Month: June 2021

Citrus Trees: A Favorite Since Ancient Times

People have grown citrus trees since ancient times and helped spread these fruit-bearing favorites around the world! Citrus are native to Southeast Asia. However, humans brought them to increasingly distant places over time. Moving along trade routes, various species arrived in the Middle East and Mediterranean, then on to Europe. Spanish conquistadors first introduced citrus to North America in Florida. Now, citrus are some of the most common landscape fruit trees in California, Arizona and Texas.

lemon tree

Growing citrus trees at home

Citrus trees thrive in sunny, humid environments with fertile soil and adequate rainfall or irrigation. When selecting a planting location, consider soil drainage first and foremost as these trees require well-drained soil.

All citrus are broadleaved and evergreen. They do not drop leaves except when stressed. If you have a citrus tree losing leaves that is a definite indicator of an issue.

In warm, sunny climates, plant these trees or grow them in containers. In areas where the weather is too cold to grow citrus outdoors, you can grow dwarf plants potted indoors or in greenhouses. In containers, citrus trees will tolerate poor care better than many green shrubs.

The trees flower in the spring, and fruit is set shortly afterward. Fruit begins ripening in fall or early winter and develops increasing sweetness afterward. Fruit quality is highly dependent on the weather, variety and overall plant health.

How to tell if fruit is ripe

lemon tree

While the words “ripe” and “mature” are often used interchangeably, they are not actually the same thing. A mature fruit is one that has completed its growth phase. Ripening refers to the changes in a fruit after it is mature up until it begins to decay.

Some fruits are picked when mature but before they’re ripe and then they continue to ripen off the tree. That is not the case with citrus fruits; once picked they do not become sweeter or ripen further.

Color is not an indicator of ripeness with oranges because sometimes rinds turn orange long before the fruits are ready to eat. Tasting them is the only way to know if the time is right.

Also interesting is that the color of citrus fruits only develops in climates with cool winters. In tropical regions with no winter, citrus fruits remain green until maturity, such as with tropical “green oranges.”

Common problems in citrus trees

There are numerous diseases common in citrus trees, with some being quarantined. Citrus greening, sweet orange scab, citrus canker and black spot of citrus have had a serious impact on citrus industries. Report infected trees to the USDA. In home landscapes, root rot disease due to excess water is particularly commonplace. This disease is not quarantined.

Pests such as citrus leafminer, spider mites, rust mites, mealybugs, scale and aphids frequently infest citrus trees. Regular inspection will ensure identification of these pests early, before populations grow and serious damage occurs.

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Pecan Phylloxera Identification and Control

Phylloxera galls appear on leaves from insect feeding activities

Prevent repeated pecan phylloxera infestations from severely damaging or killing your pecan trees. Knowing how to identify and control phylloxera will help you stop this insect from slowly debilitating your tree and take measures to effectively control it. gathered the following information about pecan phylloxera, the damage it causes, how to identify it, and what can be done to control it.

What Is Pecan Phylloxera

Pecan phylloxera is an insect that can cause significant damage if ignored or treated incorrectly in pecan orchards. Phylloxera can attack pecan tree shoots, leaves, and fruit. Due to the life cycle of phylloxera, timing is very vital to controlling the infestation. Once you see that galls have developed, it is too late to stop the infestation in the current season. The following are three species of phylloxera and the galls they form:

Pecan Phylloxera (P. devastatrix Pergande) – This insect species produces large, green galls on stems, twigs, petioles, midribs, and nuts. Winged phylloxera emerge from these galls.

Pecan Leaf Phylloxera (P. notabilis Pergande) – This species causes small galls to develop next to the midribs or veins of leaflets. The galls are oval to spherical, open on the ventral surface of the leaf, are typically evenly green on the top, and often appear reddish beneath. Winged phylloxera also emerge from these galls.

Southern pecan leaf phylloxera (P. russellae Stoetzel) – This phylloxera species causes the formation of small galls on leaf surfaces between the veins. The galls are round and somewhat flat, open on the ventral surface. The opening will typically contain dense, short, white hairs. Phylloxera emerging from these galls are wingless.

