Grapefruit tree from seed

Discussion in 'Citrus' started by Fresas, Jun 6, 2004.

  1. Fresas

    Fresas Member

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    I have a 10 year old grapefruit tree (approx. 4 ft. tall) that has very large spikes. Is it possible to clip these off without injuring my tree? Its usual "home" is my classroom. I would also appreciate knowing how to encourage flowers and fruit. Recently I read that I might want to use forest humus when I repot the tree which I am planning to do this month. Thank you. Judy
     
  2. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Hi Judy:

    I have to believe the spikes you are referring to are the
    thorns. Yes, they could be a problem in a classroom and
    yes, they can be pruned back to the base of the branch or
    trunk of the tree. Clean, flush cuts will not hurt the tree.

    The tree should produce flowers about three times a year
    but you will need some help from an outside source in
    most cases to have fruit set. About 5-10% of the fruit is
    selfed without pollination from bees but in a classroom
    without some wind activity that figure above will be
    lowered considerably. It would be wise to place the plant
    outdoors on occasion when the flowers are open, far enough
    away from the students, as the bee attraction could become
    a hazard for the students. I do not worry about such things
    as the bees have not ever stung me but there is always the
    chance that a student could be violently allergic to bee
    stings and my misses is one of them. She goes no where
    without an Ana kit.

    Forest Humus works very well as a soil medium. About
    1/3 soil and 2/3 humus mixture, well mixed together, will
    work well for your tree grown in a container.

    Jim
     
  3. Fresas

    Fresas Member

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    Dear Jim,
    Thank you for responding to my questions. My classes are all amazed that the tall tree came from a seed in my grapefruit. I do bring the tree home for the summers and leave it outside on our covered porch, but still no flowers. Judy
     
  4. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Hi Judy:

    Has this tree ever produced flowers? If so, how long ago was it?
    Does this tree ever get some Winter chill? In other words has this
    tree been outside during the Winter when the temperatures were
    between 30 and 40 degrees for a few hours, at least 4-6 hours
    per day for a week?

    Was your original Grapefruit a red or white fleshed? How often
    have you fertilized this tree, what is the fertilizer, how much
    fertilizer was applied and what were the components of the fertilizer
    such as 12-8-16 (12% Nitrogen,8% Phosphorous,16% Potassium)?
    How large is the pot this tree is currently growing in?

    I know how to grow Citrus but I've not attempted to grow Citrus
    indoors. As in another thread in these forums it is evident that I
    have some learning to do about indoor Citrus growing, aside from
    greenhouse conditions. I can help up to a point but I am no magician
    dealing with a plant I know well but is currently grown in an
    environment that this plant is not normally accustomed to. I will
    say I know of another close to home situation in which that person's
    Grapefruit grown from seed had not ever bloomed either while being
    grown indoors. When we set it outside years ago for the Winter it
    finally did produce flowers a few months later and its flowering cycle
    became somewhat rejuvenated but it took 3 years to get the plant back
    on track.

    Jim
     
  5. Fresas

    Fresas Member

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    Hi Jim,
    No, the tree has never produced any flowers and I worry about "killing" my plants with cold, so I usually bring them in from our porch if I hear that the weather is going to be 32º or lower for the night. So it hasn't received a winter chill ever. The grapefruit was a red fleshed one.
    I'm embarrassed to tell you about its watering cycle...my third graders are in charge and they water it whenever the soil seems dry....finger-method of checking for dryness. Whenever I remember, I throw some Miracle Grow in the water. It's actually 5 feet tall and about twice a year it puts on a huge grow spurt. I've pinched back the top to get branches, but it isn't real full yet.
    I am planning on repotting the tree because it's in about a 2 gallon plastic container which is way too small for it, but it fit on my window ledge.
    Gosh, what I've described sounds awful...it's a wonder the tree has made it for ten years!!! Thanks for your input. Judy
     
  6. Fresas

    Fresas Member

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    Jim,
    In my hurry to answer, I've made some word processing errors which look like spelling errors. It's bothering me and I hope you don't think I usually write this way. Judy
     
  7. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Hi Judy:

    I hope that you are planning to use a much larger sized container
    such as a 7 gallon or a 10 gallon size pot. Grapefruit can handle,
    depending on the standard variety, temps as low as 24 degrees for
    4 hours without much injury to them. Cooler temps for longer
    periods of time can cause some injury but it takes a lot to kill a
    Grapefruit tree outright due to cold. Most Grapefruit are much
    hardier than Lemons are for example.

