about citrus trees
Jul 20, 2020
It’s citrus season. Part two of some basics for looking after citrus.
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Leaf miner. The larvae of a night moth. Leaves silvery squiggle trails all over new citrus leaves. It’s not really an issue for the tree unless this is a young tree where it can retard the tree’s growth. Pluck off and bin or burn affected leaves if this is a problem.
When to prune. The big debate around this probably means the timing is not crucial. You want to avoid stressing the tree out with surgery in times when it is already working hard to stay healthy – high summer, when frost is about and when heavily pregnant with fruit.
How to prune. Always start with taking off dead branches. Cut out gall wasp swellings. Prune off branches affected by borer (they will have little holes). Take off limbs that cross and rub on each other. The rubbed raw sores are weak points prone to infection or infestation. Take away suckers and ‘watersprouts’ (the vigorous vertical shoots) as neither will produce much fruit.
Then it’s down to art. Chop back branches that skim the ground to remove extra pathways for nasties. Chop back branches that are too high as you want to be able to pick the fruit. Thin to allow for airflow around and sunlight on fruit. Don’t chop off more than a third of the tree at a time! Pruning might be a multiyear project, that’s ok.
Shallow feeder roots. Citrus have a huge root system for feeding that is very close to the surface and spreads out to the width of the above branches. They do not cope with competition from other shallow rooted plants. Grass is baaaad under citrus.
They also don’t appreciate their feeder roots getting hot. Mulch to keep these cool and suppress competition.
Heavy feeders. I’ve mentioned this one before, pee around your citrus. They will love it. Not enough privacy? Use another fertiliser and add very regularly. I feed mine a little every month. They are hungry plants. Giving one or two big feeds a year results in lots of sappy growth all at once that a lot of citrus pests love. Small and often is the way.
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