The Q&A Archives: Citrus Trees near Cape Honeysuckle

Question: We have a lemon and an orange tree growing adjacent to three cape honeysuckle standards on our backyard slope. The standards are positioned higher up on the slope than are the citrus trees, which seem to be dying. Could the honeysuckles be killing the citrus trees? Several years ago, when the trees had suffered a similar fate, we cut down two honeysuckle standards and that seemed to help the citrus trees a bit.

Answer: The situation you describe sounds as though the honeysuckles are competing for water, and are winning the competition. Citrus trees have shallow roots and prefer moist soil. If yours are not thriving, I'd suspect they're not getting enough water because of competition from the more vigorous honeysuckles. Try making a basin over the rootmass of each of your citrus trees and flooding the basins once a week during the fall and winter months and twice a week in the spring and summer. This should provide the required moisture to the roots of your citrus. An additional step would be to try to stop the roots of the honeysuckles from growing too closely to the trees. Keep them back by cutting a straight line with a flat bladed spade, as deep as the blade will go, between the honeysuckle and the trees. Severing the roots of the vines shouldn't compromise the plants and will help keep the competing roots away from the citrus trees.

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