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How To Grow Grapefruit Trees?

Grapefruit trees are the only citrus fruit that originates from the Americas. Grapefruit is a natural hybrid between the pomelo and the orange fruit. They are known for their waxy green leaves and large citrus fruits that range from semi-sweet to sour.

The fruit gets its name from the clusters it grows in. These clusters look like big yellow grapes and hence the name – grapefruit. A grapefruit tree is a great project to take on. After years of the right care and love the tree will bless you with its fruit. This fruit gifting can last up to 150 years.

This tree can be a humble yet loveable decoration in your garden or a corner piece in your living space. When the tree is fully grown it can produce 1300 to 1500 pounds (589 to 680 kilograms) of grapefruit a year. The grapefruit tree also produces a sweet aroma that can freshen up any of its surroundings. 

If you want to know more about grapefruit trees and how to properly care for them then keep reading.

How To Grow?

Grapefruit trees grow outdoors and thrives in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 to 11. This tree enjoys having space for its roots and a sunny site. The best time to plant your grapefruit tree would be spring.

It can take up to 7 or 8 years of vegetative growth before your grapefruit tree will start baring fruit. In some cases, the tree can take up to 15 years to mature.

Grapefruit trees do not need a partner in their garden as they are self-pollinating. If you plan on planting other trees around it, do it with 50 feet (15 meters ) of land between the trees.

grapefruit tree
Grapefruit tree with a lot of fruit Source: Chris

Climate

Grapefruit trees are quite wide with their pallet for the climate. The best temperatures for grapefruit trees would be 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 29 degrees Celsius). They like low or moderate rainfall, cool winters, and warm to hot and dry summers.

If the weather gets too dry you might have to irrigate your grapefruit tree. Always choose an area that’s 12 feet (3 meters) away from any bigger buildings or obstructions for planting. This way your tree will be able to reach its mature height and width.

Light

Always choose a sunny sight for your grapefruit tree. Grapefruit trees will thrive in full sun, needing at least six to eight hours a day. Natural sunlight is the absolute best option for these trees.

They can get sunburned if the softer more vulnerable parts of the tree are exposed to the intense sun for too long. Sunburn can affect the fruit and leaves, which can be easily grown back. A problem will rise if the bark gets damaged, as that can not be replaced.

Watering

During the first three years of growing your grapefruit tree water it regularly. Preferably two to three times a week. During the particularly hot summer months, water the tree more frequently.

To check if your grapefruit tree needs watering simply stick your finger in the topsoil. If it is dry, the tree needs watering. After the first three years, you can begin to water your tree once every seven to ten days. Less watering is needed if it rains regularly. 

Yellowing leaves with brown tips, the area around the tree constantly wet, and new growth withering before fully developing are signs of root rot, which can be caused by overwatering. If you discover these symptoms, let your grapefruit tree dry out as much as possible. 

grapefruit trees
Grapefruit tree with grapefruits starting to ripen Source: Ben

Soil & Fertilizer

Grapefruit trees flourish in well-draining and loamy soil. Avoid planting your grapefruit tree in soil that is clay laden or high in salinity. Such soils can inhibit the growth of citrus trees. They do especially well in soils of medium texture at moderate depth. The soil should have a slightly acidic pH level and low salts.  

Grapefruit trees prefer organic and nitrogen-high fertilizers. The best time to fertilize your grapefruit tree would be spring. Spring is the time they need lots of energy to grow new leaves and nurture baby fruit.

If your grapefruit tree is potted, start fertilizing in early spring and stop in midsummer to let your tree prepare for winter. The best way to increase fertility would be to use homemade compost or manure from a trusted source for fertilizer.

Pruning

Grapefruit trees need to be pruned annually. Prune the tree every year from when you first plant them. When it comes to pruning the grapefruit tree, timing is key. The ideal time for pruning would be very late winter or early spring.

Make sure the threat of frost is over before pruning, also you need to get pruning over with before the new buds start to form. Use pruning to remove any unwanted sprouts, or weak branches, or to allow more light into the canopy. Be careful not to prune too often or too much as this can lead to the death of the tree.

Propagating

Here’s a simple guideline to propagate a grapefruit tree:

  • Use sharp shears or big and strong scissors. 
  • Cut a healthy stem cutting 
  • Plant it in the mentioned soil
  • Roots should form in a month.

Repotting

When repotting a grapefruit tree, never forget to wear protective gear. Choose a pot wider and deeper than the one before. Before repotting the tree, examine the roots and cut away any dead or diseased parts.

You should repot your grapefruit tree every two to three years in the early spring. Before repotting, ensure to water the new soil and the tree for approximately 30 seconds. 

Diseases

Sadly grapefruit trees have many common diseases. Melanose, citrus scab, anthracnose, citrus black spot, citrus blast, brown rot, and citrus greening- these are the most common diseases you might encounter while caring for your grapefruit tree.

To rid of these diseases you can use fungicides or antibacterial copper spray. To prevent these diseases you must care for your tree correctly: remove any dead parts, water accordingly, and clean the ground around the tree of leaf litter.

Pests

The most common pests you might encounter when growing a grapefruit tree are citrus leaf miners, thrips, mites, scale insects, weevils, orange dog caterpillars, and whiteflies. Keep an eye on your grapefruit tree for early discovery and easy removal.

To rid of these pests use parasitic wasps, insecticides, and horticultural oils. To prevent these intrusions: prune the tree, remove damaged foliage, and encourage their natural predators such as ladybugs.

Final Thoughts

This fruit-producing citrus tree is a suitable challenge for someone brave enough to take on the care of a tree. The sweet aroma will make any summer day feel like a vacation.

Grapefruit has lost its popularity but you can grow this fruit on your own, making it better tasting and more special. Grapefruit tree prices range from 30 to 50 dollars (28 to 47 euros). If you wish to grow your citrus fruit tree and feed off of it as long as you want, then go get yourself a grapefruit tree.

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