Hardy citrus in zone 6?

bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)March 21, 2012

I know there are some citrus family plants that are supposed to be hardy in zone 6 - namely Poncirus trifoliata ("Trifoliate orange") and it's variety called P. trifoliata "Flying Dragon". There are other citrus types also, such as citranges and citrumelo that are also fairly hardy, but I'm not sure if they're for zone 6. I wondered if anyone has grown or is growing either of these in zone 6, without protection. If so, what results have you had? I will not be able to protect any plants so they have to be able to handle winter on their own. Anyone with any experience and/or information, please let me know what you've found. I'd like to try one or two of these. Thank you.

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You're in luck, because this has been a hot topic that you can find many posts about if you do a search here on Gardenweb, and on some other forums as well.

In fact, there was a long-running post on the very same topic (similar title, though with zone 7 I think) that you should find if you scroll through a few pages here on the Citrus Forum.

As a fellow zone 6 gardener who has thought about this very same question for a number of years now without taking the plunge into trialing anything, I can tell you my basic conclusions:
-- Poncirus (sometimes called Citrus) trifoliata should be fully hardy in zone 6, making a nice ornamental. A few people have found actual culinary uses for the fruit (seeds for pectin, rind for marmalade, all carefully processed).
-- The closest thing to an edible cold hardy citrus is a certain variety of Citrumelo called Dunstan, which could survive zone 6 winters in a good microclimate and/or with some protection.
-- Some of the very best of all citrus varieties, namely the satsumas, come to within 10 degrees of hardiness of the supposedly disgusting hybrids such as citranges. So growing the former with lots of protection and enjoying the delicious fruit may be better than growing the latter in open ground with no tasty reward.

    Bookmark   March 21, 2012 at 1:18PM
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bill_ri_z6b(Zone 6B)

I know what you're saying. But I probably wouldn't be growing for the fruit, more for ornamental reasons and for the fragrance. Maybe just for the novelty too. Your zone 6 is a lot different than mine. You probably have a lot more sunny days in winter, less wet weather, and when it's cold there, I'd say it doesn't last as long as it does here and you probably recover from overnight lows to fairly warm highs for the day better than we do here since you get more sunny days and being further south, the sun is stronger than here.

I haven't heard of "Dunstan" but I'll research it. Thanks for the info.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 4:05AM
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I think you're right about zone differences: we do get downright cold at night here sometimes, but winter just does not seem as hard as some places I've lived in a similar zone.

Anyway, it sounds like Trifoliate Orange would be a great choice for what you're after. I posted a similar question on the SW Forum, and got a response from a zone7 gardener in Central NM who's had Trifoliate Orange for many years and is a bag fan. It sailed through last winter's record cold (it probably saw at least -10) and set a big crop of fruit last fall apparently.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2012 at 10:54AM
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Dayton, Ohio here. I have a Poncirus trifoliata 'Flying Dragon' that is several years old and about 9x9'. It has numerous white blossoms in Spring only and they are not fragrant that I can tell. Only once did I catch a faint whiff of fragrance in their vicinity. Poncirus is a different genus than Citrus but is, I believe, in the Citrus family. The small, 1 1/2 - 2", slightly fuzzy "oranges" produced here in October are decorative and fragrant enough to perfume a room for a week or two, so probably its best attribute. I do make marmalade out of them but I am the only one in my family who will eat it. Oh yes, and the 'Flying Dragon' is contorted with 1 1/2" thorns.


    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 12:54AM
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You would possibly be able to grow something besides Trifoliate Orange with even the slightest attempt to protect plants on the coldest nights. . (Citrange/Citrangequat/Yuzu?)

Trifoliate Oranges are pretty cool though, year-round ornamental and citrusy aromatic fruits cold be used for aromatherapy, jelly, paint remover, etc.
I'm a very adventurous eater and took a few bites of a Poncirus fruit last summer. It tasted like half rotten, resinous, very sour lemon.

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 12:52PM
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Bill, I haven't been coming to Citrus as often as I once did, so I don't know if this nursery has been mentioned.

Check out Mckenzie-Farms. Google the name, it'll pop up. Don't know if it's allowed naming a nursery using dot come.
Mckenzie-Farms specializes in cold hardy Citrus... prices are more than reasonable.

As for growing citrus outdoors. I'm in z5.
I planted Poncirus/Flying Dragon in the garden, early 2000's. It's very very slow-growing, however in spring/summer leaves grew. Poncirus is deciduous here in IL.

Anyway, it lived 3 years..One night during winter, some 'idiot' (possibly) walked through the garden, stepped on the Poncirus, breaking it in pieces.
Poncirus was planted in the front, nearest the street. I honestly believe someone drove over the curve, (curves are shallow) and ran over my poor, little tree. If it had been stepped on, unless a horse happened to walk by, it wouldn't have been in shreds. That's the reason I think someone drove, instead of walked on my plant.

The next morning I looked out front, noticing the little tree gone. I walked up to it, and found broken wood pieces.
It never returned.

Sorry, didn't mean to go into such detail, lol.
Anyway, my point is, Poncirus is hardy to Z5, with a little mulch for protection. 'unless a car happens to drive over it, :('

Since it was hardy for z5, it'd do better in z6.

Anyway, check out Mckenzie-Farms..Good luck, Toni

    Bookmark   March 28, 2012 at 1:43PM
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Oh yay this thread!
I had no idea!

"You would possibly be able to grow something besides Trifoliate Orange with even the slightest attempt to protect plants on the coldest nights. . (Citrange/Citrangequat/Yuzu?) "

Now this intrigues me.
The Trifoiates look so scraggly and thorny that I am considering one of these alternatives.
My site is full sun on the south eastern side of my home in a tropicalesque bed with bananas, palms, elephant ears, etc. We do a lot of protecting in this bed anyway, so I can do whatever I need to do to get something established and through it's first few years but once it is taller than I am I expect it to fend for itself.

Under those criteria which alternative would be best?
I could call McKenzie's and ask, LOL, but am just buying the one tree and feel bad taking up their time.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 1:51PM
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I emailed McKenzie Farms.
I am excited!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 2:09PM
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Toni, I am in Zone 5b IL. glad to know we can grow some sort of citrus in zone 5. Thanks for sharing the info.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2012 at 2:45PM
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