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Why do some trees flower year round, others only once

Why do some trees flower year round, others only once


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Depending on latitude, rains, and pollinator behavior, etc. some trees flower only once a year such as oak trees, others twice (such as pipe organ cati as a response to pollinating bats) and yet others continously such as figs (I believe, not sure).

However I noticed that arbutus unedo (straberry tree) has both immature flowers, mature flowers young fruit and ripe fruit on the tree at the same time. To mky knowlesge, fig tress in amazonia behave differently: the whole tree is roughly in the same state at once, either "flowering" developing fruit, bearing ripe fruit.

My question is what ecological role does Arbutus U. fill that it has this feature?


Reasons And Fixes For A Hydrangea Not Blooming

A hydrangea plant in full bloom has to be one of the most beautiful plants ever grown in a garden. For outdoor beauty, home décor, and gorgeous bridal bouquets, hydrangeas are a go-to plant for many gardeners.

Disheartened because your hydrangea won’t bloom? A hydrangea not blooming can be frustrating. But usually when a hydrangea won’t flower, it is a common problem with some simple solutions. Read on for tips on getting your hydrangea to bloom.


Paliwal's simple idea has expanded into a broader eco-feminist movement

Under leafy cover, and with warnings to watch out for snakes and scorpions, Paliwal led me to a small clearing with a single, slender burflower tree near the village's entrance. It was the first tree he planted, now surrounded by scores of others.

Though villagers plant the 111 trees for each girl born year-round, every August during the monsoon, a special tree-planting ceremony takes place for all girls born in the preceding 12 months. Paliwal estimates that about 60 girls are born each year in this 5,500-person village. Grown girls who had trees planted in their names now come to tie rakhi bracelets around saplings, considering them siblings to be venerated during the festival of Raksha Bandhan. In one part of the village, sarpanches and other visiting officials are encouraged to take an oath besides a banyan tree, promising to work responsibly and protect the environment.

Paliwal planted the first tree in his daughter's memory after she unexpectedly passed away (Credit: Bhavya Dore)

"Historically, people from this region of [Rajasthan] are warriors who have never accepted defeat. And neither will we," said Paliwal, before reciting the names of legendary kings the region had produced. "In earlier centuries they fended off attacks, now we fight disease and pollution."

As Piplantri's trees have grown, its groundwater level has increased and a marked cultural shift has improved the status of women. Nikita Paliwal (no relation to Shyam Sunder), now 14, was among the first girls to have trees planted in her name. Now, she hopes to become a doctor and work for the poor. "We should also stand on our own feet," she said.

"If you keep working, the results will show," said Shyam Sunder. "And people will join you."

Of course, it takes a village. That morning, groups of women were toiling to prepare the land for planting. Though the ceremonial planting only happens once a year, the work happens year-round.

To date, villagers in Piplantri have planted more than 350,000 trees (Credit: Bhavya Dore)

Wearing a bright red sari and a broad smile, Nanubhai Paliwal, Nikita's aunt, said she had two sons but as Piplantri started honouring its girls, she started wishing for granddaughters. Now she has two, and trees were planted when they were born.

"Earlier they were considered a burden. Now we don't think that way," she said. "We have no particular desire for sons." She then looked around, pointing at all the trees. "It was a small village. We worked hard, we made it special. And this way we get employment and income, too."


The Best Places to Plant the Dogwood

The Dogwood Tree is picky. Like a small child, Dogwoods may not adjust well to variances in water and nutrient matter. Also like a small child, Dogwoods can be a bit smelly, offering a strong, though not altogether unpleasant, fragrance. The best similarity between a small child and the tree, though? Your Dogwood will astound you with its beauty, inspiration, and growth.

Dogwoods do best in dappled shade areas, which is when taller shade trees provide protection from the more direct sun rays. Investigate your property for locations where your new Dogwood will be protected from the sun. Consider planting the Royal Empress or Tulip Poplar, fast-growing shade trees that will provide the dappled shade Dogwoods like best. Alternatively, you can place the Dogwood in an area where shade is given by a nearby building. Careful, though buildings reflect heat, which can dry out the Dogwood quickly.

