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Help with training young fruit trees

 
Courtney Wolfgang
Posts: 3
Location: Cocoa Beach, FL
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Hello!

I am still a newbie in regards to fruit trees. Thanks in advance for any help you can provide!

Two Christmases ago, we planted a small Persian Lime tree bought at a nursery and propagated by a cutting from a mature tree. Being inexperienced, we didn't care for the young tree as well as we should. It is still small, surviving but not thriving. Though I pinched most of the fruit, I did allow it to bear about 4 limes in its short lifetime. Now I know I should have pinched ALL the fruit the first year in the ground.

Anyway, my question now is how to shape the small shrub into more of a tree shape. I have already pruned a few low lateral branches, taking about 40% of the tree--an aggressive prune. Now, it has a leader that splits into a perfect "y" with dual leaders, 9 inches off of the ground (see attached file IMG_0003.jpg). Do I choose one of these dual leaders to be the leader and lop off the other one? If so, how do I know which to choose? Or should I not do any more pruning as it has already been pruned a lot, should I prune one leader next year? I also heard of a method where you cut half of the unwanted leader this year, and the rest next year. Am I correct in assuming it is better for the tree to have just one leader instead of dual leaders, or are dual leaders acceptable for a Persian Lime?

I also have a Mulberry Tree with the same problem--dual leaders emerging just above ground level (see attached file IMG_0004.jpg). Should I prune to a single leader, and is now the time (Spring) to do it?

I live in Central Florida Zone 9 coastal... 8 blocks from the beach.

Thank you SO much for any advice you have to give... I am all ears, and VERY appreciative!


PS... if any pemies have a suggestion about what kind of companion plants to plant at the base of these trees, I would love to hear your thoughts on that too!
IMG_0003.jpg
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Lime Tree
IMG_0004.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_0004.jpg]
Mulberry Tree
 
John Elliott
pollinator
Posts: 2295
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Citrus trees don't like companions. They naturally form a sphere resting on the ground shape because they want to exclude all other plants inside their drip line. I'm even wondering if you have too much mulch under it. But as long as you keep it weeded, it should do well. I have done hoserkultur on my citrus trees, and it seems to have had positive results. As far as the shape of the tree, it looks OK in the pic, so see how it puts on growth this season.

Mulberries are a different case. They should have one strong trunk, and then once you get up about 4 or 5 feet you can do any sort of crazy topiary you want. A mulberry can take repeated pollarding and still come back, sending out new branches from the main trunk. That does allow for some type of ground cover around the base of it, but it better be a shade loving plant, as mulberries have a pretty dense canopy.
 
Courtney Wolfgang
Posts: 3
Location: Cocoa Beach, FL
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Great, thank you so much John!
 
chris spaugh
Posts: 14
Location: Athens, Ga moving to Little River, SC soon
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Just for your info, that mulberry tree will be enormous, you might consider moving it away from your fence a little.
 
Leila Rich
steward
Posts: 3999
Location: Wellington, New Zealand. Temperate, coastal, sandy, windy,
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Welcome to permies Courtney
Courtney Wolfgang wrote:how to shape the small shrub into more of a tree shape...it has a leader that splits into a perfect "y" with dual leaders... Do I choose one of these dual leaders to be the leader and lop off the other one?
Limes are relatively small, and are usually trained into a bushy shrub, rather than tree form.
You can prune most things most ways, but you'll be fighting it...
Citrus don't generally need much in the way of pruning, aside from taking out larger branches that grow inward toward the centre, and shortening branches that shoot up on their own-I'd probably take that one at the top back .
When I 'head back' branches, I always cut just above a strong, outward-facing bud.

With the mulberry, I definitely second moving it. They are very large trees!
I'd take out the left-hand leader right at the base, and head back the remaining leader, maybe above the two branches under that green tape.

I second checking that the mulch isn't up against the trunks of both-basically all woody plants can get collar-rot, and citrus are really susceptible.
An old seedling pot keeps mulch away. I just cut all the way up one side of the pot with scissors and slip it around the trunk.
 
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