10 Oct Citrus Tree Guide: Best Time to Plant Citrus Trees
There’s nothing quite so sweet as walking out into your backyard and picking a citrus fruit off of a tree. From grapefruits to lemons, limes, and oranges, many gardeners grow a variety of citrus fruits successfully — and many prefer planting in the fall to give their trees plenty of time over the winter to develop a strong root system. Trees also require less water in the colder months, and anytime someone says “less water,” my ears perk up.
But before they start digging holes, gardeners need to pay attention to what zone they live in. Any USDA Hardiness Zone north of zone 8 should plant citrus trees in containers, as most citrus will suffer damage when exposed to temperatures under 32 degrees F. Gardeners in zone 8 can plant citrus outside as long as it’s on the south or southeast side of the house for protection. Zones 9 and above can safely grow citrus in their gardens without much need for added protection — although it’s always best to be prepared to cover them up in case of a fluke cold snap. And as always, if you have any questions, get the advice of your local county extension office for the best times and methods in your area.
Ask Clay: When’s the best time to plant a lime tree?
We recently moved into a home with citrus and fruit trees and we would like to plant a lime tree. What time of year is it best to do that?
I read that at least half of the homes in the Valley have citrus trees of one kind or another. I wonder if that’s true.
You can plant citrus trees pretty much any time of the year, although the best months are March, April and October.
Smaller trees are easier to plant and pose a lesser risk of transplant shock.
You newcomers or first-time snowbirds surely understand the risk of transplant problems. Don’t worry. You’ll get over it. Eventually.
Bestir yourself to dig a hole twice as big around as the container the young tree came in. Better yet get somebody else to dig the hole while you watch.
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You — or somebody else — should dig the hole so the soil level on the trunk is the same as it was in the container.
Take the plant out of its container and place it in the hole. Stick your garden hose in the hole, put the dirt back and fill the hole with water. Get into the shade and have a cool drink.
Then wait a few years and you’ll have limes for your margaritas.
What is the origin of the phrase “caught red-handed?”
You must have misplaced your copy of the 1432 Scottish Acts of Parliament of James I.
That was the first documented reference to red-handed, which suggests you’ve been caught with blood on your hands, perhaps from murder, poaching or who knows what.
Zone 8 Citrus Trees: Tips On Growing Citrus In Zone 8
The traditional citrus belt spans the area between California along the Gulf coast to Florida. These zones are USDA 8 to 10. In areas that expect freezes, semi hardy citrus are the way to go. These might be satsuma, mandarin, kumquat or Meyer lemon. Any of these would be perfect citrus trees for zone 8. Containers are also excellent options for growing citrus in zone 8. So whether you want sweet fruits or acid-type fruits, there are selections available that can thrive in zone 8.
Can You Grow Citrus in Zone 8?
Citrus was introduced to the continental United States in 1565 by Spanish explorers. Over the years there have been increasingly large groves of many types of citrus, but most of the oldest stands have died to freeze damage.
Modern hybridizing has led to citrus plants that are hardier and more able to withstand such factors as high humidity and occasional light freezes with protection. In the home garden, such protection can be more difficult without the technology available to large scale growers. This is why selecting the right citrus trees for zone 8 is important and enhances your chances of successful harvests.
Much of the zone 8 region is coastal or partially coastal. These areas are mild and have extended warm seasons but they also receive violent storms and some freezing during winter. These are less than perfect conditions for tender or even semi-hardy citrus plants. Choosing one of the hardier cultivars as well as situating the plant with some protection can help defray these potentially damaging conditions.
Dwarf plants are easier to look after in case of storm or freeze expectations. Keeping an old blanket handy to cover the plant when a cold snap is due can help save your crop and the tree. Young zone 8 citrus trees are particularly susceptible. Trunk wraps and other types of temporary covers are also beneficial. Selection of rootstock is also important. Trifoliate orange is an excellent rootstock which imparts cold resistance to its scion.
Zone 8 Citrus Trees
Meyer is the most cold hardy variety of lemon. Fruits are nearly seedless and even a small plant can produce a large harvest.
The Mexican or Key West lime is the most tolerant of cold in this fruit category. It may do best grown in a container on casters that can be moved to shelter if heavy cold weather threatens.
Satsumas are cold tolerant and their fruit will ripen well before most cold weather occurs. Some of the better cultivars are Owari, Armstrong Early, and Browns’ Select.
Tangerines, like satsumas, are very able to withstand light freezes and cold temperatures. Examples of this fruit might be Clementine, Dancy or Ponkan.