The most important consideration when planting a Dogwood is water access. Whether it’s a natural bubbling brook, high average weekly rainfall, your handheld watering can, or an intricate irrigation system, your Dogwood will definitely need water. Dogwoods have shallow roots, and even with dappled shade, these root systems will dry quickly. Water the tree to a depth of three feet, and observe the leaves for signs of over or under watering. If the leaves are light-green, prickly, or crispy, the tree needs more water. If the leaves are droopy, green-gray, or enlarged, the tree needs less water.


Top 10 Questions About Crepe Myrtle Trees

Crepe myrtles are among the most ornamental trees available, emblematic of southern gardens. Their popularity stems from their generous crop of showy flowers. Although crepe myrtles are usually vigorous and hardy, it makes life easier if you have ready access to tips on caring for these gorgeous plants. We all have questions now and then, and Gardening Know How has answers. Here are the 10 questions readers ask most about crepe myrtle trees.

Sometimes you prune a tree to fortify or form it, sometimes you prune to please yourself. With crepe myrtles, the tree doesn’t require pruning for health, vigor or branch structure. If you prune, it is to create a specific look, natural or formal. You can prune to open up the inside of the tree for a natural look. For natural pruning, clip out potential problems like broken or overlapping branches, then remove smaller inner shoots. Alternatively, prune formal-style, removing outer branches to shape the tree to particular height or width. In either event, prune in late winter or early spring.

Most gardeners plant crepe myrtle for the gorgeous flowers, so it’s frustrating when your tree doesn’t bloom. With attention, you can probably figure out the problem. If you pruned after the tree started bud production, you might have removed all the flower buds. But sometimes a tree can’t bloom because tightly crowded branches prevent light and air from reaching the tree center. Too little sun can also result in a flowerless tree. If none of these describe your situation, check the soil. Too few nutrients or too much fertilizer can also explain why your crepe myrtle isn’t full of flowers.

Crepe myrtle roots travel far and wide, spreading three times the width of the canopy. This might make you wonder whether they will dig into plumbing lines or sidewalks like some tree roots do. While it is never a good idea to plant trees close to walkways, septic systems or foundations, crepe myrtle roots shouldn’t cause you worries. They are long, but shallow and weak. They won’t strangle nearby plants or cause issues with pipes or driveways. On the other hand, don’t plant flowers or grass under a crepe myrtle since the tree’s roots can’t compete well for nutrients.

It’s an awful moment when you look at your crepe myrtle leaves in early summer and notice that they are turning brown. If the spots are tiny black spore-bearing bodies, your tree may be suffering from tip blight. Blight can be caused by overly moist foliage, so immediately stop overhead watering and prune the plant to let the air pass through. You should apply a copper or lime sulfur fungicide as soon as you notice the browning leaves. Repeat the applications every 10 days throughout the wet season. It also helps to replace old mulch to prevent a new outbreak.

While crepe myrtle trees are known for frothy blossoms, the trees also need to have leaves for photosynthesis. If your crepe myrtle has few or no leaves, something isn’t right. Check the tree for lines of ants. They suggest that your trees have a significant aphid problem. But your tree’s problem could also be a late freeze that killed the young buds or stress from inadequate irrigation or pollution. If only a few branches aren’t developing leaves, your crepe myrtle may have a disease called verticillium wilt. Prune the branches back to healthy wood, then dispose of the diseased portions.

Once you’ve experienced the joys of a crepe myrtle in your backyard, it’s natural to want more. Propagating your own trees is inexpensive and fun. A popular method of propagating crepe myrtle is to sprout a cutting. Take tip cuttings in spring and plant them in sandy soil until they root. Covering them with a plastic bag helps keep them moist. Root cuttings also work to create new plants. Additionally, you can grow new crepe myrtles from the seeds of the plant. If you don’t deadhead, spent blossoms produce berries that are followed by seed pods. Collect them for planting in spring.

