Orange trees produce oranges

View full sizeA satsuma tree blossoms to life. (Press-Register, Bill Finch)

It’s hard not to think about satsumas this time of year.

I keep trying. But then somebody offers me another one, and I zip it open and taste it, and I’ve got satsumas on the brain all over again. Judging by recent emails and the call-ins Sunday morning to the Plain Gardening radio show, a lot of you have satsumas on the brain, as well.

And since so many of you are asking similar questions, I figured it’s an excellent time to make us all satsuma experts, by rounding up the season’s Top 10 questions about satsumas. Use this handy guide to grow your own and to impress your rookie neighbors.

Satsumas, let me remind the first timers, are Mobile’s most magnificent citrus, and in so many ways, Gulf Coast satsumas are among the very best citrus grown anywhere in the world.

That’s the Satsuma Belt phenomenon we talked about last week. Satsumas are insipid when they develop in the warm fall nights of Orlando; they’re inevitably killed by cold when grown in areas more than 50 to 75 miles or so from the coast. But here, wow.

Fortunately, there’s nothing difficult about growing them, as long as you can answer the 10 most frequently asked questions about growing satsumas.

1. How do I know my satsuma is ripe?

You can’t tell by color. The orange color on a satsuma peel isn’t at all related to the ripeness of the fruit. In some years, partially green fruit may be fully ripe; and in years like this one, vividly orange fruit may still be a little tart.

You can’t tell by feel. Some people claim that when the fruit feels “puffy” it’s ready to pick — but that’s nonsense. When the fruit feels puffy because the skin separates from the meat, the fruit itself could still be underripe or overripe.

The only useful indicator of satsuma ripeness is to pick one off the tree and eat it. Go ahead. Peel it back and take a bite. Won’t hurt you. And it’ll tell you all you need to know.

Late October is good time to begin sampling your satsumas. Some early varieties, like Early Louisiana, may develop good flavor by the first of November in some years.

The classic satsuma, Owari, typically starts getting really good about the middle of November, and just continues to improve well into December. That’s one of the nice things about satsumas in our climate — as long as the fruit doesn’t freeze, the peak flavor “holds” for a long period.

But that mid to late November maturity date is just a broad guide, because some years (and I suspect this may be one of those years) the quality may develop a little earlier. The flavor in the oldest trees may peak weeks before the flavor in the youngest trees. Trees in one part of the yard, for no apparent reason, may ripen sooner than trees in another part.

So how do you know what a really good ripe satsuma tastes like? Well, you won’t know until you’ve had one. So you just keep on sampling until you get into December, and one morning you’re going to pick a satsuma and pop it in your mouth, and think, It just doesn’t get better than this.

2. Why did all the flowers fall off my satsuma? Why didn’t my satsuma produce fruit this year?

A cold winter or a dry spring can reduce flowers and fruits. Trees that have been overloaded with fruit in previous years may be worn out, and have decided to take a year off to recover.

But for most of you, the “problem” of falling flowers and lost fruit isn’t really a problem at all.

Citrus, like all fruiting trees, produce far more flowers than fruits every year, even when fully mature. But of course they would! Their instincts have taught them they need an overabundance of blooms to deal with fickle pollinators. So don’t count the fallen flowers — your tree will bear as many fruit as it can bear!

First time citrus growers are even more distressed to discover that when the trees are young, they frequently drop ALL of their flowers without producing any fruit. EXCELLENT! As we often note, babies should not make babies, and if your tree has only been in the ground two or three years, it’s still a baby and absolutely should not be trying to make more babies (otherwise known as “fruit” in the vegetable world).

It’s best if your trees have plenty of time to get adjusted and settled in after planting, and its very important that your trees grow as rapidly as possible those first few years. For this reason, you don’t want those trees to set any fruit until they are three years old (this is the case with virtually all fruit trees).

Fortunately, our citrus trees are smarter about this than we are, so frequently they abort all of their blooms in the first two years, though sometimes they’ll accidentally let a few fruits slip by. If you want a really healthy tree, make sure that your tree produces NO fruits the first year, and absolutely no more than a couple of fruits per year until the fourth year. Simply remove any fruit that form.

3. Why is the peel of some of my satsuma fruit colored an ugly rusty bronze?

You’ll notice that the bronzing occurs only on the fruits that are sitting exposed to the blazing sun, on the sunniest side of the tree, right?

Well, it looks like sunburn, but it’s actually an outbreak of citrus rust mites.

Citrus rust mites love heat and droughty conditions — so they were fairly common this year — and they proliferate only in areas where they have access to abundant sunlight — and that’s why only some of your fruit were bronzed.

