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April 14, 2018


I have a huge kiwi plant (it's a female, with a male within 5 feet ), which blooms prolifically every spring, has beautiful white blooms with tiny fruit, and then loses all the blooms and never bears fruit.  It's about 7 years old.  Same with my pawpaw trees, which are about 9 years old.  They will be covered with blooms and tiny fruit, and then most of the fruit falls off and I get only a dozen or so fruits from 4 large trees.  I can see the ants pollinating them, I water them when it’s dry.  What can I do to prevent fruit loss?  



The two most common reasons for premature fruit drop can be poor irrigation or poor pollination.  My guess is poor pollination.  While ants can aid in pollination, bees are better. You are getting some pollination or you wouldn’t have small fruits set, but try to encourage more pollinators. 


October 28, 2017


Can you help with the I.D of this plant? All I was told was it is a citrus plant. It has never bloomed or produced any fruit in 17 years. It has never grown higher than about 7' tall. Has beautiful 1/2 to 2" thorns. Top of plant turns grey while bottom stays green. I'm sure I have it planted in the wrong place. I intend to transplant it to a large tub with rollers, but would like to know what type of soil additives it needs to do well.



All I can tell you is that it is a citrus tree—they all look similar to me when there are no fruits.  Most citrus plants will do quite well in containers and can set fruit. The key is to give them full sun for the summer months outdoors and then move them inside to a sunny location for the winter months.   How much sunlight does your plant receive? In order to bloom, it does need at least 6-8 hours per day.  They can flower off and on all year in the right spot.  The flowers are quite fragrant.  How often do you repot it? If it is root-bound, it won’t produce much top-growth.  Next spring when you move it outdoors, repot and put in a slightly larger container, but shave off some of the old roots as you add new soil.  Fertilize monthly throughout the growing season and keep it watered, and hopefully you will see some flowers and fruit. I must say you are more patient than I would have been.  17 years is a long time with no results!


  July 24, 2016


Can you give me some idea as to what is causing this issue with my hardy arctic kiwi plant? I think its three years old and I don't remember this happening before.


AnswerThe burned leaf margins could either be caused from a fertilizer or pesticide burn or lack of water. Have you been regularly watering?  If you do fertilize or spray, make sure there is ample moisture in the plants before you do so, since the plant can take up too much of the fertilizer or chemical and get damaged.  For now, water, water, water and see how it comes back. 

 (September 2012)

QuestionWe have 3 apple trees planted very closely to each other.  The apples on one of the trees (the only Winesap) have begun to split open. The apples on all of the trees are healthy, except for the splitting. This has occurred for several years. What could be the cause and what is the remedy?

AnswerApples splitting is similar to tomatoes splitting—it is a problem with water issues.  When it is really dry and we get a downpour the water pressure changes inside the fruit and some fruits split.  Thinner skinned apples are more susceptible than thicker skinned fruits.  The only recourse you have is to keep the trees mulched and try to moderate the moisture levels.  This year, that was tough.  If the fruits are ripe, you can eat them, but do so quickly as they deteriorate fast once split.

(March 2012)

QuestionI have a scuppernong vine that has gotten out of control.  I was recently told to cut the vine down to the ground and let it restart.  This seemed a little extreme and I am not sure I would be brave enough to do this to mine.  What are your thoughts on this advice?

 AnswerIs it producing well?  If it is, then there is room to salvage it.  Scuppernongs are a type of muscadine grape and they can be quite prolific.  You also need a male and a female plant to get fruit.  I would try to prune it back by 1/3 – ½ and try to keep it pruned to a trellis or fence.  If left to its own devices, it can grow up into your trees and all over your landscape.  Growing in the shade of a large tree can cut down on its production. It does much better in full sun.  Make sure to prune annually to keep it growing and producing to its full potential.

(February 2012)

QuestionI realize that our climate is warm for the growing of currants but I would love to have some and wonder if you know how they have fared in our state. I am right between zone 7 and 8 in El Dorado.