You may live with a healthy crepe myrtle in the garden for a few years, then wake up one day to find that the tree’s bark is falling off. Don’t panic. This is likely a perfectly normal phenomenon. One of the beautiful features of a mature crepe myrtle is peeling bark that reveals the coloration in the wood. But this peeling doesn’t happen until the crepe myrtle is fully mature. So just sit back and enjoy the bark’s display that adds winter interest to your tree. Of course, it’s always a good thing. In some instance, insects may be to blame, so check for aphids or other pests.

Crepe myrtle trees are not without their share of problems. If your crepe myrtle’s leaf edges look tattered or you notice similar damage, your tree may have pests. One of the common pests that plague these large shrubs is spider mites. Look carefully at the crepe myrtle foliage for tannish spots on the leaves, pinpoints of red or white moving about the leaves and/or tell-tale cottony webs on the underside of leaves. Get them off your plant with strong jets of hose water or by bringing in hungry ladybugs. Crepe myrtles also attract eastern tent caterpillars, but these are more of an eyesore than a threat to your plants.

Yellowing leaves indicate that all isn’t well with your crepe myrtles. You can bet that the culprit is aphids if you see a sappy substance on the leaves or falling on the objects beneath the tree canopy. Aphids produce a sweet syrupy substance called honeydew when they infest a plant’s foliage. Honeydew can attract other pests, like black sooty mold. Ants also love honeydew and often arrive in lines when the aphid population gets out of control. Aphids cause the leaves to become distorted and often yellowing occurs. Get rid of aphids naturally by bringing in insect predators like lacewings and ladybugs. Neem oil is also effective.

If you see shoots growing around the base of your crepe myrtles, these are root suckers. The tree grows these suckers from its roots if it is stressed. Grafted trees and street trees always suffer from a little stress, so you are likely to spot root suckers regularly. Reduce the amount of root suckers by reducing the crepe myrtle’s stress. Be sure it gets sufficient water and nutrients, limit pruning and check for pests. It’s not hard to remove the suckers. Use pruning shears and clip them off as close to the tree as you can, leaving the collar intact.

We all have questions now and then, whether long-time gardeners or those just starting out. So if you have a gardening question, get a gardening answer. We’re always here to help.


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Do your trees make table olives or oil olives?

That is a function of cultivar. 'Arbequina' and 'Koroneiki' begin fruiting at an early age (about 3 years). Other cultivars do not make fruit until they are five to twelve years old. Most olive cultivars will not produce fruit without a pollinator tree of a different cultivar. There are also non-fruiting cultivars of olive. Olives grown from seed may never produce fruit and, if they do, will not likely have the same characteristics as the parent tree.


Why planting wildflowers makes a difference

Native species can provide a host of benefits for your backyard and beyond.

Now more than ever, many of us are conscious of how much our well-being is connected to the natural world. With less travel and limited socializing during the coronavirus pandemic, we're all seeking more of a connection with nature. Escaping to the outdoors, we're revived by the sights and soothed by the smell of flowers and trees. We're reminded that every living thing depends on another.

After being cooped up all winter, you might be thinking about how to support more of that beauty and interconnectedness this spring where you live. From city balconies to backyard gardens, any square foot of space can be transformed into an oasis for wildflowers and the species that depend on them. For an example of just how important these plants can be, consider the Northern Great Plains, an expanse of about 180 million acres covering parts of five U.S. states and two Canadian provinces.

It's a deceptively complex region: Vast prairies that look quiet and almost monochromatic from afar support nearly 1,600 species of plants, which in turn provide a habitat for birds, mammals, and insects. Blooming wildflowers provide a burst of color, attracting pollinators such as bees and butterflies, which are responsible for one in every three bites of food we eat. And while we might only notice them during bloom time, those flowers are helpful year-round, providing far more than their lovely fragrances and vibrant colors.

"Wildflowers provide a lot of benefits, even when there's not a flower present," says Clay Bolt, a natural history photographer and communications lead for World Wildlife Fund's (WWF) Northern Great Plains program. Their root systems, along with those of other grassland plants, extend deep into the soil, storing water and nutrients while holding on to carbon that would otherwise be released into the air. He likens grasslands to an inverted forest, where much of the growth is underground and invisible.

