Growing Citrus Trees from Seeds (Advice Please)

Discussion in 'Citrus' started by Takujii, Mar 29, 2005.

  1. Takujii

    Takujii Member

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    Hi,
    I am a new user and have some questions about growing different kinds of Citrus Fruits from seeds. I am obsessed with plucking seeds out of the fruits I eat and seeing if I can first germinate them and then grow them to maturity. I have tried apple seeds, grapefruit seeds, and orange seeds.

    I was told once that when you plant all citrus seeds that you find in fruit from the grocery store that if you are lucky enough to grow the plants, any fruit produced will revert so sour oranges. Can I get some clearification on this potential myth? Also I have a Grapefruit tree that is approximately 6-8 months old and is currently an indoor plant because of the winter weather here in Calgary Canada. How big should the tree be before I repot it? What kind of advice can you give to a beginner grower on watering schedules, pruning and plant foods? Also sometimes I water it with Oolong tea. I heard it was good for plants.

    Thanks in advance!
    ~Tak
     
  2. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Rising Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years of Activity

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    Hello Takujii,

    The seeds of most fruit that you buy will be the product of a hybrid plant developed by breeders. Plant breeders often spend years developing new varieties and may grow thousands of crosses to select desirable plants for industry. These are then propagated by asexual means to produce clones of the desirable plant. If you plant seed, you will not get the same type of fruit that you bought at the store. (You may not get a plant that produces fruit at all.) And of course the time required to bring trees to bear fruit can mean a decade before you even know if you have anything.

    You may be lucky, but you will probably have to grow many trees to find a really good one. Many old apple tree cultivars developed as random hybrids. (Granny Smith apple was discovered from seeds tossed out in Australia.)

    So not entirely a myth, but not an unworthwhile project either. I am currently growing 4 apple trees that I started from seed. I think it is fun to see what might develop. Could be something totally new. So if you have the time and space, I say go for it.
     
  3. BabyBlue11371

    BabyBlue11371 Active Member

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    I am no expert on the matter but I am currently growing several different types of Citrus trees from seeds. True that the fruit that your trees will produce will not be exactly the fruit you ate for the seeds but they should be close. it is a myth that you won't get fruit. Depending on the environment they are raised and they type of tree. you may get fruit any where from 4-10 yrs, from all that I have researched. Key things to know for citrus. they like to dry out a bit between watering.. if you want the trees to get to fruiting maturity quickly keep root temperature at around 85* F 30*C year round. you can do this by wrapping the pot in Christmas lights. Once the tree reaches mature size it will need a "winter". It will need temperatures around 68*F 20*C for a "winter" this encoruages the tree to set flowers and fruit.
    Never "prune" your tree it takes a certain # of branches for it to start fruiting. You don't need to repot till the tree is definitely out growing its current home. then only plant one or two pot sizes larger. They don't like to be in pots too big for them. something about they tend to suffer root rot if the pot is too big. from what I have read when the tree gets to be as big as you want trim the roots and repot in same pot. Since you probably can't find citrus plant food there any easier than I can here in Kansas best I can tell you is find some Azalea Camellia Rhododendron plant food. I use Miracle-gro. I use 1/4 dose every other week or so. I also give Epsom salt about once a month 1 tsp to a gal of water. Plenty of sun or fake sun and they should be happy and in a few years you should be seeing flowers. Don't freak when it drops flowers. it is normal for them to drop about 90% of the flowers/fruit. so I've read.. best soil mixture for them is cactus or orchid mixes with perilite and potting soil. I don't recall the exact mix right now. I've read some ppl are using coconut husk chips in their potting mix.
    Mind you this is all from research. I have 1 Miewa Kumquat tree that is mature and blooming *it started my addiction* and about 30 seedlings that are about 3 months old. My seedlings are lemon, tangerine, tangelo, clementine manderine orange, Nagami Kumquat, and calamundins *miniature orange*. I had some key limes but I caught pneumonia and they didn't survive while I was ill..
    If I can be any help let me know.. There is a ton of information on the internet that you can find on growing citrus trees.
    Good luck!!! And happy growing!!!
    Gina *BabyBlue*
     