AnswerCurrants are in the Ribes genus.  The common edible red currants, really don’t thrive in the heat of Arkansas summers.  However, the clove currant or Ribes odoratum does pretty well in our gardens and has fragrant yellow flowers in the spring, followed by small black edible fruits in the summer. While not a prolific berry producer, and a bit gangly with age, it can give you some fruit.  As far south as you are in El Dorado, it would be a challenge to grow the more common edible currants.

(January 2012)

QuestionMy son has three potted lemon trees (or bushes). One he has had for three years and two for 2 yrs. The first year the first tree was loaded with lemons. I suggested he cut it back in the winter. It reproduced this year but not nearly as much. Neither of the newer trees produced as much as the first one had.  During the summer they sit in full sun all day on the deck rail. I contend the pots should be placed deep in the ground to protect the root system from the heat. What say you?

 AnswerLemon trees like warm temperatures and should be fine outdoors unless the pot is small and overheating.  You can sink the pots in the ground to aid in watering for the summer months, but they will put out roots into the surrounding soil which can make lifting them in the fall a bit more difficult.  Lemons can be ever-bearing given the right conditions—enough sunlight (minimum 6-8 hours per day) and warm temperatures – at least above 60 degrees.  That means they can continually bloom and have fruit in a variety of stages.  I think the pruning job may have set them into a growing phase and cut back on some of the blooms.  Prune minimally, but make sure there is room to house them indoors.  Give them bright light, keep them watered and feed monthly while actively growing and they should rebound.

(August 2010)

QuestionWe have a 15 foot tall by 18 foot wide fig tree. It's produced a marvelous amount of figs this year, but needs to be trimmed back. It's still producing a few small figs. Any suggestions about how much to cut them back and when? We, the birds, and raccoons love it.

 AnswerFigs bear their fruit on the current season growth.  The best time to prune them is right before they start growing in the spring.  Figs used to suffer winter damage, and many years were frozen back by one half or more.   That hasn’t been the case in the past ten years or so, and now the figs are becoming trees, instead of bushes, but we still want them to get through the winter before pruning.  Pruning can be done if they are intruding into other areas, but if there is room for the large size I recommend leaving them tall.  Let the top figs go for the birds and you can harvest the lower section.

(April 2010)

QuestionI was wanting to plant two peach trees this spring, but everything I read says it’s better to wait for fall.  Would it be ok to plant them this spring anyway? Any other good tid-bits would be helpful.


AnswerFall is a great time to plant trees, since there is usually residual soil heat and ample moisture which encourages roots to grow, plus the plants are heading into dormancy so there aren’t as many demands on the roots to provide for an actively growing plant.  Availability of fruit trees is probably better now than in the fall.  Spring is perfectly acceptable for planting fruit trees, in fact container grown plants can be planted year-round.  Be aware that peaches are the hardest home fruit for us to grow.  Diseases and insects are usually at a premium so plan to follow a thorough spray schedule.  Cultural practices, pruning and spray guides are available on our website at

(Nov. 2009)

QuestionI'm new to Arkansas and have bought some acreage north of Batesville.  It includes bottomland and a raised meadow (the grassy knoll) which I fear is a huge gravel pile covered with a little topsoil.  Don't know that, but I fear it.  When I dig, I immediately hit marble sized rocks. I have mail ordered some pecan and chestnut trees.  Both say plant in well drained, moist soil.  I'm guessing that the grassy knoll will drain well, but I don't know if it is suitable for my nut trees.  By the way, the adjoining land is covered in cedar and oak trees.  What do you think?

 AnswerJust looking at soil and the lay of the land, really doesn't indicate internal soil drainage.  You need to dig a hole as deep as you plan to plant your trees then fill it with water until the water stands.  See how long before the water drains.  That should give you an indication of drainage.  Planting, much less digging, and then growing can be a challenge in extremely rocky soil, but much of Arkansas is in the same boat, and we have lots of plants, so it is doable.  Get a soil test, test for drainage and see if you can amend the soil in an area at least three times the width of the planting hole with compost, incorporating that with the existing soil. Give your pecan trees plenty of room to grow, since they are large trees at maturity.

