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citrus in northern FL?

Posted by kawaiineko_gardener 5a (jesusbeloved29@yahoo.com) on
Tue, Dec 24, 13 at 18:36

I realize I can't grow it where I'm at. Eventually I'd like to relocate to Florida, as they have a long growing season, and I can grow a lot of stuff there, that I can't grow in my current zone and area (which is Northern MI).

The places in northern FL I'd like to grow citrus are either Gainsville, Jacksonville, or Ocala.

Gainsville is Zone 8b, and has a growing season of 280 days; Jacksonville is zone 8b, and has a growing season of about 260 days; Ocala is zone 9a and a has a growing season of about 286 days.

When I say 'citrus' I am referring to the less cold tolerant varieties, lemons, navel oranges, and grapefruit.

Also I know this is off topic, but how difficult would it be to grow stuff like apples, pears, peaches, plums in northern FL? The varieties I'd pick would be low-chill and the ones that have been bred to be heat-tolerant.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: citrus in northern FL?

From what I see and hear about the fruit and citrus trees you want to grow, they all grow here. You just have to grow the right varieties. The best places I can recommend are a University of Florida website. EDIS, Solutions for your life or Floridata.


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

I live in Panama City, zone 8b. I have growing in my yard:

key lime, several different oranges, pink grapefruit, lemon - they all do just fine.

Come on down - we welcome you!


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

I know that grapefruit can thrive in the Gainesville area, and anyplace quite near the ocean is milder than that.


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

I hate to disagree with most of what the above posters said but the poster said they wanted to grow even the less cold hardy citrus in either Gainesville or Ocala they are a bit too cold for citrus. While it is correct that near the ocean is a warm micro climate like KayJones enjoys, Ocala and Gainesville are no where NEAR the ocean. Do people grow citrus in Ocala and Gainesville? sure but you WILL get temperatures below 20 degrees on a fairly regular basis which can kill the trees so they need protection OR you will need to have the tree in a warmer micro climate.

I am 30 miles south of Ocala and closer to the ocean. I am on a lake and have a series of lakes to my north which helps warm the cold north winds and yet my citrus still get damaged some now and then. Lou is 6 miles SOUTH of me yet he can't grow citrus unprotected as he is in a bit of a cold spot.....he averages about 4-6 degrees colder than I am.

It really comes down to the spot you choose to live....look for a warm spot. Lakes, elevations......if you are looking for a house and see mature citrus in the area you are good.if you don't see them.....that would be a tip off.

You can grow low chill peaches here (I have 7 trees) you can grow low chill plums here (I have 2 trees) you can grow certain pears and some low chill apples. The further north you live in Florida the more varieties you can grow.


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

I am in NE FL. You can grow kumquats, satsuma, grapefruit, and some types of oranges in the ground here. I have seen a mature ponderosa lemon in one persons yard. It is related to the grapefruit which is a bit hardier than most lemons.

If you have a greenhouse, you can grow any kind of citrus you want in pots. I have several varieties of blood orange, key lime, kaffir lime, persian lime, ruby grapefruit, buddah's hand, variegated pink lemon (an eureka variety), pummelos, etc. I have most of them grafted onto to dwarf rootstock so they are manageable in pots for now until I move further south.
I also have some buddah's hand that I airlayered and its on its own roots doing quite well in small pots. It has survived 32F with a sheet over it in its pots outdoors.
There is a great citrus nursery near me where you can get most varieties of what you want.

Below is a link that lists citrus from most cold hardiness to least cold hardiness (most tender to frost)

I used to have a lot more varieties than I have now but gave everything to my mom when I moved to FL from AZ due to citrus restrictions. I am slowly rebuilding my collection lol.

Here is a link that might be useful: citrus cold hardiness chart

This post was edited by sultry_jasmine_night on Wed, Dec 25, 13 at 10:37


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

Satsumas and Meyer's lemons grow well here. Pushing the zone is fun, but I don't think it would be with citrus.


