Transplanting Citrus & Water Stress Problems With A Filler Shrub

Question:

I need to transplant an orange tree into a larger container. When is the best time to do this, and can I trim it simultaneously?

Answer:

  •  Citrus in containers can be transplanted year-round. However, I prefer not to do so during the winter months, with cool days and cold nights. It's okay to transplant roses, other deciduous or dormant plants, and woody ornamentals.
  •  I would be sure to keep the transplant moist until it rains. Generally, it is okay to prune or trim plants when they are transplanted; however, I would hold off trimming citrus now.
    • The growing season is over with the conclusion of Daylight Savings. You shouldn't expect any new growth until next spring. The cold winter period is right around the corner. By pruning it now, you would expose a portion of the plant to cold weather damage that otherwise would have been protected. Ideally, after St. Patrick's Day is when I prune and shape citrus.
    • You remove the unwanted growth as well as any winter damage. Oranges produce deadwood throughout the year so remove it when it appears. You encourage the new growth by feeding it with Citrus Food. When transplanting,
    • I'd add a soil polymer such as Soil Moist to the planting mix. Soil Moist crystals hydrate into a gel-like material. The hair roots then attach themselves to it and use it as a backup water supply extending the days between watering. It's wishful thinking to believe that the winter rains will end the drought. Water restrictions will still be in place next year.

Question:

I've planted a five-gallon Pittosporum to fill in a gap in an existing hedge. Unfortunately, it didn't get enough water during a recent heat spell. Now every leaf has turned brown, and it's a sorry sight. I've scratched the bark, which is still very green, so I assume it didn't die. I've deep-root watered the plant, but I don't know what to do about all the branches with the brown leaves. Should they be left alone or removed?

Answer:

  • Your Pittosporum should recover. The green bark is a good sign that the plant is still alive. However, you shouldn't expect any new growth this year as the growing season is ending. You'll need to be patient until next spring.
  • Right now, you can improve the plant's appearance by removing or stripping off all or a majority of the brown, crispy leaves. Next, square off or flatten the top of the plant so it has a uniform look.
  • To help encourage the new growth, I would feed the entire hedge 16-16-16 or similar all-purpose fertilizer in March. I'd replace it if it hasn't recovered by Father's Day.