tempting citrus on clearance - hard prune?

greentiger87October 2, 2012

A local (Houston) garden chain is offering most of their plants at 70% off... including their citrus and fruit trees.

This means I could get several of these trees in decent size (5 gallon) pots at 9 dollars each.

The problem? Most of the stock is very lanky after a full season of languishing in tiny pots, hot temperatures, and careless irrigation. So my question is..

Should I buy these now, let them grow roots over the winter, and then prune them to alleviate structural problems in the spring? I can protect them from freezing temperatures easily - that is, if we even have them. The kinds I'm looking at (satsumas, mandarins, kumquats) are pretty hardy anyway.

Or should I wait till spring and buy nice, new trees.. but pay three times as much and lose the winter of rooting?

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houstontexas123(z9a)

HGC, with the red and yellow umbrella? my dad and i bought some citrus trees from them last year. the trees are doing very well now. i'd buy them now, wont make a difference after a year or two.

they definitely need to either be potted up or planted in ground. buy the large 10'x12' frost blanket from Lowes or HD before it gets cold or they'll be out.

depending on how lanky, and top heavy the trees are, you may want to do some light pruning. best if you post pics before pruning, so we can give you some advice.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 8:44PM
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blueboy1977(TX9A/B)

I was there the other day at Houston Garden Center cause I saw the 70% off sign also. I was tempted but had the same questions you had. They had N-33 Navel in a 10 gallon pot with a stalk the size of a baseball bat but was cut back severely. It had some new growth but I was skeptical about buying it. Now I know!!! I really was looking for a peach tree but didn't see any of the varieties I'm interested in.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 9:05PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Heck, I'd take advantage of a $9 tree! In 2 years I bet they'll be caught up. Just prune for shape (versus "hard pruning"), fertilize once with citrus fertilizer, then I would switch up for the winter, and try using a low nitrogen fertilizer (something for blooming/fruiting plants should have a low N to PK ratio). It's fun to make citrus spring back to life. For nine bucks, I think it's worth picking up what you want.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   October 2, 2012 at 11:24PM
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greentiger87

Awesome! Yes it's Houston Garden Center - I always take advantage of this end of the year sale to rehab some very cheap plants :D I'm always surprised by how much is still left by the time winter arrives.

Thanks so much for the amazingly quick and helpful replies. I'll definitely post pictures/ask for advice before I do any severe pruning.

I really didn't realize the citrus forum was so active :P

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 8:39AM
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redrac(9 NW Houston)

I went over there at the end of August and picked up 4 trees, a meyer lemon a miho satsuma an Ein shemer apple which is not great but I will graft onto it for a 4 in one or something like that. I also picked up a papaya which was sick with bugs but is doing great now. I did not cut any branches yet but will wait for February to trim up the apple. I put them in bigger pots and cut the fruit off of the citrus and all are growing and doing fine, and the lemon is blooming now. You really have to search around for what you want to find a good one. In the citrus they have 3 growers one is saxon becnel which makes a good tree although the rootstock is not the best for Houston but that is the lemon and miho that I got. They also have trees from raytoria which is from the valley and I think they would be on sour orange which is not good for Houston. There is also another grower that I cannot remember the name but it is out near San Antonio and is probably on trifolate, although some of the trees did not look good at all some were ok. Saxon Becnel is in Orange Tx. big operation but they only offer a limited number of citrus types about 20 or so. The other grower has some decent oranges and navels so pick wisely. The one near me NW side of town had only a few apples some pears but not what I wanted, no Kumquats a few blueberries a few black berries but not the thorny types that are best for Houston. So not a bad deal 12 for citrus and 9 for the others. hope this helps Doug

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 2:58PM
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kingwood(9)

The fall sale is always a good time to get cheap plants. I try to buy when they have fruit on them. HGC makes up tags and randomly puts on the plants where tags have fallen off. Many are misidentified. I have witnessed them doing it many times, so you may not be getting the variety you think. But at that cheap price, I feel purchase is justified.

Also Blueboy which location had the N-33's. I went by two locations last week for one. Could not find, and purchased the Washington navel and an unidentifed satasuma.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 3:05PM
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redrac(9 NW Houston)

The location at 1960 and windfern had n33 just outside of the beltway near the horse track. If I remember right the Washington Navel will not work in Houston because it is so late.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2012 at 3:22PM
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blueboy1977(TX9A/B)

Kingwood, I saw the N-33 at the one between between League City and Dickenson on 45 South. They had a bunch of Citrus too!!!!

