Frequently Asked Questions



  • Can citrus be grown successfully in Tucson?

    A resounding YES! Some varieties, such as lemons and limes (especially Mexican Limes), are more frost-sensitive, but with a bit of attention on cold nights, especially for younger trees, you can have delicious Grapefruit, Oranges, Tangerines, Tangelos, Lemons, Limes, Kumquats and other, more exotic varieties.

  • Can citrus be grown in containers?

    Yes. Dwarf varieties of citrus are the most suitable for containers (with drainage holes). Your container should measure at least 18” wide by 15” deep.

  • Is there a best time to plant citrus?

    Spring is the best time to plant citrus, so that they can get a head start on root development before the winter months. However, it is OK to plant citrus year-round as long as they receive appropriate protection and watering.

  • Is there a best time to plant citrus?

    Spring is the best time to plant citrus, so that they can get a head start on root development before the winter months. However, it is OK to plant citrus year-round as long as they receive appropriate protection and watering.

  • Where should I plant my citrus?

    In an area that receives at least a half day of sun. Citrus will thrive in full sun locations. A southern exposure is ideal.

  • How big do citrus grow?

    Citrus are often available is three types of trees: Standard, Semi-Dwarf and Dwarf. Final tree size is not always predictable, and will vary depending on growing conditions, variety vigor, climate, and the care you give it. Citrus is rather slow growing and can take 10-15 years to reach full maturity. All types have full sized fruit.

    • Standard – Approximate size at maturity is 20’-30’
    • Semi-Dwarf – Grows to about two-thirds the size of a standard tree. A mature semi-dwarf may reach 15’-20.
    • Dwarf – Most dwarf citrus will reach 6’-8’ at maturity.

    Citrus grown in containers will not grow as large because they do not have as much room to grow. The bigger the container the bigger the citrus

  • When should I feed my citrus?

    Feeding of citrus is very important.

    Established citrus grown in the ground should be fertilized three times a year-February, May and August. We recommend El Toro Citrus Food 15-10-4 with Iron Chelate and 5% Sulphur.

    On a newly planted citrus we suggest incorporating some slow release Osmocote at the time of planting.

    Container citrus can be easily fed with a water soluble fertilizer. We recommend Growmore All-Season Plant Food 20-20-20.  Citrus Grower’s Blend, also by Growmore, is a mix of micronutrients recommended for citrus in containers.

    If you are an organic gardener, we suggest Growmore Citrus and Avocado 7-3-3 granular or Foxfarm’s water soluble Big Bloom 0.01-0.3-0.7.

    Always water your citrus thoroughly the day before and immediately after any feeding.
    If in bloom, apply one-half the recommended rate.

  • Do I need to protect my citrus from frost?

    On nights when temperatures dip into the low 30’s, young and more frost tender varieties should be covered/protected. Techniques include:

    1. Covering N-Sulate frost cloth [2-3 degrees protection],
    2. Building a frame and covering with plastic,
    3. Covering and then placing Christmas tree lights or a light bulb toward the base of the tree under the covering.
    4. Flooding the basin
  • What is causing the flowers to drop from my citrus?

    1. Mother nature. Citrus produce more blossoms than the tree can set, so it is normal for up to 98% of blossoms to fall without forming fruit; this is nature’s way of allowing the tree to produce only what it can support.
    2. Wind, rain or hail. Blossoms are very delicate and may be knocked off by a forceful wind, heavy rain or hail.
    3. Shock! from a drastic change in watering or feeding practices. Maintain a consistent watering schedule through the flowering and young fruit stages, and apply food only according to label instructions. If feeding when the tree is in bloom, use only half the recommended rate, and water in thoroughly
  • My citrus flowered but did not set fruit. Why?

    1. Any one or a combination of the following may have caused the flowers to drop before the fruit setting process could take place.
      1. Late spring frost
      2. Low soil fertility
      3. Improper (inconsistent) irrigation
  • My citrus did not flower. Why?

    1. Alternate bearing variety – Mandarins and Navel Oranges often fall in this category.
    2. Too much care and attention! Next winter consider cutting back on your watering (but be consistent) beginning around November 15. It has been suggested that trees that are too well tended may not feel the need to reproduce. Putting just a bit of stress (less water) on the tree may produce the flowers.
  • Why are the leaves on my citrus turning yellow?

