Call (602) 944-8479
Newsletter Sign Up
Sign up for our free newsletter and receive monthly gardening tips, radio show updates, and special offers from Whitfill Nursery.

April 28, 2012

Last April I went out and accidentally killed the front and back lawn, so then I didn't plant the Summer nor the Winter grass, but went out and planted this year. The backyard is up, but the front yard isn't growing at all. The front yard gets a lot of sun and there's a lot of weeds growing out there.

-- So it sounds like you have a mulch basis for your grass to get germinated and grow through. What I would do is keep it mowed short, keep it well watered, and with the warm weather coming up your front lawn should spring into action. As far as killing the weeds, if you keep on mowing it short, down to an inch, that stuff will die out when it gets real hot.

As soon as all the blossoms fall of an Orchid tree, should I prune it back?

-- Well it wouldn't be a bad thing. If you butcher it right after it finishes flowering, you're going to take away all those beans and that mess. It'll regenerate very quickly. The other thing is that they get a little salt and leaf burn in the Summertime, so what you probably want to do is make sure you're deep watering it this Summer and then add some soil sulfur to it, about 1 or 2 pounds.

We had a Saguaro that had a 10 foot arm on it, but about 6 feet of that broke off and fell on the ground. I'm wondering what to do about the 4 foot broken arm that's left on the Saguaro.

-- Well you don't have to do anything with it. What will happen is that it'll dry out and calice over. Then it will sprout new, mini arms off the side of it. If you want to be the nicest you can, and prevent any possible chance of infection, you could get some powdered sulfur and go ahead and dust the arm where it's broken off.

I've got a row of Sour Orange that I use for a privacy hedge and the fruit has become a problem. Is there anyway to keep that fruit from happening?

-- Yeah what you want to do is shear that hedge back after the bloom cycle in the Spring. If you haven't done it this year you can go ahead and do it right now. Leave it so it's a little wider at the base and narrower at the top and then just shear those side branches off and by pruning it just after the bloom cycle you'll never have any fruit. If you want to keep the same size, but prevent the fruit from growing you can spray vinegar on the trees. By spraying acid on the blooms after the bloom cycle, you'll knock off about 70-80% of them.

I've got a Mexican Fan Palm and it's been in the ground for almost 2 years and they're about 4 feet high. They're growing pretty nice, but I'm not sure if I'm watering them correctly.

-- Well if they're as big as you want them to be then you don't have to water them hardly at all. What you can do now that they're established is shut that drip system off the Mexican Fan Palms and then water them about once a month.

I had bought a Fantex Ash and it's doing very well, but how often should I water it?

-- About once every week to 10 days. Run it for a longer time, get a deep watering, and then let it dry out.

I planted some sod and my grass is looking like some camouflage, all brown. It's also got a lot of Rye grass.

-- Well that's kind of good, go ahead and leave it dry for another week. That way it'll kill all that Rye grass, you'll want to do this especially if it's new. Now is a great time to kill the Rye grass. Leave the water off for about a week, see if you can kill that Rye grass, then turn the water back on, mow it real short, and keep it on about twice a week sprinkling cycle for the Summer. It's also a great time to fertilize it. Any kind of a good balanced lawn fertilizer will work just fine.

I have an evergreen tree, but I'm not sure what it is. The tree has the cool, little bell shaped flowers on it. They're white and if you look inside of them they've got pink, speckled dots.

-- It sounds like an Australian Bottle tree. It's a very draught hardy tree and if you have it in a lawn area then it should be good with just the lawn watering. If it's in rock, just water it once every two weeks and it'll do very well.

I have a problem with my tomatoes. They're 16 months old and they still producing well. About over a month ago, one of them had the leaves start to turn brown and fall off. I didn't think much of it because it was just one plant, but now it's spread to the other 15 plants. They're no longer producing blossoms and the growth seems to be stunted.

-- Here's the deal. These newer plants aren't nearly as established as older plants so what you need to do is up the water about twice a week, go out and grab some Miracle Grow or Peters to feed them and they'll be green in 4 days. The problem is that they're just not getting enough nutrients.

We have a Peach tree where the leaves had turned brown and you suggested that the problem may be gophers. We've done everything we can to get rid of the gophers and we fed the Peach tree with bonemeal and Super Thrive, but the peaches are about the size of marbles.