Historically, humans have used a wide variety of flowering prairie plants for food, treating wounds, and healing other ailments. One of Bolt's favorite wildflowers, the purple coneflower, is a type of echinacea, a genus long used as medicine by Native Americans that has become a common cold remedy.

Yet too much of the Northern Great Plains grasslands are being lost—about 550,000 acres in 2018 alone, according to WWF estimates.

Bolt and the team at WWF, in partnership with Air Wick® Scented Oils, are working to conserve and restore this crucial ecosystem with a goal of reseeding a billion square feet of wildflower and grassland habitat over the next three years. Supporting wildflower habitats is an important mission for Air Wick, since the company infuses its fragrances with natural essential oils to bring a nature-inspired experience into homes.

"It's not an overnight process," Bolt says of the restoration effort, but he adds, "As wildflowers begin to bloom and as grasses are returned, that makes way for naturally occurring species to return as well." Among the species that could make a comeback, Bolt says, are American bumblebees, monarch butterflies, and lark buntings. The reseeded grasslands will also provide more valuable habitat than croplands do for mammals such as pronghorn.

Ecologists on the WWF team are working to determine the right mix of species to replant, prioritizing diversity. Seemingly small differences among plants can be significant: Some bloom in early spring, providing nectar for foraging bumblebee queens, while others produce an abundance of seeds that migrating songbirds feed upon in the fall. "The greater diversity of plants that you have, the more robust the habitat is for a variety of pollinators and wildlife," Bolt says. "All of these plants are also connected through fungi in the soil. Their roots create a network where they share resources, strengthening one another."

Gregg Treinish, a National Geographic Explorer who organizes citizen science expeditions through his nonprofit group Adventure Scientists, works to protect wildflower habitats by documenting them. Wildflowers both support, and are supported by, insects that are important to the larger environment, he notes: "You've got this entire base of the food chain reliant on these intact and healthy remote ecosystems. They're also indicators for the health of these ecosystems."

Treinish says volunteers are often struck by just how much biodiversity they can discover after being trained to spot it. In 2017, volunteers with the group identified 126 wildflower species and 70 types of butterflies in subalpine meadows across five western U.S. states.

"Those numbers really surprised me," Treinish says. "I look over a meadow and I see grass, and I see some flowers. But you've really got to stop and look to see the incredible diversity that's there." Studying what species are present in these habitats, he adds, lends a better understanding of how wildflower diversity shifts over time, which has long-lasting implications for birds and other animals that rely on butterflies as food sources.

You don't need to travel to the Northern Great Plains or remote areas of the West to see how native wildflowers change a landscape for the better. Without much effort, you can make a difference at home: In a backyard or community garden, simple plots can quickly become thriving ecosystems.

"You'd be surprised—even in a big city—how much wildlife you can get, because these places become like an oasis," Bolt says.

Here are some tips for bringing the wonder of wildflowers closer to home:

Plant flowers native to your area. Installing native plants not only supports pollinators and other species in your region—they're easier to grow, too, because they're already adapted to your climate and don't require loads of fertilizer or pesticide. Local garden centers, university extension programs, and nonprofit organizations can be great resources for finding the best plants for where you live. The U.S. Forest Service cautions against picking or digging up wildflowers on public land, however, which is illegal and does more harm than good.

Aim for a diverse mix of flowers. One of the mistakes people often make when they plant flowers for wildlife, Bolt says, is they buy plants that bloom all at once: "In a healthy grassland, you have plants that grow throughout the season." By thinking over the course of a year, you’ll be rewarded with a burst of colors and scents that unfold over the course of several months. In addition to planting a range of flowers that flourish at different times, think about complementary species too. Flowers and other plants can help control pests in a vegetable garden, Treinish notes: "If you think about it as an ecosystem and try to mimic what we see in natural ecosystems, that really works best."

Be active in your community. You don't need your own big plot of land. All you need is a pot, a window box, or another small space to plant wildflowers. But no matter how much space you have, also consider seeking out a community garden or local nature reserve where you can volunteer and help support the planting of native species. Bolt also recommends paying attention to policies that affect natural ecosystems, such as the U.S. Farm Bill, which funds grasslands conservation programs.