Pecan Phylloxera Damages

Phylloxera damages can appear as dieback chlorosis fruit damage and allow secondary infestations

Pecan phylloxera in isolated cases does not cause any significant damage to its host tree. However, large and/or repeated infestations can result in the following:

  • General wilting and/or drooping
  • Chlorosis of affected foliage
  • Dieback of affected branches
  • Early leaf drop
  • Weakened/Declining tree health
  • Causes increased susceptibility to secondary infestations and diseases

Note: For trees with previous disease and infestation incidences (including repeated and heavy phylloxera infestations), significant phylloxera infestations can ultimately lead to or participate in the host tree’s death.

How To Identify Pecan Phylloxera

Pecan phylloxera are tiny insects resembling aphids (without the cornicles) that range from cream to a pale yellow color. Phylloxera have sucking mouthparts and are 1/10 to 1/5 inch long. Their feeding stimulates the tree to produce galls on leaves, stems, and nuts where wounded. The phylloxera reproduce inside the galls. All phylloxera species overwinter in the tree or orchard and feed on new growth in the spring.

Pecan Phylloxera Lifecycle

The three species of phylloxera follow somewhat identical lifecycles. Observe the following:

Eggs – Phylloxera overwinter as eggs in sheltered spots like bark on the tree trunk or branches, within opened/spent galls, underneath the carcasses of dead phylloxera, etc.

Stem Mothers – The young that hatch from overwintered eggs are referred to as “stem mothers” and appear around the same time new foliage and growth begin to emerge.

Gall Formation – As the stem mothers hatch, they migrate to emerging tissue to begin feeding. This feeding stimulates the host tree to develop galls that enclose the insect within a few days.

Phylloxera galls enclose and shield the insects as they mature

Nymphs – Inside the galls, stem mothers mature, lay their eggs, and die. Shortly after that, nymphs hatch from the eggs and feed until the galls split open in late spring or early summer, at which time new adults emerge.

The following are how each of the species continue their reproductive cycles:

Pecan Phylloxera (P. devastatrix Pergande) – Winged, asexual adults emerge from the galls and migrate to other parts of the same or nearby tree where they deposit small eggs that hatch into male insects and larger eggs that hatch into female insects. Once mated, the females die with a fertilized egg still inside them (protected for the winter). This species produces one generation of galls per year.

Pecan Leaf Phylloxera (P. notabilis Pergande) – Winged, sexual adults emerge from the galls resulting from the stem mother. These adults mate and the females locate a protected place to lay a single egg (which also hatch asexually) before they die. This species crawls to new areas of foliage on the same tree and forms a second and, sometimes, a third generation of galls in a single season.

Southern pecan leaf phylloxera (P. russellae Stoetzel) – These produce wingless, sexual adults in the galls resulting from the stem mother. The females will crawl to protected/secluded places to lay their single eggs. These eggs are typically not entirely laid by the female, remaining attached to her dead body. This species only produces one generation of galls per year.

Watch this video to see phylloxera insects inside a gall.

Pecan Phylloxera Control Measures

If any of the phylloxera species are present, insecticide applications should be made to your tree(s) between bud swelling and early leaf expansion (when the leaves have begun to unfurl). If galls are found, another insecticide application should be made the following year. Consider the following when acquiring an insecticide for phylloxera control:

  • Acquire adequate equipment to thoroughly distribute (spray) the insecticide on infested specimens
  • Select an insecticide containing a growth or reproductive inhibitor
  • Use insecticides containing carbaryl as an active ingredient; it is one of the most readily available phylloxera treatments for homeowner applications
  • Solutions containing neem oil are also highly effective, killing small soft-bodied insects like phylloxera on contact
  • Imidacloprid (made to mimic nicotine, which is lethal to insects) is also a good, systemic choice for phylloxera control.
  • Learn the recipe for how to make your own insecticidal soap to combat pests –

You can reduce or eliminate the potential for such infestations by planting resistant cultivars and promoting their vigorous, healthy growth.

Tip: Insecticide applications must be made prior to gall formation. Once the insects are enclosed in the galls, reliable control is no longer possible.

Watch this video for more on pecan phylloxera

Disclaimer: This website provides general information only about a chemical or class of chemical products; it does not and cannot provide detailed safety information specific to any particular consumer product, it is not intended to be comprehensive or complete, and it should not be relied upon to ensure safe and appropriate use of any particular insect control product. Read product labels for warnings, advisories, and instructions.

Southern Pecan Leaf Phylloxera

In this article, you discovered information about the several pecan phylloxera species, the damage they can cause, ways to identify them, and control methods.

