We were blessed and/or cursed to have two mature citrus trees in our backyard. One is a orange and the other a grapefruit. At our last house, I thought it would be beyond amazing to have our own citrus trees and there we had a grapefruit, lemon, and orange tree. After the first amazing year that produced grapefruit, we were soon over-run with the things. I swore I would never purposely plant one again. (P.S. – I’m the only one in the family who even likes the stuff!) Fast forward to this house and the very large grapefruit tree. On the one hand, it does produce good grapefruit. On the other hand, way way way too much grapefruit. The first couple of years, I dutifully brought large bags of the stuff to work.. and to donation bins.. and mailed across the country…
That got old, fast. In reading about having home grown fruit, it is recommended that the trees actually have fruit that can be picked without a ladder. Huh. That means purposely ‘topping’ the tree, something that is normally frowned upon in tree circles. Well. We were sick of the tree, so we thought why not and got to work chopping down the tallest branch and tossing it in the bulk trash pile.
Fast forward several months, when I noticed that the bark on the tree was starting to peel and ooze. It was pretty gross looking (like an actual wound) — sorry, no pictures. No way that could be good. We decided to see what the people at Home Depot thought. They were puzzled and sent us to a local plant nursery.
Upon hearing our story, one of the tree guys instantly knew what was wrong! The grapefruit tree was suffering from sunburn. What?? He recommended using a sealant on the tree and paint. Paint? Yep. Apparently paint on citrus trees (common on trunks around here) is a sunscreen. It also doesn’t matter what color it is at all, just that it’s latex paint.
I went to town first painting the exposed wounds with the sealant and then painting the bark with white paint. We could’ve used whatever was lying around apparently, but that just seemed wrong. I’ll have to say that painting tree trunks is a very different experience from anything else I’ve ever done. Paint got all over the ground and me.
It’s not necessary to paint the entire trunk since the paint is only there as a sunblock. No sun means no need to paint it. Therefore, the parts of the trunk that were always in the shade weren’t painted.
The paint coverage also can vary a bit, depending on how much sun that part of the trunk gets. The paint coat gets lighter and lighter, the higher up it goes.
The end verdict though, is that the tree is doing just fine now. We didn’t have to chop the whole thing down, whew?
We used a pruning sealer similar to this one: Bonide 225 16-Ounce Brush Top Pruning Sealer
We used this tree paint (I used a complete quart to do the trunk and exposed branches): Arizona’s Best Tree Paint