Monday, June 18, 2012

Why your citrus is struggling.

Every day for the past few weeks people have been coming into Four Seasons Nursery with some photos of, or a story about, an almost dead citrus, and they’ve all been asking us “why?”. It could be a lemon, an orange, a lime, maybe even the unbearably tart kumquat (each to their own); whichever citrus they’re growing our answer this season is always the same; “the rain.”

We have just sloshed our way through the wettest Summer in decades, and Autumn was almost as bad. Now, as the temperature drops and the days get shorter, we are supposed to be given a reprieve from all of this water (Winter having, allegedly, less rain than Summer). Instead we’re getting more record breaking rainfalls- Monday was the wettest June day in half a decade- and there’s still more on the way. We are all well and truly sick of it, but we’ll live. Your citrus might not.

Why? Because citrus like it hot. They love the sun baking down on them, drying out the air and drawing out their flowers. They love a good drink too; they’re not overly drought tolerant, but they absolutely hate having “wet feet”. This is when there is so much water in the soil it has nowhere to go, and so it sits around a plants root system, causing it to slowly rot. For the past few months there has been more rain than most soils can drain, and so the roots of your citrus have been drowning. To add insult to injury the warm but wet summer caused insect populations to explode, and all the usual suspects (aphids, scale, citrus leaf miner, curl grub) have been running wild.

So what can you do? The first thing you should address are the pests; your citrus is having a hard enough time in the rain without being eaten as well. Have a look on your leaves for aphids and leaf miner, and on the branches and trunk for scale. Hit aphids with Confidor, leaf miner with Pest Oil and the scale with Antiscale- all of these are available at Four Seasons Nursery. Your citrus’ root system may also be under attack from curl grub; it’s hard to tell without having a bit of a dig, and with the roots in such a fragile state this is definitely not a good idea. An application of any Curl Grub Killer will ensure this isn’t an issue (also available at Four Seasons Nursery).

If you can improve your garden’s drainage without disturbing the citrus’ roots, for example by digging in an agpipe nearby, it will be of some benefit, and if your citrus is in a pot it is recommended you move it to a more sheltered position for a while (though still in as much light as possible).

Other than that all you can do is sit tight and hope for some sunshine. When the weather warms up in September you can give your citrus a decent feed; Four Seasons Nursery sells some excellent citrus-specific fertilisers that will do wonders.

If you have any questions please pop in to see us, we have raincoats for us and umbrellas for you.


Mike P.

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