By the time the damage is obvious, it’s usually too late to control. If you spray the tree with an All-Seasons horticultural oil during particularly dry periods, you may control any outbreaks.

On the other hand, it probably makes just as much sense to do nothing. The bronzing doesn’t usually hurt the fruit too much, and in any case, there’s usually plenty of fruit on the tree that isn’t bronzed. Older trees with a better cover of leaves don’t seem to suffer as much — my oldest tree, which used to suffer some bronzing nearly every year, hasn’t displayed an outbreak for several years.

4. Why do some of the leaves of my satsumas look deformed and twisted?

That would be the citrus leaf miner. Ho-hum. The leaves aren’t pretty, but they can still do what citrus leaves are supposed to do, absorb sunlight. And once the leaf miner is in the leaf, there’s not a thing you can do.

The citrus leaf miner is at worst a minor pest of citrus, and for many reasons, it’s likely to become even MORE minor in coming years. Worry about something else.

5. I planted a satsuma tree last fall, and it died in January. I think the cold killed it. I thought you said satsumas are hardy?

When they’re well established and mature, satsumas ARE unusually hardy for a citrus, to about 15 degrees, and sometimes even lower. Temperatures that low are not common along the immediate Gulf Coast, so many satsuma trees have remained productive now for decades.

But young satsumas, particularly those that are just planted, have much less resistance to cold, and they can be killed even by temperatures in the low 20s.

That’s easy to fix: ALWAYS plant citrus in spring, rather than in fall. That way, they have a full growing season to get established and develop cold resistance.

If you live in a colder zone, plant on the south or east side of a building or windbreak, so the tree will be protected from the coldest northwest winds.

When temperatures do drop into the low 20s, it’s often wise to protect trees less than two or three years old. Just snug some leaf bags full of moist leaves around the trunk, and throw a canvas or a sheet over the top of the plant for the evening.

Finally, make sure that the tree grows as quickly as possible — the thicker the trunk and the canopy, the hardier the tree will be. That means you need to be smart about watering, fertilizing and removing competing weeds. Equally important, you want to remove all fruit the first couple of years: If a young tree tries to carry a load of fruit to maturity, it will stunt its growth for many years after.

6. Some of my citrus leaves were covered with this black sooty stuff? How do I get rid of it?

Sooty mold was less of a problem this year that it has been in the past, but it will return, because the creatures that cause it, whiteflies, will be back with a vengeance next year, I can just about guarantee.

The black sooty mold is largely harmless. It’s just a fungus that happens to grow on insect poop. It’s the insect poop — or rather the insects that leave the poop — that are the problem.

In the case of your citrus, those insects are whiteflies.

Whiteflies are easy to control. When you see clouds of them billowing off your citrus plant, simply spray the undersides of your leaves and stems using a simple, safe and very effective horticultural oil (such as All-Season’s Oil). It’s the only thing you’ll every need to spray onto your citrus.

7. How do I fertilize my satsuma?

There are many complicated fertilizer rituals, and you can study up on them if you like.

My recommendation for the backyard gardener is to apply cottonseed meal once every year in February, after your tree has had one full year of growth. You’ll need about 5 to 10 pounds of cottonseed meal per tree, which is roughly 10 to 20 percent of a 50 pound bag, or two or three gallons. Before fertilizing, remove ALL grass and weeds that grow under the canopy of the tree — as far as the branch tips of the tree reach. Spread the fertilizer throughout that bare area, then mulch the bare spot with a couple of bags of leaves or pine needles. For many reasons, it’s best to mulch citrus only in spring or summer, rather than in fall and winter.

Do it just this way every year (while continuing to expand the mulch out to the tips of the tree branches), and your tree will likely get all the nutrition it needs.

8. When do I prune my satsumas?

Easy: You don’t. Ever. Satsumas don’t need pruning, and in our climate, pruning frequently harms the tree, making it significantly less hardy and less productive.

Some folks make the mistake of planting their satsumas in places where the trees don’t have room to grow. A satsuma won’t get very tall, but it will get very wide, often twice as wide as it is tall. When you plant your satsuma, make sure it has at least six feet of room to grow in every direction.

But you didn’t do that, and you say your satsuma needs pruning? Sorry, I still can’t tell you a good way to do it, because (as I said) there’s no good way to prune a citrus. Pruning lightly in spring may make the damage somewhat less severe.

9. My satsuma is almost 10 years old, and it never gets burned back in winter, but it has never produced more than a few fruit. It grows well, but looks a little lanky. What’s wrong?

