Citrus trees form a family of sub-tropical evergreens. Even in winter, they never become fully dormant and thus lack the deciduous tree’s ability to protect itself against freezing weather. (from the Flying Dragon Nursery)
With that in mind, if you’re going to try your hand at growing fruit in Florida, citrus is a safe bet. There are countless varieties, they grow with relative ease in pretty much any soil type, and in general they don’t need cross-pollination, but it can’t hurt. On top of that, there is nothing quite like the fragrance of an orange blossom. You’ll know what I mean when you smell it..
We planted 3. Valencia (orange), meyer lemon and flame red grapefruit. They’re all a dwarf variety, meaning they shouldn’t get any bigger than 8 to 10 feet. Perfectly suited for small spaces, technically you could even keep them in a container on your patio or porch.
Mine were planted in the ground. The lemon and orange right before winter, and the grapefruit about a month ago. They’re all doing great. The orange and lemon both had fruit. I pruned all of the fruit off the orange as it was weighing the tree down, but I did leave some on the lemon, and even got some ripe lemons that we use to make lemonade. Fresh squeezed lemons, water, sugar and ice..what could be better. The girls thought it was great.
Citrus is frost susceptible (limes and grapefruit more so than orange), and in north Florida we can get several hard freezes during the winter. Having said that, most of the people I know never bother to cover their trees and they’re still producing fruit. If you’re concerned about it, you can get something called frost cloth. Any big nursery should carry it.
We really enjoy eating fresh oranges and are lucky to have several neighbors with trees who give us fruit every year. One of our neighbors in particular had some great oranges this year, and I was curious to see if you could grow an orange tree from a seed. Turns out you can and here’s how. This would be a fun little project for the kids..
Take the seeds from the orange you want to grow. You’ll notice they’ll have a sort of a slimy outer coating on them. Rinse that off really good. Then take the seed and peel off the outer shell. It’s a little tricky but after the first couple you’ll get the hang of it.
There are other methods where you can leave the shell on, but removing it will help the seed germinate more quickly. Usually about 2 weeks.
Once the shell is removed place the seeds in between a moist paper towel and then stick them in a zip lock bag.
Put them outside in a place where they’ll get sun and make sure the paper towel doesn’t dry out. If it does they won’t germinate. The idea is to create a mini greenhouse. Then, after a couple of weeks when you see the start of leaves coming out of the seed. At that point you can remove them from the bag and plant them. I put mine some plain old gardening soil..
Here you can see the start of a new orange tree…out of the 10 seeds, 3 sprouted including this one..Once it grows a little taller I’ll put it in a bigger container..stay tuned.