Oak saplings from Toomer's Corner get a new home

Site selection for oaks is very important. Large specimens can reach more than 100 feet tall and 100 feet wide. (Courtesy of Wendy Wilber)

Published: Saturday, October 6, 2012 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, October 4, 2012 at 2:56 p.m.

Q: I have a question about planting two new live oak saplings we have acquired. These saplings were developed from acorns from the two oak trees at Toomer's Corner at the edge of the Auburn University campus.

Assuming you are a Florida Gator, you may or may not know about these lovely old trees that were maliciously poisoned by a sick Alabama fan two years ago. These old trees are near death, and the AU Foundation is selling offspring for both fundraising, but also to perpetuate the memory of the trees.

We have plenty of land. Where should we plant them?

A: Of course I have heard of this terrible act of vandalism against the beautiful oaks of Auburn University. I think it is a great project for the War Eagle faithful to perpetuate the oaks that resonate with the Auburn alumni.

Site selection for oaks is very important. Live oaks can get huge, and you will need to give them plenty of room to spread and become the grand trees that they will be. Large specimens can reach more than 100 feet tall and 100 feet wide, but this will take decades. Plant them at least 50 feet apart and away from any existing tree line. If the saplings have a trunk diameter of more than 1 inch, you can plant them this fall. Make sure that you water them at least every other day for two months, and water at least once a week for a year.

If necessary, you will need to protect them from deer damage with fencing. For more information about growing oak trees, visit

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Q: I have a kaffir lime tree. It produces leaves that I use in Thai cooking. A friend of mine recently shared with me that it is illegal. Could this be true? She said that we could not get the plants shipped into the state, and that we aren't allowed to grow them. Please advise.

A: For hot-button questions like these, I always check in with the Department of Agriculture so I know that we are doing the right thing to protect Florida's agriculture. Here is the information that they shared with me.

The restrictions on Citrus hystix, also known as kaffir lime or Thai lime, are the same as on any other citrus species in Florida.

All the species of citrus are under federal quarantine. This means that you cannot propagate, sell or move citrus plants into or out of the state without a permit; this is not a change.

We have been under these tough laws for years to protect our citrus industry. Nowhere in the law does it state that you can't grow and enjoy the deliciously fragrant leaves of the kaffir lime. Your friend may have heard that there is a restriction on the movement of fresh kaffir lime leaves. Fresh kaffir lime leaves can no longer be imported, exported or sold without a permit. This, again, is to prevent the spread of disease to our citrus-producing areas.

Since kaffir lime or Thai lime is tropical in nature, you will need to protect the tree during freezing temperatures. Maybe growing the little lime tree in a pot will make it easier to save it from our winters. They do have lots of thorns, so be careful where you place the tree. Also, the word "kaffir" is considered offensive in some parts of the world, so many horticulturalists are moving to the synonym "Thai lime."

Wendy Wilber is an extension agent with UF/IFAS. Email her at

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