lemon and mandarin trees

Hi all.
I recently bought a house and in the back yard I have a mandarin tree and a lemon tree..
It seems as if though the previous owners were somewhat neglectful of these though, and they are not in the best of shapes..
The mandarin trees has no leaves at all, and is full of the smallest fruits you could imagine.. The lemon tree seems to have snapped during its life, and it has a plank of wood holding it up.. Its leaves are green, and it has a few lemons in it, though perhaps about three lemons on the whole tree..
In Australia it is summer right now, and we're having dry heats coming in..
It looks like either tree has never been pruned.. When is the best time to do this? What should I feed them? I'd love for these trees to prosper..
I can take some pictures and post them somewhere if it'll help you all diagnose the problems of my new trees..
Thanks..
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You can prune citrus any time you want, any way you want. Cut them back to get them into shape.
Where I worked they just used urea for fertilizer, they just need nitrogen.
Too much water can kill citrus, be careful of that. They do need some, the rancher used to water every six weeks.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

They like to be kept moist, mulching would help, but keep it away from the trunk. Best time to prune is spring, but it shouldn't matter too much, remove the snapped branch straight away. Chook manure or citrus food are best. Probably a good idea to remove all the fruit for a couple of years. I have a mandarin that keeps giving too much fruit, but they're always too small, so I'm going to have to remove all, or most of the fruit for a while too.
Jen
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ivan wrote:

If the mandarin is leafless, it might be dead. With a fingernail, nick the bark of a main branch near the trunk. If it's not green under the bark, remove it. If it is indeed green, prune severely, water thoroughly, and feed lightly in that order. (Never feed when the soil is dry.) Then let the top 2-4 cm of the soil dry before watering again. Mulching is good for keeping the soil cool, but don't water enough to keep the surface constantly moist. Don't feed again until there is new growth.
For the lemon, corrective pruning in the summer is good. Just don't prune in the late fall if frost is possible within the next month.
For both, fertilizer should be acidic and contain abundant nitrogen and some iron. Zinc is also necessary, but few fertilizers contain it. You might have to special-order zinc sulfate, of which each tree should get about a half-handful 3-4 times from early spring through the summer.
Note that, while some citrus will bear fruit for 100 years or more, some are not long-lived. I sadly discovered that dwarf varieties generally live only 25-30 years. My much-cherished dwarf 'Eureka' lemon has apparently died after more than 35 years. I just replaced a dwarf kumquat after about 35 years. The fact that they both lived so long surprised all the nurseries where I inquired. :(
--
David E. Ross
Climate: California Mediterranean
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ivan wrote:

Hi all..
Thanks for your messages.
Here's some updated information:
The mandarin tree does have leaves -- only that they're brown/yellow and they are scarce. The fruit is very orange, however as I said before, it's very small.. (about .5" in diameter), and has been that size since I've moved in three weeks ago.
The lemon tree, upon further inspection, looks like it has plenty of lemons that are growing.. Two or three are ready to be picked (they're yellow). The rest are small-ish and somewhat green still, but they look plump and healthy.
The broken bit of the lemon tree is its trunk.. Which is why it's being held up with a plank of wood.. It's unfortunate, really. I thought about tying it up with some wire and a post to hold it up against..
The trees are in my back yard, and they are surrounded by a rubber fence of about 6-7" high, and run aroudn the trunk of each tree. It has a diameter of about 3-4 foot..
I can't see the soil used, by the looks of things it is covered in hay, and on top of the hay there is chicken wire..
Not sure why this is the case..
I guess to stop the hay from flying around..
I recylce water and use a lot of my washing water to water the grass.. Will this also work for my fruit trees, or will the soap kill it?
Thanks to all for your assistance.. I'll hopefully be having some plump mandarins before the summer ends..
When do they normally come out? We'll be having a really hot and dry summer this year.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ivan wrote: > Ivan wrote: >> Hi all. >> >> >> I recently bought a house and in the back yard I have a mandarin tree >> and a lemon tree.. >> >> It seems as if though the previous owners were somewhat neglectful of >> these though, and they are not in the best of shapes.. >> >> The mandarin trees has no leaves at all, and is full of the smallest >> fruits you could imagine.. The lemon tree seems to have snapped during >> its life, and it has a plank of wood holding it up.. Its leaves are >> green, and it has a few lemons in it, though perhaps about three lemons >> on the whole tree.. >> >> In Australia it is summer right now, and we're having dry heats coming >> in.. >> >> It looks like either tree has never been pruned.. When is the best time >> to do this? >> What should I feed them? >> I'd love for these trees to prosper.. >> >> I can take some pictures and post them somewhere if it'll help you all >> diagnose the problems of my new trees.. >> >> >> Thanks.. > > > > Hi all.. > > Thanks for your messages. > > Here's some updated information: > > The mandarin tree does have leaves -- only that they're brown/yellow > and they are scarce. > The fruit is very orange, however as I said before, it's very small.. > (about .5" in diameter), and has been that size since I've moved in > three weeks ago.
Abundant but small fruit is apparently the last gasp of a dying citrus tree. Citrus remains fresh on the tree for quite a long while, even on a dying tree.
> The lemon tree, upon further inspection, looks like it has plenty of > lemons that are growing.. Two or three are ready to be picked (they're > yellow). The rest are small-ish and somewhat green still, but they look > plump and healthy.
Oranges, mandarins, and most other citrus are seasonal, flowering at specified seasons and ripening at other specified seasons. Not so with lemons, which are everbearing. That means you may find flowers, tiny green lemons, larger green lemons, and ripe lemons all at the same time.
> The broken bit of the lemon tree is its trunk.. Which is why it's being > held up with a plank of wood.. It's unfortunate, really. I thought > about tying it up with some wire and a post to hold it up against..
You really need an arborist to fix this tree. If it's split down the trunk, the trunk may have to be drilled and then bolted together. If the break is across the trunk, the tree may have to be cut, which would be effective only if it's above the graft point; a break below the graft point is generally hopeless. If the tree is cut, the time of year may be very important in order to ensure new growth will occur. All this requires a professional, who might also assess whether the mandarin can be saved.
When I mention an arborist, I do not mean a tree service. The former can help save a tree that is in trouble. The latter specializes in trimming and even removing trees.
> The trees are in my back yard, and they are surrounded by a rubber > fence of about 6-7" high, and run aroudn the trunk of each tree. It has > a diameter of about 3-4 foot..
The fences might be protection against animals that gnaw on the bark of the trunks. I have seen smaller fences -- only about a foot high -- to protect the trunks from lawn care equipment.
> I can't see the soil used, by the looks of things it is covered in hay, > and on top of the hay there is chicken wire.. > > Not sure why this is the case.. > > I guess to stop the hay from flying around..
I use chicken wire to hold a leaf mulch in place around my camelias. Otherwise, the Santa Anna winds would remove all mulch. (See my garden Web site for a description of these winds, which are common under various names in most Mediterranean climates, including possibly Australia.)
> I recylce water and use a lot of my washing water to water the grass.. > Will this also work for my fruit trees, or will the soap kill it?
Laundry "gray" water tends to be alkaline from the soap or detergents used in washing. Grass might not be affected. However, citrus requires an acidic soil. Thus, "gray" water will cause the leaves to yellow or become chlorotic. Eventually, the trees will stop fruiting and decline in vigor.
> Thanks to all for your assistance.. > I'll hopefully be having some plump mandarins before the summer ends..
If they are already orange, they will not get any larger.
--

David E. Ross
<http://www.rossde.com/
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
David E. Ross wrote:

Hi there..
It sounds as if though there isn't much hope for my trees.. =( I'll buy some scissors and start prunning the mandarin tree, as well as being able to determine where the break is on the lemon's trunk..
The fence around the trees is only 6 to 7 inches high, not feet.. I must have gotten the ' and " mixed up.. We have the metric system here. :P
Should I remove all the mandarines from the tree? Also, it looks as if though the mandarin tree has never been prunned -- Is there a guide I should follow when doing so?
I'll also be buying some citrus fertilizer at the store in the next few days and start feeding them.. Hopefully will be able to bring them back to life..
The tree next door has many bright, yellow lemons.. Mine has about three bright and yellow ones.. The rest are green and not developed yet..
I hope this doesn't mean that my tree is dying..
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ivan wrote:

The mandarins are edible, even if the tree is totally dead.
As I indicated, lemon trees are everbearing. That means that you should indeed find small green, larger green, and ripe lemons on your tree all at the same time. Unless you had frost recently, you should also find lemon blossoms and blossom buds. (Lemons are generally more hardy than most other citrus except for kumquats. That doesn't mean they can take truly freezing weather, but an occasional overnight frost with daytime temperatures above freezing shouldn't really harm a lemon tree.)
--

David E. Ross
<http://www.rossde.com/
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I disagree. I'm from Victoria, it's very hot here at the moment, all the plants are suffering. Only prune off damaged parts, prune properly in Spring next year.

Absolutely.
More a matter of thinning it out, to let the light get to all parts of the tree.

It may be too dry and hot to fertilize at the moment. I would wait till Autumn. Also fertilising sick plants, can definitely kill them.

Don't think so. Keep them mulched to cool the roots, and keep them damp, but not wet, and see how they are come Autumn.
Jen

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Jen wrote [in part]:

Be careful about letting light into the center of the tree. Citrus bark is easily damaged by sunburn. Commercial growers near my home leave a lot of foliage to shade the trunks of their citrus orchards.

On this, I must disagree. Citrus does better with frequent light feedings throughout the growing season than with a single annual feeding. Further, if there is any chance of winter frost in your area, stop feeding about two months before the expected first frost and don't start again until about two weeks before the expected last frost. Thus, a significant fall feeding might be very wrong. (Of course, I don't know if you are in a climate that is entirely frost-free. I live in a part of southern California that remains a prime citrus growing area -- especially lemons -- and we get light, overnight frosts every winter.)
When you feed, water thoroughly about 1-2 days before. Feed and then water thoroughly again. You can kill a citrus tree by feeding in dry soil and then watering, which burns the roots.
--

David E. Ross
<http://www.rossde.com/
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote [also in part]:

Here, in Australia, we're in the middle of a "very" hot and "very" dry summer. So although I can understand what you mean, I think fertilising it now might not be a good idea. There are bushfires everywhere because everything is so dry. I guess my point is to wait till the worst heat/dry weather is over. There's a bit of time here in Autumn before the frosts start, or, at least, late summer. Some areas in Australia are frost-free as well.
Jen
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Ivan wrote [in part]:

Unlike stone or pome fruits, citrus is never pruned to promote fruiting. Citrus is pruned to remove deadwood and branches that interfere with each other. Some commercial growers also prune to keep the branch ends from touching the ground (to reduce the access to the tree by ants and snails). In a home garden, you might prune to improve the aesthetics of the tree or to keep the tree low enough to pick fruit without a ladder.
For my dwarf citrus in containers, I prune to keep the top growth proportional to the confined root system so that the foliage does not place an impossible demand for moisture and nutrients on the roots. This is a constant nipping and pinching throughout the growing season, not the concerted pruning effort I will soon start for my peach tree.
Lack of pruning for your mandarin should not be a concern.
--

David E. Ross
<http://www.rossde.com/
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Not necessarily true at all!! I have a very healthy, young mandarin tree. It gets tonnes of fruit, but all small. I need to remove most, if not all the fruit for a couple of years, till it's more mature.
Jen
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.