Stand next to your satsuma tree, look up, and tell me what you see. If your satsuma is not getting abundant sunlight, several hours of direct sun a day, it is not going to produce, no matter what you do.

Digging and moving an old tree won’t be worth it. Either clear around it, or start a new tree elsewhere.

10. Some of the little segments in my satsumas are dry and not very tasty. The rest of the fruit is good, but it’s almost like something sucked all the moisture and flavor out of those pieces. What happened?

It’s those dadblamed leaf-footed stink bugs. We’d all like to see fewer of them. They are one of the few insects with a poker-like probiscus strong enough to penetrate a tough citrus skin. And they often do (they also make a mess of tomatoes and other soft fruit).

It’s really hard to control adults, who simply leave the plants when they see you coming with a spray, and return when the coast is clear.

The good news is that their numbers definitely seemed to be down this year. Maybe that’s a long-term trend. And maybe we’ll come up with smarter ways of dealing with this growing pest (there are people working on it).

Citrus grower Torrey Revel claims he can reduce the number of stinkbugs by using wild black nightshade weeds as a trap crop. The young orange stinkers are attracted to the plants, and he regularly monitors and dispatches any clusters of the conspicuous youngsters he sees hatching out there. Tomatoes would be an even better catch crop, if you can stand to sacrifice tomatoes for a few more citrus. Catching these stinkbugs while they’re young — if you can remember to look for them — is definitely a great way to reduce damage to all fruiting crops.

AND ONE BONUS QUESTION!

11. Are all satsumas the same? What’s the best satsuma?

The name satsuma refers to a group of mandarins that have similar characteristics, though there can be some important differences in taste and time of ripening. The old classic satsuma is Owari, and it is still the standard by which others are judged. Brown’s Select, Kimbrough and a few others may be just as good, and in most cases, difficult to distinguish. I suspect that a major reason all three of these varieties perform so well here is that they mature at a perfect time, during the warm days and cool nights of mid- to late November.

In our zone, Owari’s flavor is usually head and shoulders above many earlier satsuma varieties such as St. Ann Early or Louisiana Early or Armstrong (though these early varieties DO give you an extra harvest of two to three weeks of pretty good tasting satsumas, and they can develop better flavors in the chillier portions of the Satsuma Belt).

Some new early satsumas are slowly becoming available, and they’re worth experimenting with, as are the later-bearing clementines, which are very close relatives of the satsumas. I’m really coming to appreciate the small-fruited Kishu, which is much earlier, and is believed to have been the “original” satsuma.

But if you have only one tree, it should be Owari or similar November-maturing varieties such as Brown’s Select and Kimbrough.

WAIT! YOU FORGOT TO ASK:

12. How do I plant my citrus tree?

Oh, I wish some of you had thought to ask that question first!

Never plant a citrus (or any other plant) too deep. Make sure the top of the soil in the container is an inch or two HIGHER than the soil in the ground. Trust me. A lot of people smarter than me have been researching this, and once you understand how roots work, you’ll appreciate why.

NEVER mix anything into the planting soil. Just break up the soil in an area about six feet wide, and no deeper than the pot you’ll be planting.

Once you’ve broken up the soil, it’s fine and probably beneficial to spread a layer of organic matter over the TOP of the soil. But don’t dig it in.

Because you’ll be planting in spring, you’ll need to watch the watering carefully the first year. We’re very prone to plant-killing droughts from early April through mid-June.

Bill Finch enjoys responding to your garden questions. You can email questions to [email protected] He can’t answer all questions personally, but you can talk to him live on his Sunday morning radio show, Plain Gardening for the Gulf Coast, at 10 a.m. on 106.5 FM. Call 251-343-1065.

Satsuma: It’s what’s for breakfast

We call them satsumas — sweet, almost seedless, easy to peel, easy to grow and well-suited to the temperatures in Avoyelles Parish.

They, and their related citrus family, are also called mandarin oranges and tangerines.

Technically, the mandarin family of citrus started in China, the satsuma varieties came from Japan and the tangerine became a favorite snack-sized fruit by way of Tangiers, Morocco.

Whatever you call them, at this time of year they are a perfect breakfast treat — or an anytime snack. Local satsuma trees’ fruits are ripening at this time in Avoyelles Parish.

Some varieties of satsumas begin ripening in late September. The peak harvest is in October and November. Late varieties can continue producing into December.

The real satsuma lover could grow different varieties that would keep a bowl of the fruit on the kitchen table from Labor Day until Christmas.

Rachel Dufour of Plaucheville is definitely a fan of the sweetly tart fruit.

“I only have one satsuma tree, but boy does it produce plenty,” Dufour said. “The past few years we picked 80 to 90 satsumas from it, but this year we have picked about 300 and it’s still producing fruit.”