Knowing when to take action against phylloxera is as crucial as how to do it. Enacting well-informed and timed control measures will help you keep phylloxera infestations under control.

Ignoring or incorrectly treating a phylloxera infestation can allow its rapid proliferation, decline in overall tree health, and eventual tree death.


Todd’s Marietta Tree Services

200 Cobb Pkwy N Ste 428 Marietta, GA 30062
(678) 505-0266

Mulch Volcanoes Hurt Trees

Mulching the ground beneath your trees and shrubs is one of the best practices for keeping trees healthy. However, you need to mulch properly for it to truly be beneficial. Never pile mulch against the tree or cover the tree’s root flare, where the trunk flares outward into the ground. Even though a mulch volcano, a large pile of mulch under a tree, is a commonly seen practice, it is not a good one. Mulch volcanoes harm trees!

applying mulch

Mulch should be spread in a thin layer beneath the entire canopy.

How to Add Mulch Correctly

mulch volcano

INCORRECT MULCHING! A mulch volcano, where mulch is piled against the tree trunk, traps in moisture and damages the tree.

Whenever possible, you should apply mulch beneath the entire canopy. Mulch beds do not have to be round or symmetrical. The more area beds can cover under the canopy, the better! Mulch should not be deeper than four inches. Two inches will work for shallow rooted shrubs and perennials. As mulch decomposes, add more to maintain the appropriate depth.

One of the best materials to use as mulch is fresh wood chips. Wood chips contain bark, leaves and wood. This mixture is the most nutrient-rich option for the tree. It’s also okay to plant shrubs and perennials under the tree in the mulched area. When planting under trees, avoid solid masses of ground covers that hide buttress roots. Plant ground cover at least twelve inches away from tree trunks.

Mounded mulch and excessive ground cover can trap moisture against the tree’s bark. Stem tissues are not intended to remain moist. Excess moisture promotes the growth of fungal pathogens and disease. Too much mulch or ground cover can also conceal signs of an issue like the fruiting structures associated with root decay fungi.

How Mulch Helps

As you can see, proper mulching is relatively simple. It’s also effective in creating a healthy growing environment for trees. It eliminates competition between tree roots and turf as well as conserving soil moisture and moderating soil temperature. As mulch decomposes into the soil, it helps improve soil structure and reduce compaction.

Mulch beds mean there is less area of your lawn to mow. They also create a visible and physical barrier that can help prevent damage from mowers and trimmers to the tree trunk.

Even though the practice of piling mulch against the tree like a mountain or volcano has become so common that some professionals think it is acceptable or desirable, it is not. Just remember, mulch is one of the best things you can do for your trees, but only if you do it right!

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9 Small Trees for Landscaping Smaller Yards

Small trees for tiny yards magnolia

Prevent overcrowding and killing your smaller yard with overstory trees. Knowing which trees remain small through maturity will help you create a balanced, long-lived ecosystem for your landscape. assembled the following 9 tree species selections and information to help you select trees that match the size of your landscape and leave room for their roots to properly develop.

1. Japanese Maple

Small trees for tiny yards Japanese maple

Few trees show off their splendor like the Japanese maple in its fall colors. There are numerous ways to use this little tree in your yard. You can plant it as a specimen tree (in a partly shaded spot) or use it as a shade or privacy tree along your property line.

Scientific Name – Acer palmatum
USDA Hardiness Zone – 5 – 8
Soil Requirements – moist, well-drained soil
Optimal Sun Exposure – Full sun to part shade
Color Varieties – burgundy foliage turning red in fall

2. Crape Myrtle

Small trees for tiny yards crape myrtle

Crepe myrtle species are a favorite among southern gardeners and roadway landscapers. (Crepe myrtle is the preferred name in the south). The draw for this plant is that it blooms at a time when most trees are not blooming. Healthy trees will be covered with blooms that last for months during the hottest part of the summer.
Crepe myrtles are deciduous, grow quickly, and will often grow in their multi-stemmed form.

Scientific Name – Lagerstroemia indica
USDA Hardiness Zone – 7 – 9
Soil Requirements – Will grow in nearly all soil types
Optimal Sun Exposure – Full sun to part shade
Color Varieties – white, pink, red, lavender

3. Redbud

Small trees for tiny yards redbud

Desired for its striking pink or white flower display in spring, redbud is an easy-to-care-for small tree with heart-shaped leaves that turn golden-yellow in fall.

