Is my citrus tree dead? by Ashley Grubb

Here’s a question that we’ve been hearing a lot lately! “Is my citrus tree dead?” The recent freezing weather was just cold enough, it might be.

If there is still no sign of life and no new growth has started to come out of the branches or the base of your tree, it might be time to give up. Scratching the trunk with your fingernail is a good way to tell if there’s any life- if you see green under the area where you scratched, there’s still hope. If, however, it’s all brown, that part of the tree is dead.

We have seen lots of trees like the one pictured here. The top of the tree is dead. If your tree looks like this, you have 2 options. (1) You can cut the tree way back to where there are signs of new growth, and be patient for a year or two while it grows back, or (2) you can dig it up and start over.

Should you decide to take option 1 and cut your tree back, it’s important to determine if the new growth is above or below the graft. The rootstock that our citrus trees are grafted to is thorny and produces undesirable fruit, if any. You don’t want that growing in your yard if the good part of the tree is dead. If you are only getting growth from the rootstock, dig up the tree and start over.

The citrus tree in our picture has growth above and below the graft. The smaller leaves on the left side are from the rootstock. These are the ones you don’t want. They will need to be removed as they sprout, in order to promote the re-growth of your original citrus tree. Just cut them off with a pair of pruners and after a while they should stop trying to grow. Now would be a good time to also add a handful of fertilizer to help the tree re-grow. We recommend MicroLife Citrus. With a little know-how and some patience you should be back to harvesting lemons and oranges in no time!

We know all of this can be confusing, so if you’re unsure, bring us a picture and we’ll be happy to help.  If your citrus didn’t make the winter, we have lots of new replacements in stock that are happily blooming and ready to take over!