Dufour said she’s been giving satsumas to friends, family, neighbors and anyone else she comes across.

“About six years ago my son gave me two trees as a present — an orange tree and a satsuma tree,” she said. “A big freeze came along and the orange tree didn’t make it. The satsuma did.”

Rachel’s satsuma tree may be following a pattern common in satsumas, said Dr. Michael Polozola, the LSU AgCenter horticulturist for Avoyelles and neighboring parishes.

“Sometimes satsumas will over-produce,” Polozola said. “You’ve probably seen some people propping up limbs with sticks. That’s really not good for the tree.”

Polozola said a tree that produces too much fruit “can’t produce enough sugar for the fruit. The satsumas will not be as sweet.”

The weight of the excess fruit may also cause structural damage to the tree.

“The best thing to do in those cases is when the fruit is about the size of a dime or quarter, to trim away 25 to as much as 50 percent of the limbs,” Polozola said. “The fruit will be much sweeter, a much higher quality.”

‘ASIAN ORNAMENTAL’

While it would be great for Avoyelles to become known as a citrus-growing region, it appears the future of satsumas in this area will remain as an “Asian ornamental” plant that just happens to provide its owners with edible treats.

While there are a few vegetable stands around the parish that offer local satsumas for sale, it doesn’t seem likely the fruit will become a local major cash crop anytime soon.

While the mighty orange is still king of the citrus nation, it is contained to very warm climates like Florida, California and the Rio Grande Valley.

As Rachel noted, satsumas are more resistant to cold — as long as it’s not North Dakota-level cold.

When temperature in the 30s is considered a “brutal cold snap,” the area is safe for satsumas.

Polozola said Avoyelles is close to the northern extent for successful satsuma growing.

“In Avoyelles, you can expect that once every 25 years to get freezing weather that might knock them back somewhat,” he said. “Rapides and Grant have a harder time growing satsumas.”

NO SATSUMA JUICE
There is no “freshly squeezed satsuma juice” for sale in the local supermarkets, but for those so inclined there is a satsuma rum produced by Bayou Rum distillery in Lacassine.

While it may be an eye-opener, it is not recommended as a substitute for good old OJ for your breakfast beverage.

Satsumas came to the United States in 1876 when some trees were sent over from Satsuma Province on Kyushu Island, Japan.

The tangerine arrived from North Africa first, being grown in Florida as early as the 1840s.

Satsumas became a common home addition in the early 1900s when a million satsuma trees were imported from Japan and planted across the Gulf Coast, from the Florida Panhandle to Texas.

The fruit is a major commercial crop in some areas of the South. In fact, online sources noted it is the major citrus crop in the South, outpacing the Florida oranges in the Dixie states.

Its advantages include a peel so easy your 3-year-old can get his own snack. The segments separate easily, so there is less of a mess. The fruit has very little of the bitter white “mesocarp” that often clings to other citrus fruit. It is small — a good size for a lunchbag treat for work or school.

It is delicious AND nutritious — high in vitamins A and C with a little bit of calcium, iron and fiber thrown in for good measure.

The satsuma has just enough citrus tartness to make it interesting and enough sweetness to border on addictive.

“They are as juicy and sweet as can be,” Dufour said. “They don’t freeze, they are almost maintenance free and there are almost no seeds. Many of the satsumas have no seeds at all. Every once in awhile you will find one or two.”

TIPS FOR SATSUMAS
The LSU AgCenter provides some interesting and helpful information about this plant variety.

The satsuma tree is an evergreen with low, drooping branches. As Polozola noted, lower branches should be cut off but, if left, must be supported by forked sticks to keep the fruit from touching the ground.

Even if the tree never bore fruit — and that’s not likely since they are self-pollinating with both “male” and “female” parts — the tree would be a good addition to the home landscape.

Its leaves are glossy dark green and it has fragrant white flowers.

While the tree is rumored to be able to survive even the worst “black thumb” gardener among us, there are some tips for success.

The tree favors well-drained, slightly acid to neutral loamy soils and plenty of sunshine. In fact, the more sun the more flowers and fruit.

Trees should be planted in January and February.

For the serious gardener, experts recommend grafting the satsuma onto an orange tree variety with a hardier rootstock, such as Citrus trifoliata. (The nurseryman will know what you’re talking about, and you will sound wise by asking).

Dufour said the only attention she gives her satsuma is an annual fertilizing in the fall and spraying for insects after the blossoms fall in the spring.

