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Do you live in an area where you can’t grow citrus outdoors? Did you know you can grow grapefruit trees indoors?
Grow grapefruit indoors by selecting a dwarf variety like Ruby Red Grapefruit and planting it in a well-draining potting mix. Place the tree in a sunny location, ideally near a south-facing window, and provide 6-8 hours of sunlight daily.
Fertilize every 6-8 weeks with a slow-release fertilizer and water when the soil feels dry to the touch. Prune during the dormant season to encourage healthy growth and fruit production.
In this article, we will tell you how to grow grapefruit indoors.
It’s easy and in addition to delicious fruit, grapefruit trees make attractive houseplants with dark green evergreen leaves and fragrant flowers.
We will share tips and tricks for how to grow ruby red grapefruit indoors.
Why Grow Ruby Red Grapefruit?
There are several types of grapefruit trees but we recommend growing Ruby Red Grapefruit trees. Ruby red grapefruit is much sweeter than regular grapefruit.
As the name implies the flesh is red. This citrus fruit is easy to peel and segment and it has no seeds.
More importantly, it is available as a grafted tree. So look for a dwarf ruby red grapefruit tree.
Since we will be growing indoors we want a dwarf grapefruit tree because it is smaller and adapts well to being grown in a container.
These trees are grafted on a dwarfing rootstock and are perfect for growing indoors in a pot.
Growing grapefruit indoors can be a fun and rewarding experience, as it allows you to enjoy fresh, high-quality juicy grapefruit right from your own home.
Additionally, growing ruby red grapefruit specifically has some unique benefits. Ruby red grapefruit is known for its sweet and tangy flavor, as well as its vibrant red color.
This variety of grapefruit is also high in vitamin C, which makes it a great choice for those looking to boost their immune system.
In this blog post, we will discuss how to successfully grow ruby red grapefruit indoors, with a focus on using containers and dwarf-grafted trees.
We will cover everything from selecting the right container and tree to preparing the soil and lighting, to harvesting and enjoying your grapefruit.
Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, this guide will provide you with all the information you need to successfully grow your own ruby red grapefruit indoors.
How To Grow Grapefruit Indoors
Let’s go over how to grow grapefruit indoors. Once you receive your young grapefruit tree you will want to repot it and get it off to a good start.
Before you start it is important to provide your grapefruit trees with 6-8 hours of full sun.
If you don’t have a sunny spot like a south-facing window you can use an LED grow light to provide supplemental lighting.
Also bear in mind your citrus plant is from a temperate climate and freezing temperatures can damage or kill it.
Most citrus trees will be fine with regular indoor temperatures and they will provide ideal growing conditions.
Grafted Trees Vs Seeds
It is a well-known fact that fruit trees do not grow true to type from seed. Because of this growers will use a cutting from a desirable tree and graft it onto a rootstock.
Naturally, grafted trees cost more than seedlings. But dwarf citrus varieties will bear sooner and produce true-to-type fruit. So for growing citrus in containers, you will want a dwarf variety.
Seedling grapefruit trees will take many years to bear fruit and the fruit may not even be any good.
If you just want to grow a grapefruit tree as a foliage plant go ahead and use grapefruit seeds.
Just know that full-sized grapefruit trees can become quite large trees. They can get 20 feet tall.
But if you want a small tree that is easy to manage and produces quality grapefruit you will want to buy a grafted dwarf grapefruit tree.
Choosing the Right Container and Grafted Dwarf Tree
When it comes to growing grapefruit indoors, choosing the right container and tree is crucial for the success of your plant.
Container Size and Material Options:
The size of the container you choose will depend on the size of your grapefruit tree.
A general rule of thumb is to use a container that is at least twice the size of the tree’s root ball.
It’s a good idea to start with a minimum of a 12-inch pot. Over time you will pot up one size every year or two.
I find 5-gallon buckets are a great pot size for citrus and make an excellent planter for citrus trees provided you drill drainage holes in the bottom.
I like them because they are deeper than most regular 5-gallon pots. They can be painted to make them more attractive or they can be placed inside a larger terra cotta or ceramic pot.
