Growing a grapefruit tree


Grapefruit Tree Care – Tips For How To Grow Grapefruit

While growing a grapefruit tree may be somewhat tricky for the average gardener, it’s not impossible. Successful gardening usually depends on providing plants with ideal growing conditions.

In order to properly grow grapefruit, you need to provide relatively warm conditions both day and night. This means growing them in temperate or tropical-like regions in full sun — preferably in USDA plant hardiness zones 9 and up, though some success can be achieved in Zones 7-8 with suitable care. Grapefruit trees also prefer well-draining, loamy soil.

Planting Grapefruit Tree

Always get the planting area ready beforehand, amending the soil if necessary. Choosing a suitable location is also important. For instance, when planting grapefruit tree, an area on the southernmost side of the home not only offers the most sun but also provides optimal winter protection. Keep the tree at least 12 feet from buildings, walks, driveways, etc. This will allow for adequate growth.

Grapefruit trees can be planted in spring or fall, depending on where you’re located and what works best for you and your region’s conditions. Keep in mind that those planted in spring must contend with the heat of summer while fall-planted trees must endure the hardships of unseasonably cold winters.

Dig the planting hole both wide and deep enough to accommodate the roots. After placing the tree in the hole, backfill halfway with soil, firmly pressing down to squeeze out any air bubbles. Then water the soil and allow it to settle before backfilling with the remaining soil. Keep the soil level with the surrounding area or slightly mound it. Setting it any lower will lead to standing water and cause rotting. Also, be sure that the bud union remains above the soil.

How to Care for Grapefruit Trees

While minimal, grapefruit tree care is essential to maintain its overall health and production. After planting, you should water every few days for the first couple weeks. Then you can begin watering deeply once a week, except during dry periods when additional water may be needed.

You can also add light fertilizer during irrigation every four to six weeks.

Don’t prune your tree unless removing old weakened or dead branches.

Winter protection may be needed for areas prone to frost or freezing. Although many people prefer to simply mulch around the tree, it is advisable to leave at least a foot of space between the trunk and mulch to avoid any problems with root rot. Generally, blankets, tarps, or burlap provide adequate winter protection.

Harvesting Grapefruit

Generally, harvesting takes place in fall. Once the fruits have turned yellow or gold in color, they’re ready for picking. The longer the fruit remains on tree, however, the larger and sweeter it becomes. Over-ripened fruit, which may appear lumpy, should be discarded.

Keep in mind that newly planted grapefruit trees will take at least three years before producing quality fruit. Any fruit set in the first or second years should be removed to direct all its energy into growth.

How Long Does Grapefruit Take to Grow? Images

Grapefruit trees (Citrus x paradisi) are relatively new to the United States. Brought to Florida at the beginning of the 19th century, the nutritious fruit quickly gained in popularity. As of 2011, the United States produces the majority of the world’s commercially sold grapefruit. Trees vary in their rate of growth depending on their origin. How fast the grapefruit itself grows and ripens varies, but on average it takes around nine months.


Grapefruit trees can grow to maximum heights of between 20 and 50 feet. With their impressive sizes, evergreen leaves and huge, fragrant white flowers, they make quite an attractive display. Height does not equal maturity, however. The trees are considered mature when they start to produce flowers and fruit. The time it takes for them to reach this point varies. In general, seedlings may not fruit until five or more years after they’ve been planted. Grafted trees on rootstock will bloom more quickly; as soon as two years after planting.


Grapefruit does not ripen after it has been harvested. For that reason, the fruit must remain on the tree until it is fully mature. This can take as little as seven or as long as 11 months. Grapefruit is tropical, and as such, the fruit is usually harvested during the milder winter months of December and January. Legally, grapefruit can be harvested as early as September according to Florida law, but it first must be sprayed with lead arsenate, which reduces the acidity of the fruit. The longer the grapefruit remains on the tree, however, the larger and more commercially valuable it becomes.


Several factors can affect the growth time of both the trees and fruits. Late freezes in fall and winter right before harvest time can destroy the fruit before it can be harvested. It’s not just freezes that can hurt the trees. Temperatures that are only just slightly cooler than normal can slow or halt growth. Grapefruit trees are not disease hardy, either. Even healthy trees are susceptible to viruses and canker diseases, but trees that have been weakened by cold winds and drought conditions are much more likely to succumb and fail to grow.


“Duncan” was the first ever commercially grown grapefruit tree. Desirable for its cold hardiness, it also produced fruit with a lot of seeds. For that reason, it is not commonly grown today in the United States. “Marsh” is a seedless or low-seed variety desirable for its juicy, rich flavor and ability to store well. It is the leading cultivar grown around the world. “Redblush” began as a mutation of “Thompson” but is now one of the top cultivars grown in the United States. It is also known as “Ruby Red” and is notable for its red flesh.


Arizona’s citrus industry predates statehood by decades. The sun and soil are perfect for growing oranges, tangerines, lemons and grapefruit. Citrus is one of the state’s iconic 5 Cs: Citrus, Cotton, Climate, Cattle and Copper.

Arizonan’s beautiful backyard citrus and the citrus industry are threatened by a tiny pest that can spread a fatal disease. The Asian Citrus Psyllid (ACP) came to North America from Asia and has spread throughout the citrus producing states at an alarming rate. ACP has now been found in people’s backyards, along public roads and commercial groves throughout the state and as a result it is now under a statewide quarantine for this pest, but the disease it carries is still not known to occur in Arizona.

The ACP poses a threat because it is the carrier for a disease that kills citrus trees. The bacteria, commonly known as Citrus Greening Disease, has been found worldwide. In the U.S. it has been found throughout Florida and is making its way through Texas and now California. Once a tree is infected, the fruit will eventually become bitter and unusable. Infected trees will eventually die, in as little as a few years after symptoms are observed. The citrus industry in Florida and Texas has been hit hard by the disease costing more than a billion dollars and thousands of jobs.

To protect citrus across the state, backyards and commercial groves alike, moving citrus must follow careful guidelines.

Tips to Save Arizona’s Citrus

What to Do

  • Buy citrus locally
  • Buy citrus plants from reputably nursery
  • Share citrus with friends, family and neighbors locally
  • Fertilize trees and watch for signs and symptoms of psyllid infestation or citrus greening

What Not to Do

  • Ship or carry uncertified* citrus fruit, leaves, or plants into Arizona
  • Purchase uncertified* citrus fruit, leaves or plants from another state or online
  • Bring citrus fruit, leaves or plants with you from other states or countries as you travel
  • Graft citrus budwood or clippings from sources that aren’t free from citrus diseases

*Fruit, leaves and plants must undergo specific safeguarding measures and a certificate or permit issued by a regulatory agency to leave or enter the state.


The psyllid is no bigger than the head of a pin and can be seen singularly or in groups. It’s difficult to see, but can often be seen close to the trunk or limbs of the tree. The psyllid likes to feed on new growth and can be seen around the young offshoots in the spring and fall. Once infected with citrus greening, the new growth of a tree will turn a light green. The fruit will grow in odd shapes and stay green; fruit will be bitter.