The AgCenter recommends growers apply fertilizer to the tree annually for best yields. New trees should not be fertilized until new growth appears in March or April. After the second year, fertilizer should be applied in late January or early February, the AgCenter notes.

To protect the tree from the cold, a heavy mulch around the root zone and possibly wrapping the trunk with a blanket or burlap is recommended.

A trick the LSU AgCenter suggests is to water the ground under the tree a day or two before an expected freeze “because the moist soil helps radiate ground warmth.”

Another cold-weather tip from Polozola is for the satsuma grower to conduct an emergency harvest of all remaining fruit — ripe, ripening and green — as soon as you know a hard freeze is coming.

“If you don’t pick the fruit, it will freeze and rot on the tree,” he said.

The rule of thumb to determine an emergency is if the forecast calls for temperatures in the 20s for 12 hours or longer.

Some satsuma owners treat their tree almost like a pet.

A Baton Rouge horticulturist said her tree is in a large pot on her patio. The pot is on wheels to allow her to move the favored plant inside when the weather becomes threatening.

Unfortunately, the world is a hostile place even with the best care. Insects and citrus diseases are always a possibility.

Also, if you purchase your satsuma trees elsewhere, it could be quarantined and barred from coming home.

To be sure of the quarantine zones, go to the Louisiana Agriculture Department website at http://bit.ly/34ku4Md.

Orange Tree Fruit Problems: How To Get Fruit On Orange Trees

Image by itchySan

Growing orange trees is a great way to enjoy these sweet, tasty fruits straight from your own garden. But what happens when there’s no orange tree fruit? Finding that there are no oranges on trees can be quite alarming, especially after all of your hard work. So why won’t an orange tree produce? Let’s find out the reasons for an orange tree not fruiting.

Orange Tree Not Fruiting

There are several reasons why an orange tree may have no oranges. On trees that flower but don’t produce fruit, the problem may be that the flowers aren’t pollinated, especially when they are grown in a protected area such as a sunroom or greenhouse.

If the tree doesn’t flower, look at the location of the tree and the care it receives. Orange trees need sun, plenty of water, and regular fertilization. Also consider the age of the orange tree. Fruit is expected three to five years after you plant the tree.

Next time you wonder why won’t an orange tree produce, you should consider the most common possibilities for your situation. Here are some things that can prevent an orange tree from producing fruit:

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  • The tree is not old enough to produce fruit
  • The tree doesn’t receive enough sunlight
  • The flowers are not being pollinated
  • Cold temperatures that kill the flower buds
  • Improper watering, fertilizing or pruning

How to Get Fruit on Orange Trees

If the tree produces flowers but no fruit, it’s possible that the flowers aren’t getting pollinated. Give the branches a shake while the tree is in flower to shake loose the pollen and allow it to fall onto the pistil. You’ll have to do this regularly over a period of several days.

Did you have unusually cold temperatures or a warm spell followed by a sudden return to cold temperatures? Temperatures can cause the loss of flower buds or prevent the buds from opening. Throwing a blanket over the canopy of small trees may help prevent a crop loss.

Proper care results in a healthy tree that produces a good crop. Water the trees weekly in the absence of rain. Use drip irrigation or water slowly by hand so that the soil has a chance to absorb as much water as possible. If your soil is heavy clay and doesn’t absorb moisture well, give water frequently but in smaller amounts.

Orange trees need plenty of nitrogen, but too much prevents flowering. The best way to make sure you are giving your tree the right amount of fertilizer is to use a fertilizer specially designed for citrus trees. Read and follow the label instructions carefully. If your tree is in the lawn, remember that when you fertilize your lawn you are giving the tree an extra dose of high-nitrogen fertilizer. One way to prevent this is to cover the soil over the tree’s root zone with mulch so that you don’t have grass to fertilize in that area.

Prune young citrus trees to give them good shape and structure. If done properly, the tree will need very little pruning when it is old enough to fruit. Prune mature trees to remove dead and damaged limbs. Every three or four years, remove branches from the canopy so that you see dappled sunlight under the tree. An open canopy that gets plenty of light encourages good production. Removing only part of a branch, called heading back, encourages new growth at the expense of fruit and flowers.

From Root to Fruit: How to Care for a Moro Blood Orange Tree

Known for their distinctive, beautiful colors, blood oranges are a one of a kind citrus fruit. Learn how to care for a Moro Blood Orange tree below.

There’s nothing quite like the surprise and delight you get when you cut into a blood orange. Slicing through a bright orange exterior to reveal deep, wine-colored flesh.

Citrus fruits are super healthy too, so they reward you with beauty and support your wellbeing!

If you’re looking for a tasty variety that’s fast-growing, then the Moro blood orange tree is the right choice for you.

