Grapefruit in 7b?

Discussion in 'Citrus' started by TotalAlina, Feb 4, 2020.

  1. TotalAlina

    TotalAlina Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    62
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Maryland, USA
    Dear All,

    We have an in-house 30+ year old grapefruit tree grown by a family member from a pit. It is spiky, unwieldy and unhappy. We are fed up with it inside. It is fed up with us inside. We are mutually fed up.

    One option is to plant outside, but we are in zone 7b. I am reading that it's possible to overwinter them with burlap. Does anybody have experience with citruses outside in 7b? Would we condemn it to a certain death if we planted it outside?

    Another question is, it is currently coming out from the dirt in the pot at a 45 degree angle (because there was never enough light inside, so it grew crooked). If we put it outside, should we maintain the existing geometry or try to plant it so the trunk is vertical?

    Many thanks!
    Alina
     
  2. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

    Messages:
    5,306
    Likes Received:
    304
    Location:
    Vancouver BC Canada
    I suspect it would be difficult to have the tree grow on in-ground. Even though you're fed up with it, you probably have some sentimental attachment to it because of its long history. There's an alternative if you have a protected but unheated location outside, like a garage, where the tree can be overwintered in darkness. The tree will become and remain dormant in temperatures below 13C/55F and will have a much reduced need for water while in this state. The container could be placed onto a plant dolly to make it easier to move to and from its winter location.
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2020
  3. TotalAlina

    TotalAlina Active Member 10 Years

    Messages:
    62
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Maryland, USA
    Thank you -- you hit the nail on the head about the sentimental attachment... So yeah, we are trying to improve the situation for everybody. Yes, a garage is an option. A couple more questions:

    When should I take it outside for the first time? April? May? Some particular temperature? I am afraid of shocking it (with light, temperature change etc). We have shadier and brighter parts in the yard. I can start with a shadier part and then move it to a brighter part. How bright would it want for permanent position?

    What should I do about replanting / dirt / pot size? It hasn't been repotted in 9 years. The diameter of the pot is 35 cm. The trunk at the base is 4-5 cm.
     
  4. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

    Messages:
    5,306
    Likes Received:
    304
    Location:
    Vancouver BC Canada
    My experience is from growing citrus indoors so I hesitate to provide you with specifics.

    The following article on overwintering citrus provides some useful guidelines: Overwintering Citrus | Gardening. Note the article points out that citrus trees do not go dormant. I believe that is technically true but the roots become quiescent or inactive at low temperatures so I equate that to dormancy. It suggests giving a tree as much light as possible while it is in the garage but I would think that depends on whether the roots are active or not. Also, I suggest you err on the side of safety when dealing with temperatures since susceptibility to damage depends on the variety in question.

    The following article suggests it's safe to move citrus outside when temperatures are consistently above 10C/50F: Indoor Citrus. I wonder if it would be safer to do so at 15C/60F.

    A thread in an external forum on overwintering citrus with feedback from people who have made use of an unheated garage: Hibernating citrus?

    Repotting
    Do you intend to move the tree to a larger container? If not, you may want to do some root pruning if it is severely root bound. Use a soil that is porous and quick to drain. The typical indoor mix (which contains much peat) can be amended with material such as perlite, small bark chips, and calcined clay to make it more so.
     
    TotalAlina likes this.
  5. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

    Messages:
    5,306
    Likes Received:
    304
    Location:
    Vancouver BC Canada
    Furthermore, I would keep the tree in darkness or very dim light if the temperature is at or near 13C/55F.

    By the way, has the tree ever produced flowers and fruit?
     

Share This Page