If you have questions about your fruit or tree, do not take it to a nursery. You can CALL a local nursery or the Arizona Master Gardener program for advice. You can also call the Department at (602)542-0955.


This page has information about growing grapefruit at home in the Northern Territory (NT).

About grapefruit

Name: citrus paradisi (rutaceae).

Origin: grapefruit is believed to have originated in Barbados as a cross between sweet orange and pummelo.

Distribution: grapefruit is mostly grown in the United States, Israel, Cuba, Mexico, Argentina and southern Africa.

Australian distribution: grapefruit grows in most mainland states and in the Darwin and Katherine areas of the NT.


The grapefruit tree is evergreen and small. Tree size will depend on the environment, the type and how it’s looked after.

The leaves are often large and oval in shape, glossy green in colour, dotted with oil glands and have broadly winged leaf stalks.

Flowers are white, large and fragrant. Branches sometimes have spines but these tend to be flexible, slender and blunt.

The fruit has a yellow rind and yellow flesh.

Preferred climate and soil

Grapefruit trees prefer low or moderate rainfall with cool winters and warm to hot and dry summers.

In the NT, fast growing and early maturing grapefruit trees are best. You may need to irrigate grapefruit during the Dry Season.

Citrus trees like grapefruit will grow in a range of soil types. They do well in soils of a medium texture at moderate depth.

They like high fertility soils with a slightly acid pH, low salts and good drainage.

There are many grapefruit varieties available. They should be chosen to suit the area in which they are grown.

Pink and red-fleshed grapefruit varieties like Rio red, flame and star ruby grow well in the NT.

White grapefruit varieties like marsh tend to be less acidic and more pleasant to eat when grown in tropical conditions.


Grapefruit trees grow best as grafted trees rather than seedlings. Grafted trees should be bought from accredited nurseries.

In the NT, trees need to be pruned from a young age to ensure good branch structure. Trees need to be watered in the Dry Season.

Timing of fertilising with nitrogen is important.

Pests and diseases

There are several pests and diseases that affect this crop, including citrus leaf miner, red scale, oriental spider mite, fruit piercing moth, root rot and collar rot.

You will have to look after the crop to help reduce loss and damage.

Fruit season

Backyard grapefruit trees may flower and fruit all year round. In the Darwin and Katherine regions, the main fruiting period is from the middle of February to the end of April.

In Alice Springs the main production period is from early April to the end of May.

The fruit can be ripe while the rind is still green.


Grapefruit grown in the NT should not be left on the tree when ripe. Unlike in southern Australia, mature fruit will develop puffy skin, hollow centres and off flavours if kept on the tree for too long.


Grapefruit will keep for three months if stored at 10 degrees Celsius.


Grapefruit juice and flesh are traditionally eaten at breakfast. They are also used to flavour and garnish food.

Feb 08 2017

Grapefruit: Spain’s Other Citrus

Spanish grapefruit is winning friends abroad. Its yellow or blushing peel, tangy red pulp, nutritive qualities and fragrant aromas are helping it conquer a growing share of the import markets in France, Germany and other European countries. In Spain however, grapefruit is virtually unknown on the domestic market and in traditional Spanish gastronomy. In the heart of grapefruit country, farmers from Murcia are doing what they can to help spread the word about this succulent citrus made in Spain

It’s not unusual for people to return from a trip to Murcia with their cars packed full of fruits and vegetables. Located in the southeast corner of Spain, Murcia is snugly nestled between Andalusia, Valencian Community and the sea. Its semi-arid Mediterranean climate is ideal for growing lettuce, artichokes, tomatoes and Monastrell grapes used for producing the area’s excellent, full-bodied red wines. While lemon and orange trees are a common sight, another of the province’s important products is grapefruit, which is exported all over the world (albeit in small quantities; the bulk head to Europe). On my way home from Murcia with a 20 kg (44 lb) box of grapefruit, I had a better grasp of its role in Spain’s export market and its bid for recognition here at home.

Grapefruit was discovered in Barbados in 1750 by Griffith Hughes (1707-1758; Welsh naturalist) who dubbed it the “forbidden fruit”, as he had been searching for the tree of good and evil in the Garden of Eden at the time. Its name was later changed to grapefruit, supposedly because its fruit hangs in clusters much like oversized bunches of grapes. The original grapefruit was an accidental hybrid of two Asian transplants, the shaddock and sweet orange. Shaddock, an ancient citrus thought to have originated in Asia as early as 100 BC, is named for the English Captain Philip Shaddock who purportedly brought the first of these fruits to Barbados in 1649.

Tropical treasure

Nowadays, it’s important to distinguish between grapefruit and shaddock, as the names are often used incorrectly. Grapefruit, called pomelo in Spanish, is of the species Citrus paradisi, while shaddock (sometimes called pummelo) is of Citrus maxima, and is often referred to as Chinese or Asian grapefruit in European markets. Shaddocks look more like giant pears, and have firm or crunchy pulp and a thick peel.

Like many New World botanicals, the grapefruit eventually migrated to Spain. However, it never became a traditional Spanish crop, or a staple of the Spanish diet. Commercial grapefruit cultivation in Spain only began in the late 1970s/early 1980s, and currently involves about 2,300 ha (5,683 acres) of land. Although grapefruits are also grown in southern Valencia and Alicante, and parts of Huelva and Seville in Andalusia, Murcia is without a doubt the center for all things grapefruit in Spain, accounting for approximately 30,000 of the 55,000 tons of grapefruit produced here annually. This is particularly true in the southern areas of Campo de Cartagena, the Guadalentín Valley and Águilas.

The agricultural wealth of Murcia is a meld of climate and geography. According to José Luis Albacete, whose company Earmur is located on the northern slope of the Sierra de Carrascoy Mountains about 14 km (8.7 mi) southwest of the city of Murcia, there are many reasons why grapefruit is an ideal crop in this region.

A pioneer of grapefruit cultivation in Spain, José Luis started out as an almond farmer, but increasing difficulties in the market steered him towards trying something new. For 50 years, his grandfather had dedicated a small corner of land to experimenting with the then little-known crop of grapefruit. José Luis was able to observe firsthand the relative ease with which these citrus fruits could be cultivated in this area of plentiful sun, loose soil, and a virtual lack of diseases and frosts. Earmur currently produces about 3,000 tons of grapefruit, but José Luis predicts that production will increase to 10,000 tons over the next two to three years when the youngest plantations reach maturity.

The company’s success with this crop is immediately apparent. On my visit to the plantation in early December, dozens of partridges scurried like mad across a road lined with heavily laden grapefruit trees. The golden fruits grow in bunches that are often concentrated towards the undersides of the tree, or reaching down to touch the land like fingertips. It was almost shocking to see so many large fruits on one tree, realizing that they must be harvested by hand, one by one.