Let’s learn more about them and see just how easy it is to care for one.

What is a Moro Blood Orange Tree?

Moro is a very popular variety of blood orange tree, known for producing moderately sized fruit with particularly deep purple flesh.

They thrive in warm climates, typically enjoying temperatures between 55-85° F. They can also do well indoors, as long as they are not planted too close to windows. That’s because the glass intensifies the suns rays and could scorch the leaves.

They thrive in the US Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9-11 – roughly a sweep from North Carolina, all through the southern States and up as high as Washington State.

In a warm, dry climate like Southern California, it reaches ripeness between December and February.

Planting

When you buy your Moro blood orange tree, it will come with its rootstock wrapped in a hessian bag ready to be planted.

Planting considerations include timing and location, including growing a blood orange tree in a container. For best results, it should be planted by late March. This will ensure that frosts have passed.

Blood orange trees hate to be planted in soil that can become waterlogged. Take care to prepare a well-draining soil mixture. Adding compost or peat moss to the soil prior to planting can help to keep it draining well.

Dig a hole sufficiently deep to cover the roots. However, take care that the hole is not too deep and that none of the trunk is under the soil. Then water it in, and keep watering over the next few days.

Look out for signs of new growth that will indicate that it is settling in nicely into its new home. Regular watering, especially during hot spells, will keep it in top condition.

Feeding

To really do well, your Moro blood orange tree will appreciate a little extra help.

This comes in the form of two types of feed. First of all, give it 1 cup of 21-0-0 ammonium sulfate each year. The formula is one cup of ammonium sulfate for every year of its life.

Secondly, give it a phosphate boost every few years. Carefully follow the directions that come with the tree to get the balance right.

Caring

Blood orange tree care is actually kind of a doddle.

Beyond the obvious light pruning of weak and dead branches, it doesn’t require a great deal of work. If you know that temperatures are going to drop below freezing, considering blanketing the tree.

How to Care for a Moro Blood Orange Tree

Keep the soil well drained, give it plenty of water when it’s hot and treat it to some regular feeding and you’ll be well on your way to delicious blood oranges to eat and juice.

Feeling tempted?

Order your very own Moro blood orange tree today.

Royal Poinciana Tree

Delonix regia

Majestic size and fabulous color make the royal poinciana tree a classic symbol of living in South Florida.

‘Regia’ means regal, royal or magnificent – all perfect descriptive terms for the poinciana.

This lovely tree is decorated in summer with rich orange-red flowers on its umbrella-shaped crown of fine-textured leaves.
With its wide-reaching canopy, this tree is way too big for smaller properties and can overwhelm even a medium-sized yard.

It’s best planted in a large expanse of lawn with no garden bed beneath, since the poinciana’s root system is superficial rather than deep. This means it will compete with (and win out over) nearby plants for water and nutrients.

Plant specs

Poincianas are fast-growing trees, reaching heights of 40 to 50 feet. It can grow even wider than its height, so plan accordingly when you choose a place to plant.

Tropical in nature, these red-flowering trees do best in Zone 10, beginning to flower at age 4 or 5.

They are deciduous (though thankfully our winters are short), and produce seed pods which won’t become a nuisance since seeds take years to germinate.

Plant in a well-drained area in full sun for ideal fullness and flowering.

The showy poinciana flowers appear in late spring through mid-summer.

Plant care

Add top soil or organic peat moss to the hole when you plant. You may also want to add in composted cow manure for soil enrichment.

No trimming is necessary unless you need to remove low hanging branches.
Water on a regular basis with time to dry out between waterings. Fertilize in spring, summer and autumn with a good quality granular fertilizer.

Plant spacing

Plant at least 20 feet (more would be even better) from the house to accommodate the broad-spreading canopy of this tree.

Come in at least 12 to 15 feet from drives and walks so buttressed roots don’t eventually become a problem.

If you plant several in a row, place them 12 to 15 feet (or more) apart.

These trees will grow in a pot while they’re young but much prefer getting established n the ground.

Landscape uses for royal poinciana tree

  • single specimen tree
  • shade tree
  • along a large driveway

A.K.A. (also known as): Flamboyant Tree, Flame Tree
GOOD SNOWBIRD PLANT? NO
COMPANION PLANT SUGGESTIONS: Rather than planting beneath the tree, consider using shrubs and plants in the yard that will set off the royal poinciana’s brilliant red flowers: croton, firecracker plant, hibiscus, Super King ixora, jatropha, thryallis and gold mound.