-- Well the problem is that the complete tree is stunted because it just didn't have the nutrients going up through its system to feed the fruit. It'd be better for the tree if you take all the peaches off and they're not going to make any big, quality peaches this year anyways. As long as you got rid of the gophers the tree should be fine.

We have 2 Male Mulberries and on one of them the leaves came out, they're gorgeous, big and thick, but the other one looks really scraggly. We went in and trimmed all the dead limbs out, but the leaves are about 1/4 size of the other tree.

-- You will want to go out and hyper-fertilize it, something like that Organo Pro Citrus food will be really good. But give it a huge shot of fertilizer right now because this is the prime growing season for a tree like a Mulberry. So you'll really want to feed it heavily right now. Also, really change the watering on that Mulberry, like twice a week. You should start to see some pretty good results right away.

I've got a Gardenia bush that's planted in a 15 gallon container and I've had it for about 3 years. When I first got it, there were some nice gardenias on it. The second year had a couple, but this year I'm not getting anything on it. I've been fertilizing, watering it, and preventing too much sun in the Summer.

-- This time of year it'll do best in full sun. It really needs at least 3 or 4 hours a day. You might try some higher phosphorous fertilizer, like Superbloom, instead of the Miracle Grow. That might give you a little bit of a burst. You also want to make sure it gets dry between waterings. If you're a coffee drinker, adding some coffee grounds will do the plant some good as well.

I have a Ruby Red Grapefruit tree that is bleeding sap in the crook of the tree.

-- What you're having is a problem with Gummosis, which is a soil fungus. You can treat it a couple different ways. Number one you want to make sure that the tree gets dry between irrigations. You want to deep water it about once every 10 days, during the heat. You'll also want to go pick up some Bordeaux Fungicide, you can buy it at pretty much any nursery or garden center. You're going to mix it up into a light cream and pour it all over the base of the ground right next to the tree. Then where you have the sap bleeding off the tree, break those off and make a heavy paste and paint right over the lesions and that should really help.

I have a spot where I want to block a house that's a little bit above us. I need a relatively fast growing, large tree. What would be the best?

-- Well if you're looking for a tree that is about anywhere from 20 to 30 feet you'll want to look at a Foothills Palo Verde, Blue Palo Verde, or native Mesquite. One of my favorites if you want to have a tree that gets big is an American Mesquite. It's a new hybrid that we have, which is a nice tree, very durable, doesn't burn or blow over in the wind. It'll do exactly what you're looking for.

I have a Lemon tree that is about 5 years old, and this time of year the leaves turn yellow and all Summer long it seems to struggle. It always comes back in the Spring, but what can I do to prevent that yellowing?

-- It sounds to me like you're getting too much salt, so here's what I would do. If you have a gallon of vinegar at home, go ahead and pour it all around the tree where you're watering. Then put your hose there and let it run slow for 3 or 4 days. Then what you'll want to do after that is come back with some soil sulfur, get 2 or 3 pounds, and just throw it around there and rake it in. Doing that should help the yellowing.

I have a Lady Banks Rose plant that I just put in and I'm wondering if you have to treat it like a typical rose.

-- No, not really because it's heartier than most, especially the yellow one. Just water it heavily once a week and use a balanced fertilizer on it.

I planted a Katy Apricot Tree about 2 years ago and I cut it way down the first year because I wanted to keep a lower structure and it's really good looking right now, but I'm wondering when it should bloom?

-- Well, it should have bloomed already, somewhere around February. It might be that you have all that young growth, but don't prune it next year and see if that works.

I have an Ironwood, but it never blooms. Am I being too nice to this tree?

-- If it's growing real fast and is green and full then you probably are. You can completely cut off the water and it should be good because it'll probably find plenty. You probably already missed the bloom cycle this year so you'll have to wait until next year.

Is it too late to plant a Citrus tree in April right now?

-- Right now is probably the perfect time out of the whole year to plant a Citrus tree.

I've got Citrus trees, Peach, and small assorted bushes and flowers in my backyard and I'm wondering how I should be watering these?

-- Well ideally you should have an irrigation system with separate zones, one for trees and one for shrubs. If you don't have that, I would take the time to make it a weekend project because that's probably the most ideal situation. With the trees you're going to water heavy about once a week and about twice a week with half as much time with the shrubs.