The area known as Águilas, which is located on the coast, has an even more distinct microclimate, nestled as it is between the sea and the mountains. The weather is very mild with few extremes. This results in lower acidity in the fruit, since acidity is increased by large temperature differences between day and night, and by early winter cold. The company, Grupo G’s España, has been cultivating grapefruit around Águilas for the past 30 years. G’s España was a pioneer in bringing the variety Star Ruby to Spain at the end of the 1970s. According to Ponciano Pons, the company’s Senior Key Account Manager, the Star Ruby variety grapefruits grown here are noticeably less acidic than their Turkish or Israeli counterparts. Although the company initially planted more varieties, today it exclusively grows the popular Star Ruby grapefruits, with an annual production of around 8,000 tons a year.

Star Ruby vs. Rio Red

Grapefruits are categorized by color into either colored (red or pink) or white varieties. The two most important types currently grown in Spain are both red varieties: Star Ruby and Rio Red. As grapefruit itself is a hybrid, the different varieties of grapefruit are either natural mutations, crosses or, more often, developed via bud or seed irradiation. Star Ruby was created in 1970 through irradiation.

This seedless variety is characterized by its fine, smooth skin, juiciness and deep, pinkish-red flesh, which is thought to be the most intensely colored of any variety. Rio Red, also a product of irradiation, was developed in 1976. These very juicy fruits tend to be less deeply colored than the Star Ruby variety, have a slightly thicker skin, and contain two to three seeds per fruit. Both varieties were developed by a Texas-based researcher, Richard Hensz.

According to José Luis Albacete, the difference between these two varieties can be subtle. To prove his point, he opened one of each variety straight off the trees for me to taste. Both fruits had a refreshingly sharp acidity that was tempered by the sweetness of the fruit and the characteristic grapefruit aroma. Both were the same size and shape, pale orange-yellow in color with deep rosy highlights on the peel, and were the same dark pinkish-red inside.

While I found it terribly romantic to be savoring freshly picked grapefruit in the middle of a picturesque citrus orchard in southeastern Spain, I was at a loss to guess which variety was which. As it turns out, the real difference is economic. José Luis explained that the variety Star Ruby is more widely known, but time has revealed it to be somewhat delicate, with less resistance to sun exposure after 15 years, and lower yields. Other grapefruit varieties, like the more robust Rio Red, typically produce fruit for 30 to 40 years, and can live to be 100. Forgotten fruit, export success

In fact, one of the more surprising facts about Spain’s grapefruit crop is the fact that very few natives seem to know it exists. Only an estimated 20% of the 55,000 tons of grapefruit produced annually in Spain are sold domestically. According to José Luis’s daughter, Nieves Albacete, who now runs Earmur, a large portion of these sales go to hotels or cruise ships, which cater to foreign palates more accustomed to eating grapefruit as a regular part of their diets.

Though there are currently only six or seven Spanish companies dedicated to this minority citrus, production quantities in Spain over the past several seasons have either increased or remained stable. The crop is also extremely solid here in terms of price fluctuations. This stability is reflected in the fact that Spanish grapefruit growers are making quite an impact on the European import market. Spain is now the fourth largest grapefruit exporter to the European Union after the United States (Florida), Israel and Turkey. While Florida still leads the world market, its share has declined this past decade due to debilitating freezes, hurricanes, citrus diseases, and other factors such as encroaching land development.

In Europe, Florida grapefruits once were 45-50% of imports, but by 2006, the amount had dropped to only 20-25%. For Spain’s grapefruit growers, this changing world marketplace has meant opportunity, demonstrated by the fact that 70-80% of Spanish production is currently exported. The majority of these 45,000 tons is exported to France, Germany, Poland and the Czech Republic, among others. Increasing quantities are also being sold to Russia, a high-potential new market.

The freshest fruit

The question now for Spanish producers is how to gain an even greater hold on the world market. The obvious solution is to figure out how to differentiate Spanish grapefruit from its competitors. Although the same varieties are produced all over the world, climate and other environmental factors can have some effect on varietal differences. Spanish grapefruit is known for its perfect uniformity of color and tone, and its usually blemish-free appearance. In terms of individual variety, one differentiating factor is that Spanish Star Ruby fruits are generally larger than their Turkish counterparts. This is important since Turkey is the main exporter to a growing Russian market, which at times demands the larger fruit more available from Spain.

Small improvements in the already exceptional fruit quality and production practices will probably not improve Spain’s export market share that much. There is one factor, however, that Spanish producers are working hard to exploit, and it’s one that could make all the difference. As the only grapefruit producing country in the European Union, Spain’s clear advantage comes down to shorter shipping times. Companies like Earmur and G’s España, as well as AILIMPO, are doing what they can to get the word out on the incomparable freshness of Spanish grapefruit.

At Earmur, Nieves Albacete explains that it’s not unusual for grapefruits to be picked in the morning, prepared in the factory at midday, and shipped to France in the afternoon. Spain’s grapefruits are all shipped via truck, which head directly to supermarkets throughout the EU. Grapefruits are often on the shelves by the very next day, or at most, 72 hours after picking, in the case of the United Kingdom. The same is true for other Spanish producers, and this provides a huge advantage in comparison with other countries.

Another selling point related to faster delivery is the concept of integrated farming. A broad term that refers to taking an integrated or global approach to agriculture, its practices involve promoting sustainability through methods for reducing wastes and residues, and implementing chemical alternatives such as biological pest control. This agricultural technique is especially important in exporting to countries like Germany and France, which put a premium on natural products. The fact that grapefruit grows so easily in Murcia means that farmers use very few chemical fertilizers or pesticides.

The versatile citrus

While grapefruit has had no discernable role in traditional Spanish gastronomy, it’s now present on the menus of many of Spain’s renowned, avant-garde chefs, including Rodrigo de la Calle.

Rodrigo de la Calle, the maestro of “gastrobotanical” cuisine, loves the versatility of grapefruit, both zest and pulp, its fragrant aromas and flavors, and its freshness and balanced acidity. In his words, “Grapefruit is very interesting for its elegance on the palate, its meaty texture, bold and addictive flavor, and nutritional properties. It’s a good accompaniment for sweet shellfish, as the subtle acidity that it lends to red prawns, for instance, helps to temper their sweetness. In desserts, I love the combination of grapefruit with nuts, banana or cherimoya creams, which are lightened by the citric notes of grapefruit.”

Chef Joaquín de Felipe also plays with the versatility of red grapefruit, using it for both desserts and savory main dishes, particularly in ceviches like the one that he makes using yellowtail (fish) and chilies, which are macerated with grapefruit and other citrus juices. For him, “grapefruit balances the citrus flavors by adding a completely different and appealing touch of acidity. This adds complexity to the more common flavors of lemon and orange.”

The recent culinary applications of Spanish grapefruit seem to mirror the fact that, in the words of José Antonio García, “grapefruit is Spain’s most modern, large producing crop.” It also seems to reflect the burgeoning success of Spanish grapefruit on the European market, where its high quality and freshness relative to competing products is now translating to a greater market share. In Murcia, all of these factors have the potential to spur future growth of this crop—one that seems tailor-made for the varied landscapes and climates of this autonomous community of Spain.

