Q. Can I protect my orange tree from cold by running water over it?
Q: I have an orange tree I want to protect from the freeze. I am told I can run water over it and it will protect it from freezing but it seems like a waste of water. What should I do?
A : In order to totally protect the tree by water, you would need to start the water before the freeze and continue to water it after the freeze has passed. Although this procedure is used in citrus groves is it not recommended for the home owner. As you indicated, it is a terrible waste of water and not totally fool proof. In addition, citrus is especially sensitive to root rots which can be caused by excessive water – not a condition you want to encourage by adding too much water. Most of the oranges we grow in this area are grafted onto cold hardy root stock so there is less chance of loosing the tree from freeze damage. The portion of the tree you truly need to protect is the grafting part (where the root stock meets the scion). The scion is the upper portion of the tree which produces the desired fruit. You can place an insulating type fabric over this area during cold freezing temperatures to protect the tender upper part of the tree. Plus, you can place a fabric bed sheet or plastic over the top portion. Be sure it reaches the ground so you can trap the warm air coming off the ground to help keep the tree warm. Remove the sheet or plastic once temperatures increase above 30 degrees or once the sun comes out. Watering your tree properly prior to the freeze is also helpful. Cold frames can be built to cover the whole tree, but that should not be necessary for citrus trees grown here