Citrus trees have ripening fruit and leaves that are beginning to yellow; lawns are thinning and turning brown; azaleas and camellias need a little help; stone fruit trees should be sprayed; and we all know it’s time to prune roses.
Our area is difficult for citrus, especially trees less than 10 years old. As lemons, oranges and grapefruit trees try to mature their fruit, we can help them along by applying a fertilizer that concentrates on the fruit, not growth. Look for a product such as a 2-10-10 fertilizer in a water-soluble form, or 0-10-10 granular. Apply this type of bud and bloom fertilizer monthly through March, then begin feeding with citrus food. If your citrus is looking more yellow than usual, apply a dose of water-soluble iron now. Always follow package directions.
Our lawns need some attention now, so they’ll be strong through the heat of the long summer. Spread a thin layer of a rich soil conditioner on top the entire lawn. Use a product rich in chicken manure, earthworm castings and bat guano. Meanwhile, apply lawn food to brownish lawns. EB Stone has created an effective organic lawn food for those interested.
If your lawn in thin, wait to over-seed in March. If crabgrass has proven to be a problem, use a crabgrass preventer on the lawn as well as in ornamental beds. Check package directions. Most products need to be reapplied every four months.
Camellias and azaleas
Camellias and azaleas are evergreen shrubs that flower winter through late spring. We lump these two families together since we treat them the same ways. Camellias flower first, mainly during late winter, while azaleas start to flower in March. Help these evergreens along now by feeding with the same bud and bloom formula that you would give citrus. Use water soluble 2-10-10 or granular 0-10-10. Follow up with a dose of iron this month to encourage super green leaves. Once your camellias and azaleas have finished blooming, prune to shape and begin fertilizing with a product designed for acid-loving plants.
If you grow blue mophead hydrangeas, give them a dose of aluminum sulfate now and again in early April. If you have pink mopheads, apply dolomite lime to encourage a deep pink color.
Stone fruit, especially peaches and nectarines that have ever suffered from peach leaf curl, should have copper fungicide applied once the tree is in bud. Use a concentrate formula and follow all package directions. Copper fungicide will stain concrete, so be careful.
Regardless of how many flowers or leaves your rose bushes still have, you need to prune them back. Rose pruning is easy; an annually pruned rose should take less than five minutes to prune. Don’t worry about all the buds, blooms or leaves still left on the bush, look at the bottom and begin there.
A well-pruned hybrid tea, grandiflora or floribunda rose should have three to five nice, straight, clean canes without any leaves. The object of pruning is to remove most of the past year’s growth, all the crossing canes and lateral branches. Remove all gray canes. You may have to use a saw to get through thick wood. Don’t worry how thick the canes are, you won’t hurt the rose at all.
Once you’ve pruned, you can fertilize. Apply the following fertilizer today:
Ground-Grown Rose Fertilizer
½ c. 16-16-16 fertilizer
½ c. bone meal
½ c. granular iron
½ c. alfalfa meal
2 T. Epsom salt
Work into soil throughout the drip line and top-dress with an inch layer of chicken manure; water in.
Nicole is the Garden Girl at R&M Pool, Patio, Gifts and Garden. You can contact her with questions or comments by email at firstname.lastname@example.org