grapefruit tree - Knowledgebase Question

Phoenix, Ar
Question by emb257toy
October 2, 2009
I would like to plant ruby red grapefruit tree and want to know the best time (season) to plant, and special techniques and precautions considering that I am in Phoenix.
What tree size in the best to plant, HomeDepot has 5 gal and 15 gal options.
Any special fertilizers or chemicals to use and timing.

Thank you,

Answer from NGA
October 2, 2009


Surprisingly, the weather in the Arizona desert produces some of the best tasting citrus in the world. Heat produces sugar in citrus fruits making them sweeter and cool weather produces acid making citrus more tart. The hot summers and cool winters in the desert therefore produce a much fuller flavored product than can be grown in either consistently warm climates such as Florida, or in consistently mild climates such as the California coast.

The size of the tree doesn't really matter; smaller trees establish more quickly but larger trees produce fruit sooner. Find a sunny spot in your landscape and dig a hole at least twice the size of the rootball. At a minimum, make the hole 2 feet in diameter and 3 feet deep. Work in a 20/80 mix of compost to soil. Be sure to mix the compost and soil as thoroughly as possible. It also is a good idea to finish with the hole an inch or two recessed so that a watering basin is formed. Citrus trees will be much healthier if they can develop deep roots so it is best that they be planted in a location that has good drainage.

For the first two weeks after planting, water every three days by filling the basin, allowing it to drain, then filling a second time. Gradually reduce the frequency of watering to once a week during the fall, once every 2 weeks during the winter months and then increase watering during the summer months. When your tree has been in the ground 2 years it will be established and begin to produce fruit for you. As the tree matures you can water less frequently, but more deeply to encourage deep root growth.

Citrus are usually fed 3-4 times a year. Wait until spring for your first feeding, to give your tree a chance to establish. Use a specialized fertilizer (called Citrus Food) and apply in amounts as recommended on the label.

Good luck with your grapefruit tree!

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