Scientific Name – Cercis canadensis
USDA Hardiness Zone – 5 – 9
Soil Requirements – requires well-drained soil
Optimal Sun Exposure – Full sun to part shade
Color Varieties – species ranges from golden-yellow and purple foliage and white to pink flowers

4. Flowering (ornamental) Peach

Small trees for tiny yards flowering peach

The Bonfire Flowering Peach tree is a small ornamental tree with a bold personality. This tree is undeniable when its branches are peppered with fragrant pink blossoms in the spring!” Once the flowers fade, large burgundy, drooping leaves grow in, stealing the show. You won’t get edible peaches from this species, but you will get a fragrant and impressive display of flowers and foliage that will meet your need for drama in the landscape!

Scientific Name – Prunus persica ‘Bonfire’
USDA Hardiness Zone – 5 – 8
Soil Requirements – Prefers moist, acidic soils
Optimal Sun Exposure – Full sun exposure
Color Varieties – dark red leaves and double pink-red flowers

5. Witch Hazel

Small trees for tiny yards witch hazel

Witch hazel trees have highly desirable shaggy, citrus-scented blossoms in a rich yellow, orange, and red shades. Some species bloom in late winter before the leaves open, and others show off in the fall. These are small trees, averaging 10 to 20 feet tall, and are low maintenance. Prune in the early spring if you need to remove damaged portions or shape the plant. 

Scientific Name – Hamamelis
USDA Hardiness Zone – 3 – 8
Soil Requirements – Average or medium moisture and well-draining
Optimal Sun Exposure – Full sun to part shade
Color Varieties – Orange, red, and yellow

6. Crabapple

Small trees for tiny yards crabapples

Plant a colorful display to your landscape with crabapples. There’s a wide range of species available that bear white, pink, and/or flowers. The ‘Prairifire’ species has dark pink flowers, reddish-purple foliage, and is disease resistant. The ‘Centurion’ variety has pink flowers, an upright shape, and great disease resistance. Crabapples are known for producing orange, gold, red, or burgundy fruit.

Scientific Name – Malus
USDA Hardiness Zone – 4 – 8
Soil Requirements – medium moisture, well-drained soil
Optimal Sun Exposure – Full sun exposure
Color Varieties – Flowers in shades of white, pink, and red with orange, gold, red, or burgundy fruit

7. Magnolia Randy

Small trees for tiny yards magnolia randy

If you had space for one flowering tree to plant in your tiny yard, you may find some difficulty choosing, but Magnolia ‘Randy’ would be an excellent one. The beauty of this Magnolia was famously developed as part of the little girl series of hybrid Magnolias developed by the National Arboretum. All bred to be small deciduous low-branched trees growing only to 15 feet tall with oval habits and later spring blooming. ‘Randy’ will give you reddish-purple flowers on the outside and white on the inside. Then there’s the star-shaped flower that might pop up randomly in the middle of the summer for a second bloom.

This species is part of the Little Girl series (‘Ann,’ ‘Betty,’ ‘Jane,’ ‘Judy,’ ‘Pinkie,’ ‘Randy,’ ‘Ricki,’ and ‘Susan’) of hybrid magnolias developed at the National Arboretum in the mid-1950s by Francis DeVos and William Kosar.

Scientific Name – Magnolia ‘Randy’
USDA Hardiness Zone – 4 – 8
Soil Requirements – organically rich, neutral to slightly acidic
Optimal Sun Exposure – Full sun to part shade
Color Varieties – Dark Pink Blooms and green foliage

8. Dragon Lady Holly

Small trees for tiny yards dragon lady holly

Multiple holly species, cultivars, and varieties could be selected for a small space, but the Dragon Lady Holly is an excellent choice for a few reasons. It is widely available, where other dwarf cultivars or uncommon varieties may require special ordering. The Dragon Lady cultivar is a female plant that needs a male for pollination to produce berries. Finally, its conical form requires very little maintenance, and it only grows to heights of about 15 feet or so.  If you want a holly in your small space, this species makes sense.

