In today’s episode, Beverly Welch is joined by Angela Chandler from the Garden Academy, our Partner in Education! Bev and Angela discussed citrus trees and the best ways to get them to bear fruit.

– [Beverly] Hi, welcome to The Arbor Gate. I’m Beverly Welch here with my dear friend, Angela Chandler… –

[Angela] Good morning.

– …of the Garden Academy. She is our partner in education.

– We are partners in education.

– So, we’re here today to talk to you about these beautiful fruit trees, the citrus. You know, we get asked all the time, and we have this huge selection of citrus available for you, “What is the easiest fruit tree to grow?” And I’ll always say it’s the citrus.

– It’s citrus.

– So, if you have room for a crepe myrtle, you have room for a citrus tree. But you know, Angela, the past few years, people have had trouble getting a crop. Why is that?

– Well, there are a couple of reasons, Beverly, but in all honesty, most of it just ties down to the weather. We’ve had some unusual weather patterns and weather cycles. We’ve had early frost followed by warm periods during the winter. You know, we always, on the Gulf Coast, have a little bit of that up and down, but it’s been kind of an extreme swing the last few years. Then, unfortunately, citrus is a late winter, early spring bloomer and we’ve gotten hammered in the last few years by some really severe, deep cold, late winter frosts.

– Well, one question I get asked often is, “Do I need two?”

– You don’t really need two. Citrus is what we call self-fruitful, meaning that it’s going to be able to produce fruit without the benefit of insects. Of course, you’re going to see the bees around them all the time. You’ll see butterflies around them, too. In all honesty, the bees need the citrus but the citrus doesn’t need the bees.

– I love that. I love that. But if I plant two, I want to have more than one variety of fruit, say a lemon, a grapefruit, an orange. Are they going to cross?

– They don’t cross. You know, people are afraid of, if I plant a lemon close to my orange, is it going to make my oranges taste sour? And that’s not the case. Even though pollen may be transferred by an insect from one of those fruits to the other, that would affect the seed generation, if you were going to grow something from seed, but it doesn’t affect the current generation, so it’s not going to change your fruit in any way.

– So you might select your citrus by an early bloomer, or as you can see, some of these are not yet to bloom. That might ensure you getting a crop?

– It might. You know, the other thing about that is, like if, for instance, this one’s in full bloom and if I did get hit with a killing frost, and frost doesn’t necessary kill all blossoms, but if I got hit with a killing frost, the other fruits in this area are not blooming right now and they may follow shortly after. So, in some years, I may lose one of my citrus fruits but I’ll still have other varieties to bring to the table.

So, the key there is diversity. Mix it up a little bit. Plant more than one, that way you’ll always have fruit to bring in.

– Well, I have to tell you, these lovely fragrant blooms, it’s so worthwhile planting.

– You know, if they didn’t produce a single fruit, the fact that they’re evergreen, they have gorgeous, glossy foliage, and those heady, heady fragrance that fills the whole garden, that would be worth it.

– Well, thank you so much, Angela.

– Thank you, Beverly.