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

Bamboo, my grandfather's house in Gainesville has two large trees against the stone wall of the house, south side. They are very prolific, he planted them 30-40 years ago. I realize this is not a circumstance that is at all common, but I am pretty sure there are other examples of grapefruit trees in that region that have survived quite a few years.


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

PnBrown,

Did you read what I wrote? (that sounds harsh but not intended that way)

Against the stone wall on the south side of the house is certainly a Micro Climate just like I said you needed to grow citrus there. The stone helps the house helps a ton and being on the south side helps a ton as the cold comes from the north.

Gainsvilles record low is 6 degrees and they AVERAGE 16 nights below freezing......compare that to where I am we get 3 freezing nights a year on average and yet i still get temperatures that damage my citrus on occasion.


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

I live in a western suburb of Gainesville that is a few degrees colder than downtown. We have 12-18 nights of frost per year, with usually 1 night falling to 24 degrees and a few nights in the 26-28 degree range. The remaining frosts are 30-32 degrees. Many citrus will tolerate 30 degrees, or even down to 28 degrees. I grow oranges and grapefruits with no problem, except about 4 or 5 nights a year I have to cover them with a blanket and keep a 100 watt light bulb going all night to prevent freeze damage. This is not a problem for a homeowner with a few trees, especially if the trees are kept pruned to a manageable height.

Once a decade temperatures will fall to about 20 degrees, and my trees will suffer some damage despite my efforts. However, they will quickly recover after only 1 year of a lost crop. That said, several times every century the temperature will fall into the 10-15 degree range, and it becomes time to replant. Citrus was a commercial crop in the Gainesville area until two such freezes in December of 1894 and January 1895 destroyed that industry. A second pair of freezes in December of 1983 & January of 1985 repeated the process, with a final freeze in 1989 putting paid to most of the citrus industry north of Interstate Highway 4. Even with these extreme freezes, it is possible for a homeowner to insulate at least part of the lower trunk of the tree above the graft with the rootstock, so that the existing tree can regrow from a short surviving stump, which is faster than replanting.


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

Yes, I think we agree, north of state rd 40 grapefruit (and other hardy citrus) will likely need a special micro-climate to survive a long time.


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

I live near Jax and I think it is 9a zone. They can grow alot more plants there than we can in 8b.


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

Coastal areas or areas with water are different than inland spots like Gainesville or Ocala.


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

Thank you for so many responses so quickly! Also thank you for all the advice and suggestions regarding this; I appreciate the time taken to post on my thread, thank you to all.

Does anybody know of any cities that are on the coast near
Gainsville and/or Jackonsville? I found Spring Hill and Bayonet Point near Gainseville. For Jackonsonville I found St. Augustine and Palm Coast.

I'd prefer to not go too far south if possible. The summers are just too hot, and it would make it difficult to grow cool weather veggies. Add to that I just can't live in an area where it's hot (80+ degrees) year-round.


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

You don't want to live here then. It is 90 degrees for most of the summer. Maybe somewhere in North Carolina would be better for you?


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

Summer does not necessarily get hotter further south in florida, even though winter is much warmer. Any part of the interior is generally less tolerable than the coast, especially the east coast at least has some breeze.

As noted, all of the deep south is beastly hot in summer. You have to gain elevation to get a little cooler, especially at night.


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

The summers are actually hotter in north Florida than they are in central or south Florida :) You get use to the heat and it is better than shoveling snow. As Zackey suggested, maybe NC and build a greenhouse for the citrus.


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

  • Posted by L_in_FL 8B/9A Border, NW FL (My Page) on
    Fri, Dec 27, 13 at 18:29

I want to reiterate what others have said: if you want to grow citrus other than satsumas and kumquats in North Florida, get as close to the coast as possible (preferably within a few miles). Not to mention that a nice sea breeze makes summers much more bearable. :-)

However, even in a coastal area, you need to choose the right varieties and site them in the warmest microclimate on your property. You should also be prepared to protect them from freak freezes, too.

