Grapefruits are those large orange fruits with a unique bitter-sweet taste that millions of people enjoy daily for breakfast or just a quick snack. And for those lucky enough to grow them can enjoy this amazing fruit at a much cheaper cost than going to the grocery store. However, proper grapefruit tree care is needed to ensure the best yield and tasting fruit.
If you’re considering growing your own grapefruits, keep reading to learn the ins and outs of how to care for your grapefruit tree.
Grapefruit Tree Care: Seven Core Areas of Care
Before planting, it’s a good idea to ensure you live in the best area for growing grapefruits. These trees grow best in USDA Hardiness Zones 9-11. You can plant them either during the spring or fall seasons.
Below are the seven core areas of focus when it comes to grapefruit tree care.
Planting and Soil
When it comes to planting, finding a nice and sunny spot is essential for grapefruit tree care. Grapefruit trees also require loamy, well-draining soil along with full sun (between six to eight hours daily).
You also want to find a spot that’s 12 feet or more from any obstructions or structures so that your tree will have lots of room to spread its limbs and plant roots.
Speaking of roots, digging a hole deep enough to support your tree’s root structure is crucial to grapefruit tree care. Even if you are planting a smaller type of grapefruit tree, you’ll need to ensure the container has drainage holes.
Also, you want to get a container that is about twice the size of the one your tree came in. This will allow your tree to grow properly.
After planting your tree, don’t completely fill in the hole immediately. Instead, fill it back with soil about halfway, then water. Allow the soil some time to settle a bit before filling the soil the rest of the way.
Firmly pack the soil around the tree, but not too much. You don’t want to compact the soil. Just ensure that the ground is level around the base of your tree. This way, water will drain evenly.
To learn more about how to grow a grapefruit tree, check out our guide that will walk you through the entire process.
Mulching is a very important aspect of grapefruit tree care. This practice will keep your trees healthy and vital and is especially important for younger plants that have yet to become established. Mulching prevents nutrient-sucking weeds from growing and can protect its roots from cold while retaining needed moisture.
The best way to much is by spreading a layer between one and two inches around the base of your plant. The best mulch is either organic or compost. Also, note that you really want to spread your much out quite a bit around your tree. Otherwise, you may encourage root rot if it’s piled too thick. And please make sure you have between one and two inches of space between the mulch and your trunk.
During the first year of planting, it will be necessary to water your grapefruit tree one to three times each week for the best grapefruit tree care. Proper grapefruit tree care during hot temperatures requires that you deeply water your tree whenever you notice that the top soil has dried.
A good test of topsoil moisture involves inserting a fingertip one centimeter into the soil.
Like most citrus trees, grapefruit tree care requires that you feed them at least once a month during growing their growing season and less so during the colder months.
However, feeding can also depend on the overall health of a tree. For instance, if a grapefruit tree is lush and really thriving, meaning it’s budding and making fruit, then you probably don’t need to supply extra nutrients as it’s getting what it needs from the soil and water.
Also, take a look at this helpful guide for fertilizing grapefruit trees.
Now your tree can grow pretty quickly and grapefruit tree care requires some essential pruning. Pruning grapefruit trees will require some very top-quality pruning shears. The best time to get out those pruning shears is during the spring. You’ll want to prune back dying or dead branches. This, in turn, will promote new growth.
You also want to keep an eye out for those suckers, which are stems that grow out from the plant roots. Your tree doesn’t need to share the spotlight. In other words, it should be Beyoncé, a solo act. No offense, Destiny’s Child fans.
For more on pruning check out our guide: The Complete Guide to Pruning.
Your harvest season will be in the fall. When you notice your grapefruits turning gold or yellow, they are ready for harvest. But, keep in mind, as with many fruit trees, the longer your ripe fruit remains on the tree, they’ll grow bigger and sweeter. Also, hot temperatures will increase the likelihood of sweeter fruits.
During your grapefruit tree care, you can easily spot over-ripened fruit as they will look lumpy. Now, you can throw these fruits away or use them for other purposes such as making grapefruit juice, salad dressing, cobbler, and marinade. This article will give you more ideas on things you can do with your over-ripe grapefruit.
You can also check out this handy article on how to tell if your grapefruit is ripe.
Protection from the Frost Damage
There are several types of grapefruit trees that enjoy a natural tolerance for cold temperatures. There are even a few that can hold up under 22 degrees or lower. However, most grapefruit trees are still very vulnerable to cold damage when they are young.
While the exact temperature can vary, for the best grapefruit tree care, you want to provide extra protection to your trees when temperatures drop to between 25 and 27 degrees Fahrenheit.
We already discussed mulching and how it can protect your tree’s roots during colder temperatures. As part of grapefruit tree care, you can also protect young trees by draping a tarp or blanket over your tree. However, make sure the entire tree’s covered, then remove it during mornings when the temperature rises above 27 degrees.
You can also protect your tree by mounding soil around the base of your tree. It would be best if you do this around late November, then smooth it out in March.
Pests and diseases
The last critical part of grapefruit tree care involves taking a proactive approach to combating diseases and pests. The first step is monitoring your plant for signs of damage or illness.
The first type of pest to worry about is the warm-blooded variety—critters like gophers, squirrels, and rabbits like chewing on younger citrus trees. Looking at the trunk, you can usually tell if your tree’s been damaged bit mammal bites.
Physical damage to your tree’s bark also attracts insects and diseases. Insects that can infest your tree include:
- Fire ants
Our guide on 11 Grapefruit Tree Pests should help you win the war against pesky critters.
Diseases such as anthracnose, scab, and melanose among others, are common issues for grapefruit trees. You’ve got to know how to spot the signs or disease and take the proper action to save your fruit and your tree. Check out our guide on Common Grapefruit Tree Diseases for what you need to know.
Growing Great Grapefruit
Grapefruit tree care is something growers must take very seriously to produce the best quality grapefruits. Young trees are especially vulnerable to frost damage, pests, and disease, which means they require more care and attention.
Also, ensuring you plant your tree in the right soil and in the best location (one that gets lots of sun) is vital to your success. And don’t forget to cover them during the winter. With the right closely followed gameplan, you can grow the biggest, sweetest, most delicious grapefruit you’ve ever tasted!
Want to learn more about grapefruits? Next, visit our grapefruit trees page to learn all about this big citrus: planting, growing, caring, cooking, and more!