Recipes with Spanish grapefuits:
– Chard-Grilled sturgeon with baked potato broth and grapefruit oil. (Tacos de esturión a la brasa con caldo de patata asada y aceite de pomelo)

– Clams in seaweed steam with essence of pink grapefruit and curled cardoon. (Almejas al vapor de algas con esencia de pomelo Rosado y cardo rizado)

– Beetroot with grapefruit salt, toasted garlic cream and beaten goats’ cheese whey. (Remolacha a la sal de pomelo, crema de ajos tostados y suero batido de queso de cabra)

It’s not unusual for people to return from a trip to Murcia with their cars packed full of fruits and vegetables. Located in the southeast corner of Spain, Murcia is snugly nestled between Andalusia, Valencian Community and the sea. Its semi-arid Mediterranean climate is ideal for growing lettuce, artichokes, tomatoes and Monastrell grapes used for producing the area’s excellent, full-bodied red wines Adrienne Smith/©ICEX

Florida Grapefruit is known around the world for its great taste and nutritional benefits. Keep reading to find out what makes Florida Grapefruit and Florida Grapefruit Juice unique.

Why Florida?

Florida’s subtropical climate with moderate temperatures, abundant rainfall, plenty of sunshine and unique sandy soil help grow the sweetest and juiciest grapefruit in the world. While those subtropical conditions can create blemishes on the exterior of Florida Grapefruit, they only enhance what’s on the inside. That, along with a thin peel, make Florida Grapefruit highly sought after world round.

Indian River Region

Much of Florida’s Grapefruit is grown in the Indian River region of the state. Located on the east coast of Florida, the Indian River stretches more than 200 miles south from Daytona to West Palm Beach. Growers ship their fruit to all corners of the world, including Japan, South Korea and the United Kingdom.

Peak Season

Florida Grapefruit is available in stores from November through May each year. And, just as the weather turns cold in Florida, peak season arrives. Florida Grapefruit is at its sweetest January through May.


Florida Grapefruit dates back to the 1800s when Count Odet Phillippe planted the state’s first grapefruit grove near Tampa Bay. The fruit earned its unusual name because of the way it grows on citrus trees. Take a walk down a grapefruit grove and you’ll notice the fruit grows in a cluster like a bunch of oversized grapes.

Frequently Asked Questions FAQs View all


How does Florida Grapefruit and 100% Florida Grapefruit Juice help me have a gorgeous smile?


A stunning smile starts with healthy gums. Vitamin C, which is found in Florida Grapefruit and 100% Florida Grapefruit Juice, may help keep teeth healthy by supporting collagen production as a foundation for healthy gum tissue. So, go ahead, take on the paparazzi!


What ways could Florida Grapefruit and 100% Florida Grapefruit Juice be used to pamper my feet and hands?


After a long day, try pampering tired feet and hands in a bowl of warm water mixed with 100% Florida Grapefruit Juice.

Read More Question

Could Florida Grapefruit and 100% Florida Grapefruit Juice help me maintain a healthy weight?


If you’re trying to maintain a healthy weight, consume fruit and vegetables with high water content, like grapefruit, to help you feel satisfied.

Read More Question

Can Florida Grapefruit and 100% Florida Grapefruit Juice help my skin look its best?


Your overall diet and health regimen may contribute to smooth, supple skin. The vitamin C found in Florida Grapefruit and 100% Florida Grapefruit Juice may help support collagen production to help keep skin looking youthful, glowing and picture perfect for whatever the day throws your way.

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How to grow citrus trees

Having chatted to her, I realise that unfortunately I didn’t give Fred the best variety of grapefruit.

If I had given him a variety called ‘Wheeny’ (from Wheeny Creek in Australia), which has juicy, sweet/tart fruit without the thick, pithy skin, they would have been even more of a hit.

Wheeny Grapefruit Picture: Alamy

I have grown a grapefruit for two years in the cooler East Midlands, pulling it under my porch on chillier nights.

Tricky to grow citrus fruits?

However, Amanda thinks that this is risky – unless you are in a protected spot, all citrus need frost-free conditions.

She keeps her citrus under cover in winter with the thermostat set at a minimum of 2C. In the Mediterranean, they do survive frosts, but these might last for only a few hours, rather than the long, drawn-out cold spells we experience.

In summer, however, all citrus, except for the kumquat, are far better off outside because the temperatures in a greenhouse are likely to become too high.

As a rule of thumb, if you find the temperature unpleasantly hot, so will they. The kumquat, however, needs higher summer temperatures to flower and fruit.

They will survive outside, though you will not enjoy their scented flowers or sweet-skinned, sour-fleshed, oval fruits.

Unlike many other plants, citrus will survive central heating and the associated dry atmosphere quite well, but they can find a large day and night variation less comfortable.

So, if you decide to bring citrus plants into the house over winter, rather than a frost-free greenhouse, you should find a coolish, light spot.

If you really can’t put them outside in summer, a north-facing conservatory could work well.

Amanda told me that a granddaughter visited the nursery with her grandmother and each bought an identical citrus.

One thrived, the other limped; the latter belonged to the granddaughter, who fussed over its every turn.

The grandmother just gave hers tap water when it dried out and otherwise pretty much ignored it. Though it is tempting to fuss over your plants, resist the urge.

Easiest to grow

Lemon, lime and calamondin orange are the most popular citrus trees and the easiest to grow, because they produce flowers all year, so you are highly likely to get fruit.

While the sweet fruit such as orange, mandarin and grapefruits are easy, they have one flowering a year.

The satisfaction of picking unwaxed fruit as opposed to buying waxed (the wax is impregnated with fungicide) is a real treat. ‘Four Seasons’ is an excellent lemon, while ‘Tahiti’ is a seedless lime that bears fruit prolifically.

‘Four Seasons’ Lemon Picture: Alamy

The calamondin orange (also called the calamansi lime) is a good starter citrus. It is highly ornamental and rarely without fruit or flowers.

Calamondin orange Picture: Alamy

The small, sour oranges are ideal for marmalade, popping in drinks and cooking.

Growing from seed

My daughter picked up a specimen from a supermarket. It had lost all its leaves and was covered with small fruit.

We removed the fruit to help it recover from its stressed life on the sales bench. Now, a month later, it is looking magnificent and is clothed in glossy leaves.

Growing from seed can be fascinating, although it might be 20 years before they bear fruit. All citrus are polyembryonic, which means that each pip can germinate into several seedlings.

One will be a pollination cross, the rest will be genetically identical to the parent. You can try taking cuttings or layering (at the Citrus Centre they mainly graft them).

It is much more fascinating to buy good, named varieties, as these have different traits. The prized Yusu, for example, a citrus used in Japanese cuisine, has an extraordinary aromatic flavour.

