Now is the time to prep for moving citrus indoors

Now is the time to prep for moving citrus indoors

Tracey FitzgibbonQ: I have a couple of citrus trees on my patio that really have done well living in the filtered sun and heat they’ve been enjoying this year. I think I have to bring them in for the winter months, right? When should I do that and any suggestions on the how’s and what’s I need to do for them would be appreciated. – H.L., Albuquerque

A: The first thing I suggest is making room for them indoors. You don’t say how big the containers are, but I’ll bet they aren’t small. I believe the space should be as brightly lit throughout the winter months as you can offer, so keep that in mind when you’re choosing their winter home.

Aim to keep them on the cool side, too. I wouldn’t place them too close to a heating vent.

It’s time to start to monitoring your trees for any pests that could be hidden on the citrus. Get up close and personal and inspect the leaf surface, especially the underneath sides of the leaves for any sign of pests. If you find any, or even just want to be sure you don’t bring in any trouble, then I’ll recommend spraying with a horticultural oil, sometimes known as superior oil or summer oil. This oil is finer and more refined than the dormant oil I frequently tout as an early season outdoor pesticide, but it will be more easily tolerated by your citrus. You can find it in any well-stocked nursery pharmacopeia. I’m confident it could be found online too.

I’d spray to be on the safe side, especially if you have other houseplants you’d want to defend. No sense bringing in trouble.

Next, do you have a clean and correct-sized saucer at the ready? You’ll want to have one that is at least two, maybe four inches, wider than the bottom of the pot so when you water, there isn’t any overflow.

Just before you bring the citrus in, be sure to give the pots a good wiping off, too. Your goal is to stop any interlopers from coming in with the citrus trees.

Our average first frost here in the Metro is Oct. 17, and if you live along the valley floor, it has been known to happen a little sooner. If there are other houseplants you are planning on bringing in, all the suggestions hold for them, too. Prepare, treat, and clean.

Your citrus will be happy you did.

Dear readers: I goofed! T.C. in Corrales, the delightful plant you and the missus have growing in the peace garden isn’t sand verbena (Abronia).

In reality it is called winged sand puff or Tripterocalyx carneus. So, Bill, consider yourself vindicated!

I had done a deep dive on this plant in a previous article, and with the help of the website and G. Miller, had been able to identify this remarkable creature as the winged sand puff, not sand verbena (although they are in the same family).

Marcia, you called it T. micranthus, “the pink one.”

I jumped back in time and remembered the day I was told “It’s sand verbena.” To “vindicate” myself, several of the websites I visited do say its “common name” is sand verbena.

All I can say is oops, I’ll never forget again, and that I am so very grateful for all of the missives making me relearn a smidgen more about this beautiful and I’m presuming somewhat sturdy, evidently perennial charmer.

Happy Diggin’ In!

Tracey Fitzgibbon is a certified nurseryman. Send garden-related questions to Digging In, Albuquerque Journal, 7777 Jefferson NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109, or to


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