P. S. - If you do move to north Florida, don't overlook the satsumas. They make terrific fruit that tastes between and orange and a tangerine, is easy to peel, and, depending on variety, mature satsumas can take temps into the upper teens. You don't see satsumas in stores because they are not as pretty - sometimes they develop puffy skins - and they don't keep well off the tree. Neither of those "problems" matter to me; I don't care if some of them are ugly, and I pick them when I am ready to use them. Also, satsumas ripen early - mine are good in November and better in December. So there is plenty of time to use the fruit before hard freezes in January.

(Citrus fruit can be ruined in freezes before the tree is damaged. With citrus that ripens in January or later, there is a risk of losing your crop to freezes before it ripens. You can protect the tree whenever temperatures are going to stay below freezing for several hours. Or do what UF advises: grow early-ripening citrus in North Florida.)


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

In lake county our grapefruit often gets frosted - hi 20's is very common, for whatever reason the fruit is rarely damaged by it.

A former extension agent who spent his career mainly managing citrus told me that well-mineralized trees shrug off frost with no damage.


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

I agree about the satsumas being good and cold hardy. I never gave much thought to them before we lived in S.Louisiana for awhile and there are a lot of them being grown there. It gets a little colder in the winter where I was there than it does here and kumquats and satsumas both prove pretty tough and do well. Young trees must be protected the first few years at least because they are still tender and you don't want anything above the graft lines to be frozen.

I also agree about Meyer lemons being a little tougher than most lemons. Meyers are thought by some to not be actually true lemons but a cross between a lemon, orange, and possibly a mandarin. They are still catagorized as lemons. I don't know if its true, but this is what I have read from various sources and might explain its hardiness and sweetness (less acidity) and the tendency of its fruit skin to turn more orangish when left on the tree for quite a while. The skin is not as zesty or thick as some of the other lemons such as the Libson or eureka.
I love my Meyers and would grow them even if they didn't make fruit because they have the best fragrance of any citrus lol. I have 2 potted ones on either side of our swing just for the fragrance. They also will bloom more year around than some other citrus. Mine often bloom even though they have fruit on them. The flowers are pretty with a purplish tint to the white blossoms. The bees around here devour them lol.

Around the Jax area (NE FL) it can get up in the low 100's every once in awhile during the summer. It was that hot a few yrs ago. The last few summers have been milder but lots of 90's days.
Winters can get in the 20's. In 2009 we had several days of upper teens temps in Orange Park that trashed a lot of my tropicals due to a limb falling on my gh during that time grrr.

In south FL people grow a lot of their veggies in the winter instead of summer so you would still have plenty of opportunity to grow veggies but would just have to learn to do it differently. All in all I think you would have more 'grow' time in south FL than north. Winter here make it hard to garden without a gh or some type of winter protection and summers get hot and really humid which is bad for fungal diseases. Just my opinion though.

Here is a link that might be useful: Lemon trees including Meyer

This post was edited by sultry_jasmine_night on Sat, Dec 28, 13 at 11:19


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

PNbrown,

The frost never hurts my citrus or the fruit.....they will shrug off even 25 degrees once the tree is 3 or 4 years in ground but if it starts getting down toward 23 degrees or less...all bets are off and the trees will split with many limbs and entire trees destroyed.


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

Right, I don't think it has been quite that cold since we've had our current place.


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

Sultry, your description makes me think the 12-foot-ish tree I saw the a few days ago here in town is a Meyer lemon. I though it was some kind of orange because the fruits are more orange than yellow, there's a TON of them. The guy who lives there said they are lemons. There was a 9-degree night here a few years ago, but it looks older than just a few years to me. No idea what that cold snap back then might have done to the fruit, but the tree looks OK. I'll take a pic of it soon and add it here. This is definitely Z8, 15 miles N of the FL border. Would love to hear how old folks think it is.