Or try the ugli tangelo, a natural hybrid, thought to be between a grapefruit and tangerine, which has knobbly fruit and a rich flavour and texture.

Ugli tangelo Picture: Alamy


As regards potting on, the bigger the plant you want, the bigger the pot should be. If you don’t want it too big then keep the head pruned, to balance out with the root ball.

If you feed with each watering the plant has enough fertiliser in the soil to keep it going. Amanda has plants at her nursery that have been in the same pot for 15 years or longer.

Occasionally she gives them a hard prune to regenerate a new head. Pot on using a peat-based compost (soil-based composts in our climate are too heavy and do not let the plant dry out enough).

Feed when you water (from the top) with a high-nitrogen feed – Louis XIV used sheep droppings soaked in water, but today he would probably prefer the Citrus Centre’s special liquid feed.

In winter, you might water once every 8-10 weeks when they are dry, while in the summer it will be more like 5-7 days.

They appreciate a good soak so that the water flushes through the pot. This could well be 2-3 gallons in a 30-litre pot.

Citrus are easy to prune. Cut them to your required shape in spring and summer whenever needed, but be more tentative in autumn.


The main pests are vine weevil and scale insects. Amanda has tree frogs in her greenhouses, which eat adult vine weevil.

Vine Weevil Picture: Alamy

The frogs hopped in on some plants and were a lucky accident. An easy control for vine weevil is the nematode, which is highly effective.

For scale insect, Amanda recommends SB invigorator.

Despite their exotic air, citrus generally seem to be one of the easiest plants I grow.

Having found out more, I am tempted to widen my rather narrow repertoire and invest in a few more.

Citrus in Melbourne

“What’s wrong with my lemon tree?” and “Why isn’t my new citrus tree growing yet?” are two of the most common questions I get asked. So to try and help you all get the best out of your citrus trees, I’ve put together this comprehensive guide to growing citrus in Melbourne. It’s so big that I’ve split it into five parts:

Citrus Growing Guide Part 2: Where and How to Plant Your Citrus Tree

Citrus Growing Guide Part 3: Ongoing Care and Management of Citrus Trees

Citrus Growing Guide Part 4: Pruning and Shaping of Citrus Trees

Citrus Growing Guide Part 5: Citrus Pests, Diseases and Problems in Melbourne

Our citrus growing guides are based on our own experience, as well as the following two books. They are both invaluable resources for the home gardener based in Melbourne. I strongly recommend you have a read of both if you want to know more about growing citrus in Melbourne:

Bruce Mophett & Ian Tolley: Citrus, A Gardener’s Guide, 2009.

Louis Glowinski: The Complete Book of Fruit Growing in Australia, 1997.

Of all the fruit trees, Citrus are the most popular backyard trees in Melbourne. Citrus trees are attractive evergreens and fit well into the garden landscape with their glossy green foliage, beautiful white scented blossoms and colourful fruit. I think that citrus make an attractive substitute for camellias, with the added bonus of producing fruit. All varieties of citrus ripen slowly and can be left on the tree to be harvested at leisure.

The wild ancestors of most citrus fruit are native to Asia, ranging from North East India, across to China and south to Australia. The Chinese were cultivating citrus well before 2000BC. Australia has eight native citrus species.

In Australia, oranges, lemons and limes were introduced in 1788, by the First Fleet settlers. Since then, many new cultivars and rootstocks have been introduced. As a result we now have an enormous range of citrus to choose from.

Each species of citrus varies in its ability to withstand frost and also varies in the amount of heat required to ripen. Unfortunately these two factors are not usually related. For example the lemon, which ripens very well in Melbourne’s cooler climate, is also a little prone to frost and can look quite sickly in winter. On the other hand the orange is extremely frost tolerant, yet can produce fruit that remain small and a little sour in cooler climates. Therefore, it is important to select the right varieties for growing in Melbourne and plant them in the most suitable locations in your home garden.

Note: There are many varieties available to commercial growers, that are covered by plant variety rights, and are not readily available to home gardeners. I have not included these here. I have also excluded those varieties not normally grown successfully in Melbourne climates.

Citrus Varieties Available to the Home Grower

Oranges need plenty of sun to develop sweet flavours

Orange trees are usually frost hardy but fruit is often sour in cooler climates. There are two main groups of sweet oranges navels (seedless) and common oranges (seedy)

‘Washington’ Navel

Is the most popular and best known eating orange. A medium sized tree that performs well in mild coastal climates.The juice may become bitter if stored for more than a day or two. The Washington navel needs less heat than any other Navel.

‘Leng’ Navel

The fruit is juicy and ripens earlier than ‘Washington’ navel. Splitting and premature dropping of fruit can be a problem in some seasons.

‘Lane Late’ Navel

Similar to ‘Washington’ Navel, this variety matures later and remains on the tree in good condition until Christmas.

TOC Summer Navel

Fruit is large and very juicy with an excellent flavour. TOC Summer navel is a late holding navel and crops well into summer.


Suits cold climates. Fruit ripens end of April into May, making it a fantastic early season navel orange, which is sweet, seedless and juicy. Fruit can be slightly oblong in shape and has a dark orange skin. The tree is compact and bushy.


Suits cold climates and is an early maturing navel. Trees tend to be slow growing with moderate yields. Fruit is round in shape and rapidly loses flavour due to low acidity


Mature by September, ‘Valencia’ reaches peak sweetness and juiciness through November and December. ‘Valencia’ is the most widely grown orange in the world due to its juicing qualities, wide climatic adaptability and very long ripening period.

Valencia has a high heat requirement, but works well in Melbourne, if you leave the fruit on the tree for a long time. This makes it the last of all oranges to ripen. Leaving fruit on the tree helps to develop full flavour and sweetness. The fruit generally starts to ripen in October and can be left on the tree until the following April. Valencias require that perfect ‘hot spot’ in the garden. The fruit is large, juicy and relatively seedless, and sometimes a challenge to peel. Keeps well and produces excellent juice. It is second only to Navels, when eaten fresh. Ripe fruit holds on the tree for months. Tasting is used as your harvest guide.

Seedless Valencia

There is a seedless variety of Valencia now available. It fruits slightly earlier than the true Valencia, but will still hang on the tree for up to 6 months. Although named seedless, this variety will produce a few seeds if pollinated by other varieties.

Sweet Mediterranean Orange (Parramatta Orange)

A Navel x Valencia cross suited to Melbourne. This sweet orange grows on a vigorous tree and produces a medium sized fruit that contains only a few seeds. The flesh is pale and has a mild flavour. The “easy to peel” fruit has a pale orange skin at maturity and has the tendency to re-green.

Blood Oranges

Blood oranges probably won’t develop their rich colouration in Melbourne’s climate

Blood oranges are common sweet oranges with red colour in the skin and/or flesh. The pigmentation develops best inland in dry climates with warm to hot days and cold nights.

Blood Orange –Arnold

This variety produces better colour in cooler climates.

The smallish, fruit ripens mid-winter and has a distinctive tang with the red pigmentation. The tree is also small and bushy, making it suitable for pots or a small garden.