    With the larger pot you may want someone else to move it for
    you but left on a porch in the cold all you have to do is throw
    a blanket over it until morning and then be sure to remove the
    blanket for the rest of the day. You may want to keep your tree
    home for longer periods of time and bring the tree back to school
    in February. You may even have some fruit set by then but it may
    also take a while to get the tree to become adjusted to a new climate
    for it. I can be wrong about this but I do not think you will get any
    blooms in an indoor environment. It is not so much being indoors
    that will preclude flowering but there is not much temperature
    variance going on. It is the change in temperature that is most
    important such as the advent of cooler nights.

    You can also work out a school project that will have various
    students be in charge of setting the tree outside during the day
    while it is cold but you will need a cart to move the tree back
    and forth from the room to the outside and back. A low cart
    with casters (rollers) will work best and have 3 or 4 students
    in charge of moving the plant outdoors and say that many to
    move the tree back indoors when the school day is over, should
    you want to keep the tree at the school. The students can still
    be in charge of the watering of the tree but now they may have
    some added responsibility in sustaining the growth of the tree.

    You have some options but you will want the tree to experience
    some cold chill some way, somehow, to get it to produce flowers
    and then bare some fruit. I just checked to confirm your weather,
    you can grow this tree outdoors year round if you want to with little
    fear of it ever getting damaged due to the cold.

    I write posts in this forum from three different locations, each
    monitor has a different video resolution and when I see my posts
    in the lowest setting, 800 x 600 resolution, I just cringe. You
    are doing just fine!

    Best regards,

    Jim
     
  8. Fresas

    Fresas Member

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    Hi Jim,
    Well, since my classroom is on the 2nd floor, I'm sure the kids won't be moving it out and in of the school. It looks like I'm going to have to keep it at home. That's OK. Are you sure that the cold weather in the winter will be all right? This past winter we were out of school for a week because of about 5 inches of snow and ice.
    Are the thorns typical of a grapefruit tree? Since I'm going to keep it at home, I won't clip them off.
    I could tell you were appalled that this tree is in such a small container; I'm embarrassed. It really made a huge growth spurt this past year. What type of container do you recommend for transplanting? It's on my wrap-around porch right now...do you suggest I take it out into the open for the summer? (full sun or partial?)
    Three more days of school and then I'll be able to work on the tree. Thanks for all your encouragement. Judy
     
  9. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Location:
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    Hi Judy:

    I think the next size up from a 2 gallon should be a 7 gallon. You
    can always buy a redwood planter tub or a nice ceramic decorator
    pot. A standard, black 7 gallon container should be available at
    most any full service nursery or a good nursery supply store.

    Most of our Grapefruit here can handle 18-20 degree weather but
    will sustain a little cold damage. You seldom get that cold where
    you are. You can always cover the tree with a blanket or a plastic
    tarp if you think it will get too cold. We use Christmas tree lights
    for our 40 year old Meyer Lemon to help with the cold in late
    December and early to mid January.

    Citrus like full sun or as much sun as possible. If your porch is
    facing South or West you should be okay.

    Yes, virtually all Citrus have thorns, some types much more so
    than others. I never cut the thorns off but when I am pruning the
    trees I am careful as I never wear gloves, even to prune roses. I
    do not recommend someone else being as silly as I am.

    You can always start another Citrus tree from seed for your
    classroom if need be!

