Growing a grapefruit tree can be a very rewarding experience, and it can give you fruit that is far superior to anything you’ll find in the grocery store. However, unlike peaches, apples and other common fruits trees, grapefruits require special care and consideration. Here’s how to care for a grapefruit tree.
You should only plant a grapefruit tree after the threat of frost has passed. These trees grow quickly, become very large and like hot temperatures, so find a sunny and open spot in which to plant them. It’s recommended that you place them in a south-facing location for the best results. Although grapefruits don’t strictly require full sun, it will help provide them with the ideal temperature range.
When planting your tree, make sure the knob-like graft point is at least three or four inches above the soil surface. The quality of your soil isn’t a big issue with grapefruits as it is with most other fruit trees, as long as it drains well. They don’t need as much water, either, so water them once every seven to ten days unless you’re getting regular rainfall. Alternatively, you can stick your finger an inch into the soil to test it. If it’s dry, it’s time for a thorough watering.
Avoid using fertilizer for the tree’s first spring, then lightly feed it with an organic fertilizer or compost during the first summer. Feel free to fertilize the tree once during the next spring and again in summer.
Grapefruits don’t usually need to be pruned the way most other fruit trees do, but it’s a good idea if it gets too large. It’s extremely common for new foliage to curl, and this is caused by citrus leaf miners. The odds that your tree will acquire this pest is very high. To fight it, spray the tree with a neem oil solution. While citrus leaf miner won’t kill your tree or make it sick, it will produce better if the pest is dealt with.
When your tree produces fruit depends on its variety and the temperatures in your location. If it’s too cold, the tree may not even bloom, let alone set fruit. Generally, however, you can expect fruit around early to mid fall. Although it’s unusual for grapefruits to be terribly sweet, hot temperatures will greatly increase your odds of sweet and flavorful fruit.
A handful of varieties of grapefruit tree feature excellent tolerance to the cold. Some are able to withstand temperatures of 22 degrees or lower. However, most of them can still be damaged by freezing temperatures if they’re young, have health problems or are poorly protected. During the winter months, pile a thick layer of leaves around the base of the tree in order to protect the graft point. This way, even if the rest of the tree is killed by a freeze, a new one will regrow from this point. If your large tree happens to die completely, digging it up will can be an enormous task. Fortunately, the professionals at Rick’s Tree Service have what it takes to remove the stubborn remains and help you reclaim the space.