We have to take better care of
our citrus trees starting this month. Sick citrus trees have been the
topic of a lot of email, letters and neighborhood discussions.
Gradually the leaves turn yellow, the foliage drops and the branches turn
brown. Citrus trees young and old are starting to decline. Most gardeners
with this problem are simply saying their trees are sick. Citrus trees
have always declined but not seeming as such a fast pace.
It appears no one knows for sure what is causing the decline. Contact with
the local University of Florida Extension Agents produced a whole list of
possibilities that included new diseases, insects, cultural problems and a
lack of good care. But they too admit the decline seems to be more than
One thing for sure, many home trees need help so here is what you might
do. First cut out all dead or declining portions. You might even think or
pruning the trees way back into the thicker limbs. This is an old drastic
technique grove owners have used to revive their declining trees. Often
after this type of pruning the trees are down to thick bare limbs. Yes, it
is drastic but it might save your trees. Next, get on a good care program.
Feed citrus trees once in March, May, August and early October with a
citrus fertilizer. Then keep the soil moist by watering once or twice a
week during the dry times. Also keep a minor nutrient spray handy and use
it as instructed on the label to give the trees a little extra boost
throughout the year. Finally keep the pests in check. Use either a spray
or soil insecticide treatment with a product made for use with citrus
following label instructions.
Well-pruned and cared for citrus trees should bounce back with lots of new
growths. Production is likely to be limited for a few years but you have
saved your trees.
Now, how about a few more Gotta Do's for the month of March?
for March, 2012
Apply a quality lawn fertilizer to
renew the green in your lawn.
Control weeds with a liquid herbicide
or substitute a weed & feed at fertilizer time.
Mow lawn at their normal height; cut
back overgrown lawns before spring growth.
Fill in bare or declining spots with
sod, plugs or seed.
Rake out brown blades or allow the
grass to out grow winter damage.
Sandburs can be
treated with a preemergence turf herbicide to prevent germination.
Due to the warm winter chinch bugs
may get an early start; apply an insecticide as needed.
Have lawn care equipment serviced;
change the oil and air filter of gas powered equipment.
In the Landscape:
Complete the pruning needed to remove
Be kind to crape myrtles by only
removing seed pods and twiggy portions.
Remove tree and shrub portions
blocking walkways and competing with nearby plantings.
Consider needed tree trimming;
have the work performed before hurricane season.
Some cold sensitive plants have
declined to the ground but should grow back if given time.
Trim declining fronds and old flower
stems from palms but leave the green.
Apply a spring feeding to palms,
shrubs and perennials
Establish shade and flowering trees
normally do not need a special feeding.
Warm winter weather kept the insects
active; check regularly for pests.
Prune spring flowering shrubs when
the blossoms fade.
Divide and replant perennials.
Complete pruning of bush type roses;
prune climbers when the spring blooms fade.
Trim poinsettias to within 12- to
18-inches of the ground or containers and begin feedings.
Prune young shade trees to a straight
trunk that forms a central leader.
Add trees, palms, shrubs and vines to
Divide outdoor orchids and begin
every other week feedings with a fertilizer solution
Feed container gardens weekly with a
liquid fertilizer if needed for growth.
Remove debris from water gardens and
Replenish decomposing mulch layers.
Vegetable and Fruit Care:
Early March is tomato, pepper and
eggplant planting time; set new plants in the ground.
Remove winter vegetables as they
decline and plant warm season crops.
Herbs flourish during the warmish
weather; almost all do well now.
Harvest and dry herbs for
Prune back cold damaged tropical
fruits into green wood and wait for them to recover.
Renew banana & papaya plantings by
removing brown leaves and severely damaged trunks.
Give citrus trees their first feeding
of the new year with a citrus fertilizer.
Feed other fruit bearing trees,
shrubs and vines at this time.
Complete the pruning of grape
plantings before they flower.
Add container herb and vegetable
gardens to crowded landscapes.
Fertilize vegetables lightly every 2
to 3 weeks or use a slow release fertilizer.
Train vining vegetables to a trellis
to save space.
Sprout sweet potatoes to produce
Install water conserving sprinklers
in fruit and vegetable plantings.
House Plants Chores:
Look for new plant selections
entering the market and add them to the collection.
Replace declining plants with low
light tolerant varieties.
Check plants that have been chilled
by the cold and remove affected foliage.
Groom indoor plants to remove
yellowing leaves and faded blooms.
Trim the ends of holiday cactus and
begin more frequent waterings and feedings.
Move orchids outdoors or to a bright
area and begin every other week feedings.