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Mailbag: Leaky mimosa trees, irrigating citrus

Weather-related issues

Green oranges
Orange trees in summer appreciate deep watering,
every 10 to 14 days. (Photo: Kathy Morrison)

and Kathy Morrison

Send us your questions! This new Q&A will be a regular feature on Sacramento Digs Gardening.

Q: I have a beautiful mimosa tree that is leaking sap in the trunk and now it’s spreading to the large branches of the tree. Green Acres wasn't able to help me. I know this is a gardening website but I thought I would ask if you have seen this or know of a professional arborist.

-- Pamela

A: It could be normal or it could be the sign of something bad. Some trees (including mimosa trees) leak sap as a way to relieve pressure inside the tree's vascular system, especially during extremely hot weather (which we've had).

Are the tree's leaves still green? If so, then the tree is probably fine. But if the tree's leaves are also turning yellow and dropping, then the leaky branches may be a sign of fusarium wilt, the same fungal disease that kills heirloom tomatoes and lurks in soil all over Sacramento.

Is it clear, sticky, normal sap or is it frothy or smells fermented? Normal sap is OK; frothy or alcoholic-smelling sap is not.

The UC Davis Arboretum has mimosa trees (also called silk trees) and may have an expert who can answer your questions. Also, Sacramento Tree Foundation experts can be very helpful. They also have a list of certified arborists they can provide, at

Q: Do you know if there’s a way to deep water 2 trees at the same time?  I have a lemon tree and an orange tree very close together and wondering if I can buy something to water them at the same time.  I thought I saw a “Y” shaped hose for gardening, but all I can find online are hoses for washers.

Thank you!

-- Maria P.

A. For watering your citrus trees, I’d suggest this: Attach a y-shaped shutoff valve (available at big box stores, hardware stores and nurseries) to the end of your main garden hose. Then attach soaker hoses (or whatever you prefer to use) from each side of the Y and run them to your trees.

Remember that the roots of citrus trees run out past the drip line (farthest edge of the leaves) so loop the soaker hose out there, not right next to the trunk.

Hope that helps. Happy gardening!

-- Kathy Morrison


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Dig In: Garden Checklist

For week of March 3:

* Celebrate the city flower! Catch the 100th Sacramento Camellia Show 3 to 6 p.m. Saturday, March 2, and 10 a.m to 5 p.m. Sunday, March 3, at the Scottish Rite Center, 6151 H St., Sacramento. Admission is free.

* Between showers, pick up fallen camellia blooms; that helps cut down on the spread of blossom blight that prematurely browns petals.

* Feed camellias after they bloom with fertilizer formulated for acid-loving plants.

* Camellias need little pruning. Remove dead wood and shape, if necessary.

* Tread lightly or not at all on wet ground; it compacts soil.

* Avoid digging in wet soil, too; wait until it clumps in your hand but doesn’t feel squishy.

* Note spots in your garden that stay wet after storms; improve drainage with the addition of organic matter such as compost.

* Keep an eye out for leaning trunks or ground disturbances around a tree’s base, a sign of shifting roots in the wet soil.

* Fertilize roses, annual flowers and berries as spring growth begins to appear.

* If aphids are attracted to new growth, knock them off with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap. To make your own “bug soap,” use two tablespoons liquid soap – not detergent – to one quart water in a spray bottle. Shake it up before use. Among the liquid soaps that seem most effective are Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Soaps; try the peppermint scent.

* Pull weeds now! Don’t let them get started. Take a hoe and whack them as soon as they sprout.

* Prune and fertilize spring-flowering shrubs after bloom.

* Cut back and fertilize perennial herbs to encourage new growth.

* Make plans for your summer garden. Once the soil is ready, start adding amendments such as compost.

* Indoors, start seeds for summer favorites such as tomatoes, peppers and squash as well as summer flowers.

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