Additionally, any container should have drainage holes to allow excess water to escape. Some good container materials include terra cotta, plastic or ceramic.
Dwarf Tree Options:
Dwarf trees are a great option for indoor growing because they are smaller in size and have a more compact growth habit, which makes them easier to manage.
Tips for Selecting a Healthy Tree from a Nursery:
When selecting a grapefruit tree from a nursery, look for trees that have a healthy, full canopy and a straight trunk.
Also, check the root system of the tree, it should be well-established and not too pot-bound.
Avoid trees that have yellowing leaves, wilting, or show signs of pests or diseases.
Tips For Buying A Citrus Tree Online:
Many of you will have to order your citrus plants online. While you can’t actually see the tree you will get you can choose a nursery with a good reputation and good customer reviews.
There are online nurseries that specialize in citrus trees and these are great places to find dwarf citrus trees.
Preparing the Container and Soil
Before planting your grapefruit tree in the container, make sure to thoroughly clean the container, and if necessary, drill drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.
This will ensure that excess water can escape, preventing root rot. All citrus trees require good drainage and too much water can cause root rot.
Instructions for Preparing the Container:
Once the container is prepared, you can fill it with a high-quality potting mix or a mix of equal parts of potting soil, perlite, and coarse sand.
I like to use a 50/50 mix of coco coir and perlite for my citrus trees, it provides well-drained soil with good moisture-holding capacity.
Information on the Type of Soil Needed for Grapefruit Trees:
Grapefruit trees prefer well-draining soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH range between 6.0 and 7.0. The ideal potting mix for grapefruit trees should be high in organic matter and have good water retention.
You can add a slow-release fertilizer to the potting mix, to provide the tree with the necessary nutrients for the first few months of growth.
How to amend the soil:
If you are using regular potting soil, you can amend it by adding perlite or coarse sand to improve drainage. Additionally, you can add organic matter such as aged compost or well-rotted manure to improve the water retention and fertility of the soil. Worm castings make a great way to enrich your soil.
Additionally, you should use a slow-release fertilizer in the soil to provide the tree with the necessary nutrients for the first few months of growth.
I recommend using Jobes Organics fertilizer spikes.
They are easy to use and last for 2-3 months.
They are designed for container-grown citrus.
Using 2 spikes for a 12-inch pot or 3 for an 18-inch pot takes the guesswork out of fertilizing.
They provide a 3-5-5 fertilizer blend along with micronutrients and beneficial bacteria.
Placement and Lighting
Grapefruit trees require a lot of sunlight to thrive, so it’s essential to place them in a location that receives at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight per day.
A south-facing window is ideal, as it will provide the tree with the most light throughout the day.
Avoid placing the tree in a location that receives only filtered or indirect sunlight, as this will not be sufficient for the tree to grow and bear fruit.
Grapefruit trees grow in warm climates so try to keep temperatures above 65
Also, avoid drafty areas or placing your tree near heating or air conditioning vents.
Supplementing Lighting if Natural Light is Limited:
If the location you have chosen for your grapefruit tree does not receive enough natural light, you will need to supplement the light with artificial grow lights.
Fluorescent grow lights or LED grow lights are a great option for indoor citrus trees, as they provide the full spectrum of light that the tree needs to grow.
The lights should be placed close to the tree, but not too close to burn the leaves. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper placement and duration of use.
LED grow lights will give you more light and a better spectrum than fluorescent lights, They cost less to run and you won’t need to replace bulbs yearly.
It’s important to note that supplementing with artificial light will require additional energy consumption and may increase your electricity bill.
Additionally, it is not recommended to use incandescent bulbs as they do not provide the full spectrum of light that the tree needs to grow and may get too hot for the tree.
Watering and Fertilizing
Grapefruit trees require consistent moisture, but it’s important not to over-water them. To determine when the tree needs water, stick your finger in the soil up to the first knuckle. If the soil feels dry, it’s time to water.
The tree should be watered thoroughly until water starts to drain out of the bottom of the container.
Allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings, but don’t let it become completely dry.
Do not let your plants sit in a tray with standing water in it. This can lead to root rot. Drain the tray after watering.
When and How to Fertilize the Tree:
If you are using the tree spikes you should replace them every 2-3 months. Grapefruit trees require regular fertilization to promote healthy growth and fruit production.
If you are not using the spikes a slow-release fertilizer should be added to the potting mix when planting the tree, and additional fertilizer should be applied every 6-8 weeks during the growing season.
Avoid over-fertilizing, as this can lead to leaf burn and other problems.
In addition to the above, it’s important to note that citrus trees have a high requirement for micronutrients such as zinc, iron, and manganese.
If you notice yellowing leaves or stunted growth, it’s likely that your tree is lacking these micronutrients.
Therefore, it’s important to use a fertilizer that contains these micronutrients or to apply them as a foliar spray to ensure that your tree has all the necessary nutrients to grow and bear fruit.
Pruning and Training
Pruning grapefruit trees is essential to promote healthy growth and fruit production.
The best time to prune is during the dormant season, typically in late winter or early spring.
Guide to Pruning Grapefruit Trees:
• Dead, diseased, or damaged branches should be removed immediately.
• Remove any water sprouts or suckers that are growing from the base of the tree.
• Remove any crossing or rubbing branches to prevent damage and promote good air circulation.
• Remove any branches that are growing into the center of the tree to allow light to reach the interior of the tree.
• Remove any branches that are growing in an undesirable direction or shape.
It’s important to use sharp, clean pruning tools and make clean cuts just above a leaf node or bud to promote healing.
Tips for Training the Tree to Grow in a Specific Shape or Direction:
Training a grapefruit tree to grow in a specific shape or direction can be done by using techniques such as staking, tying, and shaping.
Staking: By using a stake and tie, you can guide the tree in a specific direction and keep it upright while the trunk and branches become stronger.
Tying: By using soft ties, you can gently guide the tree into the desired shape and direction.
Shaping: By using shaping techniques such as pinching new growth, cutting, and bending, you can shape the tree into the desired form.
It’s important to keep in mind that training a grapefruit tree should be done gradually and with care, so as to not damage the tree or restrict its growth.
It’s also important to regularly check and adjust the ties or stakes as the tree grows to prevent them from girdling branches.
Additionally, it’s important to avoid cutting off too much foliage at once as this may affect the tree’s ability to photosynthesize and produce fruit.
With the right pruning and training techniques, you can ensure that your indoor grapefruit tree will grow healthy and produce delicious fruit for years to come
What Pests And Diseases Affect Grapefruit Trees?
Grapefruit trees can be affected by a variety of pests and diseases, some of the most common include:
Citrus aphids: These small, soft-bodied insects suck the sap from new growth, causing distorted leaves and reduced fruit production. They can be controlled by using a strong stream of water to knock them off the tree or by using insecticidal soap or neem oil.
Citrus thrips: These tiny insects feed on the leaves and fruit of the tree, causing scarring and discoloration on the fruit. They can be controlled by using insecticidal soap or neem oil.
Citrus scale: These small, armored insects attach themselves to the bark of the tree and suck the sap, causing reduced growth and fruit production. They can be controlled by using horticultural oil, neem oil, or an insecticide specifically labeled for citrus scale.
Citrus leafminer: The larvae of this insect burrow into the leaves of the tree, causing distorted, curled leaves. They can be controlled by using neem oil or an insecticide specifically labeled for citrus leafminer or by physically removing and destroying affected leaves.
Spider mites: can also affect grapefruit trees. They are small, spider-like pests that feed on the leaves of the tree, causing yellow stippling and webbing. They are particularly active in hot and dry conditions.
To control spider mites, you can try the following methods:
Strong water spray: Use a strong stream of water to knock the mites off the tree and reduce their population.
Horticultural oil, neem oil, or insecticidal soap: These can be effective in smothering the mites, but must be applied directly to the mites and their eggs.
