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Monday, November 18, 2013

Privet Yellowing a Soil Problem

Q. My Japanese privet was doing great. I gave it your EDDHA iron chelate elixir 6 months ago. I was watering three times a week and have now cut back to once a week. The leaves are now yellowing with brown spots, the same as it did last year. So, what should I do to the green back?

Privet with leaf yellowing

A. We see this yellowing of the leaves quite a bit in Ligustrum or privet. They prefer moist and enriched soils so I think this is a combination of both a lack of fertilizer and poor soil conditions.

They are not a very good desert plant and don’t really like desert landscapes very much.  The yellowing is most likely a combination of high light intensity along with a general decline in health which makes them more reactive to these tough conditions. 
Black spots developing on leaves weakened due to poor health. Perhaps anthracnose but should disappear if plant becomes healthy again.

This may be too much for you but if you want to reinvigorate them I would go back in with some decent fertilizer such as Miracle Gro or Peters and either or both spray it on the foliage along with a teaspoon of Ivory liquid in each gallon of water. Then I would also follow up with some compost at the base of the plants and wood mulch to a depth of 4 inches or so. 

You will probably not see much reaction this time of year since it is going into “hibernation” but should see a difference next spring. Keep the soil moist but the mulch will help to enrich the soil and keep the soil more moist than before. 

Make sure it is getting adequate water. I would estimate about ten gallons per each application for that size of plant. That would be a minimum. You could do a bit more even like 15 gallons. They would like to be treated more like a rose bush than a cactus and would, in fact, like lawn watering schedules over tree and shrub watering. They do better in lawns is what I am saying. Don’t forget a fertilizer application along with your iron next February.

Pick Lemons in December

Q. How do I determine the best time to pick lemons? Mine are yellow with some being very firm and others feeling "givvy". This has been a good year and my Meyer lemon "bush" will afford us lemon curd and juice for the next year.

Flowers of Meyer Lemon
A. I would pick them as they mature which will usually be late November through possibly the early part of January. You should have them all picked however no later than mid-January so you do not interfere with next seasons production.
When picking lemons try not to totally remove the stem but leave a small part still attached. This will help keep it from losing moisture in storage and keep longer.
            They will keep very nicely for a few weeks in the fridge. I would pick on which is the yellowest and taste it. As it gets colder, more flavors will develop and sugars. Pay close attention to how it tastes now and pick one in a week or so and compare as the season progresses.
            Another option is to use a device which measures the sugar content of the fruit. One such device is called a refractometer. Refractometers measure the sugar content of liquid from inside the fruit by passing sunlight through it and detecting how this light is altered.
Refractometer running around $50 to $75. Digital versions are more expensive.
            They can range in price from about $50 to $200 depending on how sophisticated you want it. You can find them online from companies that sell equipment to orchards.
            I am guessing you will hit the peak about early to mid-December. But still the best way to judge is by taste.

Prune Crapemyrtle in Winter or Early Spring

Q. When is it best to prune crapemyrtle?  I’ve heard before winter, and again just before spring.  The last two years I trimmed back the branches (it is only about 5’ tall, about 1/3 of the way in late February.  What is right?  We live in Aliante.
Crepemyrtle being evaluated at UNLV Center for Horticulture and Water Conservation in North Las Vegas. It is fertilized with an all purpose soil applied fertilizer, foliar applied Miracle Gro and EDDHA iron chelate along with a wood surface mulch.

A. General rule of thumb on all flowering trees and shrubs is that pruning which affects flowering is always best done just after bloom so that the plant will have a chance to set flower buds for next season. If the pruning does not affect flower production, then prune in the winter.
            Large limb removal should be done during the winter on all trees. If you are shearing it or in some way removing a lot of the ends of young branches then wait and do it just after it has finished flowering.
            Large, heavier flower clusters and out-of-control growth results when branches are cut back severely. Flowers that result from these types of cuts can be so heavy that they bend branches toward the ground.  For this reason, do not cut the branches back to stubs every year.
            Crapemyrtle blooms on new growth like oleander and pomegranate so it can be pruned in the spring and it will still flower normally throughout the summer. Summer shearing will affect flowering.

France Overtakes UK, Canada and Australia for Number 2 Blog Spot

Readers of Xtremehorticulture of the Desert Blog are in the thousands all over the world. The Blog was designed specifically to address questions regarding desert horticulture or how to work with domesticated plants in arid and desert environments.

My Blog has always had a strong readership from Australia and understandably because of its arid and desert climates in much of the country. Desert horticulture is a unique type of horticulture and it takes awhile to adjust and learn it if you are from wetter parts of the world. The climate, soils, plants all are very different from "normal" horticulture and gardening. So it makes sense that readers from the Middle East, Central Asia and other hot dry places read Xtremehorticulture.

But why France? It surprises me that France has taken over the number 2 spot in readership of Xtremehorticulture for the day, week,  month and even of all time over the likes of all the others. I don't understand it but ...Vive la France!