    1. If the leaves are “old” leaves (those most often found toward the bottom or interior of the plant) this is a normal seasonal event that will occur every year. It may also signal a nitrogen deficiency that can be corrected with an application of citrus food.
    2. If the yellowing in on the new growth it is most likely an iron deficiency (leaf veins remain green) resulting from the alkali and excess salinity in our soils. Over-irrigation can aggravate this situation. An application of Chelated Iron will usually solve this problem. In the long run adjusting your watering schedule will be helpful.
  • Young fruit are dropping from my tree. Why?

    1. It is normal to see a lot of small fruit drop right after flowering. This is the result of the tree retaining only the amount of fruit it can support. The usual rule is that when fruit reach the size of a quarter they are there to stay.
    2. When this happens in May and June, this is called “June drop” and is not considered normal. It is believed to be caused by high temperature and low humidity. Check frequently for soil moisture. Fruit drop is aggravated by moisture deficiency. “June drop” usually starts in May and extends through June.
  • What is creating the holes in my citrus fruit?

    Most likely, it is a bird looking for insects. It usually is not a serious enough issue to worry about, as normally only a few fruit will be affected. Pick the affected fruit and discard. When you see the hole there may be bugs crawling about. These bugs are secondary to the birds, and are not the cause.

  • How do I know if my citrus are ripe?

    After your citrus turns its appropriate color, your best information comes from a taste test. Take one off the tree and taste it.

  • The new growth is distorted? Why?

    This is probably the result of thrips, tiny insects that you generally can’t see and they do their damage before you see the damage. Damage is apparent as the leaves and fruit mature. Their damage is generally cosmetic only.

  • What’s chewing on the leaves of my citrus?

    That would probably be the Orange dog caterpillar. About 1.5”-2” long, and resembling a bird dropping, these pests can be found on the underside of the leaves. They do no permanent damage and there are usually very few of them. Finding them and picking them off is the best solution. If necessary you can spray with the bacterial insecticide Bacillus thuringiensis.



  • Can roses be grown successfully in Tucson?

    Roses do well in Tucson with appropriate irrigation and feeding (roses are heavy feeders, and require ample irrigation). Roses will perform best if located in an area that will receive full morning sun and afternoon shade. Some varieties will perform better than others in our climate- we carry only varieties that are suitable for growing in Tucson.

  • Can I grow roses successfully in containers?

    Roses do very well in containers, as long as the container has drain holes, and is large enough to accommodate future growth of the plant.

  • When is the best time to plant roses?

    The best time to plant ‘ready-plant’ roses is in December and January. This will give the plant ample time to grow and develop a good root system before the hot summer months. This is also the time to find the best selection of boxed roses. Container roses are available and ready to plant in April.

  • How do I water my rose?

    Established roses in the ground-water deeply twice a week in Jan., three times a week Feb.-April, every other day in May, daily June-Sept., every other day in October, and three times a week in November. Decrease the frequency of watering in December until watering only once a week by the end of the month.

  • How do I feed my rose?

    Established roses in the ground – fertilize once a month Feb.-Sept. with El Toro Flower and Vegetable Fertilizer. Add epsom salts when fertilizing. Apply fertilizer and epsom salts at half strength during the summer months.

    Container roses – fertilize with Growmore Magnum Rose Food (water soluable) Feb.-Sept.

  • When do I prune my rose?

    Do your heavy pruning in January, while roses are still dormant. Selective pruning to remove unwanted/damaged branches or spent blooms may be done as needed. When removing a bud or spent blossom, be sure to cut just above a five-leaflet grouping that is facing away from the interior of the plant. A light pruning of the entire plant may be done mid-September.

  • The new buds on my rose are distorted and turning brown at the tips. What’s wrong?

    This is a sign of thrip damage. Thrips are a tiny, almost microscopic insects that suck on the flower buds as the buds start to develop. You can prevent the damage by spraying very young buds with Bayer Insect, Disease and Mite Control. This will also prevent aphid damage.

  • I have patches of gray-green powdery residue on the foliage of my rose bush. What’s wrong?

    This is an indication of a fungus called powdery mildew, which is a very common problem to find on roses. Spray with Bayer Insect, Disease and Mite Control, Concern Copper Soap Fungicide, or Fertilome Triple Action Plus with neem oil.


Vegetables and Herbs

  • How do I prepare my soil for vegetables and herbs?

