GARDENER'S MAILBAG

Cold winter can prevent lemon tree from flowering

By Neil Sperry | Published Wednesday, June 27, 2018

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Dear Neil: I have property in South Texas where I have a Meyer lemon tree that has borne fruit regularly up until two years ago. The past two years, no blooms and no fruit. There is an orange tree nearby so it should get pollinated. I had it trimmed 18 months ago. What might the problem be?

First things first, if it didn’t produce flowers, there won’t be anything to pollinate. I suspect that the past two cold winters were the cause of your problems. Each had temperatures into the low 20s and teens. When we return to normal winter temperatures your tree should start producing. People in other parts of Texas, where they’re having to move their citrus into and out of protection, are envious I’m sure.

Dear Neil: I have young oak trees growing in sandy soil. How often and how much should I water them?

Sandy soils have limited water-holding capacity, so you may have to water them every day while temperatures are in the high 90s. As they become established in a few years you’ll be able to step that back down to two or three times per week. The water should be applied with a water breaker or bubbler, and you’ll want to apply an amount equal to the size of the root ball when they were planted or more.

Dear Neil: I have two live oaks in my yard. One of them produces hundreds of little trees sprouting up from its roots. I’m hesitant to apply any kind of weedkiller since they’re attached to the bigger roots. All I’ve been able to do is mow them down, but they keep coming back.

Not intending to make you feel bad, but veteran readers of this column will recognize this question and probably my answer. This is a common phenomenon of about 15 percent of our live oaks. All you can do is to remove them physically by cutting them with a sharpshooter spade at a 30-degree angle several inches beneath the soil line. Do so when the ground is moist and you can probably stop each one from coming back. It’s a tedious and boring job, but it can help.

Have a question you’d like Neil to consider? Mail it to him in care of the Wise County Messenger, P.O. Box 149, Decatur, TX 76234 or email him at mailbag@sperrygardens.com. Neil regrets that he cannot reply to questions individually.

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