Wednesday, November 7, 2012

New Fruit Trees and a New Butterfly

A couple of weeks ago we started planting fruit trees in the ground here at our new house. Fall and winter is a good time to plant fruit trees here in Texas, and really any perennials. Since summer is our most stressful season for plants, it gives them the maximum amount of time to establish a good root system before the heat sets in.

I'm still not sure about all the fruit trees I'll end up planting. I have dreams of homegrown oranges, apples, pears, peaches, and plums, but our space is limited. There are few places on our property where fruit trees could grow without the competition from our numerous live oaks, and in a contest against a mighty oak, a puny dwarf fruit tree doesn't have much of a chance.

I already had a Meyer Lemon and Key Lime in a pot, then my father-in-law gave us a fig tree he grew from a cutting from the fig tree in his own yard. Then my husband bought us a small pomegranate tree from a local nursery.

We finally decided to plant them in the front yard, right along the street. The front yard has a mott of live oaks, but they're nearer the house, leaving a sunny strip right up front. And fruit trees are attractive, right? They should make fine front-yard plants!

I think we should cut back the oaks limbs a little bit. A couple of them stretch over very close to the fruit trees, but cutting them off shouldn't hurt the oak trees too much. A little bit of shade might actually be beneficial in this climate, but for the most part they're in the sun. There should be plenty of sun coming in from the street side (which is where I was standing when I took this picture).

Here's the pomegranate with a tomato cage around it to protect it from deer. It's a Wonderful, which is the variety they commonly sell in stores. I considered looking for a more unusual variety, but that was the only kind the nursery had. We paid $7 for it, and considering that pomegranates cost $3 or $4 each at the store, I think it was a good investment.

Here's the fig tree, without a cage, which turned out to be a bad idea, because I just checked on it this morning, and it looks like the deer might have sampled it. I thought fig leaves would have some kind of latex substance (like other members of the genus Ficus) that would deter deer, but it's only got two leaves left now. However, the leaves that got torn off are laying on the ground, so either I'm wrong and it wasn't deer after all, or they spit the leaves out. I'm sure it will grow back, but in the meantime, I should get a cage for it too.

The last tree we planted is the Meyer Lemon tree. We haven't planted the Key Lime yet, but plan to. No cage, because I'm sure deer wouldn't like the strong-smelling citrus leaves. Except, as I was watering the tree here, I noticed someone who does!

On one of the leaves I saw what at first glance looked like a great big bird poop, but upon closer inspection...

It's actually a caterpillar! A caterpillar trying to look like bird poop! Turns out it's a Giant Swallowtail caterpillar, one of the most impressive butterfly species around here. Very appropriate during the Butterfly Moon. Their host species are any members of the Citrus family, including some native trees that are common around here, like Wafer Ash and Tickle-tongue, but obviously they like the domesticated Citrus species as well. I decided to leave the caterpillar be. My lemon tree is very healthy, and can probably spare a few leaves for such a cool butterfly. It's funny how something so beautiful can grow from something that looks like poop!


  1. Just wanted to say that I love your header pic of the Roadrunner :)

  2. Oh i like this article. It reminds me of my childhood. I used to eat fruits from my granny's orchards. Planting fruit trees is a delight to the eyes. Nothing beats this sight. Oranges, peaches, plums all taste lovely after production. Orchard plantation gives a complete control for plant maintenance.
    Plant some fruit trees and enjoy the produce.
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