Scientific Name – Ilex aquipernyi
USDA Hardiness Zone – 6 – 8
Soil Requirements – Acidic, moist, well-drained soils
Optimal Sun Exposure – Full sun exposure
Color Varieties – Green with Bright Red Berries

9. Powder Puff

Small trees for tiny yards calliandra haematocephala

Whether growing it as a large shrub or prune it into a small tree, powder puff will treat you with its fluffy and fragrant red, pink, or white summer flowers. It’s a heat-loving, drought-resistant variety specialized for the warmest areas of California, Texas, and Florida.

Scientific Name – Calliandra haematocephala
USDA Hardiness Zone – 9 – 11
Soil Requirements – Moist, well-drained, fertile soil
Optimal Sun Exposure – Full sun exposure
Color Varieties – red, pink, or white flowers

Small Trees for Tiny Yards

In this article, you discovered 9 tree species for small landscapes that help you avoid overcrowding and root competition.

Planting appropriately sized trees for your tiny yard allows you to develop a hardy and healthy ecosystem for your plants, trees, and shrubs without any of them choking out the other.

When you plant trees that end up dwarfing other plant life, you are robbing your landscape of vitally needed sunlight, soil nutrition, and physical space for all your plants, shrubs, and trees to flourish.


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Monitor Trees for Signs of Insects & Disease

The telltale signs of various tree diseases and insect infestations are often most evident in summer. Populations of many types of scales, mites, and aphids are particularly noticeable at this time. Some problems can be spotted and treated immediately. However, when certain insect pests are present and visible, it may already be too late to treat. Even in these cases, learning now that these insects are present is important. You can get a jumpstart on planning for treatments for next year and implement cultural practices, like proper mulching and irrigation, that will keep trees healthier and more resistant to infestation. By regularly looking at your trees you may notice some of the common signs associated with tree pests or disease.

mushrooms growing near the base of a tree

Signs of a Tree Issue

leaf galls

Strange bumps, or galls, on leaves can indicate insect feeding and egg-laying activity.

  • Discoloration, spots, or bumps on leaves
  • Branch dieback, wilting, or stunted foliage
  • Mushrooms or fungal growth near a tree’s trunk
  • Dark areas or oozing liquid on the trunk or roots
  • Presence of defoliating insects, nests or caterpillars
  • Small exit holes in the trunk or branches
  • Sap-sucking insects secreting honeydew that leads to sooty mold growth
  • Sawdust-like debris caused by wood-boring insects
  • Premature autumn color and leaf drop
magnolia scale

Scale insects can be difficult for property owners to spot because of their unusual appearance.

Correct Diagnosis is Key

Some symptoms may indicate problems that cause negligible damage and require little to no intervention. Conversely, others may reveal that a serious problem exists or could develop if the symptoms are ignored. Therefore, correctly diagnosing the cause of symptoms is critically important in caring for trees and shrubs.

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Optimal Times to Prune Your Tree

Pruning TreesWhen is the last time you pruned a tree? Pruning involves removing specific branches or stems off a tree in order to benefit it as a whole. By removing dead, damaged or diseased branches, for instance, you’re helping to prevent insects and other organisms from entering the tree and making it sick. In many ways, you can think of pruning a tree like a person gets a haircut every once in a while. Without getting a haircut, a person would look a bit odd, don’t you think? Trees, when on a person’s property, are much the same way– every now and then they could use some pruning, which is really just a fancy way of saying upkeep and shaping, much like a haircut…or in this case, a branch cut.

Light pruning of a tree can be done any time of the year, especially if your purpose is to remove dead wood. Generally, however, pruning is best done in the winter or the summer.

During the winter, a tree is dormant, as if it were asleep for the season. After the coldest part of winter passes, then it’s a good time to do some pruning. Don’t worry if a tree “bleeds,” whereas its sap begins to flow– you’re not harming the tree if you see sap.

Summer is a good time to prune in order to direct the growth of branches. In other words, prune for “corrective purposes” getting rid of defective limbs and/or ones that hang down too low and get in your way.

Do you want to enhance flowering for a particular tree? The best time to prune for that is right after their springtime blooms fade away. If they bloom with flowers in mid-to-late summer, then prune them for flowering purposes in winter or early spring.

Fall is the season when you should not prune trees. During this season, decay fungi love to spread their spores all around, and you don’t want them ending up in the healing wounds of a cut tree, right?

If you have specific questions about tree pruning, call Big Foot Tree Service at 973-885-8000.

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