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Archives for December 10, 2017

Olive Garden opens Monday – Quad

MOLINE — A new Olive Garden restaurant in Moline will open at 10 a.m., Monday.

The restaurant, at 4570 16th St., will be led by general manager Carrie Bisby,

It will feature the company’s latest restaurant design and logo.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony will begin the Quad Cities Chamber of Commerce sponsored event.

The 6,836 square-foot restaurant will accommodate more than 250 guests and will create more than 180 new jobs for the community. 

The   restaurant’s latest design will  feature new artwork, fabrics and materials, seating, counter tops, flooring, and a display of a “Olive Garden Italian Kitchen” logo sign. 

Menu items will continues to feature Italian favorites, such as the Lasagna Classico and unlimited soup, salad and breadsticks, as well as new dishes and limited-time offers year-round.

The Mediterranean menu celebrates the flavors and cooking styles inspired by Italy’s Mediterranean coast with dishes like shrimp scampi and chicken margherita – with all entrées coming in under 600 calories.

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Ariel Whitely-Noll for At Home: Landscape in Topeka with more than …

“Winter landscaping” is a term thrown around a lot this time of year, but how can a landscape look appealing in the winter? A couple inches of pure white snow is sure to add beauty to any yard, but even then people, dogs and sunny days usually spoil it.

There are some longer-lasting landscaping alternatives to wishing for snow.

Although your landscape may look dark and gray this year, careful planning can result in subsequent winter gardens that are colorful and interesting.

The keys to an interesting winter landscape are selection of plant material and good design.

Choose the vantage point from which the garden will be most commonly enjoyed in winter — the view out your kitchen window or from your favorite reading nook, for example.

Select planting sites that are easily seen from these areas.

Green is the easiest color to add to a winter landscape with the use of broad-leafed evergreens, cedars, spruces and pines.

Pines, and especially spruces, aren’t well adapted to Kansas conditions and need to be well cared for with intentional variety selection.

Specimen plants are plants with unique characteristics, such as an oddly shaped evergreen, a shrub with bright berries that stay throughout the winter or a deciduous tree with unusual bark.

These plants stand out in winter landscapes. In the spring and summer, these things may still look appealing, but keep in mind how they will blend in with the rest of your yard.

Although options are numerous, here are a few ideas for what plants could make a wintertime debut in your landscape.

Redosier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera): The young stems of this plant are bright red during the winter months and become more intensely colored toward spring. Older stems are often pruned out during the spring to encourage more of the young, more brightly colored twigs. Redosier dogwood is shade-tolerant.

— Yellow twig dogwood (Cornus stolonifera “Flaviramea”): This shrub is much like Redosier dogwood except twigs are bright yellow rather than red.

— Lacebark elm (Ulmus parvifolia): This is the true Chinese elm. A tough durable tree, the lacebark elm adapts well to poor soils and extremes in pH. The bark is what really sets this tree apart during the winter because of its mottled combinations of gray, green, orange and brown.

— Chinese fringetree (Chionanthus retusus): This tree has gray bark that furrows as it grows, creating great texture. It tolerates a variety of pHs and soil types. In the spring, it also will show beautiful white flowers. This is the perfect tree for those with less space, its height is anywhere from 10 to 25 feet, with a spread of 10 to 20 feet.

— London planetree (Platanus x acerifolia): Widely planted across the globe, this tree tolerates most soil types and pHs. Not for the small yard, this tree can reach 80 feet tall and needs sufficient space to grow. The bark is made of patches of brown and tan, creating winter interest all on its own.

— Norway spruce (Picea abies): This mid-sized tree (40 to 60 feet tall) is a suitable evergreen for this area, although it will still need some attention.

In addition to adding green to a brown yard, evergreens are excellent shelter for winter birds.

The time for planting is behind us, but cold days are perfect for planning next year’s garden.

Grab a stack of gardening magazines and create a visioning board. As you design your garden, think of each season.

Try to select plants that have interesting features in two separate seasons to maximize their impact.

