THE biggest fruit tree sale in the state was today downtown so the time is getting near. I would wait until the threat of frost is over with. My potted citrus trees are doing great. 2 have been repotted into 15 gallon pots. The other is still in it's original pot. It is the only one with fruit on it still.
Most planting is done when the soil is warm or while in greenhouses where the air temps is warmer. Our soil doesn't freeze but plantings do better with warmer soil. I would wait until the threat of frost is over which technically is March 31. Though some take a risk during Spring Break and plant then.
Wednesday was not the day to spend outside planting, but our weather team says this weekend is looking pretty good. And believe it or not, it's fruit tree sale season. If you plant an avocado tree in the next couple of months, expect to harvest later this year. That's a big savings considering how much you spend at the grocery store. Fruit trees take a little more special attention than a plant, but if you learn the dos and don'ts, your harvest can save you money on your grocery bill.
The months of January through March are the beginning of the fruit tree sale season at local nurseries, and the downturn in our economy has made the idea of growing fruit trees more popular than ever.
"It has taught people how to be self sufficient and doing fruit trees is one of the ultimate ways to feed the family," GardenLine host Randy Lemmon says.
And in Houston, Lemmon says there is an array of fruits you can harvest all year long.
"Now it's neat to have a harvest from your own orchard year round; you can get something producing early spring and you get stuff producing all the way through the winter months around here because of our semi-tropic environment," Lemmon says.
Some of the fruit trees that do well are soft-skinned avocado trees, citrus trees -- like oranges, lemons and limes -- and peach, plum and pear trees.
Lemmon says the key to growing a fruit tree in our area is to be sure you pick a fruit tree that is meant to thrive in our Gulf coast climate.
"A big box store, a chain, a mass merchandiser, they get their products distribute regionally or nationally, so what gets distributed in Atlanta, Georgia where an Alberta peach will work, is still going to get distributed down here in the Houston area, and Alberta peaches will not work," he says.
Once you have picked your trees at the nursery, Lemmon suggests you keep it in the container until early spring.
"The theory is that you hold off until mid-March and that's still the case even though we are having a warmer than normal winter," Lemmon says.
When it comes to growing a young citrus tree, remove the fruit.
"The rule of thumb is that the first two years, you are supposed to remove the fruit so that all it does is it works on developing its root system and its growth up top and that is so hard for people to do," he says.
For stone fruit, like peaches, plums and pears, you must thin out your crop the very first years; you do this by pinching off the blooms.
"It's really hard to get a newbie to remove 80 percent of their crop," Lemmon says.
Finally be sure to feed your trees at least twice a year with fertilizer meant for fruit trees.
As far as price expect to pay anywhere from $25.99 to $39.99 for a young fruit tree. Avocado trees are more expensive anywhere from $30 to $50 for a young tree.
You plant a fruit tree the same way you plant a shrub -- a slightly raised flower bed in rose soil. Fruit trees also need at least six hours of full sun.
In Kingwood Warren's on NP had the best selection last year. Alspaugh's usually has them too. I have a friend who has orange, lime, key lime and tangerine trees. Never seen an avocado tree here. Lowes in Atascocita also had fruit trees last year.
DO they sell bare root fruit trees? Either way, from pot to the ground, you will get a bigger tree. Trees grown in a pot are basically Bonsai'd right down to trimming the roots(much) later during the life of the tree. Growing 5 foot, fruit-bearing, lemon and lime trees in a bright sunroom in your home is not unheard of. But yes, when planted in the ground, they grow to full size.
You want to plant them before they bloom so as to not put the tree into shock right when it's spending a lot of energy producing blooms. If you plant it, and we get a freeze warning, you can protect it easy enough.
Do citrus trees need to start out in a pot or can they go straight into the ground from the nursery? Will they produce more fruit if they are planted in the ground??
I have a meyer lemon that I planted in the ground at least 15 years ago. I pick lemons from this lemon tree starting in late October and ending in late December when we pick what is left. I normally get 600+ lemons from this tree. Now it's time to juice the rest and freeze it or can it. I can not decide which is better. If I freeze it the juice retains more of it's vitamin C. If I can it the vitamin C is reduced by 1/3rd. Also, Having the freezer space for that much lemon juice is a problem for me. I guess I should just can it this year.
I also have a meyer lemon that I bought at the same time as the tree I planted in the ground. I put this tree in a pot. It never produces more than 10 lemons a year. So, I think it is best to plant them in the ground.
I have wrapped it a few times but only when we are going to have a hard freeze. I have not found it necessary to wrap it this year. When I say a hard freeze I mean when the temp stays below freezing for more than just a few hours. If the temp is going to be below freezing for more than one day it gets wrapped. It is in the back yard with a fence on two sides. The north wind hits the front of the house. It is fairly protected where it is. It stands 8-10 feet tall and is about the same across. Look up meyers lemon tree when you get a chance. They have a very thin rind and are very juicy.