Beneficial insects: Introduce beneficial insects such as ladybugs or predatory mites to control spider mites.
Mite-specific pesticides: There are also specific pesticides labeled for spider mite control, but it is important to read and follow the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
It is important to note that, if spider mites are not dealt with in a timely manner, they can cause significant damage to the tree and the production of fruit.
Regularly inspecting the tree and taking action as soon as you notice the presence of mites is crucial to preventing the problem from getting worse.
Citrus canker: This bacterial disease causes raised, sunken, or cracked lesions on the leaves, fruit, and twigs of the tree. It can be controlled by removing and destroying affected branches and by maintaining good sanitation practices and the use of copper-based fungicides.
Greasy spot: This fungal disease causes yellow or brown spots on the leaves, which can eventually lead to defoliation. It can be controlled by removing and destroying affected leaves and by applying a copper fungicide.
It is important to note that before treating any pests or diseases, it is best to correctly identify the problem, and use the appropriate treatment.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions when applying any pesticides and ensure that the product is labeled for use on citrus trees.
Harvesting and Enjoying Your Grapefruit
The time it takes for grapefruit to be ready for harvest varies depending on the variety and the growing conditions.
Typically, grapefruit will be ready for harvest a year or two after the tree is planted.
Seedling trees will take much longer to produce fruit and it can take 5-6 years for them to produce. Even then the fruit may not be of good quality which is why I recommend using grafted trees.
The best way to determine if the grapefruit is ready for harvest is to check the color and size of the fruit.
Ruby red grapefruit should be yellow and develop an orange color and be fully mature when ready for harvest. The skin should also be slightly soft when gently pressed.
Suggestions for Using or Storing Your Ruby Red Grapefruit:
Ruby red grapefruit can be enjoyed fresh or used in a variety of recipes. The fruit can be eaten as is, or can be used in salads, sauces, marinades, and desserts. The zest of the grapefruit can also be used to add flavor to dishes.
If you have a surplus of grapefruit, it can be stored in the refrigerator for several weeks. To extend the shelf life of your grapefruit, you can also freeze the fruit.
Cut the grapefruit into slices or wedges, remove the seeds and any membranes and place them in a single layer on a baking sheet.
Once frozen, transfer the fruit to a plastic bag or container and store it in the freezer for up to six months.
Overall, growing ruby red grapefruit indoors can be a rewarding experience, not only for the delicious fruit it produces but also for the beauty and warmth it brings to your home.
FAQs About Growing Grapefruit Indoors
You may have several questions about growing grapefruit indoors, from the type of tree to select to the care it requires.
Below are some commonly asked questions to help you get started on your indoor grapefruit-growing journey.
Q. What type of grapefruit tree is best for growing indoors?
A. Dwarf varieties like Ruby Red Grapefruit are ideal for indoor growing due to their compact size and adaptability to container growing.
Q. How much sunlight does an indoor grapefruit tree need?
A. Grapefruit trees require at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily. A south-facing window is ideal, but you can supplement with LED grow lights if natural light is insufficient.
Q. How often should I water my indoor grapefruit tree?
A. Water the tree when the soil feels dry to the touch, usually every 7-10 days. Over-watering can lead to root rot, so make sure the pot has good drainage.
Q. When and how should I fertilize my indoor grapefruit tree?
A. Use a slow-release fertilizer every 6-8 weeks during the growing season. You can also use organic fertilizer spikes designed for citrus trees for easier application.
In this post, we covered the steps for growing ruby red grapefruit indoors, with an emphasis on using a container and dwarf trees.
We discussed how to choose the right container and tree, prepare the soil and container, select the best location and lighting, properly water and fertilize the tree, prune and train the tree for healthy growth, and harvest and enjoy the delicious fruit.
We hope this post has provided you with valuable information and inspiration for growing grapefruit indoors.
While growing grapefruit can be a bit challenging, it can also be a rewarding experience that allows you to enjoy fresh, healthy fruit all year round.
Learn more about growing citrus indoors.
Here is a useful guide from the University Of Minnesota extension.