Also avoid planting only a few kinds of plants. A diversified yard is more interesting to look at while also reducing disease and pest management.

Don’t forget to utilize your local Extension office for proper variety selection.

Ariel Whitely-Noll is the horticulture agent for Shawnee County Research and Extension.

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11 great gift ideas for the gardener on your list – San Antonio Express

11 great gift ideas for the gardener on your list

December 8, 2017

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Four ideas for insuring the landscaping business

The art of landscaping has evolved, and with it, the coverage needed to protect your landscaping business. The complexities of the modern landscaping business can lead to misappropriated coverage as well as unnecessary and excessive insurance premiums.

Here are four important ideas to keep in mind when insuring your landscaping business:

1. Determine your company’s niche within the landscaping industry. Whether you have one specialty or many, pinpointing your company’s focus is the first step to ensuring proper insurance coverage. For example, say you intend to expand and modernize your landscaping business by following the environmental trends. You might sell some old equipment and add xeriscaping to your offered services. Conserving water through creative landscaping, however, comes with the need for certain operational changes. The purge of equipment as well as the addition of a new service can change the class of business for your company. The class of business your company falls under determines the risks that are being covered. Exposing yourself, your employees or your clients to uninsured risks is dangerous and can result in legal ramifications.


2. The insurance needs of your landscaping business will vary based on whether you operate as a company employing subcontractors or as a subcontractor employed by another company. When employing subcontractors, it is important to note they may not be fully covered under your current insurance policy. If they are not properly insured, you may be fully liable for any damages they cause. In employment agreements, require your subcontractors to be individually insured. Require a hold-harmless clause that ensures you are not held liable for damages caused by your subcontractors. Keep in mind, your policy may change based on what subcontractors are working for you. If the service they provide comes with high-level risk, your premium could outweigh your entire project profit. As a subcontractor, a hold-harmless agreement is valuable as well.

This protects you from liability if there are damages caused by your employer during a project. It is important to clearly state the job requirements and expectations within agreements between employers and subcontractors. This eliminates confusion during projects and maximizes job efficiency. Also, your customers need to be aware whether the work will be performed by your company or a subcontractor. If a customer has a grievance with the finished product and they are not properly informed, your company may be held responsible.

3. Any industry that relies on whirring blades, navigating heights and falling objects can be a dangerous environment in which to work. And that sums up the landscaping industry. Safety should always be paramount, which stems from proper training on how to use equipment, including personal protective equipment and work-appropriate attire. Any workplace injury can drive up insurance premiums. You should also be aware that what you are saying in your marketing materials and website can affect your insurance premiums. Any marketing photos of employees at work should be screened to ensure they are following proper safety procedures and wearing proper safety gear. If a client comes forward with a claim for damages, that content is easily accessible and can potentially be used against you. It is absolutely essential to be honest in your promotions.

4. Is your business legitimately able to execute every service you promote? Any service your business is currently promoting for which you are unqualified or lack the proper equipment to perform should be removed from all advertisements. Performing services for which you are unprepared is dangerous for you, your employees and your clients. In the instance that someone is hurt or causes damages while conducting a service improperly, you may have to forfeit insurance coverage.

Today’s landscaping businesses are larger and more complex than ever. Define your niche. Confirm your class of business. Create deliberate and conscientious agreements with subcontractors. Produce honest and accurate marketing campaigns. Concern your business with the pursuit of safety and security. These elements will guarantee you the best possible insurance coverage as well as a reasonable and moderate premium.

Finally, with growth comes new concerns and new responsibilities. Don’t get into a position where you find yourself outgrowing your insurance coverage, and by doing so have now put yourself and your business in harm’s way if things go south. Meet with your insurance professional to determine if you have adequate coverage, both now and with the anticipation of future growth.

Christopher Dik is a Property Casualty Consultant with Knight-Dik Insurance Agency, Inc. in Worcester, Massachusetts. He has nearly 40 landscaping clients, ranging from one employee to a company with 30 employees and 50 pieces of equipment. He can be reached at and by phone at 508-756-6353.