Other trees you might like: Peltophorum (Yellow Poinciana), Jacaranda

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SINGAPORE – The sight of trees sprouting clusters of orange-red flowers on their trunks and branches has drawn several curious residents in Choa Chu Kang in recent days.

Chinese-language newspaper Shin Min Daily News reported on Sunday (March 25) that many residents had taken snapshots of the eye-catching Saraca indica, more commonly known as sorrowless tree or asoka tree, near Block 251, Choa Chu Kang Avenue 2.

Two of the six trees in the area had blossomed on Sunday, releasing a sweet fragrance in the air, Shin Min reported.

A 54-year-old resident, who has lived in the estate for close to 20 years, told the newspaper that the trees were around even before he had moved in.

He added that while the flowers bloom around April every year, they had captured the attention of many residents this year, in particular, as they were exceptionally lush.

According to the National Parks Boards’ Flora and Fauna website, the tree is native to South-east Asian countries, such as Laos, Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.

It can grow to a height of up to 10m, and is known for producing big, dense clusters of flowers with no petals.

The flowers bloom yellow, before turning orange and red, and between February and May, the whole tree may be covered with blooms, it said.

According to the website, parts of tree may also be used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine and homeopathic therapies.

Mr Chua King Wah, the managing director of wholesale garden centre Hua Hng Trading Company, told Shin Min that the flowers may bloom three to four times a year, often during dry weather.

“There are sorrowless trees on the roadside in Singapore, but they rarely have that many flowers,” he noted. “The sight in Choa Chu Kang is likely due to the recent hot weather, with little rain.”

White Flowering Trees

Spring has finally come to Michigan! Some trees are leafing out while others are in full bloom. And we want to tackle the question: What is it? Differentiating between various flowering trees and shrubs opens our eyes to the unique and beautiful nuances of nature. But these plants can be tricky! There are some look-alike trees flowering right now and you’re about to learn how to know which tree is which!

Coming into bloom in early spring are a few trees with white flowers. Of these trees, there are two that look similar from a distance and can be easily confused.

Serviceberry (Amelanchier canadensis)

A native tree to the Midwest, you might find this tree in natural areas as well as cultivated landscapes. Its small, white, star-shaped blooms cover the tree in a beautiful spring display. A unique feature of this plant is its smooth light grey bark. It can be grown as a multi-stem, large shrub or as a single-stem tree. After flowering, it produces blue berries that, as it turns out, taste a lot like blueberries. They are edible for humans, but you’ll have to fight off a myriad of birds and small mammals to try a bite! In addition to the spring bloom, Serviceberry leaves transform into a stunning orange-red fall color.

Serviceberry trees are covered in white when they bloom. Delicate Amelanchier blooms. Amelanchier boasts of bright orange-red fall color.

Flowering Pear (Pyrus calleryana)

As a common street and parking lot tree, flowering Pears are adaptable to harsh conditions. These trees are covered in clusters of small, rounded, 5 petal flowers that smell like, how do I put this…death. Newer cultivars of the trees don’t quite smell as bad as the older ones, but I recommend that you don’t stick your face into the flower to get a whiff.

Cluster of 5-petal, white Pear flower. Newly planted Pear tree. Pear trees are adaptable street trees.

Native to Asia and not the Midwest, you would expect to only find flowering Pear trees in the built environment. However, their seeds get dispersed by birds and animals that eat their “fruit” (not the same pears you would buy at the grocery store) and “deposit” them in natural areas, where they grow easily. This has caused a handful of states to list the trees as invasive and illegal to buy and sell.

White blooming Pear trees can easily be spotted growing in natural areas.

Yellow Flowering Trees and Shrubs

Also blooming right now are look-alike trees and shrubs with yellow blooms.

Forsythia (Forsythia x intermedia)

Yellow spring blooming plants are often assumed to be Forsythia. But unfortunately, identifying this shrub is not that simple. First of all, notice that Forsythia are shrubs, and a thicket of shrubs, at that. Think of the story of Br’er Rabbit and the Tar-baby. Br’er Rabbit would have liked getting thrown into a thicket of Forsythia (though to be clear, Forsythia do not have thorns).

In spring, Forsythia branches are full of yellow, star-shaped flowers, about an inch in diameter. Forsythias produce flowers on last year’s new growth, so for the best floral display, they should be pruned immediately after flowering.

Yellow, star-shaped Forsythia blooms. Selective pruning of Forsythia allows for showy floral displays. Forsythia left unhedged display arching branches full of blooms.

Cornelian Cherry Dogwood (Cornus mas)

When you think of Dogwood, you might think of large white or pink spring flowers. Or you might think of the red stems throughout winter. But this Dogwood is quite different than those more commonly known species. The Cornelian Cherry Dogwood is a tree that blooms with small, but pervasive, yellow flowers in early spring.

