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How to Plant a Grapefruit Tree

There’s nothing quite like a fresh grapefruit, cut in half with a sprinkle of brown sugar. How nice would it be to have an entire tree full of them in your backyard?

While you’ve got to invest your time and efforts, your rewards will be exponential. A single mature grapefruit tree can produce anywhere from 1,300 to 1,500 pounds of fruit annually!

Planting citrus trees at home doesn’t have to be complicated. Read on to learn everything you’ll need to know about how to plant a grapefruit tree.

Cluster of grapefruit on a tree.

What You’ll Need

Planting a grapefruit tree in your yard is simple as long as you have the right tools available!


Grapefruit trees started from seed need to be at least three years old before being planted in the ground. That will ensure they’re mature enough to grow the roots necessary for a long, healthy, fruitful life.

You can find grapefruit trees online, but some states can not receive them through the mail due to shipping regulations. If you live in Arizona, California, Florida, or Texas, you’ll need to find a grapefruit tree at a local nursery.

Star Ruby grapefruit on a tree.
Star Ruby grapefruits.

One choice we highly recommend is the Star Ruby Grapefruit tree sold by one of our favorite retailers, Stark Brothers.


You’ll need a large hole dug to fit the grapefruit tree’s root ball. The right shovel will make the job much easier!


Compost is available for purchase at most local nurseries. A good compost will give newly transplanted roots an extra boost of nutrition.

Stake and Tie Tape

Sometimes planting a grapefruit tree requires just a bit of extra support. A simple piece of wood and tie tape can reinforce a young tree trunk.

Root Stimulator

Root stimulator will help your tree through any transplant shock it may experience. It will encourage the roots to get back to business as usual quicker than they would without it.

Common Grapefruit Tree Varieties

It’s essential to decide what variety of grapefruits you want to have around before learning how to plant a grapefruit tree.

White Grapefruit

White grapefruit.

White grapefruit trees get their names from the pale yellow fruit they produce. White grapefruits are typically more bitter than sweet, but you can easily cook out the sourness and bitterness in a dessert.

Ruby Red Grapefruit

Ruby Red grapefruit.

Ruby Red grapefruit trees produce some of the most popular grapefruits in the world! They’re widely available and easy to find in grocery stores.

Melogold Grapefruit

Melogold grapefruit or pomelo.

Melogold Grapefruit trees will produce delectably sweet fruit that you can eat right off the branch! It’s one of the sweetest grapefruits, so it’s a fantastic option when learning how to plant a grapefruit tree.

How to Plant a Grapefruit Tree

Now that you know what you’ll need to do the planting and have chosen a what variety of grapefruit tree you’ll be planting, it’s time to get down to business!

Young grapefruit growing on a tree.

When to Plant a Grapefruit Tree

The timing in which you plant your grapefruit tree is important. Winter is too cold, and the summer sun can be brutal on a transplanted tree.

Planting a grapefruit tree must be done in either spring or fall when temperatures are mild and the sun isn’t too intense.

All grapefruit trees will thrive in hardiness zones 9-11.

If you’re in zone 8, you could plant a grapefruit tree in the spring on the south side of a building. That position will provide it with the most warmth and sun possible.

Choose the Growing Site

There are a few main criteria to consider when choosing the growing site for your new grapefruit tree.


Like most other citrus trees, Grapefruit tend to grow out just as much as they grow up. They can be used as something like a mega-shrub if that’s how you want to plant your trees!

Since healthy grapefruit tree roots spread out more than they spread down, giving them plenty of space is crucial. Newly planted grapefruit trees must be at least twelve feet from any sidewalk, driveway, or building.

The space isn’t for the tree’s health as much as it is for the integrity of the concrete or building’s foundation!

Soil Condition

When learning how to plant a grapefruit tree, you have to consider the soil condition of your potential growing site.

Citrus trees need soil that drains well because their roots are negatively affected by sitting in too much water.

Grapefruit trees will thrive in loamy soil. Loamy soil is a good mix of sandy, silty, and clay soils.

If you need to figure out what type of soil you have, there’s an easy test.