  4. CanNeverGrowAnything

    CanNeverGrowAnything Member

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    Hey, I did the same thing. I got grapefruit seeds from some grapefruit I bought at the store and planted it a few years ago (I live in South Texas, which is supposed to be one of the best for grapefruit). Well now the tree is pretty big (at least 12 ft) and it has yet to make any grapefruit. Basically I have a big spiny tree, but at least its happy and green......any suggestions??????? Someone suggested that it might be like the wrong sex of tree, or maybe it needs the other sex of the tree around it for germination or whatever....I just hope its not gonna produce ever because its one of the hybrids that like 2 posts above me talked about.
     
  5. I read on another site that if they are poly embryonic ( more than one embryo per seed) they will produce true from seed. you can cut open a seed to see. If not, you don't know what you're getting. pomelo (related to grapefruit) was one they said you can't know -one embryo per seed. Kumquats are polyembryonic.
    Hope this helps.
    john
     
  6. Eric La Fountaine

    Eric La Fountaine Rising Contributor UBC Botanical Garden Forums Administrator Forums Moderator 10 Years of Activity

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  7. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years of Activity

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    The true to type offspring means that seed
    collected from a Lemon will produce Lemon
    offspring. This is true even if the Lemon was
    grafted onto let's say Citrangequat or trifoliate
    Orange rootstock. Offspring from the true to
    type Lemon can be close to the seed bearing
    parent in their characteristics but will not be
    quite the same if the parent plant was a grafted
    individual. The true to type offspring from a
    cutting grown parent can be even closer still
    to the seed bearing parent in their overall
    characteristics but those offspring can still
    be different.

    When someone buys guaranteed true to type
    seed they are assured of getting a Mandarin
    when they are buying Mandarin seed. There
    is still is no guarantee the seedlings raised
    will be able to manufacture the percent sugar
    of the parent plant or of the parent plants, no
    matter where the Mandarin seedlings are
    grown.

    Jim
     
  8. I'm NAFEX's Hardy Citrus consultant, and have researched this stuff and learned that people outside the citrus industry don't understand the problems of seedling citrus. Yes, many types of citrus give nucellar clones, and others can be expected to give seedlings in at least the same general type as the parent. But seedling citrus grows tall and thorny, and suffers from "prolonged juvenility". Grapefruit, for example, tend to take 12-14 yrs to crop from seed, and that's in Florida. By contrast, a tree from an "old budline" grows short and spreading, with far fewer thorns. In the first 10 years of life, a budded tree may produce 100 times as much fruit as a seedling tree. If you are working with precious greenhouse space, or even a backyard, I would not advise wasting time on seedling citrus. However, there is no reason not to play with citrus seeds, and should you get one growing strongly, to do your own budding from someone else's tree. It's easier to find someone or some institution with a bearing tree than it is to buy one, and most would be willing to let you take a bit of budwood.
     
  9. LPN

    LPN Well-Known Member 10 Years of Activity

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  10. Beach324

    Beach324 Member

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    My brother sprouted key lime seeds 3 or 4 years ago and now has 3 trees providing him with more key limes than he can use. He gave me some of the fruit at Christmas 2005. After baking the most delicious key lime pie I've ever eaten, I planted 18 seeds in seed started soil and 16 have sprouted. Some seeds produced two plants.

    My brother keeps his trees in a greenhouse during the winter months and puts them out in the yard during the Summer.
     
  11. drichard12

    drichard12 Active Member 10 Years of Activity

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    I give you a lot of credit in your posting. I think it was great, keep looking and asking.
     
  12. LPN

    LPN Well-Known Member 10 Years of Activity

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    Beach324,
    I also grew some Key lime from seed with good success. I experimented to some extent and have one in a cool (40 - 48 degree) storage area. The other was brought in and "babied" by comparison. Both look great but the indoor specimen being larger has developed scale and seems much leggier. The one in cool storage looks more compact and healthy with out scale insect.