Blood Orange – Cara Cara

Is a Navel orange, producing large, seedless fruit that are very sweet. Unlike other blood oranges, that produce the red pigmentation along the veins in the flesh of the fruit, the Cara flesh is all the same colour. Temperature can also affect the colouring.

Blood Orange – Maltese

An old variety of blood orange that lacks colour pigmentation, when grown in our southern climate.

Sour Orange

Seville Orange (Citrus aurantium)

Seville sour orange trees are vigorous and hardy. Growing 4 to 6 metres in height, they are attractive garden and street trees and their fruit makes excellent marmalade.

Chinotto or Myrtle-leaf Orange (Citrus myrtifolia)

The chinotto is a natural dwarf tree, that grows slowly into a medium to large shrub. It makes an excellent potted specimen and is quite good for Marmalade.

Bergamot (Citrus aurantium)

The rind of this orange fruit is used in the fragrance industry. The juice can also be used as a substitute for lemon juice and in Earl Grey Tea. The fruit has a yellow colour similar to a lemon. The actual fruit of the bergamot orange itself, is not usually eaten. The tree is vigorous and strong growing.

Lemon (Citrus limon)

The lemon is more tolerant of heat than most citrus, and will ripen well in cooler areas. However, the tree can be frost sensitive.

Lemons are the citrus most suited to the Melbourne climate.


Produces prolific crops of excellent quality fruit with thick skins. The heaviest crop matures in winter and spring, with a smaller summer crop ‘Lisbon’ is better adapted than ‘Eureka’ to colder conditions and produces much better quality fruit. The tree has thorns.


Somewhat rougher skinned fruit than ‘Lisbon’ but has excellent internal fruit quality. This tree has thorns and is best suited to milder climates. The thornless variety ‘Wiffen’ has no thorns and is similar to Eureka.


The main crop matures in early winter. This fruit originated from China and is believed to be a natural hybrid between lemon and possibly orange. The fruit has smooth orange-yellow skin and is very juicy with a sweeter, less acid lemon flavour. Almost thornless and crops prolifically. Meyer lemon is more cold tolerant than the true lemons.


A low-acid lemon-like fruit, with a mild flavour, that can be eaten fresh. Moderately thorny, will produce fruit for most of the year.

Mandarin (Citrus reticulata)

Mandarins grow well in Melbourne. They are great for eating straight from the tree.

Easy to peel with soft flesh and an aromatic flavour, mandarins are one of the best citrus, for eating fresh from the tree.

Trees are highly adaptable, thriving in the tropics, but are one of the most cold-tolerant of the citrus. Fruit is of better quality, when allowed to mature under warmer conditions. The tree is quite frost hardy, however the fruit are prone to frost damage.

There are many varieties of mandarin available to the home grower.

‘Satsuma’ or ‘Japanese Seedless’

Medium sized fruit with a smooth, easy peeling skin. Seedless, with mild, sweet tender flesh. Fruit does not keep well on the tree, but stores well under refrigeration.

Early fruit maturity and cold tolerance make ‘Satsuma’ suitable for cooler climates.


Are a group of mandarin cultivars, grown extensively in the Mediterranean region. Trees grown in isolation from other citrus, develop fewer seeds. Conversely, mixed planting of different cultivars, increases cross pollination and consequent increasing seediness.


Medium to small fruit, with easily peeled, thin skin. Fruit can be picked over many weeks. It is medium in size, vigorous, upright and bears heavy crops. Cincturing at the bud-union is often a problem with Imperial mandarins on Trifoliata rootstock. This can be overcome by use of a sweet orange interstock.


Produces medium to large fruit with a loose skin and moderately few seeds. The fruit can become dry and puffy soon after maturity.


Some consider the flavour of ‘Dancy’ to be the best of all the mandarins. The tree is cold tolerant, but the fruit is not. It is sometimes called the 3 week tree. Week one the fruit is tart, week two it is perfect, in week three the fruit is puffy.

This fruit is sometimes called a tangerine. However, this is a marketing term, and it is actually a true mandarin.


Medium sized fruit with easy to peel skin and few seeds. Easy to grow in Melbourne.


Small to medium sized fruit. Heavily planted in the late 1940’s, because its fruit remained juicy, on the tree without drying out. The oily skin made peeling a messy process, and as a result has virtually disappeared, except as a collector’s tree.


Believed to be a tangor (mandarin x orange). Medium to large fruit. This tree can be difficult to grow.


An American hybrid, which is possibly a tangor. Its fruit is large, bright and very sweet and juicy, with many seeds. It Keeps well, after picking at maturity. Fruit will remain firm on the tree after maturing, but will eventually dry out.


Juicy flesh, rich flavour and few seeds. The fruit holds very well on the tree for a mandarin. This is a great early summer mandarin. It may prove difficult to locate Kara mandarin trees as they have fallen out of favour with gardeners in the last decade.


Suited to cold-climates. It is a seedless variety, producing fruit with smooth, thin skin, and sweet, juicy flesh.

‘Okitsu Wase’

It is suited to cold-climates. Slightly flat fruit, good flavour due to low acidity. Seedless and early maturing. Heavy cropping.

Tangelo (Citrus x tangelo)

Tangelo minneola has a distinctive shape

Tangelos are self-fertile hybrids, crosses between ‘Dancy’ mandarin and ‘Duncan’ Grapefruit. Noted for their soft melting flesh, abundant juice and mandarin flavour with a suggestion of grapefruit.

Varieties include ‘Orlando’, ‘Minneola’ and ‘Seminole’

Grapefruit (Citrus paradise)

Grapefruit are attractive, large spreading trees with glossy deep green foliage. The fruit is eaten mainly fresh, but it is also used to make juice and marmalade.

Grapefruit trees need a warm to hot climate, to develop the best fruit size, quality and flavour. In cooler southern climates the fruit tends to be smaller, thicker skinned, later-maturing and not as sweet or juicy.

The main varieties of true grapefruit to consider growing are ‘Marsh Seedless’ or ‘Thompsons Pink’. The pigmented varieties such as ‘star Ruby’, ‘Red-Blush’, ‘Rio-Red’ and ‘flame’ are only suited to warmer microclimates, and will probably not develop their characteristic pink pigmentation.

Ruby grapefruit wont develop their colouration in Melbourne very well

There are several “Grapefruit-like Fruits” that can be grown in cooler climates, these are probably better choices:


A large greenish-yellow, very seedy fruit and a tart flavour. Not grown commercially because of the seediness of the fruit. Wheeny is one of the quickest and strongest growing citrus varieties and produces a large tree. Wheeny fruits heavily and reliably.

Poorman, Poorman Orange

Medium to large pale orange-yellow fruit with some seeds. Very juicy, pleasant flavour with a grapefruit after-taste. Fruit holds very well on the tree. A good shade tree for the garden.


