Proper Care of Citrus and Avocado Trees
It’s February and your trees are waking up! Now is the time to give them some time and tender loving care so they’ll be able to keep you enjoying their delicious and healthy fruits.
February is the perfect time to give your trees a good cleaning and start your pest prevention protocol. Follow these simple steps:
- Prune any branches that come in contact with the ground. Ants use these low branches as expressway systems to your citrus fruit.
- Treat your tree to a bath. Use a spray of soapy water made with an insecticidal soap such as the one made by Safer. Always follow package directions! Put the hose-end sprayer on your garden hose for good water pressure and spray away to eliminate dust and allow beneficial insects and mites to get to the pests. You can also use Bayer Advanced Fruit, Vegetable and Insect Control.
- Wrap the tree trunk with a sticky ant barrier. Don’t apply it directly to the tree though; wrap the tree with a strip of paper with cotton or a nylon stocking under the paper. The cotton or nylon keeps ants from crawling under the paper and avoiding the sticky trap. Tanglefoot is a recommended brand of ant barrier.
- If you’re in a frost-free zone or live near the coast, feed your citrus trees some good fertilizer. Mature trees need about a pound of “actual” nitrogen per year. You can split it into equal portions and apply it monthly or every other month until June. We recommend Lesco® 15-15-15, available at your local Hydro-Scape. NOTE: If you live inland or still have frost, wait until March to fertilize. You’ll avoid frost damage that way.
The same protocol applies for these beauties, with a few changes.
- Mature avocado trees (those that are 8 years or older) need about two pounds of “actual” nitrogen yearly. Younger trees need much less. Avocado trees like aged chicken manure, about 25 pounds of it, applied in February if you’re on the coast. After that, sprinkle a cup of blood meal and 1/2 cup of bone meal under each of your trees every six weeks until August. If you’re inland, wait until March to start.
- You can also use Best NPK 15-15-15, available at your local Hydro-Scape, if you’d rather not deal with aged chicken manure.
- Do not collect the fallen leaves from your trees. Studies show that leaving the leaves under each tree acts as a thick layer of mulch and protects the trees from avocado root rot (Phytophthora).
There you have it! Easy ways to show your awakening citrus and avocado trees some love and guarantee a healthy bounty in the months to come!