Ruby Red Grapefruit
Plant text by Naomi Lacey, feature photo Wikipedia
Common name: Ruby Red Grapefruit
Scientific name: Citrus paradisii
Family, and related species: Rutaceae
Description including form (tree, climber, etc), other similar species
A small to medium evergreen tree that grows 5-6m. Leaves are dark green, oval and glossy and flowers are white and heavily scented. Grafted trees will begin producing fruit in about 4 years. Fruit is yellow-orange and about the size of a softball with fruit ready to harvest from February to June. Some trees may also have spines on the branches.
Role/ characteristics/ use in permaculture
Produces abundant fruit and espaliers well. Will also grow well in a large pot so is suitable for small areas, gardens or balcony gardens.
Grows well with other citrus and enjoys having chickens running around underneath once established.
Ecology and habitat requirements
The major citrus production areas of the world are generally characterised by low to moderate rainfall, with cool winters and warm to hot dry summers. These areas produce large yields of high external and internal quality fruit.
The climate in the Katherine and Darwin regions of the Northern Territory is markedly different to these traditional citrus producing areas……The tropical climate, however, is conducive to fast growing, early maturing citrus trees.DPIFAM 2006
Grapefruit enjoys a wide range of soils particularly those that are well-drained and have a slightly acid pH. They will need to be watered regularly in the dry season.
A range of pests can affect the tree such as citrus leaf miner, red scale, oriental spider mite, fruit piercing moth, root rot, collar rot, and termites but most can be avoided by ensuring plants are on a good rootstock and are well-drained.
Access to plants
All citrus grow best from a good quality grafted rootstock which is available locally at most nurseries. Tropiculture NT produce excellent quality citrus rootstock specifically for the tropics if you wanted to try growing yourself otherwise they can provide the grafted tree at wholesale prices.
Norrington, Leonie, 2001, Tropical Food Gardens: A guide to growing fruit, herbs and vegetables, Bloomings Books, Melbourne, Australia
Grapefruit FF6, DPIFAM, Northern Territory Government fact sheet, 2006
Texas Citrus and Subtropical Fruits, Home fruit production – grapefruit.