Pay attention to the environment. For Treinish, tending to the garden is not just a utilitarian pursuit. "It's my meditation," he says. No matter where you decide to plant, make it a habit to visit regularly and watch what's happening. Which plants are thriving? Which ones are having trouble? What insects and birds do you notice? What do the flowers smell like? "It sounds crazy, Treinish says, "but I know every single individual plant in my garden by spring."


Solving Fruit Tree Blooming & Bearing Problems

Have a fruit tree that won't bloom or bear fruit? Discover common issues and how to solve them, plus basic tree requirements for fruit production.

Two commonly frustrating questions any grower might ask:

  1. "Why won't my fruit tree bloom?"
  2. "Why doesn't my tree have fruit?"

You've planted your fruit tree. It's growing. It's living. But it's not blooming or bearing fruit. While this can be discouraging to the point of wanting to chop the tree down, go for the facts – not the axe. If your fruit tree doesn't bloom or bear, it can happen for a number of reasons. In this article, we focus on the 6 basic requirements of fruit trees and address the most common issues and solutions related to fruit production.

6 Basic Needs for Fruit Production

1. Tree Development
If your fruit tree is still too young/immature, it won't go into fruit-production mode. When you receive your tree from Stark Bro's, it will be around 2 years old and will still need a few years before reaching its fruiting maturity. Read our article about how many years until you should expect fruit for more information about how long it takes for different trees to bear before deciding your tree has an issue.

2. Pollination
Fruit trees require pollination to be able to set fruit. If your tree is not self-pollinating, it needs a compatible pollinator tree planted nearby. Also, pollination-helping beneficials like bees, birds, and wind need to be adequately present. If your tree is missing these important elements, it may bloom, but it will not likely set fruit. Read more about the importance of fruit tree pollination.

3. Hardiness Zones
Individual tree varieties have recommended hardiness zones for planting. You can find out how to determine your USDA hardiness zone here, and learn more by reading Fruit Tree Care: Planting in the Zone. Once you know what your zone is, you will be able to select fruit trees that are recommended to grow in your area.

Things to Consider When Planting in Your Zone:

  • Trees should be hardy to your zone for a chance to survive winters and summers.
  • Trees should receive adequate chill hours to produce fruit. Chill hours are based on temperatures that stay between 32ºF and 45ºF for hours consecutively during the tree’s dormant period. If the tree is hardy to your zone but does not meet its chill-hour requirement, its fruit production will decrease. As a general rule, most peaches have a low chill-hour requirement, most apples are in the middle, and most pears have a high chill-hour requirement.
  • Weather can greatly affect fruit production. If a late frost zaps your tree’s blossoms or young fruit, then it will not be able to produce a crop for you to harvest that year. If a drought or intense heat/cold damages your trees and their buds, you simply have to care for your trees this year (as usual) and wait for more favorable weather next year.

4. Pruning
Regularly pruned trees are much more apt to producing quality fruit. Fruiting buds tend to form on limbs that have adequate air circulation and light infiltration, which is your goal when pruning. Learn about pruning tips and more in our article, Successful Tree Pruning.

You also have to make sure that you find the right balance for pruning. Heavy over-pruning can cause a tree to produce too much vegetative growth in response, and under-pruning can contribute to the development of too much fruiting wood, which is the culprit for overbearing and fruit drop.

5. Spacing
Fruit trees that are planted too close to one another will compete for nutrients and light. If planting trees close together is part of your design (espalier and high-density plantings are two prime examples), then you will need to prune accordingly to keep them open to light and ensure the trees are getting enough nutrients from the soil.

If trees are planted too close to buildings and other structures, they will have similar conflicts with the added risk of interfering with those structures. Make sure you give your trees enough room to grow and flourish. For an easy-to-follow reference for tree-spacing, learn more about the different fruit tree sizes here.