Pronounced ‘cheer own aa’. It is a medium to large fruit, butter-yellow in colour and easy to peel. It has lots of sweet juice, with a light grapefruit after-taste and no bitterness. A much better alternative for cooler climate gardens than ‘Marsh Seedless’ and its cultivars.


Limes are frost tender but can still be grown in Melbourne. They make great pot specimens.

Tahiti, Tahitian, Bearss or Persian Lime (Citrus x latifolia)

More or less “ever bearing” all year round in a tropical environment. However, it produces only one main crop, in winter in temperate climates.

Cool growing temperatures and its sensitivity to frost, can slow the growth of this tropical variety. Under these conditions, the tree is only moderately vigorous, medium in size, nearly thornless and spreading.

The best way to grow a Tahiti lime, in a cool climate, is in a large pot or tub. It needs a warm, sunny, wind protected spot, such as on a patio or veranda and preferably facing to the north.

West Indian, Key or Mexican Lime (Citrus aurantifolia)

It’s the best lime to season fish. Fruit is quite small, moderately seedy and juicy. Has dense foliage and thorny branches.

West Indian lime is very cold sensitive, even more so than Tahitian lime. It must have a very warm, protected site, to succeed outdoors. Will grow well in a pot or tub in a greenhouse.

Rangpur lime (Citrus x limonata)

Rangpur lime, is a cold tolerant, natural mandarin x lemon hybrid. Acidic, slightly seedy fruit that can range from pale to dark green, and to reddish-orange at maturity. Fruit will hang on the tree all year round.

Kusaie lime

Yellow, smaller form of Rangpur, but with a distinctly different flavour. In all other respects is identical.


Developed in Australia and has leaves that are a lot smaller than the traditional lime, producing full size juicy fruit. This improved variety is compact and virtually thornless. It is great for growing in pots, and is a good fruiting variety, with plenty of juice. ‘Sublime’ is perfect for patios, only growing to 1.5m tall.

Kaffir lime (Citrus hystrix)

A very thorny bush with aromatic leaves used widely in South-East Asian cooking. In cooking, use only young, fully matured leaves.

Fruit is rough, bumpy and inedible, although the oil from the skins is used in hair shampoo and is believed to have insecticidal properties.

Kaffir lime can be propagated by cuttings.

See also ‘Limequat’ under Cumquat and Hybrids.

Cumquat and Hybrids

Cumquat Nagami is great for making marmalade

Cumquat (Fortunella spp.)

Cumquats are attractive, small leafed and slow growing, cold tolerant trees. They are often grown as an ornamental and well suited to tubs. They have prolific crops and early maturing fruit. Cumquats flower in early summer unlike other citrus which flower in spring.

‘Nagami’ (Fortunella margarita)

Small oval or egg-shaped fruit, with deep orange coloured, aromatic skin. Fruit can be eaten whole, or its sweet skin and tart pulp, combined to make marmalade, glace or liquors.

Slow growing tree with long, pointed glossy leaves and a more robust grower than ‘Marumi’

‘Marumi’ (Fortunella japonica)

Round and juicy fruit, with thin, non-oily skin.


Attractive ornamentals, that are more cold tolerant than true limes. It has small, light orange fruit with sharply acid flavoured juice.

Calamondin, Calamansi or Calamandarin (Citrus madurensis)

Often incorrectly called a cumquat. Small and juicy fruit with loose, bright orange skin and an acid flavour.

Calamondin will grow into a large tree if planted in a favourable garden situation. Root restriction controls its size, but not its prolific, year round fruiting habit.

Citron (Citrus medica)

Buddhas hand citron can be a challenge for Melbourne gardeners

These fruits have religious significance in Asia and the Middle East. Citron trees produce only moderate growth and have a limited life span in cool climates. They are a challenge for Melbourne gardeners to grow, and require a warm, frost free, subtropical climate to survive.

Varieties include: ‘Corsican’, ‘Etrog’, ‘Bengal’, ‘Palestine’ and Buddha’s Hand or fingered citron.

Pummelo, Pomelo or Shaddock (Citrus maxima)

Pummelo fruit varies in size from 10 to 25cm in diameter, and weighs from half to two kilos. The rind is normally 10 to 30 mm thick, and the fruit can be round or pear shaped.

Pummelo trees generally have an untidy habit and vary in size. Although they will grow and fruit, in frost free southern climates, fruit quality and productivity is far superior in the tropics.

You say Pummelo, I say Pomelo! Either way, these can be grown in Melbourne, but the quality of fruit will be poor

Australian Native Citrus Varieties

Finger Lime (Citrus australasica)

A red native finger lime

From rainforest regions of northern New South Wales and Southern Queensland with elongated yellow-green to purple fruits. Finger limes can be grown in temperate areas with deep loamy soils. Soil should be nutrient rich, with high levels of organic matter with slightly acidic soil. It is able to withstand light frost levels. In cooler climates, a semi shaded area in a north facing site is preferred. Mulch during spring and have a good water regime to keep soil moist during summer and lightly prune annually after fruiting in autumn. No fertiliser is required for maintenance.

Round Lime or Dooja (Citrus australis)

From south-eastern Australia with round, green fruits

Desert Lime (Citrus glauca)

From the arid inland areas of Australia. Small round fruits are produced in summer.

Mount White lime (Citrus garrawayae)

Rare and endemic, to the Cook District of Cape York Peninsula.

Kakadu Lime or Humpty Doo (Citrus gracilis)

Grows in eucalypt woodland in the Northern Territory and was first described in the scientific literature in 1998.

Russell River Lime or Large-leaf Australian wild lime (Citrus inodora)

Rare, and endemic to northern Queensland.

Maiden’s Australian Wild Lime Citrus maideniana

This may be a subspecies of C. indora.

A number of cultivars have been developed in recent years. These can be grafted on to standard citrus rootstocks such as Trifoliata. They may be grown as ornamental trees, in the garden or in containers. Grafted standards are available for some varieties. The commercially available cultivars include:

  • ‘Australian Outback’ (or ‘Australian Desert’), developed from several Desert Lime varieties
  • ‘Australian Red Centre’ (or ‘Australian Blood’ or Blood Lime), a hybrid cross of Finger Lime and mandarin
  • ‘Australian Sunrise’, a hybrid cross of Finger Lime and a calomondin which is pear shaped and orange inside
  • ‘Rainforest Pearl’, a pink-fruited form of Finger Lime
  • ‘Pink Ice’, purplish to brown skin on the outside with clear to pink vesicles on the inside. Fruits well with a great flavour. Produces an unusual finger shaped fruit, that has individual vesicles inside that pop out when squeezed. Looks very similar to caviar. Has a strong limey taste. Great for drinks, used as a garnish or mixed through salads.

There are many new limes being developed by crossbreeding native citrus

Maturity periods for harvesting common citrus varieties in Melbourne.

Note: these fruiting times are general guides for greater Melbourne. They may vary by up to 6 weeks in different microclimates.

