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Fruit Trees

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FRUIT TREES Planting and Care


Select a site with plenty of sunshine and good drainage. Avoid lawns and beds that frequent shallow watering. To check for drainage, dig a hole one and a half times the depth and twice the diameter of the container the tree is being transplanted from. Fill the hole with water to a depth of 12 Inches and allow to drain. Fill the hole with water to a depth of twelve inches again and time how long it takes for the water to drain. Drainage is acceptable if second filling empties in less than 12 hours. If hold is still not drained after 24 hours, drainage is definitely unacceptable. If drainage is unacceptable, construct one or two weep holes 6 inches in diameter by 2 feet in depth, beneath the bottom of the rootball. Fill “weep holes" with washed plaster sand or pea gravel.


To minimize transplant shock, remove a portion of the fruit. Upon completing drainage test (as specified above) backfill hole with native top soil to a depth that is slightly shallower than the height of the rootball. Place tree gently into hole to avoid breaking rootball and plant so the top of the rootball is slightly higher than existing ground level. When planting boxed specimens, remove the bottom of the box and place rootball into hole with four sides still attached, Once positioned, cut straps, remove sides.

Once tree is placed, continue to backfill around rootball with native soil to within 12 inches of surface, Amend remaining native soil with an acceptable organic matter (i.e. Soil Prep Organic Compost, Farmers Organic Products Planters Mix, LGM Planting Mix Mulch and/or Kellogg’s Amend) at a rate of 30- 50% with the soil, and backfill to the top of the rootball. Be sure backfill soil is firmly compacted around the rootball to avoid developing air pockets around roots.


To minimize transplant shock, remove a portion of the fruit. The new container must have adequate drainage holds and needs to be at least twice the size of the existing container. Transplant using about 50% loamy sand, top soil, or washed river sand mixed with 50% organic matter as specified above.


How often and how much to irrigate depends on soil type, drainage, and climate.  As a general rule, citrus and deciduous trees in the landscape should be watered with bubblers. After transplanting, use remaining backfill soil to construct a berm surrounding the rootball of the tree The berm should be 2 or 3 inches in height at the edge of the rootball. A single bubbler may be used for #5, #7, and #15 containers and boxes trees should trees should receive at least two bubblers, one on each, side of the rootball. Bubblers must be on long enough for water to penetrate to a depth of two feet beneath the soil surface. Do not water again until soil moisture is only slightly moist by touch, 6 inches below the soil surface. The depth of the irrigation and the moisture check of the soil, initially, can only be learned by the use of a probe or a soil moisture meter (avoid using a spade to check soil moisture as severe root damage can occur over a period of time). Be sure to check soil moisture just prior to irrigation and check depth of irrigation the day after you irrigate.


Water container trees daily, if inland or in full sunlight. Irrigate every other day, if in a coastal and/or shady area. Irrigate until water comes out the bottom of the container, normally that means two waterings with a hose by hand.


Time release tree tablets used at time of transplanting provide an excellent method of fertilizing trees during the establishment period which may take up to 1 1/2 years for larger boxed trees. Prilled slow release fertilizers can be top dressed after planting, or they can be mixed in with the backfill prior to planting. Finally, dry soluble fertilizers that can be mixed with water and then applied as a foliar or as soil drench once trees are established. All fertilizer should be balanced with all N,P,K ratio of approximately 3.1:1. Be sure to lead fertilizer label and carefully follow the label rates for citrus. Trees in the ground should receive light fertilizer applications monthly (February -September), while container should be fertilized every two weeks throughout the year. For minor elements, (zinc, manganese, copper), we recommend Tru-Green Citrus Grower Mix applied to the foliage in April and September.


The following materials are labeled for use on citrus in California for the pests listed. 

Common Pest               Chemical Control                      Botanical                      Natural Predators

Ants                             Ortho Diazinon Plus                  N/A                             None

Aphids                          Ortho Diazinon/Malathion           Insecticidal Soap        Lacewings/Ladybugs

Mealy Bugs                   Ortho Diazinon/Malathion          N/A                            Mealybug Destroyer

Mites                            Volck Oil/Saf-T-Side                Sulfur                          Predator Mites

Scale                            Volck Oil/Saf-T-Side                N/A                             Parasites

Slugs/Snails                  Metaldehyde Baits                  Copper Bands              Decollate Snails

Thrips                           Ortho Diazinon/Malathion         N/A                             None

White Flies                    Ortho Volck Oil/Malathion       Insecticidal Soap          Parasites

Other organic alternatives to the above materials are: Insecticidal Soap, Pyrethrins, Neem Extracts, Sabadilla, etc.

Be sure to read label completely before using any pesticide. Products may have specific requirements concerning specific varieties of citrus. Product labels are subject to change without notice.

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