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

Purple, that would be something.


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

  • Posted by L_in_FL 8B/9A Border, NW FL (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 3, 14 at 11:34

I'd love a lemon that could handle 9 degrees! I don't have any information on that tree, but if it is 12 feet tall, it would be more than a few years old.

Back in the early 2000s (don't remember the exact year) we had two nights in the mid-teens. I was sure my Satsuma was going to die, because it was a young tree then - waist/chest high. It did suffer leaf and branch damage, but the trunk was fine and it came right back in the spring. But if it had been a lemon, even a Meyer, it would have been a goner. Ditto for most other citrus.

I have five Red Lime seedlings that I grew from seeds Silvia sent me in March 2012. I have read that Red Limes can survive 15F as mature trees. My baby trees are still too young to know how they will take real cold. Last year I brought them inside during cold spells. They are still outside this winter and have shrugged off the light frosts we have had so far. If we get any hard freezes I will bring most of them in and leave one outside to see how it does. If they prove hardy, I hope to keep one red lime tree and plant it in the ground. (Since I only need one, if I lose one during cold-hardiness testing, it's okay.)


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

Purple,

The real question is..does he protect it? Heck you could grow a mango in zone 6 if you protected it well enough and heated the enclosure. If that tree took 9 degrees it was in a shelter that was heated.


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

It's possible, but I don't imagine anybody has been protecting this, whatever it is. Nobody was home, so I wasn't able to ask for a fruit. Will go by again soon to ask if it's OK to pick one.


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

A closer pic of the foliage and fruit, well above my head.


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

I also remembered this tree while I was out with the camera, it's been there, looking about the same since I've lived here, 7 years. They do wrap this up on cold nights, with a tarp held on with clothespins. The top is currently full of fruit, sorry for the fuzzy pic, that's as good as my camera would do at that distance. The 2 smaller ones in front may be something different, left wrapped up today (37 degrees.)


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

You are right that there is no way that first tree could be protected.


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

It seems to be brambled with a deciduous tree, and Camellia, FWIW. Knowing nothing about citrus at all whatsoever, I'm the most clueless in this discussion, so surely can't be right about much. Just reporting on this anomaly, I only know of the 2 trees around my town, though not sure they are the same thing. Tele-lens needed for a better pic of the coddled one. Whatever the big one is, should be happy in somebody else's yard south of here. What type of closer pic would help (besides fruit skin, size, and insides?) I will try to obtain such, if I know what to get.


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

I'm on the barrier island, south of Daytona. We're not even predicted to have a freeze on Monday or Tuesday nights. A friend, who lives an hour west of Gainesville is predicted to be mid- to low 20's. She also gets weeks of 90-95. Here on the island we seldom reach 90. I think 2 days this summer. Most of the time we are 84-86. Location make a HUGH difference in FL!!!!! However, I do get a lot of salt spray and that makes growing veggies nearly impossible! So far, my lettuce and snow peas have not shown salt damage even though the winds have been fierce. I won't be surprised if the damage becomes apparent when the weather warms up a bit.


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

  • Posted by L_in_FL 8B/9A Border, NW FL (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 4, 14 at 13:56

Monday night is an example of why so many types of citrus are risky to grow in northern Florida. Where I live, the current prediction is 20F for Monday night. I don't recall it being that cold for several years.

A lot of marginally hardy citrus trees will be damaged or dead by Tuesday. Also, any flower buds and fruit on the trees will freeze. I am about to get started picking as much as I can from my Satsuma, some for fresh use (though they only keep a few weeks off the tree), some for juicing, and some for giving away. I just want to make good use of as much of the fruit as I can.


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RE: citrus in northern FL?

I bet that citrus in Purple's photo has been protected by being kind of wrapped up in some other tree. Freakish situations like that happen.

Probably feral, huh?


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