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A fire-wise landscape

UC Master Gardeners of Napa County ( answer gardening questions on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, 9 a.m. to noon, at the UC Cooperative Extension office, 1710 Soscol Ave., Suite 4, Napa, 707-253-4143.

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Why Chicago is pollinating bee populations

The billowing stainless steel forms of Frank Gehry’s Pritzker bandshell seem to float up from behind the 3.5-acre Lurie Garden in Millennium Park, backed by Chicago’s celebrated skyline. Another landmark in a city long a laboratory for innovation in architecture and landscaping, the garden has been called a “model of responsible horticulture.” Masses of flowering perennials and grasses are a striking counterpoint to the surrounding walls of concrete and glass. Perhaps most unexpected, at a place that sits atop a 4,000-vehicle underground parking garage and railroad depot in the inner city, are the bees that flit from flower to flower.

In the 21st century, urban green spaces must be many things: verdant getaways; playgrounds; gathering spots. As cities continue to sprawl across the planet, leaving mere patches and fragments of wilderness in their wake, gardens increasingly also must serve as living space for native plants and animals. Not every species is amenable to city life, but from Berlin to Melbourne to Berkeley, researchers are finding that flower patches — in parks, residential properties, community vegetable plots and vacant lots — support surprisingly healthy populations of bees, the most important pollinators in agricultural and most natural areas. In a few cases, urban bee populations are more diverse and abundant than those outside the city.

In fact, as Rebecca Tonietto was surveying bees (PDF) in Chicago in 2008, just four years after the Lurie Garden opened to much fanfare, she made a remarkable discovery. Among the lanky sunflowers and bursts of purple bee balm was Lasioglossum michiganense, a native sweat bee never before found in Illinois, collecting pollen and nectar on the enormous green roof, the most urban of landscapes.

Tonietto, a biologist at the University of Michigan-Flint, is co-author of a recent essay in Conservation Biology that points to research on urban bees as evidence that humans can share high-density habitat with other species. “Surrounded by increasingly less hospitable rural and suburban landscapes,” she and her colleagues wrote, the city “can become a refuge” for the bee species and other insects that are suffering significant declines.

“This means we can do some real conservation in cities,” not just public education and outreach, said Damon Hall, lead author of the essay and a biologist at Saint Louis University.

According to a report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, from 2008 to 2013 bee abundance in the United States decreased most sharply in the Midwest corn belt and California’s Central Valley, where agricultural production has intensified. “Among the numerous threats to wild bees, including pesticide use, climate change, and disease,” the authors write, habitat loss seems to have been the biggest contributing factor. “We’ve got to find a way out of these declines,” said Hall, “but in the interim we have an opportunity within cities to support and bolster bee habitat.”

Widespread planting for bees and other pollinators by landscape designers and gardeners is already underway. The orange dots marking the locations of new pollinator plantings blot out most of the map of the U.S. on the website of the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, an initiative launched in 2015 by a partnership of conservation, gardening and civic groups and designed to create gardens and landscapes conducive to bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

Pollinator gardening is becoming mainstream in the U.K., with the meadows of the London Olympic Park its most public face. Echoing other proponents of pollinator gardening, Vicki Wojcik, research director at the nonprofit Pollinator Partnership, said, “People find planting for pollinators inspirational, because you really do feel like you are making a difference.”

Amid the heartening news about urban bees, however, some uncomfortable questions are being raised. Can the non-native plants used in most gardens harm remnant native plant populations in urban settings, many of which harbor threatened species? And are urban gardens encouraging the spread of aggressive non-native bees that could outcompete declining natives?

Remarkably little is known about wild bees, an astonishingly diverse group of more than 20,000 species worldwide. In the U.S., bees range in size from the hefty carpenter bee to tiny Perdita minima, a Southwestern native less than .08 inch long. In addition to flowers, bees require places to nest. Unlike the European honeybee, which lives in hives, most bees are solitary and nest in tunnels they excavate in soil or wood.