Kumquats bear no harm even when exposed to temperatures of 15 to 17 degrees Fahrenheit (-9 to -8 degrees Celsius).
Ambersweet and Hamlin are two sweet oranges to try and navels like Washington, Summerfield and Dream are good in the zone.
Growing Citrus in Zone 8
Choose a full sun location for your citrus. Citrus trees can be planted on the southwestern side of the house near a wall or other protection. They perform best in sandy loam, so if your soil is clay or heavy, add plenty of compost and some fine silt or sand.
The best time to plant is late winter or early spring. Dig the whole twice as wide and deep as the root ball. If necessary, cut across the root ball several times to loosen roots and stimulate root growth.
Fill in around the roots halfway and then add water to help soil get in around the roots. When water is absorbed by soil, tamp down and finish filling the hole. Water the soil again. Make a water trench around the root zone of the tree. Water twice per week for the first month and then once per week unless extreme dry conditions occur.
Have you wondered how to grow a lemon tree? Do you have enough space to plant a blood orange? In a general sense, all citrus trees have similar requirements for light, fertilizer, watering, and pruning. However, some aspects vary for certain trees such as space requirements or cold hardiness. This article covers three points to consider before you set out to find those perfect citrus trees for sale.
Match Citrus Tree Size To Location
The first thing to determine is where your new citrus tree will be planted. The time and attention you spend to match your tree to the available space will reward you with a happy, healthy tree, and easy management as your citrus tree grows. Dwarf citrus trees are the smallest, and reach a size of 10 to 12 feet tall, and 9 to 11 feet wide. Standard trees are larger, and attain dimensions up to 25 feet high, and 18 feet wide. Choose a tree that will fit the space you have without constant pruning. Also consider how a full-grown citrus tree will affect other plants or structures nearby. Carefully view your location, and visualize the mature tree there. Be sure to allow it room to grow.
Choose The Best Citrus Tree For Your Climate
Most citrus trees are hardy to U.S. Department of Agriculture Zones 9 to 11. But some citrus varieties are more sensitive to cold than others. For example, the least cold hardy of all citrus trees is the Mexican lime. The Mexican lime tree will only tolerate temperatures down to 28 degrees Fahrenheit. On the opposite end of the cold hardy spectrum is the kumquat. Kumquat trees are hardy down to a frigid 10 degrees Fahrenheit, and are suitable to USDA Zone 8, if the location is sheltered from wind. Always select a citrus tree with a USDA plant hardiness zone to match your location.
Where You Buy Your Citrus Tree Matters
When you buy your new orange tree, lemon tree, or key lime tree from a reputable and experienced grower, you can be confident that you are introducing a healthy tree into your yard. A properly nurtured citrus tree that is free of pests or diseases will grow into a beautiful specimen. A citrus tree that has been cultivated properly, raised correctly, then shipped carefully provides the foundation for your successful citrus growing journey.
So match the right tree size to your location. Choose a citrus variety that will thrive in your climate. Then purchase your citrus tree from a reputable, experienced grower. Follow these three simple guidelines, and you will be rewarded with delicious fruit to enjoy and share for years to come.
The aspiring gardener can grow pretty much any citrus tree variety in Austin, provided they’re willing to protect certain varieties from winter cold. The following is a list of varieties and their descriptions, including notes on cold hardiness.
This plant is grown more for its looks than for its fruit edibility. It is hardy to 20°F. The edible fruit is small and orange, about one inch in diameter, and resembles a small tangerine.
They have a wide range of flavors, but are always delicious. All are easy to peel, many are seedless. Some mandarins are loosely called tangerines, a name given to reddish orange mandarins like Dancy to market them. For our purposes, there are two types, the common mandarins like Clementine and Dancy, and the Satsumas, the best citrus for our area. Mandarins do not hold well on trees and should be picked when ripe. Mandarins are very cold hardy, taking temperatures of 24ºF with little damage. Satsumas are considered the most cold hardy of the eaten citrus.
Arctic Frost & Orange Frost—heavily fragrant flowers and extra cold tolerance (10-20°F) make these patented varieties a popular choice. Seedless, juicy, easy peeling fruit. Zone 8A.
Clementine Mandarin—small, seedy, easy to peel. Spring bloom, Oct/Dec harvest. Very popular. Zone 8b.
Owari –Known for its cold tolerance, with large thick-skinned fruit that’s easy to peel. Flavor is excellent. Best harvested and stored at peak of ripening. Fruit ripens November to December. Self fertile. Zones 8A-10.
Miho Satsuma— New, fewer seeds, higher production, develops color on fruit in late summer, harvest around Thanksgiving. Get 10-12’ tall. “2010 Texas Superstar”. Its wood survived temps of 16-20°, but should be protected below 25° to keep it looking its best.
