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  Espalier, S’il Vous Pl&#0226it!
  November 6th, 2004

With the holidays just around the corner, it’s not too early to be thinking about specialty garden gifts or unique decorating ideas, such as citrus trees espaliered.

Potted and espaliered dwarf varieties of citrus trees make excellent decorative “walls” or “dividers” and are a wonderful gift for the fruit-loving gardener with limited space.

Most citrus trees are just about to go into their heaviest fruiting period — Valencia and Washington navel oranges, tangerines, Meyer lemons, and kumquats, to name a few. Espaliered citrus can be very expensive if purchased ready made, but here’s how you can make your own at a much lower cost:

  • Choose bushy five-gallon dwarf trees and plant in containers (at least 14″-16″ in diameter) using a good potting mixture such as Kellog’s Potting Soil.
  • Place a 3’x3′ trellis against the flatter side of the tree.
  • Gently spread the branches against the trellis and tie each one to the trellis with the green plastic tie tape (do NOT use metal twist ties).
  • Trim any branches in the front of the trellis that won’t lie flat. Be careful not to trim any with fruit on them.
  • As an option, plant the area below the trellis with cool season annuals such as pansies, violas, and calendulas, or perennials such as hybrid verbena, scaevola, lamium, or wire vine.
  • Fertilize when planting with Nurti-Pak for Fruit Trees. This will feed the plant when you forget for 3 years, and give you much faster and more vigorous growth.
  • Top dress in March and August with Dr. Earth Fruit Tree Fertilizer with beneficial microbes for even more abundant fruit and faster growth.
  • Place your espalier on a balcony or against a blank wall, or use two to form an entrance on either side of a walkway.
  • Add potted holiday foliage around the base of the pots, such as crotons or mums, for the fall or poinsettias and cyclamen at Christmas.

For gift giving, add a bow, and it’s ready to go — a gift that will last for years to come!

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