Imagine you are a bee attempting to navigate an urban landscape. If you are one of many species that needs bare ground for nesting, you are out of luck, as city soils that have not been paved over or obliterated by buildings are often covered by dense turf or pounded down and impenetrable due to human foot traffic. Flower patches must be within flying distance because you need to return to your nest several times a day carrying pollen and nectar — a task made all the more difficult by the fragmented nature of urban green spaces. Even if you are a diminutive bee that can fulfill all your needs in a small area, your nest may be so far from those of other bees that inbreeding and, eventually, local extinction are inevitable, said U.S. Agricultural Research Service entomologist Jim Cane.

Lurie Garden in Chicago’s Millennium Park is a “near-native” representation of prairie habitat.

One big advantage of urban areas is that people, like bees, are attracted to flowers — “the key driver,” in Hall’s words, “of bee diversity and abundance.” Although the native vegetation has been all but wiped out, the diverse human populations in cities plant flowers from around the globe. That’s a boon for generalist bees, which are not fussy about flower forage. But if you are oligolectic, a specialist that requires pollen from one group of closely related native plants, or even a single species, you “are doomed,” said Cane.

As a result, in the typical city most of the floral specialists and many ground-nesting bees are missing, leaving what Cane calls a “subset” of the larger regional bee fauna. Thirteen percent of New York state’s bees were found in New York City community gardens. Half of Germany’s bees were discovered in Berlin. Interestingly, bees are flourishing, particularly in vacant lots in so-called shrinking cites such as Detroit and Cleveland. Hall attributes this to the undisturbed “wildness” of these seemingly forlorn places. “No one’s out there spraying a bunch of Roundup or neonicotinoids [pesticides],” he said. “Few people live there.”

Scientists also have documented threatened species in cities. For instance, researchers who studied bees within a third of a mile from the center of Northampton, a large, urbanized English town, found the nationally rare sharp-tailed bee Coelioxys quadridentata and discovered that overall bee abundance and diversity were higher in the urban core than in surrounding meadows and nature reserves.

More than a century ago, landscape architect Jens Jensen spurred a homegrown rebellion, pioneering a new approach to landscape design in Chicago’s parks based on native plants and regional plant communities such as those found on the prairie. Today, the debate over growing native or non-native plants continues.

“The reality is that most urban and suburban gardens have had no or minimal natives,” said Mary Phillips, director of the National Wildlife Federation’s Garden for Wildlife program. Educating the public about the importance of reestablishing native plant populations is a priority of efforts such as Garden for Wildlife and the Million Pollinator Garden Challenge, she said.

The Lurie Garden, a stylized “near-native” representation of prairie habitat by superstar Dutch plantsman Piet Oudolf, has been called “a possible resolution” to this debate. Some 26 percent (PDF) of its plants are native to Illinois. According to a recent Lurie Garden blog, “Current research indicates that mixing native and non-native plants in a designed landscape increases pollinator habitat.”

Beyond establishing that such gardens sustain mostly generalist bees, however, research paints a more complicated picture. Just as studies have indicated that native trees and shrubs provide the most resources for birds, surveys have found “a relatively low attraction of bees, especially native bees, to exotic plants.”

What’s more, in a recent paper in New Phytologist — “Considering the Unintentional Consequences of Pollinator Gardens for Urban Native Plants: Is the Road to Extinction Paved with Good Intentions?” — University of Pittsburgh biologists found that the non-native and native plants used for pollinator habitat could have a variety of deleterious effects not only on urban native plant remnants but also the native bee specialists that depend on them. Unless they are grown from seed collected locally — almost never the case in commercial horticulture — native plantings could swamp unique gene pools in nearby urban fragments.

Even worse, the non-natives have a high potential to escape from cultivation. And as research has demonstrated, there is often a lag time of several years to several decades between the arrival of an exotic plant and the explosion of its populations, making it difficult to conclude that a non-native that has been innocuous for years is safe to plant.