    Cheers.
     
  13. drichard12

    drichard12 Active Member 10 Years of Activity

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    LPN This is the first year for me to try Key limes from seed. I'm pretty happy with what has came up. I also have some seeds in the frig. and plan to try them when it gets a bit warmer.

    I need snowshoes to get in the back yard, or I'll sink up to my waist. all seedlings are indoors. Along with Citrus another favorite for me is Bananas. Dale
     
  14. SunriseDawn

    SunriseDawn Member

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    I have picked some fresh off the tree kumquats and have saved the seeds. Do I dry them first and then plant them? How many seeds in one hole and how deep? Please, anyone tell me how to go them. Those little fruits pack a tart punch. Made my eyes water the first one I have tried.
    Dawn
     
  15. skeeterbug

    skeeterbug Active Member

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    Hi Dawn,
    I am not an expert, but I have asked a question about growing kumquats from seed on one of these forums and was told that they do not do well on their own roots. They do grow true from seed ( same as the mother plant).

    There are several ways to sprout the seeds, you can plant them directly in soil about an inch deep, put them in a warm place --85 or so and keep the soil moist not wet. Do not dry the seeds out as that will kill the embryo. Another method suggested by many on these forums is the baggie method-- put the seeds in a baggie with some moist soil (not wet) seal and place in a warm place. Seeds should sprout in 2-4 weeks.

    Skeet
     
  16. SunriseDawn

    SunriseDawn Member

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    Thanks for getting back so soon skeet. Does one seedling make a plant or is it the kind that takes four or five in one hole?
    Dawn
     
  17. skeeterbug

    skeeterbug Active Member

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    Hi Dawn,
    Each seed will make at least one plant if it sprouts. Some individual seeds will produce several separate plants because they are polyembryonic-- meaning that they have more than one embryo inside the seed coat. Any variety that is polyembryonic, will produce at least one plant that will be identical genetically to the mother, but I understand that it is possible for one of the plants to be the result of pollination (sexual reproduction) and that one will be a hybrid (a new variety that may or may not be desirable).

    As mentioned in some of the earlier post on this thread, the fact that the plant is genetially identical to the mother plant does not mean that the fruit will taste the same. There are many factors that affect the taste of the fruit including the rootstock, climate, age and soil conditions.

    I do not know exactly what was meant when I was told that kumquats do not do well on their own roots, they may grow poorly, be disease prone, or produce inferior fruit. I guess I will find out in time since my sister has planted several that have sprouted. I also do not know how long they will take to produce fruit from seed, some such as grapefruit can take 12 to 15 years, while others like key limes will produce fruit in 2-3 years.

    Skeet
     
  18. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Rising Contributor 10 Years of Activity

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    Here is the question I posed on this matter in another forum. I was hoping on getting more responses.
     
  19. skeeterbug

    skeeterbug Active Member

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    Hi Junglekeeper,
    It does seem to defy logic that a plant would not do well on it's own roots. I am sure my sister will continue to grow the seeds that she has sprouted. They will be grown inground-- I will let you know how they do.

    Skeet
     
  20. Gregn

    Gregn Active Member 10 Years of Activity

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    With all this talk about growing citrus from seed... 26 + years ago a woman in South Carolina planted a seed from some sort of tangerine she had bought at a supermarket, a unknown variety. Well, in the winter of 1985 the temperatures in that area of the USA hit 0 degrees F (-18c) This tree for one reason or another was the only citrus tree to survive these cold temperatures - with virtually no ill effects. This "mother tree" went on to fruit severeal years later. It has been propogated (by cuttings) ever since. It is prized by many citrus collectors. This "Juanita Tangerine" produces delicious large 3.5" sweet tangeines (although my specimen has not - just yet...) My hunch is this is some sort of a satsuma.
    Food for thought.

    Greg
     

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