    Jim
     
  10. Fresas

    Fresas Member

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    Jim... should the 7 gallon container have some sort of drainage at the bottom and not be completely enclosed? Probably a dumb question, right?
    What steps should I take in transplanting the tree? When watering, should I thoroughly soak the tree and then wait until the top seems dry?

    How does one actually begin a new seed? My original seed had already begun to sprout in the grapefruit. I've tried putting non-sprouted seeds in water, but to no avail. Boy, before I happened upon this web site, all that tree got was water and fertilizer once in awhile.

    Thank you for being so patient with this "seedling." Judy
     
  11. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Hi Judy:

    A 7 gallon container used in a nursery will have either 4 or 6
    holes for drainage on the lower, outside portion of the container.

    A ceramic pot or a clay pot must have a large hole on the bottom,
    preferably more than one to allow for drainage. A redwood tub
    should also have a hole in the bottom of it but there will be some
    drainage attained from the sides of the tub as well.

    You have to have a means for drainage or you will eventually
    kill the tree due to a root rot.

    After you transplant into a larger pot you will want to soak
    the tree into its new pot very well. It make take up to three
    waterings. From then on when to water is up to you. You
    can water once a week or you water when you feel the soil
    is dry such as the students did with their fingers. You do not
    want to over water your tree either. A good watering when
    the soil is not moist but not dry either is a good time to water.
    Wait at least 4 weeks before you give the tree a half-strength
    doze of fertilizer (Miracle Gro). Then in October give your
    tree a dose of 0-10-10 (no Nitrogen) to protect the roots for
    the Winter, about 1oz of a granulated fertilizer sprinkled on
    top of the soil but not close to the trunk of the tree and then
    water the fertilizer in well.

    One way of trying to generate a tree from seed is to buy a
    small amount of peat moss and then wrap the seeds in the
    moistened (not overly wet) peat moss in a sandwich baggie
    and place the contents in a refrigerator for about 3-4 weeks.
    Then plant the seeds in a small pot and see if they germinate.
    The process above is what works for me with Dogwood seeds.

    Jim
     
  12. Fresas

    Fresas Member

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    Grapefruit Tree from a Seed

    Hi Jim,
    You are so helpful...thank you! I want to try generating another tree from a seed as you explained, but this time I think I'd like to try a lemon. What fun!!
    When I told my husband that you think we can keep the tree on the porch through the winter, he smiled and was somewhat skeptical since everything that's accidentally been left outside during a frost has died. I think I'm ready to try all your suggestions now. If my grapefruit tree has a problem in the next few months after transplanting, is there a way I can check with you?
    Thank you again. Judy
     
  13. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Hi Judy:

    Below is a URL for you to read sometime. If you are concerned about
    the tree before the onset of Winter you can always bring it indoors.
    What it needs now is some time outdoors.

    You can always send me a note or a question through this thread. Just
    bookmark it sometime, that way you can always go right to it.

    http://www.fourwindsgrowers.com/growing/containers.html#selecting

    Glad to help!

    Jim
     
  14. Scott

    Scott Member

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    Grapefruit outdoors in PA?

    Hi Jim and Judy.

    I also have a grapefruit tree that was started from seed, probably 10-12 years ago. It is about 6' tall right now, it would probably be a bit taller if my father hadn't topped it a few times. It has also been always overwintered indoors and put out in the summer. It also has never flowered; well, it did have a flower once, when it was real small.

    Jim, do you think it could overwinter outdoors in the Southeast Pennslyvania area? I have it in a large enough pot, would it help if I dug the pot into a hole and covered it with straw to help ward off frost?

    Another quick question, I have a meyer lemon and some orange I bought that I planted together in one pot, but now I can't figure out which is which. The only thing I can tell is one has thorns and one does not. Any ideas which doesn't have the thorns?

    Thanks,
    Scott
     
  15. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Hi Scott:

    How cold do you get there? The Meyer Lemon is one of
    the hardiest of all Citrus and it does have thorns. The Meyer
    Lemon with some protection may be able to handle your cold
    but I'd like to know what those usual coldest temps are first.
    In comparison to an Orange, a Meyer Lemon's leaves are much
    narrower in shape and have pointed tips whereas most Oranges
    have noticeably wider leaves and generally have rounded tips.