Exotic plants also may be favoring the non-native bees proliferating in cities. Scientists suspect that some of these bees may be poised to expand their territories and potentially displace native bees with widespread pollinator plantings. According to University of Virginia entomologist T’ai Roulston, an estimated 41 non-native bee species are in North America. One species that has raised a red flag is Osmia taurus, a Japanese mason bee that potentially could outcompete the native blue orchard mason bee, an important pollinator of apple and cherry trees.

“I have collected more Osmia taurus at my field station than all but one of the nine native Osmia species,” Roulston said. Meanwhile, entomologists point out, in U.S. cities the much-loved non-native honeybee consumes more floral resources than any other species, dominating native bees wherever a hive is nearby.

Few scientists believe that urban habitats are a panacea for bee conservation, although they do support some important populations. In the words of Tina Harrison of Rutgers University, who studies the homogenization of bee communities in disturbed landscapes, “Pollinators that are successful in cities are often very common in other habitats in the surrounding region,” and a focus on conserving them could divert much-needed funds from efforts to protect vulnerable bees. Conserving regionally rare or specialist bees that have found a refuge in cities, though, is probably a good idea, she said.

There is unanimous agreement that much more can be done to make cities beneficial to bees by, for example, ensuring that there is ample bare, loose soil for ground nesters and following the French government’s lead in banning pesticides that are harmful to bees. In addition, bee advocates say that urban native plant remnants should be protected, and the planting of native species essential to the survival of beleaguered specialist bees should be a priority.

As the Pollinator Partnership’s Wojcik pointed out, the sheer per capita conservation potential of cities is tremendous. “If everyone in a city of a million people planted even one pollinator-friendly plant,” she said, “there would be a million more foraging opportunities for bees.”

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Books to consider as a gift for the gardener on your list (or for yourself)

Gift-giving season is upon us and there is a nice variety of books available that will appeal to gardeners. Here are a few to consider for yourself or other gardening friends:

I have been captivated with the Great Plains of the Midwest ever since my parents took us on a cross country road trip in the mid-1960s. Over the years, the “Little House on the Prairie” books, Willa Cather’s “My Antonia”, and “PrairyErth” by William Least Heat Moon served to deepen my fascination. “The World of Laura Ingalls Wilder; The Frontier Landscapes That Inspired the Little House Books,” by award-winning author Marta McDowell is a new treasure focusing on America’s heartland and it appeals to readers–both gardeners and Wilder fans–on many levels. First of all, it’s beautifully produced book on quality paper. Marvelous illustrations, maps and photographs, illuminate McDowell’s well-researched, engaging text. There are plenty of detailed descriptions of the plants and landscapes Wilder loved.

If you are new to McDowell’s work and enjoy books that deliver a well-crafted mix of horticulture, history and literature you will want to check out her other titles: “All the Presidents’ Gardens” which won an American Horticultural Society award and “Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life,” which received a gold award in 2014 from the Garden Writer’s Association.

Jana Milbocker, garden lecturer and co-owner of Enchanted Gardens, a landscaping design firm in the Boston area, has created an excellent guidebook for those of us who enjoy taking a road trip focusing on gardens and nurseries. “The Garden Tourist; 120 Destination Gardens and Nurseries in the Northeast” is described perfectly by the author in the paragraph entitled How to use this book: “This guide is for travelers who wish to visit some of the most enchanting gardens and nurseries in the Northeast, from northern New England to the Hudson River Valley, New Jersey, and eastern Pennsylvania.

“The book is divided into seven chapters covering the major states. Each chapter features a state map with a list of the gardens, as well as suggested itineraries for making the best of your visit. Each garden entry includes the address, telephone, and website; the size of the garden, visiting hours, special events, and facilities.”