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 12:13AM
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eahamel(9a)

I've seen their citrus and it looks fine, for the most part. You can plant it now if you protect it from a freeze, or keep it in pots until about March, then plant. And with citrus, the first year it's in the ground, don't let it produce any fruit. It needs to grow a strong root system, or the top may never produce well. If you go somewhere else, you'll pay around $35-40 for them, maybe more.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 5:25PM
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redrac(9 NW Houston)

Plants for all seasons has half off also. it is at 249 and Louetta on the north bound side.

    Bookmark   October 4, 2012 at 8:28PM
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mswillis5

I'm a first year gardener and bought many trees on clearance this year. 3 Apple trees, 1 Peach, 1 Plum, 1 Pomegranate, 1 Orange and 1 Fig tree. All of the trees were under $10 and most were $5. If they don't work you can always buy more but you won't know until you try them out.

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 4:59AM
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eahamel(9a)

Greentiger and others in Houston area - this isn't really a clearance sale. It's their regular price most of the year. They will stay at this price until they bring Christmas trees in. I've been buying a lot of stuff there, too, and have watched the merchandise change quite a bit in the last 2-3 months. Take advantage of it. I may get a lime, even though it will be gone if we have a hard freeze like we had last winter and winter before last. It's very tempting!

And don't prune citrus now, wait til early spring. You don't have to prune citrus at all if you don't want to.

Redrac, I have a miho satsuma, it's several years old. Give it 2-3 years to start producing good fruit. I didn't let any of my citrus produce the first year they were in the ground, so they'd make a good root system. Next year, I let them make 2 or 3. The satsumas were large and pulpy and not very sweet. Last year, it put on about 12, and they were the right size, firm, and sweet and juicy!

    Bookmark   October 6, 2012 at 8:18PM
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Doglips(8b/9a)

well,
I got a...
Carambola
Clementine mandarin
persian lime
key lime
lisbon lemon
Rio Red

The one on 1960 (Atascocita way) had both sweet and sour kumquat as of 4 or 5 days ago, a few not many. They had some huge bananas as well, but they were unlabeled so I passed. They had a bunch of Haas avocados, which according to Randy on Garden line won't fruit in Houston.
I went to the Kingwood location as well, it was pretty picked over.
I think I will break back my back at least this year and haul them inside.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 2:15AM
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houstontexas123(z9a)

nice haul

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 7:24PM
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redrac(9 NW Houston)

fyi Plants for all seasons, the sale is off and they are restocked. Hgc does have n33 but it is on sour orange and won't do well here. plus it was 129 so 39 after discount.

eahamel Yeah I got the miho for some grafting. I have about 50 flying dragon growing and will put one in the ground with the xie shan, seto and owari. Maybe a pong koa or something like it next. Someday I would like to graft a dekopan to some fd even if it is too late for Houston Just have to move it.

    Bookmark   October 7, 2012 at 8:01PM
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tantanman(z9Tx)

redrac:

Unless you are on the far N of W side of Houston,you should not hesitate to plant a tree on sour orange. Trees from Saxon Becnal or his partner Brazos Valley are on citrange and have
less cold hardiness and are more more prone to alkaline soil problems.

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 5:51PM
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blueboy1977(TX9A/B)

I just talked to Paul at Froburgs Citrus Nursery because Ive read that Brazos Valley graft on to Carizzo root stock and I bought a tree from Froburgs last spring, N-33 with a Brazos Nursery tag on it. The only reason I went to Alvin to get the tree was because Froburgs Citrus is supposted to be on Trifoliate root stock. He told me not all of Brazos Nursery citrus are on Carizzo. Said the N-33 is on Trifoliate. Um, I dont know??? Sounds alittle fishy to me???

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 6:38PM
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redrac(9 NW Houston)

Yeah carizzo will be an experiment for me. Everything other citrus is tri or fd. I will tbud the Miho to fd and probably the lemon also. Swingle appears to be a decent root stock except for a large tree. No sour orange for me. Here is a list of root stocks.

http://tropicalfruitforum.com/index.php?topic=670.0

    Bookmark   October 10, 2012 at 8:51PM
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Doglips(8b/9a)

if there is still interest in sweet kumquat the HD in Humble has some beautiful ones, not discounted tho, 29$.

    Bookmark   October 11, 2012 at 4:38AM
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