    I cannot recommend you planting the Grapefruit, pot and all in
    the ground. In some cold areas people have done that to try to
    force their plants to better adapt to the cold but I think in your
    case it would be better to ease your tree to the cold by leaving
    it outside for most of the day when the temps are warmer and
    bring the tree inside at night. Or you can just leave the tree inside
    for the Winter and in early Spring move the tree outside in a
    protected spot such as a Western exposure in a patio or close to
    the house under an overhang. Straw will work fine placed on the
    top of the soil and around the base of the tree. I prefer a humus
    enriched soil medium that is kept moist but not wet to better
    protect the roots from the cold. The top of the tree will show
    damage in cold weather and we can protect it somewhat covering
    the tree with heavy blankets, burlap sacks and even polyethylene
    tarps. What we cannot do is leave the tarps, blankets and other
    protection on the tree all day outside. For many years clear
    polyethylene tarps was recommended for people to use but many
    of those people forgot to remove the tarps during the day and as a
    result the tarps caused more damage to the tree as the temperatures
    warmed up during the day than the cold might have.

    If it were me I would move the tree outside for most of the day
    in a warmer location in as much sun as possible and bring it in at
    night. I've done it with several plants and then when I wanted to
    plant them I waited until all freezing weather was over and went
    ahead and planted them, even if they were going to be subject to
    some frosts. Frosts for Citrus are no big deal but freezing temps
    is a major concern.

    Jim
     
  16. Turner

    Turner Member

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    Comic Sans MS

    I have a grapefruit tree grown by myself from a seed likely 15-20 years ago. Recently, it developed spider mites. I clipped off the affected branches, put it outside and sprayed it regularly with water for several weeks. Nearly all of it's leaves fell off during this process. I then moved it back onto our sunporch where it lives. It almost completely releafed, and seems not to have the spider mites. However, now it seems to be "wilting" constantly. I clipped off some dead branches, and gave it fertilizer. It just keeps "drooping", and then the new leaves fall off? Can anybody give me a clue to save this tree?

    Connie
     
  17. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Connie, I think you may want to post some
    photos of your tree if you can. When was
    the last time you changed the soil? How
    often do you water this tree and how much
    water are you applying for each watering?
    How large is your container for this tree?
    How much sunlight is this tree getting each
    day?

    Jim
     
  18. Turner

    Turner Member

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    Thank you so much for the speedy response. My grapefruit tree get a lot of sun each day, as it is housed on our West-facing sunporch. I water it normally about once per week, or a little less often. It is in a clay pot, which is about 20 inches across in diameter. Occasionally, I put the dirty water from my fish tank in it with the belief that the added nutrients from the fish waste help. I try to give it fertilizer about 3 times per year. It was about double this size on top a year ago, and then the spider mites did damage to it. I will try to post a picture of it. I changed the pot and dirt about one year ago, and add to it from time to time. Sorry, but I don't know how to attach the photos I took to this.

    Connie
     

    Attached Files:

  19. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Connie, when we fertilize plants grown in a
    container they have be really watered well,
    more than our usual amount of water, for
    the fertilizer to become activated. Otherwise
    the fertilizer can act like a poison to a root
    system. Once a week watering is not enough
    for this plant as the soil appears too dry even
    for a Citrus grown indoors. Have you placed
    this tree outdoors for any length of time? It
    would be prudent to do that this time of year
    and then bring the tree indoors for the Winter.
    I would forego adding the fish waste for a long
    while and start to give this tree no less than
    one gallon of water every 4th day, every 2-3
    days if grown outdoors and away from any
    pool splashes as chlorine in time can kill most
    any Citrus. The color of the tree aside from
    one photo is good but the leaves are a little
    small in size. I am not sure your spider mite
    problem is all gone yet and would advise you
    to continue giving this tree a good showering
    with water outdoors once every week to ten
    days while the temperatures are warm.