Cornus mas grows to be a small ornamental tree. An abundance of tiny yellow flower bundles.

It does not sucker or make a thicket at its base, though it can be a single-stem or multi-stem tree. And perhaps its most unique ID feature is its mottled bark. After flowering, it produces bright red berries that are oblong in shape. They are edible for humans, tasting like tart cherries with a pit inside (and now the common name makes sense).

Cornelian Cherry Dogwood has unique mottled bark. Cornus mas fruit tastes like tart cherries.

Vernal Witchhazel (Hamamelis vernalis)

This plant isn’t exactly a look-alike for the Forsythia or the Cornelian Cherry Dogwood, but it’s worth mentioning in this discussion. When it is still winter – anytime from January to March depending on the weather – the blooms open up. They are small, feathery, yellow flowers that cover the branches of the plant. The blooms are amazingly fragrant with a sweet scent that is a welcome harbinger of spring. It would be easy to see these yellow blooms in late winter and be tricked into thinking that the Forsythia have started blooming, but now you will not be fooled!

Hamamelis shrub, newly planted. Late winter bloom of Vernal Witchhazel.

So, now that you are an expert in discerning white and yellow, spring blooming trees and shrubs, what plants still mix you up?

Citrus fruit stopped growing, what to do

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Orange trees have been enchanting our gardens for centuries and are quite easy to grow.

Key Orange tree facts

Name – Citrus sinensis
Family – Rutaceae (Rue family)
Type – fruit tree

Height – 16 to 32 feet (5 to 10 meters)
Soil – well drained, sandy and rich
Exposure – full sun

Foliage – evergreen
Flowering – April to July
Harvest – November to March

But planting, care and pruning are all good practices that will allow you to grow luscious oranges and avoid orange tree diseases.

  • Health: health benefits of oranges

Planting and repotting an orange tree

    Planting directly in the ground

    The orange tree can be planted directly in the ground only in regions where it doesn’t freeze in winter.

    Planting in pots

    In areas where winters are on the cold side, you must plant your orange tree in a large garden box.
    In winter, it should be placed in a very bright room, where the temperature should not drop below 41 to 43°F (5 to 6° C) in winter.

    Early spring, you can bring it out for it to spend the rest of the year outdoors.

    Repotting an orange tree

    When planting or repotting, favor a blend of soil mix and plant-based soil without any chalk, one part each.

    Repotting is preferably done in spring, after the fruit harvest or at the end of summer before flowering.

    • Refer to our all our tips on how to grow an orange tree in a pot

    Watering orange trees

    Watering of the orange tree is very important, all the more so if it is in a pot, since it tends to dry off much faster.

    • Orange trees hate having too much water.
    • So watering, although necessary in summer, must not be abundant, but reduced and regular.
    • Favor watering in the evening so that water isn’t lost through evaporation so fast.

    Pruning and caring for an orange tree

    Fruits only grow on new growth, so you must prune at the end of winter, during the month of February or March.

    • Eliminate branches that are ingrowing to provide as much light as possible inside. In addition, remove branches that cross over each other, too.
    • You can also balance the silhouette to give it a nice shape. Prune lightly.

    Producing nice oranges

    To produce nice oranges, add citrus-specific fertilizer during the growth phase.

    Some orange tree varieties don’t self-pollinate easily. For these, it’s best if you can ensure proper cross-pollination between two compatible varieties.

    Learn more about the orange tree

    Very loved by the kings of France, orange trees are the reason many buildings called orangeries were built in castle gardens.

    These wide-windowed buildings were the greenhouses of old, with much light and a mild temperature during winter: they were the perfect spot to keep these little trees.

    • Orange trees today are much sought after, and most horticulture stores have some available for sale.

    Citrus trees are known for the deep green of their foliage and their white, fragrant flowers that make the trees quite ornamental, too.

    Fruits add to this exotic appearance, you’ll be thrilled!

    Diseases and parasites that frequently attack orange trees

    • European brown rot – oranges rot on the orange tree
    • Scale insects – whitish masses colonize leaves
    • Aphids – leaves curl up and fall off

    Smart tip

    Protect them well in winter, and shelter them from wind in summer to best support fruit bearing!

    Read also on the topic of citrus trees

    • Special information on citrus plants: pruning, watering…
    • Caring for lemon tree
    • Clementine tree care
    • Caring for pomelo, the grapefruit tree

    Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
    Sky orange tree by Thom Quine ☆ under © CC BY 2.0
    Two oranges by LoggaWiggler ★ under license

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