Hidden Ponds Nursery  July 2014 Edition
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It's Only The Beginning!
What To Expect

Welcome to Hidden Ponds Nursery's very first monthly newsletter!  We are super excited about adding this as another way to communicate with our customers.  Every month we will put together a newsletter that may feature articles on everything from critter control, gardening basics and information we feel will inspire you to try something new, or answer questions you may have about plant care. 

This month we are feeling fruity and the July issue is all about growing fruits in the backyard.  Our highlighted fruit trees and shrubs can all produce fruit in containers too so everyone can get in on the act.

This newsletter is just the beginning of some of the changes you will see at our nursery.  We listen to our customers and because of the continued requests, we have added Encore Azaleas and some other wonderful additions from the Southern Living Plant Collection.  Stop by and see specifically what's new.  Over the next few months you will see better signage on our plants and new items in the gift shop.   Stay tuned to our newsletter, Facebook, Twitter and our website for more detailed information as Hidden Ponds continues to evolve into the area's leading nursery. 
Squeeze This!
Get Into The Citrus  Craze
  

Every Spring visions of flowering gardens and dreams of picking fresh vegetables from our own backyard gardens fill our heads as we work tirelessly amending soil,  planning and planting the garden and caring for our plants.  As the cool, breezy spring days give way to hot and humid summers and we reap the bounties from the garden and enjoy the vibrant colors from our perennials, citrus trees are like the little engine that could.  For three seasons of the year, these evergreen trees work hard at producing winter fruits with vibrant color when most other color has faded and vegetable gardens have diminished in production.

 

It seems every year more people are jumping into the citrus growing world that thrives outside of Florida, most envisioning beautiful fruit covering their trees come fall.   Citrus trees can successfully be grown here in the Charleston area but they take some work and the recognition of limitations within our climate.

 

While the Charleston area is in Zone 8, some areas tend to be warmer than others and a few degrees can make a difference when it comes to certain citrus trees. Key Lime and Ruby Red Grapefruit trees are extremely cold sensitive and if the temps dip anywhere near 32 degrees, they need to be covered with a frost proof blanket, brought inside if they are planted in pots, or covered in Christmas lights, turned on to create a heat source. 

 

Last winter, many citrus plants took a hit because the cold was so extreme and for those that followed all the rules, that's Mother Nature reminding you she's in control.  However, if you don't want to go to those preventative extremes, there are cold hardy citrus trees available.  Satsuma orange trees can withstand temps to mid 20 degrees and not need to be covered or brought inside.  Satsuma oranges bear a small sweet Clementine like fruit.  There are hundreds of varieties but we currently carry Brown's Select, Armstrong and Owari.  Additionally, the Improved Meyer Lemon tree, is a good choice for this climate because it too can handle temperatures that dip below freezing.  Improved Meyer Lemon is actually a cross between a lemon and an orange and thus has some characteristics of an orange tree giving it greater tolerance for cold weather.

 

Growing conditions for Meyer Lemon, Key Lime, Ruby Red Grapefruit and Satsuma oranges are essentially the same.  At least six hours of sunlight is required and they should be planted or placed in an area where they can be protected from high winds.  

The soil should be sandy and well drained as citrus trees do not like wet feet.  If planted in pots, let the top 3 inches of the soil dry out before watering again and make sure the container has drainage holes in the bottom.

 

Fertilizing is also a must and should be done often.  In the spring and early fall, if the trees are planted in the ground, citrus fertilizer stakes should be used   Do not use fertilizer stakes in potted plants.  All plants, potted or in the ground, will benefit greatly from a fish emulsion fertilizer, such as Neptune's Harvest every two weeks from mid April through Labor Day.   Fish emulsion has a high nitrogen count and citrus trees require extra nitrogren.  The best way to apply fish emulsion is too spray it on the leaves but it can also be added to the soil.   An added benefit of fish emulsion is that it acts as a bug deterrent, possibly because of the rather fishy smell. 

 

Trees typically begin flowering in mid May with the blossoms being incredibly fragrant.  Citrus trees are self fertile so with the help of bees these flowers will pollinate and fruit will be produced   If you continue to fertilize through the summer, mid summer may produce another burst of flowers that will yield some additional fruit.   Not all blooms will ripen.  A plant will only carry what it can ripen.  Additionally, your tree may have a large bounty of fruit one year and the next it may produce nothing.  As long as you are continuing to fertilize, water and treat for damaging insects and the tree is healthy, consider this a recovery year while it rests from the hard work the year before.