    Jim
     
  20. Turner

    Turner Member

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    Jim,

    I'm willing to give your suggestions a try, and again, I thank you for your response.

    Connie
     
  21. mr.shep

    mr.shep Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Connie, it is not mandatory to place your
    tree outdoors if you really would prefer
    to keep it indoors. I suspect that your
    tree is not getting watered often enough
    with ample water. If you've lost a lot of
    top growth recently it is not advisable to
    use any Nitrogen form of fertilizer to
    circumvent for the growth loss. If the
    newest growth is dying still I'd not want
    to add any Nitrogen to this plant for a
    several months. If anything I would add
    some liquid 0-10-10 (has no Nitrogen
    in it) at a rate of one fluid ounce per
    gallon and use two gallons of that
    mixture right now and once every
    three weeks until you see some new
    growth appear and stay on the tree.
    If you do not see any new growth
    form in the next few weeks or so
    I'd think you will have to place this
    tree outdoors with as much sunlight
    as possible to give this tree an attitude
    adjustment, to trigger it into growing
    for you. If your tree goes stagnant
    for a long period of time now with
    the limited amount of light you will
    have in the Winter and the tree does
    not put on new growth that will stay
    on the tree for any length of time, you
    risk possibly losing this tree in a couple
    of years if this tree gives up on you and
    stops growing.

    Jim
     
  22. Turner

    Turner Member

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    Thank you again, Jim. We've moved the tree outside near a perennial garden that is shaded by a large Crimson King Maple, and we've got our fingers crossed this will bring about healing. There I can spray it often to rid it of any remaining pests.

    Connie
     
  23. Paula G

    Paula G Member

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    Hello,

    I have an adorable pet grapefruit tree that volonteered to grow from a seed that I left on the kitchen counter for a week in a puddle of water by accident.

    It is now a year and a few months old, and is about 6 inches tall. It weathered a bout of spider mites, and me not giving it plant food. When I started to give it plant food, the leaves changed from yellow green to dark green. I thought it was done for after the mites and all, but now it has sprouted about ten new leaves all at once, and looks really happy. It gets lots of bright sun, on my bookcase in the window in Point Richmond, California - where it never gets terribly hot, and never terribly cold.

    It is in a not very big pot. The pot is about 6 inches diameter and 5 inches deep. It is one of those "self-watering" clay pots that are pourous and sit inside a bigger cermaic bowl full of water, but I still pour water directy onto the soil, because it doesn't seem to be pulling any water from the outer pot.

    Is it time for a bigger pot? Is there such a thing as a pot that's too big? Is a self-watering pot a stupid idea?
     
  24. Millet

    Millet Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    Self watering pots for citrus is not recommended. All you have to do to determine if the tree needs repotting is slip it from the container and look at the roots. Planting the tree in an oversized pot is a great way to kill your tree. A one year two month old grapefruit tree should be approximately 3 to 4 feet tall. I see your in California. If your area is warm enough to grow citrus outside, plant the tree in the ground. You picked absolutely the worst citrus variety to ever get fruit when grown from a seed in a container. ESPECIALLY if the tree will require being indoors during the winter. If this is the case you will have a 15 to 20 year wait for blooms/fruit, even then, because it is a grapefruit, you might still not see any blooms. I have never seen nor heard of a seedling containerized grapefruit grown indoors that ever fruited. Your ceiling is not close to being tall enough. - Millet
     
  25. Paula G

    Paula G Member

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    Thanks Millet, it is nice to have a response.

    Now I'm puzzled - you say a one year and two month old tree that started from a seed should be three to four feet tall? And mine's only 6 inches? How is that possible? What about the guy who posted earlier in the thread whose tree is ten years old and only 4 feet tall - did you mean it should be three to four inches tall?

    To be honest, I'm not particularly concerned about getting fruit out of it - it's just that it started growing so I decided to keep it ... I don't have any outdoors space of my own, so obviously it has to stay indoors for now.

    How tall do grapefruit trees grow usually?
     

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