Trunks of citrus trees suffer damage from two common culprits, one natural and one man-made: sunburn and garden tools. Learn how to protect your lemon trees from both sunburn and garden tools.
Sunburn: Citrus trees are especially prone to sunburn, particularly in areas with hot, Mediterranean summers. Citrus bark and cambium are sensitive to sunburn, and sun protection for trunks and branches may be necessary during hot Mediteranean summers. Avoid thinning or removing significant portions of canopy, especially those that shade internal branches from southern and western direct sun. Sunburned stems begin to show cracked, peeling, or rough sections of bark that progress to dead sections of cambium with bare wood exposed. When these symptoms occur on south-and-west-facing citrus trunk or stem sections, they are usually caused by sunburn.
To address this, trunks of young trees may be wrapped in sleeves (consider making homemade ones from paper or cardboard). Larger trunks and stems may require painting with indoor white latex paint diluted about 1:1 to 2:1 water to paint. If you find white-painted tree stems and trunks to be particularly unattractive in the garden and landscape, try a light-colored beige, tan, or similar color that blends in better with your garden; however, these paint colors will not protect stems as well as white.
Garden Tools. Garden tools should be used to assist citrus trees; however, trunk and major-root injuries from mowers and weed-whackers are common to small landscape trees such as citrus, sometimes with the mowers and/or weed-whackers hitting the same trunk(s) or root(s) week after week and month after month. These injuries often result in decay, stress, and shortened lifespans for trees.
Trees put enormous time, energy, and biological effort into growing their leaves, stems, and roots, and they need them to thrive and produce yields. Trees are worth protecting; GardenZeus expert Darren Butler has found that few landscape professionals and labor gardeners put the attention and care into trees that residents and property owners might expect or prefer, and there is no replacement for making the effort yourself to be sure your trees are well-cared-for and not harmed during maintenance.
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