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June 3, 2017

QuestionI have had a lime tree five years. I put it in an unheated green house in the winter.  Every other year it has bloomed and had limes when I put it out in the spring. It has green leaves but no blooms now.  Is it too early? The leaves are coming out at bottom of plant but the top has no leaves, looks like sticks. Should I cut those off?



Lime trees should be evergreen. I have a feeling that perhaps it got too cold this winter and died back. By now, even if it was just damaged and caused leaves to shed, they should have started leafing back out.  I would cut out all dead wood and try to salvage what you can from the base.  Once it gets some new growth, it should begin to bloom again.  Most citrus cannot survive below freezing temperatures and we did have a few days in the teens this past winter.


(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.

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