Garden Talk Q & A and March 2014 Clinics, Nassau County Extension

It’s time to start fertilizing lemon trees in March, read tips and also learn how to prune them. Want to try cutting your water bill a bit? Make a rain barrel for watering your garden to conserve (and/or cap sprinkler heads in zones for some shrubs that really don’t need extra watering). See more about other March gardening clinics, too.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Environmental Horticulture Agent III, Rebecca Jordi, addresses questions about landscaping and gardening in northeast Florida. She is the Extension Director in Nassau County, Florida and also a University of Florida faculty member.

Growing Backyard Citrus: Photo, Lemon Tree, Amelia Island, Florida
Fertilize Lemon Trees March through September in Northeast Florida

QUESTION: Will you please tell me how to fertilize and prune lemon trees? JD

JORDI: I am glad you wrote me and requested the information; I have had several phone calls on the same topic. Fertilization should occur in March and go through September. No fertilizer should be applied October through February. Use 6-6-6 or 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 and sprinkle it all around the root area under the tree canopy. Apply water directly to the fertilizer to allow it to reach the root area; about ¼ inch should be sufficient. If you have purchased the spikes, crumble them up and sprinkle it all around the root area under the canopy. Don’t forget to water after the application of fertilizer ¼ inch, similar to the other fertilizers. I use a slow release general purpose fertilizer which is 10-10-10 and apply spring (March), summer (June) and fall (September). It makes it easier to remember and I will fertilize my palms at the same time.

Pruning can begin in March but citrus really does not require a lot of pruning to fruit. Cut out any dead or dying limbs, which can be done any time of year. Any limbs growing toward the center of the tree should be removed and any rubbing limbs can be cut back. If the tree is too tall then consider taking a few years (3-5) to trim it back by using reduction cuts to take the tree down a foot or two at a time. You might consider calling a tree company to do it for you if the tree is excessively tall. No reason to put yourself in danger.

QUESTION: Can you tell me what is causing the orange spots on my anise and ligustrum leaves? CH

Anise Pitted Leaf
Anise Pitted Leaf
JORDI: I had a strong suspicion I knew the culprit but I wanted to confirm it with some of my Green Team colleagues. We all came to the same conclusion – overhead irrigation from your well water was causing the pitting. These shrubs, once established, do not require heavy irrigation. If you watered them once a month or never again – they would be fine with it. Watering them when they are growing in harsh, parking lot median environments, similar to most commercial sites, is beneficial. But in your situation, a typical home landscape with dappled lighting and mulched pine-straw areas, these shrubs really require little care.

We really cause so many disease and environmental problems for our hardy shrubs by overhead irrigation and too much water. Cap the irrigation heads or turn off the shrubbery watering zones. Unfortunately, the damage on the leaves is permanent since these are evergreen shrubs, but ultimately, they will add new leaves and get taller and these ugly leaves can be removed little by little. Don’t strip them all now, that would cause too much stress for the plant – remember leaves provide food for the plant. One other thing, these shrubs really want to be tall shrub/trees. Please consider letting them grow taller than 3 feet. They will bring much more value to your landscape if you let them develop into 8-15 trees. It will take a few years to get them into the final shape you desire but the results are stunning and well worth the effort. Or, think about taking a couple of them and letting them grow to see the results – then call me back and let me know what you think. I believe you will then allow the others to grow tall too. Anyway, those are my suggestions to you – some food for thought. Plus, I would love to know how much you are saving on your water bill once you make the change. Call me and let me know. Water is one of our most precious commodities and we really need to conserve this natural resource.

March 2014 Gardening Clinics, Nassau County, Florida Extension

March 8, 2014 Rain Barrel Class (Registration Deadline March 3rd)

The UF/IFAS Landscape Matters Rain barrel class will be held at the Yulee County Building on Saturday, March 8 from 10 am – noon. We will be discussing the merits of water conservation and the ease of using rain water for gardening. This class will make their rain barrels to be taken home and installed. Hardware for ‘conversion’ of the barrel to a rain barrel are provided. The cost is $40. To register, contact the Extension office no later than 5 pm Monday, March 3rd. Checks are payable to Nassau County Extension. The Callahan office number is 904 879-1019 or the Yulee office at 904-491-7340. Class will be limited to 15 people, so be sure to contact the office as soon as possible.

March 12, 2014 — Landscape Matters Class: Turf Weeds & Lawn Grass

Master Gardener Nelson Peterson will conduct a Landscape Matters class on turf weeds and lawn grasses, 10 am until 11 am. The session will take place at the UF/IFAS Nassau County Demonstration Garden. Nelson will discuss varieties of turf and considerations in selecting the best grass for your landscape and lawn maintenance practices. Also discussed will be the weeds that appear in our turf and proper response and treatment. Class is free and open to the public. For more information, see the Nassau County Extension website or call the Extension office at 904-879-1019. Master Gardeners are on phone duty from 10 am until 2 pm Fridays, at 904-491-7340 to answer gardening questions. Master Gardener-propagated plants will be for sale at this session.

March 3 & 17, 2014 — “Problem” Plant Clinics

Becky Jordi, County Extension Director/Horticulture Extension Agent will conduct a Plant Clinic from 10 am until 2pm at the Yulee Extension Office (A1A and Pages Dairy Road). All County residents are invited to bring plant samples showing problems in their landscapes. Problems will be identified and solutions offered for correction. There is no fee for this service. For information call 904-879-1019. Master Gardeners are on phone duty from 10 am until 2 pm Fridays, at 904-491-7340.

Rebecca Jordi
Rebecca Jordi
Rebecca L. Jordi
Nassau County Extension Director
UF/IFAS Environmental Horticulture
543350 U.S. Highway #1
Callahan, FL 32011
904-491-7340
Nassau County, Florida Extension

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