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Wally Richards
Wally Richardshttp://www.gardenews.co.nz
Wally Richards has been a gardening columnist for over 30 years. Check his websites - for gardening news and tips visit www.gardenews.co.nz. For mail order products visit www.0800466464.co.nz. Wally also has a gardening problem help line on 0800 466 464.

Gardening with Wally Richards: Looking after Citrus trees

Citrus tree care

Growing citrus trees for their fruit, glossy foliage and heavenly perfume is a New Zealand tradition.

In years gone by just about every garden had a lemon tree which was a handy source of lemon juice for colds and sore throats.

Many gardens would also sport an orange, grapefruit and likely a mandarin.

These were valuable specimens for vitamin C, eating and drinks.

Back in those times before man-made chemical sprays and fertilisers came along, the citrus trees would be of high health with little problem from disease and pests.

Oh how the world has changed and certainly not for the better when it comes to health of plants and people.

I had a email this week from a reader that I would like to share with you:

Hi Wally,

I’ve been meaning to relate my experience with your Neem granules back to you which may be of interest.

I inherited a small citrus patch when I bought my place in Auckland a few years ago.

There are about about 15 trees which were small then (but quite a lot bigger now) – and planted closer together than is ideal.

So a perfect scenario for a severe Whitefly outbreak which is what I had about last October.

Spraying with Neem Oil etc was problematic as it’s very difficult to coat the back of every leaf.

Anyway, I used about 1/2 kg of Neem granules around the drip line of each tree.

I’d say it took about 6 weeks to fully activate but I have since then not had a Whitefly problem at all – if a couple of small Whitefly patches appear even now, they’re gone the next time I check.

No signs of borer or other sap suckers this year either.

Most satisfyingly, because I haven’t sprayed, the trees are covered in Ladybugs which can keep on top of the massively reduced levels of pests.

Regards David.

I have often suggested the use of Neem Tree Granules to use around citrus trees to assist in getting rid of pests in or on the tree.

Citrus trees when not pruned correctly become dense and very difficult to spray so pests and diseases can have a field day.

Back in days when New Zealand was a happier place and people were a lot more healthy, we used to care for our citrus trees by feeding them with Blood & Bone, chicken or other animal manures, potash, Epsom salts, urine every so often and the tea pot leaves now and then.

About once or twice a year a spray of copper would be used to keep diseases from establishing.

Now we have the new Wallys Copper Nutrient which works from inside the tree it is a better option to spray.

One reader that has great success using it against curly leaf in stone fruit told me that his fruit are much bigger this season.

Once again the Copper Nutrient increases the health and performance of the trees and fruit juicer and much bigger than normal.

Back to our citrus story.

We would always plant our citrus where they would be free draining as we knew they would die if they had wet feet.

We would never cut the end off a branch as we knew that would only cause the branch to sprout lots of new branches making the tree too dense.

Instead we would remove total branches right back to the trunk if and when the need arose.

Often the great citrus trees we would see in gardens were grown from pips by a caring gardener.

Years ago during my travels to the Hawkes Bay, as a sales Rep, I would marvel at some of the citrus trees that I came across often reaching heights of 30 feet or more.

Nowadays we tend to have a lot more problems with our citrus trees and I put a lot of that down to fertilisers such as Citrus Fertiliser and Fruit Tree Fertiliser.

Nasty concoctions that harm the soil life, give a quick feed and then nothing till the next application.

Feast or famine stuff.

Then there are the chemicals such as herbicides that are used around the trees to control weeds.

The manufactures say they don’t harm established trees unless directly sprayed but thats rubbish they get into the soil and do effect the health of both soil and established plants.

Research has shown that Roundup has a soil residual of up to 22 years!

Then if chemical fungicides and insecticides are used you don’t only effect the health of the tree but your own as well not to mention the bees honey bees and bumble bees that will die if they visit your tree. (This can still happen weeks later when the tree flowers).

Most citrus diseases can be easily controlled or prevented with sprays of Wallys Copper Nutrient.

If there is a problem spray a couple of times a month apart, or as a prevention, spray twice a year, spring and autumn.

Our gardening friend has the answer for insect pests on your citrus trees by using Wallys Neem Tree Granules which most garden centres and Mitre 10’s stock (Not Wallys Neem Tree Granules to Bunnings or The Warehouse) otherwise can be obtained by mail order.

Sprinkling granules is much quicker and easier than spraying.

The new strain of whitefly that love citrus trees are a problem easily solved by this method along with scale and mealy bugs and the beauty of it is, no harm to lady birds or bees. (Its the emerald green ladybird we see on citrus trees).

The black Sooty Mould that is formed by the insect pests peeing honey dew over the foliage can be remove with the product Karbyon.

Simply spray Karbyon onto the foliage, leave for 48 hours and hose off.

Heavy deposits may need more than one treatment.

Leaves with sooty mould on them cannot gather energy from the sun so the production from your tree will be reduced.

If your fruit lacks flavour or juice then you need to apply Wallys Fruit and Flower Power every month. (You should be doing this anyway during the tree?s time of flowering and fruiting).

Follow the old ways of care and feeding and you will be rewarded with lots of great healthy fruit for you and yours.

Image credit: Dan Gold

Order from www.0800466464.co.nz.

Products mentioned are from Wallys Range of products and can be found in some garden shops or by Mail Order on www.0800466464.co.nz

Problems ring me at: Phone 0800 466464
Garden Pages and News at www.gardenews.co.nz
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