GV Gardeners: Late autumn gardening questions

Although cold sensitive, this mature lemon tree has survived a number of winters to produce bumper fruit crops. Framing for attaching protective covers remains around the plant.

As seasons change so do neighbors and landscapes, making for a set of new gardening queries. Following are a few recently encountered. Perhaps a quick review will also help answer some of your questions.

• Which citrus fruits are most tolerant of cold desert temperatures?

Generally best able to handle the cold are those in the following order: Kumquat, Grapefruit, Tangelo, Tangerine, Orange, Lemon, and lastly Lime. Cold damage can occur when temperatures dip to 28-degrees or less for a duration of 4 to 6 hours.

• When returning from summer hiatus, I discovered several plant containers have a crust around the inside edge. What has happened?

Each time plants are watered, included salt is washed into the soil. As the water evaporates, salt accumulates along the inside of the container. This indicates that it is time to change the soil. Tip the container to remove the old soil and replace with new. For larger plants, it may be necessary to take the plant out, carefully remove most of the soil from around the roots and then replant it.

• A number of bushes on my newly purchased property look good from a distance, but are actually a tangle of short growth on the top and sides. The centers have been shaded so long that they have been killed. Is there a way to correct this and bring these plants back?

This condition often comes from the use of electric shears to remove outside growth which eventually causes the plant centers to die from lack of light. Options include: (1) cut the plants down to ground level and let them begin growth again; (2) dig out the plants with roots and replant in another location; or (3) remove the plants entirely and decide what to do with the space they once occupied.

• There is only space for one tree in my yard and I would like to try growing citrus. Which type is recommended for this region?

When this question was asked of University of Arizona Citrus Expert Glenn Wright, his immediate response was Tangerine.

• I see mud tunnels on tree trunks, flower stalks, and around the yard. I am told these are termites. If this is true, what should I do to prevent damage?

No need to panic. First, these termites do not attack living plants. They also do not like bright sunshine, dry air, or hungry birds. Therefore, they produce the tunnels in which to hide. By the time we see them, the insects usually have gone back to their homes deep in the soil and the tunnels are empty. If found against the house foundation, brush them off. Unless too unsightly, ignore those on your landscape plants.

Mary Kidnocker is a University of Arizona Master Gardener who lives in the Green Valley area. Her articles are featured weekly.

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