All you need to do is form a ball out of damp soil in your yard. If it refuses to come together, the soil is too sandy. There’s too much clay if the damp soil forms a hard, slick ball. A nice, loamy soil will come together to make a loose ball that will gently crumble under pressure.

Person sifting handful of garden soil.


All citrus trees need to be planted where they will receive at least eight hours of unobstructed sunlight daily.

When planning on where to plant a grapefruit tree, think about how much sunlight the spot gets every day. The more sun the tree gets, the better it will produce delicious fruit!

To determine if a spot gets full sunlight, look at it in the morning and again in the afternoon. The full sun spot should have bright sunlight from around 10:00 am until 5:00 pm.

Dig the Hole

Dig a hole 50% wider than the width of the container your grapefruit tree has been growing in.

The depth doesn’t need to exceed the depth of the pot because you want to ensure the tree’s lowest branches stay well above the soil to aid in drainage.

Prepare the Tree

You’ll need to get the tree out of its current container without damaging the roots.

There are a couple of ways to achieve this.

First, if you have two sets of hands, you can gently finagle the tree out of the container.

Tilt the tree on its side and put pressure on the container to start loosening the soil away from the sides. Rotate the tree, so you are loosening all sides.

Once the soil is loosened, gently hold the tree trunk with one hand while someone else pulls the container from the bottom. Don’t yank the tree out. You’re just guiding it out of the pot.

With your free hand, move around the edge of the container, where the soil and container meet, to continue encouraging separation.

Take your time, repeat the first step as necessary, and eventually, the whole root ball will come out of the container in one piece!

If you don’t have help, there’s another way to try. Use a utility knife to cut a slit down the side of the container if it’s just a plastic garden pot. Take care not to take a slice out of nearby roots. Then you’d gently peel the container away from the root ball and put the tree in the hole you’ve dug.

Plant the Tree

New planted grapefruit tree. Knowing how to plant a grapefruit tree opens the door to delicious fruit in your garden.

Once the tree is in the hole you’ve dug, begin to backfill it with the soil you dug out.

You want to ensure there’s as little settling as possible later on, so take your time to pack the soil around your newly planted grapefruit tree. This action will guarantee the tree has a better drainage situation than it would if it was allowed to settle into looser soil.

If your soil is less nutrient-dense than you wish, now is the time to mix in some of the compost you’ve got on hand. Mix it in with the soil you’re backfilling into the hole.

Secure and Support

After the hole is filled in and gently tamped down, put the pole near the tree’s base and gently tie your tie tape around the two.

Before you can say you’re completely done learning how to plant a grapefruit tree, take just a moment to mix up some root stimulator and add it to the base of the tree!

How to Care for a Grapefruit Tree After Planting

Now that you know how to plant a grapefruit tree, you’ve got to care for it. Here are some basics. For a detailed explanation, check out our Complete Guide to Grapefruit Tree Care.


Water a newly planted grapefruit tree thoroughly 1-3 times a week, depending on the soil’s drainage. Put your finger into the soil about one inch deep to test if it needs watering. If it’s dry, it’s time to water.

Watering a newly planted grapefruit tree.


Grapefruit trees need to be fertilized about once a month while they’re growing fruit.


Prune your trees of all dead or dying branches in the early spring to make space for new and healthy branches to grow.


Your grapefruits should be ready to harvest by late fall. The longer they stay on the branch, the bigger and sweeter they’ll become.

Common Grapefruit Tree Pests and Diseases

Unfortunately, planting a grapefruit tree in your backyard also means you get to fight the pests and diseases that may plague it, too.

We’ve got everything you need to know about Grapefruit Tree Pests and Diseases, including what to look for and how to fix them.

Wrapping up How to Plant a Grapefruit Tree

Closeup of immature green grapefruit on a tree.

See? Learning how to plant a grapefruit tree is as easy as 1-2-3! All it takes is the right tools, knowing the steps, a little elbow grease, and some patience, and you’ll be enjoying your fresh grapefruit before you know it!

If you want to learn even more about these delicious fruits, check out our page all about Grapefruit Trees.