Ponkan Mandarin – Its fruit are really large for mandarins, having orange rind and flesh. The flesh is tender and melting, with mild flavor and aroma. Hardy to 18-20°F. Zone 8b-9.
Seto Satsuma – Large reddish orange fruit ripens Nov-Dec. Oblong leaves on drooping branches. Zone 8b.
Oranges are medium in their cold hardiness, though some can be grown here because of their early ripening and cold hardiness. All are, obviously, sweet. All are zone 9A, but its best to protect them if temperatures drop below 24°F.
Hamlin Orange—one of the earlier ripening and hardier sweet oranges. Can peel, but usually grown for juice
Moro Blood Orange—The most reliably colored blood oranges. The most popular home citrus tree in the country. As it stays on the tree, the flesh changes from deep red to deep purple in hue. Flowers in Spring ripens following Early Spring.
Limes are very frost tender, but love our summer heat and humidity, so do well as an outdoor plant in summer, indoor plant in winter. Best to protect from any freeze.
Thai Lime (formerly Kieffer) -The Bay Leaves of Thai cuisine. Leaves have a mysterious & distinctive flavor. Fresh rind/flesh also used in cooking. Zone 9.
Mexican or Key Lime—Medium size tree. heavy producer. Thorny & thornless available. Small, roundish fruit. Very seedy, juicy. Likes our hot summers! Zone 10.
Persian Lime—Medium size tree. Regular sized, greenish-yellow fruit. Almost seedless. Blooms all year, peaks May- September. Zone 9.
Lemons are highly prized for cooking and as an addition to beverages. There are two types, true supermarket lemons like Eureka, and Meyer (Improved Meyer) which is a hybrid between a lemon and mandarin. True lemons get to be very large without pruning. New growth and flowers are often tinged with purple. They cannot take prolonged periods below 30ºF.
Meyer is quite different, with thin-skinned, juicier and brighter yellow-orange fruit with a great flowery fragrance and flavor. Most important, it is MUCH more cold hardy than true lemons, taking temperatures down to the low 20’s.
Improved Meyer—fruits year-round esp. Nov.-March. Unique flavor, lemony with floral overtones. Cold Hardy. Zone 8b.
Lisbon Lemon – Productive, commercial variety that is more tolerant of heat, cold, wind, and neglect than other lemons. Fruit can be harvested year round in most areas. Grafted. Evergreen. Zone 9b.
Ponderosa Lemon—the largest lemon as big as two pounds.
Primarily grown as an ornamental. Large bumpy fruit. Large citrus scented leaves and larger-than average citrus blossoms. Spring/Fall. Zone 9b.
Eureka Variegated Pink Lemon— Attractive sparkling variegated leaves, pinkish new growth backs bright yellow fruit. Produces flowers and an abundance of juicy, market-quality lemons year round. Evergreen. Gets 12-15’ tall & wide. Full sun. Zone 9b.
Fruits are small and eaten whole, rind & all. They have a sweet skin and sour pulp. Actually a different genus, not Citrus, but Fortunella. Most important, they are cold-hardy, able to withstand temperatures of 15-20°F with little damage to the foliage. They make small, compact trees, so they are easier to protect if needed. They don’t begin to grow until warm weather breaks in spring, don’t bloom till midsummer. Zone 8b.
Meiwa -Fruit is slightly oval to round and bushy. Has a very smooth thick rind, very little juice, & fewer seeds.
Nagami—Fruits abundantly. Most delicious of the kumquats, more sour than Meiwa, but has a great flavor because of our hot humid summers.
Do well in our hot summer weather. Make a very large tree, so be prepared to prune to size. Zone 9 though sometimes listed as Zone 8b.
Rio Red – an improved form that is more cold-resistant and faster growing. Sweet, red flesh with very few seeds. The fruit stays on the tree, and the longer you leave it the sweeter it gets, so you don’t have to worry about storage. Just step outside and pick your morning grapefruit straight from the tree. It grows into a large tree up to 20’ tall.
There are many weird and wonderful citrus, like the citron. They generally cannot take freezing temperatures.
Buddha’s Hand -Flesh resembles human hand. It has fragrant white pith, with no seeds or juice.
As a general rule, Limes and lemons (except Meyer lemon) are the least cold hardy (they need the most winter protection), followed by pummelo, grapefruit and orange.
‘Arctic Frost’ and ‘Orange Frost’ Satsumas are the most cold hard of the citrus, but other mandarins & kumquats are very tough and can also grow outside in Austin.