6. Soil Conditions
It is very important that your trees have the right balance of reserve food and soil elements. This is the best thing you can do to ensure your tree fruits and has energy to support its fruit. As you can see in the graphic, if this balance is off, it can have a negative impact on how your tree blooms or bears.

If a tree has plenty of reserve food but a shortage of soil elements, you may see a stunted crop of undersized, poor-quality fruit. You might even see no fruit at all. This can happen if your tree has tried to overbear, which may cause a tree to drop its fruit prematurely. It may also happen if your tree has experienced foliage-depletion, which can be caused by stress, weather, or other weakening factors (animals, pests, or disease). Identifying the stress factor and treating it will help to remedy the problem. You can have your soil tested to find nutrient deficiencies. You should implement routine control of pests and disease.

A tree can also have an excess of soil elements but not enough reserve food. The tree will appear to be healthy and lush during the growing season, but it will not bear fruit (regardless of maturity) since, in many cases, the tree doesn't even bloom. This happens as a result of “over-feeding”. If the soil provides plenty of nutrients, like nitrogen (either naturally or by adding fertilizer), the tree develops an excess of vegetative growth that will delay the growth of fruiting buds. You can remedy this problem by holding off on fertilizing and waiting until the next growing season for results.

Desperate Times Call for Desperate Measures

There are some extreme solutions that should only be attempted if all else fails: root-pruning or scoring your trees.

Root pruning: Bring a spade or shovel out to the drip line of your trees. The drip line is where the tips of the branches are, but straight down on the ground. Take the spade or shovel and push it straight into the ground and pull it straight back out. Do not dig out any dirt. Move over a foot or two and repeat the process. You are essentially creating a dotted-line circle around your tree's root system, which will clip the feeder roots and "shock" the tree into blooming during the next growing season.

Scoring: This has the same result as root pruning, but scoring should not be your first step to getting your tree to fruit. Consider it a last resort. When scoring your trees, bring a small knife (like a pocket-knife) out to your tree. Locate a spot low on the trunk and cut a single horizontal line into the bark, only halfway around the tree. Move up several inches and repeat this, but halfway around the other direction. Do not let these lines connect to one another or you will destroy the phloem tissue and completely disrupt the vascular system of the tree, which will lead to its demise. See the animated image as a reference for examples of properly scoring the bark halfway around a tree.

If you keep these instances in mind, then you will have a better understanding of why a fruit tree does not bear. Nip a potential problem in the bud and exercise your patience (not your lumberjack-swing). Your trees will thank you!


Top 10 Questions About Lemon Trees

Need to know how to grow a lemon tree? What about how to treat common issues that pop up along the way? Then you’ve come to the right place. Gardening Know How strives to help avoid these issues, or at the very least amend them, by providing the best information possible…whether it pertains to growing lemon trees or other plants in the garden. And to that end, here are the top 10 questions about lemons and answers for successful cultivation of these commonly planted fruit trees.

Fertilize young lemon trees once every 1-2 months during their active growing phase and once every 1-3 months during the fall and winter when the tree is dormant. Older trees do not need to be fertilized when they are dormant, but fertilizing lemon trees should be increased during active growth to once every 2-3 months. Select a fertilizer that is high in nitrogen or a balanced NPK fertilizer, optimally one that is specifically made for citrus. If the tree is having issues with flowering, try giving it some phosphorus rich fertilizer, like bone meal. When lacking phosphorus, it will not be able to produce blossoms (which means no fruit.). Fertilize either by foliar spray or spread it out in a ring around the base of the tree. Be sure not to place the fertilizer too close the trunk of the tree.

Unlike other fruiting trees, lemon trees don’t need to be pruned on a regular basis. They should have sprouts removed as well as dead or weak limbs or crossing branches. Bigger trees may also benefit from pruning to allow for better light penetration. Prune lemon trees after the fall harvest using sharp shears or a saw, and wear heavy gloves to protect from the thorns. Always make your cuts with the blade towards the tree to avoid damaging the bark. For large branches, use a three-cut system. Start with an angled cut 10-12 inches from the branch union then cut 1/3 through the branch from the other side. Finish by severing the branch a few inches up the length.

