Grapefruit – Growing

Q: Early this summer I planted some grapefruit seed in a pot. Much to my surprise, one of them sprouted! Now what should I do with it for the winter?

A: A little bit of Florida right here in Atlanta! You may not get bushels of fruit from your tree but even if it only blooms (they’re very fragrant!), you’ll have something about which to brag to your neighbors. Assuming your plant is small right now, you can keep it in a one gallon pot for the winter. Place it in the sunniest spot possible in your home. If you don’t have a bright room, hang two 40 watt fluorescent tubes a few inches above the top of your tree. It will need no fertilizer and precious little water while it is indoors. When nighttime temperatures are above 50 degrees next spring, take the grapefruit outdoors. A bright but shaded site is best – full sunshine will scald the leaves. Feed monthly with houseplant fertilizer. When the main trunk or any branch exceeds 12 inches in length, pinch out its tip with your fingernails. This will keep the tree compact. As it grows larger, repot it into a five gallon container. Each fall, when night temperatures approach 40 degrees, you’ll bring it back inside. Don’t forget to decorate it with lights for the holidays!

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