Recommended Varieties for a Citrus Grove in Melbourne

The planting options for growing citrus in Melbourne are numerous. Based on having room for 10 to 12 trees in Melbourne, the following selection would be recommended to provide almost year round supply of citrus.

  • Lemon x 3: ‘Lisbon’, ‘Eureka’ (or ‘Wiffen’) & ‘Lemonade’
  • Orange x 2:
    • Hot microclimates: ‘Valencia’ and Navel ‘Washington’
    • Warm microclimate (most of suburban Melbourne): Navel ‘Toc Summer’ and Navel ‘Washington’
    • Colder areas (such as the hills) ‘Navelina’ or ‘Fukomoto’
  • Mandarin x 2:
    • Milder areas ‘Imperial’ and ‘Kara’
    • Colder areas (such as the hills): ‘Silverhill’ and ‘Okitsu wase’
  • Tangelo x1: ‘Seminole’
  • Grapefruit x 1: Chironja (or Poorman, Wheeny or Thompson’s Pink)
  • Tahitian Lime x 1 (or ‘Limequat’)
  • Cumquat (any) x 1
  • Native Finger lime x1

Note: As Kaffir lime is generally only used for its leaves, it is quite common to graft a branch of this on the lower part of another citrus tree to save space.

Best Citrus Rootstocks for Melbourne

There are many rootstocks suitable to Melbourne’s soil and climate available for apples pears, stone fruit, and other fruit trees. However, the only rootstock that should be used for growing citrus in Melbourne (and all of Victoria) is “Trifoliata”. Any other citrus rootstocks will perform poorly.

There is a dwarf trifoliata variety called “Flying Dragon” which restricts most citrus to only 1.5 metres tall and is ideal for growing citrus in pots.

Don’t underestimate the importance of choosing the right rootstock for your fruit trees. It can make such a difference to the growth habit, and also the survival of your plants in the long term.

Characteristics of Trifoliata and ‘Flying Dragon’ rootstocks

  • Very resistant to Phytophthora
  • Susceptible to Psorosis
  • Very susceptible to Exocortis
  • Tolerant of Tristeza
  • Resistant to citrus nematodes
  • Good fruit production
  • Excellent fruit quality
  • Average fruit size
  • Mid-season fruit maturity
  • Excellent cold tolerance
  • Low salt tolerance
  • Low lime tolerance
  • Very tolerant of poor soil drainage (relative to other citrus rootstocks)
  • Good replant growth
  • Average longevity
  • Will support most citrus scion except ‘Imperial’ Mandarin.

Want to know more about Growing Citrus in Melbourne?

This is Part 1 of a 5 part guide to growing citrus in Melbourne. The links below will take you to the other four parts of our Melbourne citrus growing guide.

Citrus Growing Guide Part 2: Where and How to Plant Your Citrus Tree

Citrus Growing Guide Part 3: Ongoing Care and Management of Citrus Trees

Citrus Growing Guide Part 4: Pruning and Shaping of Citrus Trees

Citrus Growing Guide Part 5: Citrus Pests, Diseases and Problems in Melbourne

Our citrus growing guides are based on my own experience, as well as the following two books. They are both invaluable resources for the home gardener based in Melbourne. I strongly recommend you have a read of both if you want to know more about growing citrus in Melbourne:

Bruce Mophett & Ian Tolley: Citrus, A Gardener’s Guide, 2009.

Louis Glowinski: The Complete Book of Fruit Growing in Australia, 1997.

Cultivating grapefruit from seed can be tricky for beginners but is definitely doable. With this simple and practical growing guide, you can grow grapefruit like a pro. Read on and find out how to grow grapefruit from seeds with ease.

Growing Grapefruit From Seed in 5 Easy Steps

Have you tried slicing through a succulent and juicy grapefruit before and wondered if you can grow the seeds? Why, yes you can! In fact, you can enjoy a grapefruit tree in your backyard in these 5 easy steps!

Growing Grapefruits From Seeds

One of the questions when growing fruit from seed is whether it will grow true to a fruit. While it cannot be said when growing apples and peaches from seeds, most fruits from the citrus family will grow true from seed. What’s even better, is that grapefruit trees grown from seeds can live longer and are more disease-resistant.

Step 1. Extracting Grapefruit Seeds

It would be best for you to grow grapefruits from seeds of fruits grown locally. This ensures that the fruits you will grow are well adapted in your area. Pick a fruit that is clean and free of blemishes. Cut the fruit in half and scoop out the middle part of the fruit. Collect the viable, undamaged grapefruit seeds.

Step 2. Preparing Grapefruit Seeds

Soak the seeds in a glass of water and pat dry the seeds to take off the slime from the coat. This will make it easier to take off the seed coating. Using a small knife or tweezers, gently peel off the coating from the seeds and careful not to damage the tip.

Step 3. Germinating Grapefruit Seeds

Set the seeds on a paper towel then fold it to wrap the seeds. Spray the seeds and the paper towel to thoroughly moisten it. You can either place the seeds in a ziplock bag or in a plastic container with a cover. Label the bag or plastic container and place it in a warm and dark place.

Step 4. Planting Germinated Grapefruit Seeds

Check your seeds in about 10 to 15 days to see if the seeds have germinated. If you’re pleased with your germinated seeds, you can now prepare your planters or containers to plant your germinated seeds. You can use purchased containers or you can recycle old containers for starting the seeds of grapefruits in.

If you plan to recycle containers, make sure to drill holes in the bottom of the container for drainage. Use rich potting soil or a garden soil improved with organic compost. Poke four 1-inch holes in the container with equal distance to each other then drops the seeds with the roots down. Water the container and wait.

Step 5. Transplanting Grapefruit Seedlings

Transplant your seedlings into individual pots once they’ve grown 2 to 4 true leaves. This will give the seeds more breathing space and the roots more room to grow. Once you see the roots growing at the bottom of the container, the seedlings are now ready to be transferred. Whether you plan to grow grapefruit in containers indoors or directly in the ground out in your garden, you can follow the simple steps and smart tips below.

Tips For Growing Grapefruits Outdoors

As with most of the fruits of the citrus family, grapefruits are sun-loving and grow best where they are sun-kissed. Site your location in an area where the soil is a sandy loam with lots of organic matter. Transplant the seedlings in the site you selected and water the seedling until moist but not soggy. Water daily in the first week through to the second week and weekly after a few months when the plant has been established.

Tips For Growing Grapefruit In Containers

Growing grapefruit in containers is possible as with some other citrus fruits like lemon and oranges. However, they won’t grow grapefruit bunches like they would in a wider space. But, just the same, they will bear fruits and it can be a lovely ornamental plant, plus it makes it possible to grow grapefruits indoors in colder climates.

Watch the full tutorial for germinating grapefruit seeds here:

Though growing your own grapefruit from seed can be a lengthy process, it’s all worth it when you can look forward to a heavy laden grapefruit tree in a few years. So stop throwing those seeds away and begin your grapefruit garden today!

Thinking of giving grapefruits a try in your garden. I’d be delighted to hear all about it in the comments section below!

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