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Dwarf Grapefruit Trees

A dwarf grapefruit tree is not just another grapefruit tree. Yes, like other grapefruit, they do produce a good crop of fruit each year and yes, they have lush evergreen leaves. That is just the beginning, though, of what this attractive type of grapefruit tree is about.

Closeup of a single ripe grapefruit hanging on a tree branch.

The Special Dwarf Grapefruit Tree

There are various varieties of dwarf grapefruit trees, but all of them have a few things in common: they are abundantly evergreen, have a controllable root system and produce fruit of great quality.

In fact, although the trees are miniature, if they are looked after carefully, they can produce grapefruit the same size as those from a large tree. You will find that the crop from a dwarf grapefruit is often more prolific than from a regular-sized tree.

Cultivating Dwarf Grapefruit Trees

Closeup of cluster of white grapefruit tree blossoms.

A dwarf grapefruit tree is the result of cuttings being taken from regular trees and grafted onto trees with a smaller rootstock.

They grow to an average of about 10 feet (3 meters), which means that the fruit is more easily accessible than from a regular tree, which can grow to almost twice the height. If a dwarf grapefruit tree is planted in a pot, it won’t grow as high, which makes it ideal for growing in a confined area.

The canopy of a dwarf grapefruit tree is characteristically rounded, which makes them attractive plants to have in any garden. Although these trees can be planted outside, they can also be grown easily in pots. Their size and manageability make them a perfect fit for any indoor garden space, or even in an inside atrium.

Generally, grapefruit trees are not pruned aggressively, but you can keep the size of your dwarf grapefruit contained with regular snipping and training.

Weather conditions

Generally, grapefruit trees prefer relatively warm temperatures, but both full-size and dwarf varieties can be grown outside in areas with winters that reach fairly significantly low temperatures. The relative summer temperatures in these areas will be relatively high.

In areas where the lowest temperatures in winter are from 10 F(-12C) – 50F (10C) the grapefruit trees can be planted outdoors.

In areas where the lowest temperatures in winter are from -30F (-35C) to 10F (-12C), a grapefruit tree is unlikely to survive. This means they should be planted in a pot and brought indoors in winter.

Caring For a Dwarf Grapefruit Tree

Grapefruit trees being grown in large flowerpots -- dwarf grapefruit trees are ideal candidates for containers.

Most of the principles of looking after a dwarf grapefruit tree are the same as looking after any tree: make sure you water it regularly, give it fertilizer when necessary, and remove old and dead branches.

Caring for a dwarf grapefruit tree make take just a little more effort, as you will need to keep the tree contained in size. You’ll also need to make sure it is in good condition so the tree produces a good crop of fruit.

Sun

All grapefruit trees need a lot of light to grow and thrive on at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day. This is an important factor to consider when you have a dwarf grapefruit tree. It is also an important thing to think about if you are growing the tree in a pot in an inside area.

Soil

Like other grapefruits, the dwarf grapefruit tree needs to grow in rich, well-drained soil. This is something you must be aware of before you plant one in your garden and especially when you plant one in a pot. To help a clay-based soil drain better, you can mix some sand into it when you dig a hole in your garden. You should also mix compost into the soil to increase the nutrients.

When you plant a dwarf grapefruit tree in a container, you will be able to choose a rich potting soil. You can also buy a premix of fertilizer and soil to use in a container.

Water

A dwarf grapefruit tree needs a regular amount of water, so it is important to keep the soil damp. The trick is to keep an eye on the soil. If it appears to be dry, then it will need to be watered. Take care that you don’t over-water the tree, though.

Fertilizer

There are fertilizers that are suitable for citrus trees that you can use for a dwarf grapefruit tree. It’s always important to use the correct amount of fertilizer, or the plant can get burned. Follow the instructions on the packaging, or check with your nursery or garden shop.

You should fertilize a dwarf grapefruit tree in the spring, as the growing season begins. You can also fertilize again in early fall, but no later.

When you fertilize the tree, spread the grains around the trunk. If the tree is outside, the spread should go as wide as the tree’s canopy stretches. If the tree is in a pot, then you must cover the whole area of the pot.

After applying the fertilizer, water the ground (pot) thoroughly, to help it soak into the ground.

Tidying

It is important to keep the area around the trunk of the dwarf grapefruit tree as clear as possible of weeds and any organic debris, like leaves. This type of growth can use the water and nutrients the tree needs.  It can also act as a mulch, not allowing the water to evaporate naturally and keeping too moist. This can be a problem, if the roots become water-logged, as root rot can set in.

If the tree is grown in a pot, this means that the whole area of the pot must be kept clear.

For a complete guide guide on growing and caring for grapefruit trees, visit this link to read our blog article.

Enjoying the Fruit

Ripe yellow grapefruits hanging on a tree.

Like any fruit, grapefruits grow and ripen on the tree. Many varieties of fruit can be picked and will continue ripening. In fact, there are some fruits that are picked very green, so that they last and can be allowed to ripen.

Grapefruits, though, do not continue to ripen once they have been picked. So, don’t go out as soon as you think your dwarf grapefruits are ripe and pick all of them. Rather pick and use as you need to. If you leave the green fruit on the tree, it will continue to ripen and you will have a fairly steady supply of fresh fruit through the winter.

To test if a grapefruit is ripe, hold it and twist it slightly. If it comes off easily, it will be ripe enough to eat.

A Dwarf Grapefruit Tree Is Not Just a Tree

In many ways, dwarf grapefruit trees are much more fun to have in your garden than a regular tree, because they are quite versatile. Grow them as an outdoor tree. Plant them in a pot, which is either outside or inside, or even both alternately (depending on the season). Grow them close together and train them to form a hedge. Grow them as a mini-orchard, to give your garden character. Grow them espaliered against a wall.

The options are endless.

Conclusion

Closeup of three grapefruits growing in a patio garden setting.

A dwarf grapefruit tree is more than just a smaller version of a regular tree. It is quite adaptable and can be used creatively to add to the charm of your garden or home. It can, of course, also be a delightful supply of fresh sweet fruit to make your day sweeter through the winter.

Want to know about other varieties of grapefruit trees? Visit this link to read our other grapefruit articles.