Bay Area citrus tree suggestions

Kate222(9)January 27, 2012

What are your favorite citrus trees suitable for Northern California climate (Green Valley near Fairfield/Napa)?

We have a lemon tree that produces sweet lemons that we do not particularly like, and an orange tree already.

Would love to add 2-3 additional citrus trees, hopefully seedless or as close to seedless as possible. Maybe a traditional lemon tree as well.

Finally, we can buy 5 gallon citrus trees for $22-30 or 15 gallon trees for $75-110 based on my research. How long would we have to wait for the smaller trees (5 gallon) to produce fruit? Any other tips on which size to get or a favorite nursery in the Bay Area?


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Citrus fruits on new wood so you won't have to wait for those 5 gallon ones. If you go to the nurseries now you'll see a lot of them with ripe fruit.

Your lemon is probably a Meyer lemon.

In San Jose it all grows well. Not sure about Napa. Maybe you need more cold hardy varieties. See what is growing in your neighborhoods, ask your local nursery. I would suggest a meiwa kumquat and if possible a blood orange and/or summer orange.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2012 at 10:17PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Kate, when you say "sweet" lemon, how sweet is sweet? It may be a sweet lime, which looks like a lemon, and is sub-acid sweet. Very insipid. Cherished in the Middle East, but not so popular here in the USA. My Meyer lemons are not sweet. They're acidic, just not as acidic as a Eureka or Lisbon. But biting into one will probably not give you a "sweet" reaction. Just maybe a little bit less acidic than a Eureka or Lisbon (the two more common lemons available to the retail market.) And, you might want to check out Montery Bay Nursery. Down in Monterey Bay area, but they are a wholesale nursery and provide really high quality citrus, and some neat, more usual citrus to many nurseries throughout the state of California. You can contact them to see what retail nurseries in your area buy from them. I can special order any of their varieties through Anderson Nursery in Carlsbad for me. You don't have your USDA/Sunset Zone in your "Posted By" sig line (see mine), so not sure how cold you get up there, but I think melikeeatplants made a great suggestion in a Meiwa kumquat (my favorite kumquat). You also might consider the Satsumas, especially the Frost Owari Satsuma mandarin, one of the most cold tolerant citrus going. And quite good. And blood oranges should turn very red for you, too, if you can protect them from frost, so either a Moro if you really want something colorful, or a Tarocco, which some folks like the taste of better (I like them both, and think Moro actually tastes very unique and good.)

Patty S.

Here is a link that might be useful: Monterey Bay Nursery

    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 12:34AM
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I am not sure what my zone is. My zip code is 94534.

As far as the lemon tree that we have -- it just does not taste like a regular lemon to me. It is not very acidic, but is definitely a lemon, not a lime.

I like your ideas of blood orange and satsuma mandarins. I have never tried kumquat, and need to try those.

Also, I think our orange tree is infested with pests that are eating the leaves. The leaves have multiple holes in them all over the place. I saw ants crawling on the tree once. The oranges are growing, and the leaves have some brown discoloration on them (not sure if it is normal to begin with). What should we do?


    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 11:01AM
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TimSF(CA Z8B/Sunset17)

Kate, you are in Zone 8B.

If I were you, I'd contact Four Winds Growers (link below) who have been around since the '40s, are experts in dwarf (Regarding your orange issues, sounds like you might have a scale problem (ants 'farm' the scales which produce a sweet nectar-like substance that the ants love). Another indication of scales is stickiness on the leaves that can then lead to a black mold/fungus residue covering the leaves and stems. If it's pervasive and beneficial insects are not helping keep under control, you can spray with non-pesticide agents like Horticultural Oil, Neem Oil, (but for these, you should not spray in hot temps - follow label instructions closely) and some here have even sprayed with Fish Emulsion.

Finally, with regard to holes you find on the leaves, the most likely suspects are slugs. I use a biodegradable product called 'Sluggo' which works very well and is not harmful to pets and birds.


Here is a link that might be useful: Four Winds Growers

    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 2:14PM
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TimSF(CA Z8B/Sunset17)

Also, I agree with those above in thinking your lemon is a Meyer (ML) They are very different from regular grocery store lemons, so you may want to look on-line for recipes specifically for the Meyer. For example, I just made some ML marmalade, curd, and tart w/blueberries which all came out fantastic (the ML curd is out of this world)! The one thing I really love about the ML is that in making desserts (or ML lemonade!), you don't need to use very much sugar at all because they are so 'sweet', as you say...


    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 3:11PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Ditto Tim's suggestions. Meyer lemons make the absolute best lemonade ever. I use Splenda to sweeten it up, but just a little. It is out of this world. And, they are great to cook with as well. And, I've included a link to Sunset Gardens web site so you can determine your Sunset zone. It is far more meaningful out here on the West coast than the USDA hardiness zones, which for us with our myriad of microclimates, is essentially worthless. If you don't have Sunset Garden's Western Garden Book, you need to get it. It is our "Bible" of gardening out here in the West. I could not live without mine! And Four Winds is a great nursery, but their trees are all dwarf trees, so if you don't mind a tiny tree, then definitely take a look. I did buy many of my mandarins from them, since I love mandarins and wanted a wide variety, but small trees. Rather have 10 varieties that produce 20 fruits each, than larger trees and less variety.

Patty S.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sunset Garden Climate Zones

    Bookmark   January 28, 2012 at 9:48PM
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TimSF(CA Z8B/Sunset17)

Patty, you are a veritable trove of information - thank you for posting the link to Sunset's climate zones (I'd not seen that before)! And I agree with you (LOL) that Sunset Western Garden Book truly is our Bible here in the West; mine is literally falling to pieces from over-use. I don't know about you, but I sometimes find even Sunset's zones lacking. For instance, we are considered 17 here in SF, same as Oakland and I swear my friends across the Bay are always about 5-10 degrees warmer (gotta love micro-climates around here)! BTW, if you like SWGB, another of my favorites is 'Plants and Landscapes for Summer Dry Climates' which is a must-have for anyone living in Mediterranean climate areas interested in xeriscaping.


    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 12:04AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Well, thank you, that's awfully nice of you to say :-) You're going to be very excited, then, to know that the brand new, 2012 Sunset Western Garden Book was JUST released today! See the link below. Mine is on its way, and a 2nd one as a birthday gift to my sister, who is also a big gardener. And yes, I do have that additional Sunset book, it is just excellent! My second love are California natives as well as succulents.

Patty S.

Here is a link that might be useful: Sunset Western Garden Book 2012 Edition

    Bookmark   January 29, 2012 at 10:56AM
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jkom51(Z9 CA/Sunset 17)

It does sound as if you have a Meyer lemon tree. If you don't like them, you should consider contacting the better restaurants in your area and asking them if they want them. Chefs adore Meyers and commercially they're quite expensive, so you might be able to either generate some goodwill or even do a bit of barter (e.g., some Bouchon bakery items for a few gallons of Meyers)!

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 7:26PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Good suggestion, jkom! I love my Meyer lemons, but I know not everyone does. But you're so right - chefs drool over them, they are fabulous to cook with.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2012 at 7:32PM
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