 

Citrus fruit will not continue to ripen once picked so be sure to choose fruit that has a soft feel on the outside.  Also, use scissors or shears to cut the fruit so that you do not damage the tree when pulling off the fruit.

 

Citrus Tree Information:

 

Thornless Key Lime:  Can reach 12-15 feet tall but will be much smaller in a container: in winter, move indoors to a sunny window

 

Improved Meyer Lemon: Can reach 8-10 feet tall and 12 ft wide but will be smaller when potted, depending on size of pot

 

Satsuma:  10-12 feet tall and wide; Owari is one of the most popular varieties of this fruit

 

Ruby Red Grapefruit:  10-12 feet tall and wide but can be pruned to 3-4 feet for inside use

 

 

 

FIGuratively Speaking
It's So Easy

Figs may be just about the easiest fruit to grow, simply because they seem to be made for the South.  Consider that they love the heat and insects typically leave them alone and you have the right ingredients for a successful fruit tree in your own backyard.

 

Figs should be grown in full sun, preferably in a minimum of eight hours of sunlight during the growing season, and well drained soil.  Figs require minimal pruning, mostly just to contain the size of the tree. 

 

Two of the most common fig trees that perform well here in the LowCountry are the Brown Turkey (Ficus carica 'Brown Turkey') and Celeste (Ficus carica 'Celeste').  Neither of these varieties requires cross-pollination in order for the fruit to ripen.

 

Brown Turkey

The Brown Turkey cultivar is also known as San Piero, Aubique Noire and Negro Largo.  It can grow 10-30 feet high. It produces brown figs that are pink-colored on the inside.  If container gardening is your only choice, this particular tree is a good option.

 

Celeste

Also known as Honey Fig or Sugar, Celest fig trees produce high-quality figs. This tree reaches 15-20 feet. Its fruit have a hint of violet to their brown color, and the inside of the fruit is a more pronounced red color. Celeste figs are very sweet. The fruits ripen in early July and the tree is very hardy or cold-tolerant.

 

 

Rabbiteye or Southern Highbush?
The True Taste Of Summer
  

Tis the season for blueberries, and here in the Charleston area we happen to have a wealth of local blueberry growers to supply our demand but why not grow your own blueberries?  Blueberries are a plant you want to add to your edible landscape and, while not native to South Carolina, blueberries are becoming increasingly popular with backyard gardeners eager to grow their own food.   If you have the right growing conditions just a few shrubs can produce a bounty of fruit.

 

As with most fruiting shrubs, blueberries need at least six hours of sunlight.  These shallow rooted shrubs thrive in moist, well-drained, acidic soil that is rich in organic compost.   Meeting this growing condition may be difficult in many backyards as our soils tend to be either clay or sand.  Before planting get a soil test done and add the necessary amendments, lime to raise the pH or elemental sulfur to lower the pH, before planting.  It is imperative that the soil be well drained without standing water as blueberry bushes do not like wet feet.   Planting in elevated beds helps to eliminate this problem.  Finally, blueberry bushes benefit from a thick layer of mulch, preferably pine straw due to its acidic nature.

 

Picking the right type of blueberry bush is important as not all blueberry bushes can handle the heat and humidity of our climate.  Rabbiteye and Southern Highbush cultivars grow best due to their tolerance for heat and humidity.   In general, Rabbiteye shrubs prefer a maximum pH of 5.0 while Southern Highbush perform best in soil with a pH of 4.5 to 5.3.  Both types have no significant pest problems beyond birds and deer, in which case, netting should be used to deter both.

 

Rabbiteyes can grow upwards of 6 feet tall and produce fruit early in the season, normally around May.  Rabbiteyes are not self-pollinating so it is necessary to plant at least two varieties for good cross-pollination and larger yield.   Due to their size and growth rate, Rabbiteyes produce fruit on one-year old branches.  In the winter, it is best to remove approximately 1/3 of the branches. 

 

Southern Highbush can grow equally as tall as a Rabbiteye, however, these ripen in spring and are self-pollinating, meaning that only one bush is necessary to produce fruit.  It is still recommended that you plant more than one variety of Southern Highbush in order to increase the size of the berry and produce a more abundant yield of fruit.  Prune these in the winter or dormant season.

Contact:
Hidden Ponds Nursery
4863 Hwy 17 North
Awendaw, SC  29429  
843-345-0019
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