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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 Feb. 5

Make the most of sunny days and get winter tasks done:

* This is the last chance to spray fruit trees before they bloom. Treat peach and nectarine trees with copper-based fungicide. Spray apricot trees at bud swell to prevent brown rot. Apply horticultural oil to control scale, mites and aphids on fruit trees soon after a rain. But remember: Oils need at least 24 hours to dry to be effective. Don’t spray during foggy weather or when rain is forecast.

* Feed spring-blooming shrubs and fall-planted perennials with slow-release fertilizer. Feed mature trees and shrubs after spring growth starts.

* Finish pruning roses and deciduous trees.

* Remove aphids from blooming bulbs with a strong spray of water or insecticidal soap.

* Fertilize strawberries and asparagus.

* Transplant or direct-seed several flowers, including snapdragon, candytuft, lilies, astilbe, larkspur, Shasta and painted daisies, stocks, bleeding heart and coral bells.

* In the vegetable garden, plant Jerusalem artichoke tubers, and strawberry and rhubarb roots.

* Transplant cabbage and its close cousins – broccoli, kale and Brussels sprouts – as well as lettuce (both loose leaf and head).

* Plant artichokes, asparagus and horseradish from root divisions.

* Plant potatoes from tubers and onions from sets (small bulbs). The onions will sprout quickly and can be used as green onions in March.

* From seed, plant beets, chard, lettuce, mustard, peas, radishes and turnips.

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