I have an 8-year-old satsuma, and the first five years it was very productive. Lately, yield has declined and leaves have turned yellow and buds have fallen off leaving bare branches with no fruit. Should I trim the bare branches? Will they regrow?
Many factors could be at play, but what comes to my mind is that the tree has Phytophthora root rot resulting from poorly drained soil and water extremes — too much and too little water. Scrape the bark on suspect branches. If the exposed wood is green, then there is hope for regrowth. If the wood is brown, prune that part of the branch. It is dead. Submit leaf and root samples to the LSU AgCenter Plant Disease Clinic for a positive identification.
I’m so excited that my 2-year-old satsuma has four fruit. But it also has a tall branch with large thorns. Is this normal?
The thorny branch is growing from the rootstock and needs to be removed. The tree is grafted and any growth below the graft union should be removed.
I recently bought three Boston ferns. After I got them home they appeared to be infested with some kind of caterpillar that was eating the leaves. I tried to pick off all the caterpillars I could see. Should I spray them with something? Will the ferns fill out with leaves again?
I recommend a biological spray with the active ingredient Bacillus thuringiensis. It is specific to caterpillars and will not kill any other beneficial insects. Or, I’d return the plants and demand my money back. New leaves will emerge once no insects are present.
Are the thorns on a Robellini palm poisonous? If not, why do they hurt so badly and the pain and swelling last so long?
The thorns are not poisonous. Depth of penetration, infection and personal tolerance influence pain and recovery time.
Got a gardening question? Write to Bob Souvestre, horticulturist with the LSU AgCenter, at Burden Center, 4560 Essen Lane, Baton Rouge, LA 70809, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Master Gardeners at (225) 763-3990.