spark73
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caring for fruit trees in the winter

Hello,

we purchased a home in October that has a persimmon and fig tree in the backyard and have enjoyed a good bit of fruit! I am a gardening noob and did a bit of research but wanted to get some specific help.

The fig tree is maybe 12'-15' high. All the leaves have fallen off.

The persimmon tree is also 12'-15' high. All the leaves have fallen off. It has astringent fruit. They're shaped like hearts, as opposed to the "squashed pumpkin" variety.

We have two Meyer lemon trees, one is about 6' high, the other looks like a new planting around 3 feet high.

We live in northern California, Santa Rosa to be precise. Today it got to around 30 degrees in the morning, and I'm sure it'll get colder. We are in zone 14, I believe.

Are there any specific things we need to do to ensure the trees survive so we can get more fruit next year? Do we water them during the winter? Insulate them with clippings? Do we need to worry about insects/animals during this time? Most of the things I'm reading say stuff like, "Bring them into the garage" ... well, these are fully planted trees and aren't going anywhere anytime soon!


Thanks!

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rainbowgardener
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Re: caring for fruit trees in the winter

Lucky you, inheriting full sized fruit trees! Zone 14 would be in the Sunset Western Garden system, which is much more useful to western gardeners. Just for ease in translation for us non-western folks, you would be in zone 9b in the USDA system.

I don't know all that much about fruit trees, never having grown any, but I'm thinking there's not much you can do for a 12' tree, except you are right, DO mulch heavily all around the base of the tree out to the drip line. Be sure you leave a few inches between the tree trunk and the mulch, so no mulch can touch the trunk.

If the leaves have fallen off, the trees are dormant and will be taking up little to no water. I wouldn't water unless you have a long dry spell- i.e. they should probably get a good watering once in a winter month.

The only one I would worry about otherwise is the new little tree. You can protect it by building a chicken wire cage around it, a few inches bigger in diameter than the tree and a few inches taller. Fill the cage up with leaves (or shredded paper if you don't have fall leaves available) which will insulate it and protect it from cold wind.
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tomc
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Re: caring for fruit trees in the winter

All I can do is echo RBG about the full size trees, and a willingness to wrap or mulch with a collar the smaller citrus.

I know people with figs as far north as Philadelphia PA (USDA 6) that actually cut half of the roots and lay their trees over to mulch them. I would wait for local specific advice to do that before doin' it. Talk to your neighbors.
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spark73
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Re: caring for fruit trees in the winter

rainbowgardener wrote: The only one I would worry about otherwise is the new little tree. You can protect it by building a chicken wire cage around it, a few inches bigger in diameter than the tree and a few inches taller. Fill the cage up with leaves (or shredded paper if you don't have fall leaves available) which will insulate it and protect it from cold wind.
Thanks for the advice, much appreciated.

There are wood chips all over the place and surround all three trees. Would that be sufficient for insulating them?

As for the little dude, what happens if it rains and gets the shredded paper all wet? Won't it rot?

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rainbowgardener
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Re: caring for fruit trees in the winter

Wood chips make good mulch for trees if that is what you mean. Just spread it on the ground in a layer at least a few inches thick.

If you use paper and it gets condensed from rain, just add more. But yes, if you have them fall leaves are better, because last longer and don't compact as much.
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imafan26
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Re: caring for fruit trees in the winter

It sounds like the trees have been in the ground awhile, so it is probably acclimated except for the smaller Meyer. I agree it would not hurt to do some mulching. zone 9b does not usually get below freezing and the citrus can tolerate close to freezing. Mulching and covering the tree with a blanket if it gets frosty.

Figs do lose leaves in winter so it is normal and are hardy in zone 7-11. Mulching will help. If it is being grown in a container it can be put in the garage for the winter once it has gone dormant.

Persimmons are hardy to zone 8. Most of the persimmons here grow best in the higher elevations although they can grow in hotter areas.
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ReptileAddiction
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Re: caring for fruit trees in the winter

From the way it sounded it seems like it was suggested that you cover then entire meyer lemon tree in mulch. This will kill your tree. That is appropriate for things that go deciduous but citrus are tropical and they need to photosynthesize all winter. If you need to cover it put 4 stakes in each corner and in the evening put a sheet on and in the morning take it off. Your persimmon and fig will be totally fine. They are not even close to being un hardy. You do not have to do anything to them besides prune and spray.

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rainbowgardener
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Re: caring for fruit trees in the winter

Thanks so much ReptileA, for fixing this. I should have kept my mouth shut. I said I don't grow fruit trees (well not citrus, I have pawpaw, mulberry and other cold hardy stuff) and I'm in a cold winter climate. The completely covering a tree with stuff in the chicken wire cage is for deciduous trees that are dormant. I wasn't even thinking about the fact that the lemon tree stays green all winter (I did know that, just didn't stop to think about what it means, when I was writing). So I'm really sorry, and Reptile is right. The stuff about the mulch on the ground is right though.

Thanks, again for fixing my mistake!
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ReptileAddiction
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Re: caring for fruit trees in the winter

No problem :) .

I really don't think that you have to do anything with them. I recommend watching some of Dave Wilson Nurseries videos because they are specific to our climate (I say our because fruit tree maintenance is the same for our climates). They will show you how to prune and spray.

https://www.youtube.com/user/DaveWilsonTrees/featured



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