Roots, Shoots, Fruits & Flowers: No Oranges, Soil Testing, Mystery Shrub & Dry Citrus

Melissa of Hammond was concerned and sent this email about her orange tree, “I have a medium size tree that had lots of oranges on it last year this time. As of today, there are no oranges growing on the tree. Is that common or could there be a problem with the tree? It is full of leaves an appears healthy otherwise. I was wondering if they do not bear fruit every year.”

The reply could be a “good news, bad news” answer. AHA replied by email, “The good news is your tree survived the big freeze we had in February. The bad news is that I suspect the flower buds did not survive and your tree was unable to be pollinated.” If there are no flowers, then there will be an absence of fruit. Also, the tree sounds like it is otherwise healthy and should produce fruit after the next mild winter.

GayNell from the Sharpton area near Jena asked a very timely question, “The soil at my home seems to be very poor and I have several oaks and pines. I would like to improve the quality of my soil for future landscaping but have no idea where to begin. Can you offer me any advice?”

AHA responded, “You can pick up a soil sampling kit at the AgCenter at the Jena Courthouse. Once you received your results, feel free to ask questions about the recommendations. I suspect you will need to add lime, and you can do so this fall. Then you apply fertilizer in the spring when plants start growing.”

All offices of the LSU AgCenter have these soil sampling kits. Some garden centers also provide these kits. In general, the AgCenter recommends sampling soil in the fall. However, sampling anytime is better than never sampling.

Bunny saw a landscape this fall and asked for help to identify the plants catching her eye, “In photo 3 what is the silver looking plant? This yard was so beautiful I had to brake and take these pics! Now I want some for my garden! “

AHA consulted with a couple of knowledgeable AgCenter horticulturists. Mr. Kerry Heafner wrote, “A closer, higher resolution pic would be more helpful. But, to me, the leaves look oppositely arranged, which would rule out Elaeagnus [or autumn olive]. It looks more like variegated Ligustrum, or [Dr.] Sara [Shields] may be on the mark with Weigela. Both would have opposite leaves. Just based on the pic, I would go with either Ligustrum or Weigela.”

This column started with a citrus question and is ending with a different citrus question.

Sharon emailed this question, “I have satsuma tree that was planted about 7-8 years ago. It has never produced edible fruit. Every year I say I am going to give it ‘one more year’. The first 5 years, it produced nothing. The last 2 years have produced a dry, white, inedible fruit (photo attached). Is it time to replace it with a better performer? It is partially shaded and gets West sun. An orange tree on the other side of the yard gets less sun and is a good producer.”

AHA consulted with Dr. Raj Singh, AgCenter’s “Plant Doctor”, and he offered this counsel for Sharon, “The white dry fruit is a puffy fruit resulting from late bloom. I would recommend pruning and fertilizing the tree next spring and give it another year or so before replacing it. See attached home citrus production guide for pruning and fertilizer recommendations: Louisiana Home Citrus Production Guide.

If you want to contact Roots, Shoots, Fruits and Flowers, please send your questions and pictures to Keith Hawkins, Area Horticulture Agent (AHA), 318-264-2448 or Also, please share the name of your parish.

“Before you buy or use an insecticide product, first read the label, and strictly follow label recommendations. Mention of trade names or commercial products in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute endorsement by Louisiana State University AgCenter.”

“This work has been supported, in part, by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, Renewable Resources Extension Act Award, Accession Number 1011417.”


Figure 1. Citrus


Figure 2. LSU AgCenter Soil Test Kit


Figure 3.


Figure 4. Dried Citrus

11/24/2021 2:44:09 PM
Rate This Article:

Have a question or comment about the information on this page?

Innovate . Educate . Improve Lives

The LSU AgCenter and the LSU College of Agriculture