(June 2005)

QuestionWe recently moved here from Ohio, and I need some information about what varieties of fruit trees and berries I can grow here.  I have been told that raspberries and gooseberries aren’t a good match here, but I like all kinds.  Where is the best place to go to get information on what grows here and how to grow it?

 AnswerRaspberries and gooseberries can be grown here, but not easily.  They struggle in a hot, dry summer.  There are numerous fruit crops that do fantastic. Visit the extension website at and find information on varieties of fruit, culture and care, or visit your local county extension office.  Every other year there is a field day at the University of Arkansas Fruit Substation in Clarksville, and the next one will be in 2007.  This experiment station does research on almost all fruit crops grown in Arkansas.

(February 2005)

QuestionCan you tell us the name of a fruit tree spray that would work for nectarines, peaches and Italian Plums?  Last year we had a lot of mold on our fruit, and we would like to do a better job this year.


AnswerYour best bet is to look for a complete home fruit orchard spray.  Many brand names are available.  Be sure to read the label and make sure it says it is for diseases and insects, since you need both insecticides and fungicides to have clean fruit.  Having it pre-mixed makes it easier.  Begin the spray schedule when two-thirds of the flower petals fall and repeat every two to three weeks throughout the season.

(March 2005)

QuestionI have some young peach trees that have peaches but they rot or have worms before I harvest them.  What should I be spraying with to have perfect fruit?


AnswerI will warn you, that peaches are the toughest of the home fruits to grow.  Brown rot is a disease that can destroy the fruit in a day or two, and fruit worms are also an issue.  If you are willing to make the effort, find a general purpose fruit spray with both a fungicide and an insecticide in it.  Spray when two thirds of the flower petals drop and roughly every two to three weeks throughout the season.  I often think it is best to go to the local farmers market or u-pick fruit operation for top notch Arkansas peaches.

(February 2006)

QuestionI have a Key Lime tree which I grew from a seed.  It is about five feet high and bloomed profusely for the first time this year.  Unfortunately, my tree has been attacked by some insects which I believe to be scale.  I went to the nursery to find something to get rid of the scale, and the proprietor told me there was really nothing that would be effective on citrus.  I am guessing that a systemic insecticide would be necessary to kill them.  Is there something you would suggest?  If I treat my lime tree with such an insecticide, could we eat the fruit in future years?  I have been physically picking the bugs off and squishing them, but there are just too many!  I need your help!

AnswerUnless the product is labeled for edible plants, don't use it.  There are some formulations of insecticides for fruit trees.  Probably your best bet now would be horticultural oil. You need to have thorough coverage for the product to be effective to smother out the insects.  Once the scale insects die, they won't fall off, but you should see the plant gaining in vigor, and no new insects.  You may want to wait until you can move the plant outside before spraying.  Avoid using the products when it is extremely hot.  There are several formulations--dormant oil is heavier, while some of the sunspray oils are more refined and can be used on plants that are not dormant.

(November 2005)

QuestionDuring a mid-September hike in the Hurricane Creek Wilderness Area, we discovered some ripe pawpaws, the first I have come across in many years.  We tasted them, bringing back nice childhood memories.  I saved some seeds, which I now have in my windowsill.  I would like to try to grow a pawpaw tree, just as a novelty.  How and when should one plant the seeds?  What kind of soil is best?   I do understand that this plant needs partial shade, being an understory plant.  Does it have any other special requirements?

 AnswerUnfortunately, germination is somewhat erratic on pawpaw seeds.  They must go through a cool, moist period known as stratification.  Get a plastic bag, fill it with moist potting soil and place the seeds inside.  Then put the plastic bag in your refrigerator for two to three months.  After this period you can pot up the seeds, lightly covering them with soil.  Be patient.  You probably won't get 100% germination, but hope for the best.  You can buy pawpaw trees from some local nurseries.

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