Strawberries in the Desert

Story telling from Australia

Should you tip prune citrus?

That was the question I googled this week following a brutal hailstorm that neatly tip pruned all the citrus trees, crushed the blueberries and stripped paint off the back door (we probably should have got a professional painter and we definitely should have used acrylic.)

tip pruning courtesy of the hailstorm

Tip pruning courtesy of the hailstorm

“Citrus are best pruned little and often.”

“I like to give newly planted citrus a tip prune.”

That’s a relief then.

I’m surprisingly chipper about the whole situation, largely because the lemon, lime and even the struggling grapefruit have clung to their buds with admirable tenacity. Maybe they react better to adversity than to a vague bumbling along at just under par?

My own bumbling was beginning to feel alarmingly like the new normal until several developments in the garden this week swept it aside.

Lemon Eureka held onto most of its buds

Lemon Eureka held onto most of its buds

A short section of new fence was installed. Humdrum, I thought; a functional necessity atop the brick wall to help hide a three-storey house that will appear some time next year. I grumbled that it would cut out more light from this shady yard and complained at the need to install it.

But guess what? It’s beautiful.

The back yard looks bigger, more finished somehow. Yes we might lose a bit of light but I’m gradually beginning to rise to the challenge of nurturing plants that might one day thrive in these less than ideal conditions. The fence is painted mellow ‘Jaspar’. I picture the day when tendrils of jasmine will climb through it.

The new fence

The new fence

Looks good

Looks good








The hibiscus in the front garden has gone too, replaced by a grafted avocado. The excitement of planting the new tree was tempered by the knowledge that avocado trees don’t like getting their feet wet. Poor drainage will quickly kill them.

Thankfully the arrival of this small tree was so eagerly anticipated that I gave due attention to the soil before I planted.  I dug in dolomite, gypsum, zinc sulphate and compost; I sprinkled trace elements and formed a mound to stop water pooling.

I'm hoping the avocado will survive

I’m hoping the avocado will survive

The hailstorm hit two days later and the rain gauge overflowed, so I can only hope I did enough for that tree to survive.

Hope is the new normal now that spring is just around the corner.

All hail to that! 

6 comments on “Should you tip prune citrus?

  1. nantubre
    August 27, 2015

    love love love the idea of an avocado tree! making my mouth water, Deb. I don’t believe we could grow one here. Sounds like a brutal storm was about. Take care.


    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      August 28, 2015

      Nan I hope you get a chance to read the details from Carricklass, such fun to read all those details, especially the ‘big rock in the middle’!


  2. Carricklass
    August 27, 2015

    Nantube, you started me thinking about the possibility of growing an avocado tree, So, I started searching for info on the net. It seems that you have to be either in California or Australia. However, I came across a forum on dated Oct 2008. It all started with an Irishman!!!!

    Q. Eric2000. I have an avocado plant can you help me on how to look after it. Its about 5cm big because its young. I live in Ireland will it be ok outside and how to look after it.

    A. Marc Leeds. I have no idea but my instinct tells me that an avocado will not live outdoors in ireland….

    The only friend i have that has them in his garden lives in Trinidad… that’s a bit warmer…
    i would suggest that you keep it indoors, make sure its in a good size pot so it will grow… plenty of feed and good soil…

    water it a couple of times a week, and make it wear a scarf and hat if it goes out to the shops…

    A. TheWhiteRabbit

    it’s an australian website but it should help you out

    A. GeoffPP In the UK & NI, its easy to plant an avocado seed, and have it grow – its one of those things lots of school kids do. But – in the local climate, the chance of it actually growing well, and producing fruit is, approximately, zero – we don’t have the long warm summers necessary. Even in a greenhouse, I doubt it would flourish, though perhaps if you had a hothouse it might. Enjoy it for what it is, but don’t expect to be able to eat any fruit.

    Q. Eric200 thanks everyone

    To marc_leeds: thanks i have it indoors.

    To the white rabbit: thanks for the site

    To geoffp: did you mean the big rock in the middle of the avocado plant as the seed as i want to really use it for decoration but if i get fruit thats cool

    A. GeoffPP – yes, of course! The “big rock in the middle” is the seed – what did you think it was?

    I’m afraid that there really isn’t a cat in hells chance of getting any fruit from it in Ireland. The Avocado is a tree (grows up to 20 metres high and doesn’t fruit until its well grown – about 10 years). It grows in a humid tropical or sub-tropical climate, and, though it has been grown in the South of England with a great deal of care in very favourable spots, it is rare for it to fruit there.

    Here is a good page about growing Avocado in England:-

    A. Pierrot I have an avocado tree in my little garden in central London. It has plenty of fruit on it, although none have as yet fallen off. The garden is very sheltered and we have had a long ‘subtropical’ summer.

    A. Mummza Are we talking London Uk here ?

    I am sorry , I have not shared your experiecnces of a long subtropical summer.
    You must have a little oasis of heat in your garden or something as most of us have found this summer to be short and chilly.
    It did start well though with a few weeks of heat in June / July but as soon as the children went on their 6 week summer school break the weather seemed to turn off like it was being controlled by a switch somewhere or other .

    Goodness , you have avocados in London and here where I am I hardly had a single garden grown tomato ripen.

    A. Pierrot Yes I am in London, UK, no more than 10 mins walk from Big Ben.
    Today has been misty and sunny with very high humidity, and only the slightest puff of breeze….can’t give you figures, but it feels blissful to me, the air is good and there is that mellow, warm feeling that I have not known in all the years that I have lived in London.
    The garden is a small mostly paved and walled space, close to the railway with its tall brick arches. It is usually damp and gets mostly a little afternoon sun. I guess the bricks might be the reason for the heat, but the tree was covered in snow at one point in the winter! The leaves look a bit tired by the spring, but by the middle of summer they have all been replaced. It just came up about eight years ago from a seed thrown on the garden bed. It was an avocado that I had for lunch, so I don’t know anything about its variety. There are two other small ones coming up elsewhere in the garden and a few in pots both inside and out.

    So, basically no chance of growing an avocado tree in Belfast!!!


    • debhuntwasinbrokenhill
      August 28, 2015

      Carricklass you’re a legend! I love all this info about avocado and feel the small tree in London should have its own website, blog, twitter account and instagram to share its story with the world. A paved and walled space? That sounds very like our garden in Australia! Unfortunately I’ve planted the avocado in the front garden, which is windswept and exposed. Ah well, I will keep a close eye on it and see how it goes.


  3. Eliza Waters
    August 29, 2015

    The fence does look good! I’m sure your new avocado will be happy after all the care you put into the soil. You must be so thrilled that spring is on its way!


  4. debhuntwasinbrokenhill
    August 31, 2015

    Thanks Eliza, I’m very happy to see new shoots!


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This entry was posted on August 27, 2015 by and tagged , , , , .

I'm a writer based in Australia with a passion for gardening, remote places and people with a story to tell.

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