But that’s not all! I simply couldn’t resist the infomercial tag line because the author has done us another huge favor: in each of her suggested itineraries, she provides suggestions for a “mid-price” eatery near the recommended garden visits. I can think of nothing better: strolling through a marvelous garden and then sitting down to a tasty meal. The author has done all the painstaking research for us. When the bug to visit beautiful gardens bites, we just need to grab this guide, gas up the car and go. All the practical concerns are covered with garden location details, website and contact information and key symbols indicating whether there are public restrooms, dining on the premises, a children’s garden, gift shop or guided tours. The softcover book is 256 pages with more than 600 color photographs and I have no doubt it will appeal to armchair traveler-gardeners on your gift list as well. “The Garden Tourist” is available on the author’s website, or Amazon.

Being an anglophile, I often fantasize about spending an entire year traveling the British landscape and exploring all the great gardens. However, when it comes to how-to gardening books, I almost always depend on American authors for advice because our climate is so very different from the United Kingdom’s. An excellent new encyclopedic textbook is one exception: “Essential Pruning Techniques: Tree, Shrubs, and Conifers,” published by Timber Press, is a book I can rely on for accurate information on this side of the pond. This edition is an updated version of English woody plant expert George Brown’s 1972 pruning manual. Tony Kirkham, head of the Arboretum and Horticultural Services at Kew Royal Botanic Gardens in London, has revised and expanded Brown’s original text to include an excellent guide to proper pruning techniques. The bulk of the book is a detailed A to Z primer on how to prune nearly every tree one can think of. Because the authors are English, it does include some plants we cannot grow here, but the instructions for the trees we do grow is clear and straightforward. I thoroughly enjoyed the “Britishisms” that pop up now and then.

Beloved trees and shrubs can be ruined with improper pruning –and many so-called professionals are often to blame. Basic understanding of individual species is essential — for evaluating professionals before hiring them — or taking up a pruning saw ourselves.

Vicki Johnson is a gardening columnist for the New Jersey Herald. She can be reached at or

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This week’s gardening tips: Flower seeds to sow now

Get these bulbs in the ground: Although they should have been planted by now, you can still plant spring-flowering bulbs, such as leucojum, Ipheion, anemones, narcissus, zephyranthes, ranunculus, ornithogalum, daffodils and Spanish bluebells, and expect good results. But, don’t delay.

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Orchids are insiders’ tip, says ALAN TITCHMARSH

In their heyday during the 1970s, house plants covered every available domestic surface.

Spare-bedroom windowsills bristled with collections of African violets, spider plants would crawl out of macramé hanging-basket holders in the hallway and every living room seemingly had a rubber plant on top of the telly and the dining room would boast a terrarium full of tasteful tropical plants.

It was not uncommon – central heating had just caught on and a houseful of plants was as sophisticated as a lava lamp or fondue set.

You might think huge collections of indoor plants simply went out of style when the modern minimalist look came in but I reckon what started the rot was the workload.

By the time a newly liberated 1970s housewife had fed and watered, wiped, shined and dead-headed, as well as washing pot covers, treating bugs and clearing any spillage and sticky goo off her windowsills, she had said goodbye to several evenings each week. 

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Garden Help: Harvest tips for citrus – Florida Times

Despite the serious disease issues plaguing citrus, some gardeners are enjoying the fruits of their labor. Many types of oranges, grapefruits and mandarins/tangerines are ripe and ready for picking.

Because of the threat of freezes to our landscape, we have always recommended varieties that have early maturing dates so the fruit are off the tree by the time freezing weather comes our way. These varieties begin maturing in October or November through January. Early season oranges include “Hamlin,” “Parson Brown,” “Ambersweet” and navel. “Valencias” are usually grown farther south because the harvest is from March to June, but some local gardeners have had success with these trees due to our mild winters.

Grapefruit varieties vary in harvest dates depending on the variety. The harvest season for “Duncan” and “Ruby” is from December to May while “Marsh” and “Redblush” are harvested from November to May. Although most fruit are ready by December, many home gardeners leave them on the tree and pick as needed because they don’t have sufficient refrigerator space to store the fruit. As long as the weather conditions are favorable, they hold up well on the tree.

