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How to Grow Ruby Red Grapefruit Trees From Seed

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Pink and slightly reddish mutants of white grapefruit (Citrus paradisi) have appeared in the United States since the early 20th century. Modern citrus breeders have produced a few strains with lovely sweet, red flesh that are marketed commercially as Ruby Reds. True sun worshipers, Ruby Red grapefruit trees are winter hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture zones 9 through 11 and won’t tolerate sustained temperatures below 45 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit. If you start your own Ruby Red grapefruit tree from seed, it should begin producing fruit in six to 15 years.

Pick a fresh Ruby Red grapefruit to extract seeds from as early in the ripening season as possible. While most California Ruby Reds ripen from February to June, coastal fruits may mature a month earlier. Choose locally grown fruit if at all possible since the parent tree is well adapted to growing in your region. Don’t use fruit that has fallen from the tree to the ground. Look for an unblemished grapefruit with bright, vibrant, uniform color. Depending upon variety, skin color may range from deep yellow, pink to orange-pink to nearly red. It should feel firm but not hard and should bounce back into shape when you squeeze it. The fruit should be slightly ovate with a flat bottom.

Peel the Ruby Red grapefruit, and pull the sections apart. Don’t cut the fruit with a knife to avoid damaging the few seeds that it may contain. Snack on the flesh and reserve the seeds. SRinse the seeds under cold running water until they don’t feel slippery anymore. Plant them as soon as possible.

Fill the cells of a seed-starting six pack with equal parts Perlite or sand and peat moss, or use a good commercial potting mix. Set the flat in a shallow pan of warm water until the surface soil feels evenly moist. Take the flat out of the water and allow it to drain freely for about 30 minutes.

Plant a Ruby Red grapefruit seed about 1/4 to 1/2 inch deep in each cell. Cover the flat loosely with a clear plastic bag. Poke a few holes in the bag with a toothpick to provide good air circulation. Place the flat out of direct sunlight in a room that is about 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit. The top of your refrigerator or above a hot water heater are good locations. Keep the surface soil evenly moist during germination. Your seeds should sprout in about two to six weeks.

Remove the plastic when the Ruby Reds sprout. Move the seedlings to a warm, brightly lit room near a bright window, but out of direct sun. Keep the surface soil evenly moist, but never wet or soggy. These plants hate wet feet.

Repot the seedlings into 6-inch pots when they have several sets of leaves. Use a good commercial sterile potting soil. Keep the soil evenly moist. Feed them a citrus fertilizer diluted to a quarter strength per the labeling instructions. Fertilize the seedlings every two to four weeks thereafter throughout the growing season. Move them to a bright window with western or southern exposure. Provide the Ruby Reds with four to six hours of direct sun each day. Keep them at about 60 to 70 degrees F.

Plant the grapefruit seedling in a fertile, well-draining location in full sun when it’s about 4 or 5 inches tall. Choose a spot on the southern or southeastern side of a building to protect it from cool weather. Locate the plant at least 12 feet away from structures, walkways, driveways and fences. This provides space for the grapefruit tree root system, and gives plenty of room for the tree to reach its mature size.

Keep Ruby Red grapefruit tree’s soil evenly moist throughout the growing season. Don’t allow it to dry out completely during its first year. Keep the planting area free of weeds, but don’t mulch this plant.

How to Grow Ruby Red Grapefruit Trees From Seed. Pink and slightly reddish mutants of white grapefruit, Citrus paradisi, have appeared in the United States since the early 20th century. Modern citrus breeders have produced a few strains with lovely sweet, red flesh that are marketed commercially as Ruby Reds. True sun …