Watering citrus trees, like lemon, can be somewhat tricky, as too little or too much water have the same results – possible death. Water container grown lemon trees much as you would a houseplant. Water deeply at intervals and allow the soil to dry between watering. Be wary of giving too much water since citrus don’t do well with wet roots. Be sure the container has adequate drainage holes and place the plant atop a pebble filled saucer. Also important is relative humidity. Run a humidifier during the winter months when the air is cold and dry. Water lemon trees in the ground either manually or via rainfall once a week.

It’s an interesting thing about lemon trees they hold onto their leaves when the tree is dry and then lose them when they get watered again. It’s important to be consistent with watering citrus in general. Because these trees do not like “wet feet” (roots), overwatering may also cause the tree to lose leaves. Additionally, a lack of fertilization may result in a lemon tree dropping leaves. All three of these cause stress to the tree, and dropping leaves is its reaction to that stress.

Yellow leaves on lemon trees may be a lack of water. When lemons are water stressed, they hold onto their leaves (until watered again), but the leaves may turn yellow as a last plea for irrigation. Water in-ground lemon trees once a week depending upon rainfall and those in containers as you would a houseplant, when the soil has dried or is lightly damp. Also, add a few inches of mulch to help the soil retain moisture. Other reasons for yellowing leaves may include insect pests or disease.

Aromatic, beautiful and with such mouth-watering fruit, it comes as something of a shock to see a lemon tree armed with thorns. Nature has provided the tree with theses spikes for the same reason that animals like porcupines sport quills – protection from predators. Thorns on citrus plants are most often found on tender, young trees and less so on mature trees. Because thorns can be, well a thorn in the side of a harvester, thornless hybrids have been developed and are readily available to gardeners.

Well, one reason a lemon might drop fruit is if it has set more fruit than it can support. This is normal and doesn’t affect the end production. In facts, this is simply nature’s way of thinning itself. If fruit drop on lemon trees is excessive, however, it’s probably due to an environmental factor such as too much or too little water, improper fertilization, excessive pruning, disease or insect predation.

If a lime or lemon tree has never bloomed, it might be poor rootstock otherwise, the culprit is likely either a watering or fertilizing issue. Lemons need consistent irrigation, too much or too little messes with them. They also need a fertilizer for citrus trees that is high in potash and low in nitrogen. Excess nitrogen will give you gorgeous foliage but won’t spur the tree to produce blooms, hence fruit. The addition of phosphorous will also encourage blooming. Also, lemon trees don’t need much pruning, just the removal of spurs and dead or problem branches. Fruit sets on the ends of the branches, so any pruning should be judicious. It’s possible that an overly exuberant pruning is the culprit.

Growing citrus in a container is great for those of us who don’t live in warmer climates. A dwarf variety of lemon is a good candidate for container growing. Be sure that the container has adequate drainage and, because you want to be able to move it around easily, is on wheels. Lemon trees need consistent watering so put it on a schedule and be consistent. Container grown lemons also need to be fertilized regularly. A low nitrogen, slow release fertilizer is a great way to feed the tree, allowing it to absorb needed nutrients over a period of time. Humidity is important to your lemon tree so mist it daily or place it over a pebble tray. Prune out any sucker branches or dead or diseased limbs. Move the tree inside as temperatures begin to drop.

Lemon trees do best when temps are in the 70’s during the day and down to about 55 F. () at night. When temperatures fall below this, the tree goes dormant and can be killed when temperatures plummet. So, if you live in a cooler region, it’s best to grow a lemon in a container. Be sure the container has wheels so the tree can be easily moved indoors in the winter. Provide the pot with a pebble tray or run a humidifier in the winter to add some humidity into the air. Cut back on fertilization during winter months. Supplement light with fluorescent grow lights. When temperatures warm up, wheel the lemon back outside so it can be pollinated by bees and other insects. Alternatively, you may be able to find a cold hardy citrus variety, depending on your location.

We all have questions now and then, whether long-time gardeners or those just starting out. So if you have a gardening question, get a gardening answer. We’re always here to help.