Mandarin and Mandarin types also vary based on variety but the harvest time for most ranges from November to December. The “Owari” Satsuma types are one of the earliest and harvest is usually completed by November. Unlike other Mandarins, Satsuma fruit hold poorly on the tree after ripening and should be picked promptly. If fruit is left on the tree too long after they mature, they become puffy or pithy and loose their flavor. Use hand pruners to clip fruit when harvesting or twist the fruit to avoid plugging, which means that part of the skin is left on the tree. This will cause the fruit to rot and shorten the storage time.

“Meyer” lemon is the most cold-hardy lemon variety and can be successfully grown in our area. It has high juice content, low acidity compared to other lemon varieties, and is harvested from November to March.

Sometimes it’s tough to determine the right time to harvest citrus. The best way is to simply sample one. Citrus matures slowly and does not ripen once removed from the tree. When harvesting oranges, select fruit that are firm and have a good weight. which is an indication of high juice content. Fresh citrus stores much better under refrigeration, especially with the roller coaster of warm/cold outdoor temperatures that we experience. Store at 35 to 50 degrees and do not place the fruit in airtight plastic bags because this promotes mold. If you intend to make marmalades from the oranges, the fruit harvested earlier has higher pectin content, which produces a better gel in marmalades.

In the event of a severe freeze warning, harvest ripe fruit before the freeze. Fruit will be damaged when temperatures fall below 28 degrees for at least four hours. If fruit are not ripe, take a chance and leave them on the tree since they will not ripen once picked. Citrus trees freeze from the top to bottom and from the outside to inside. So, fruit closer to the ground or those on the inside of the tree will be less likely to freeze than those on the top and exterior portion of the tree. Large and thick-skinned fruit are more cold-tolerant than small, thin-skinned fruit. If fruit is frozen, it can still be used for juice if used within a few days.


Citrus rust mites are pests that are more common in hot dry weather, and despite all the rain this year citrus came up the loser in this battle. The mites are extremely small and cannot be seen without a magnifying lens. These straw-colored mites feed on leaves, twigs and fruit. If they are present in high numbers in the spring, fruit may be smaller and leaf/fruit drop may occur. Peak infestations typically occur in June to July. Natural predators reduce citrus rust mites in late summer but the mites often rebound in October to November. Damage to fruit is often superficial and fruit quality is usually not affected, but the appearance may prevent you from sharing fruit with friends and neighbors. Affected fruit are russet to chocolate brown in color and discoloration can occur on just one side of the fruit. The mites do not like sunlight, so they migrate to the shady side of the fruit to feed. To control this pest, apply horticultural oil following label directions.

Another citrus problem occurring this year is a fungal disease called brown rot (Phytophthora spp.). Diseased spots develop on fruit; spots are leathery, olive brown in color and may develop into rotten areas on the fruit. It typically affects the low hanging fruit that are close to or resting on the ground. The fungus is present in the soil and is splashed by rain or irrigation systems onto these fruit. Gardeners notice the disease when there is a color break (change from green to orange) on the fruit. Conditions have been perfect for disease development; ideal conditions are wetness for more than 12 hours for several days in a row and temperatures of 75 to 85 degrees. To control this fungus, remove infected fruit and trim lower branches to get leaves and fruit off the ground. This will help create better air flow under the tree. Keep moisture off fruit and foliage by using low volume irrigation versus conventional overhead sprinklers that wet the leaves and fruit. This is the same disease that causes foot rot on citrus, so be sure to keep mulch, equipment and weeds away from the base of citrus trees. Likewise, we are seeing a lot of foot rot on citrus in area landscapes too. This is a serious disease that infects the trunk of the tree close to the graft union and affects the vascular system. Twig dieback is one of the more noticeable symptoms as the tree experiences a slow decline. For a link with great pictures showing the symptoms go to

For more information on growing citrus trees, go to, and to help troubleshoot problems go to

Terry Brite DelValle is a horticulture extension agent with the Duval County Extension Service and the University of Florida/IFAS.

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