    Turn your soil over to a depth of 12″-15″. For each 100 square feet , spread evenly over the area 6 bags of Organo Omni Mulch, (1.5 cu. ft bag) 2 lbs. of Soil Sulphur, and 2.5 lbs. (3 tablespoons/4 square feet) of Osmocote Vegetable and Bedding Slow Release Food. Mix thoroughly into the top 12″-15″, turning the soil over at least twice.

  • Can I grow vegetables and herbs in containers?

    Yes, providing that you have a large enough container for what you plan to grow, and your container has a drain hole. Some vegetables lend themselves better to container growing, such as Sweet 100 and pear tomatoes, peppers, and lettuce varieties. Be prepared to provide support for vining vegetables, or varieties that are large and bushy. All herbs do well in containers. When planting, use Black Gold Potting Soil, and sprinkle about 4 tablespoons of Osmocote (18″ pot) at a depth of about 12″.

  • Where should I plant my herbs and vegetables?

    Vegetables and herbs should be planted in an area that receives sun all morning, with shade in the afternoon. This is not as crucial for fall crops, but in the summer, it will be necessary to provide protection from our hot afternoon sun.

  • How should I feed my herbs and vegetables?

    If you did not add fertilizer when preparing your soil, you can apply 4 teaspoons of Osmocote under each 4″ transplant. It will feed your plants slowly over a period of 3-4 weeks. If planting from seed, you can fertilize with a water soluble fertilize, such as Growmore All Seasons Plant Food, after the first set of leaves has appeared. For established vegetables and herbs, you may consider feeding with El Toro Flower and Vegetable Food, containing sulphur and iron.

  • What vegetables and herbs can I plant for the Warm Season?

    Bush beans, cucumber, eggplant, peppers (spring), tomatoes, summer squash, pumpkins, corn , watermelon, okra, rosemary, sage, thyme, basil (spring), chives, and mint.

  • What vegetables and herbs can I plant for the Cool Season?

    Beets, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, kale, lettuce, spinach, onion sets, sugar peas, radishes, turnips, winter squash, coriander, dill, fennel, parsley, sage, thyme.

  • I love garden grown tomatoes. Which varieties do you recommend for Tucson?

    Tomato varieties that do well in Tucson include Celebrity, Early Girl, Sunmaster, Cherry tomatoes, Pear tomatoes, Roma, and Sweet 100’s. The summer growing season for tomatoes is pretty short, as the fruit will not set once the temperatures go into the 90s, so it is best to get your plants in the ground late February to mid March. You can also cut back your tomato plant in August, for a second harvest in the fall. You may also consider planting tomato plants in summer for fall harvest.

  • Some of my tomatoes have a black, flattened spot on the bottom of them. What’s wrong?

    This is an indication of blossom end rot, which is caused when the plant is watered erratically, too lightly, or infrequently. It is commonly thought that the plant is suffering from a calcium deficiency when this happens. The best thing to do in this situation is to correct how you are watering.

  • I found a large green caterpillar in my tomato plant. Is it harmful to the plant?

    The caterpillar in question is a tomato horn worm, and it can do quite a bit of damage to your plant. Check the undersides of the foliage, and remove any of these pests that you come across.

  • What can I use to get rid of aphids on my vegetables and herbs?

    You can try spraying them off with a hard blast of water. You can also spray your plants with a soapy solution of 2 tablespoons liquid soap detergent to 1 gallon of water. The safest insecticidal spray to use is one made of Pyrethrin, such as Fertilome Quik-Kill Insect Spray.

  • There are holes on the leaves of some of my vegetables. What is causing this?

    This is an indication of caterpillars. We recommend spraying your plant with Greenlight BT Worm Killer, which contains BT (Bacillus thuringiensis), a bacteria that kills caterpillars. Be sure to spray the undersides of the foliage. Do not spray when the temperature goes above 90 degrees, at the bacteria dies at high temperatures.

  • The vines on my squash plant are suddenly dying back. What is causing this?

    Squash vine borers will cause sudden death of the vines. Remove all affected squash vines and destroy them.

  • Some of my herbs have what appear to be globs of spit. What causes this?

    This is an indication of spittle bug, often found on woody herbs. Inside what appears to be a glob of spit resides an insect. The best way to treat this is to spray off the insects with a hard blast of water.

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