It’s awesome to eat delicious grapefruit from your own grown trees. But it’s also frustrating to grow the trees and find that it’s not producing fruit. I’ve done some research on the possible reasons why your grapefruit trees are not producing fruit.
Your grapefruit tree is not producing fruit because it has still not matured enough. You may not have provided the tree with the required sunlight, heat, nutrients, and moisture. If you pruned the tree too much or too little, that could also be a cause for lack of fruits.
It’s best if you know more details about each of these problems that can cause your grapefruit to not produce fruit. So you can figure out the issue and try to fix it as best as possible.
Grapefruit tree takes time to mature
It can take a lot of time for the grapefruit tree to grow and become mature enough for developing fruit. The time it will take depends on whether you’re growing the tree from seed or grafting.
It can take 9-10 years for the grapefruit tree to grow from seed and produce fruit. But if you grow the grapefruit tree from grafting, you should be able to get fruit in 2-3 years.
You need to be careful when growing a grapefruit tree from seed because the plant might be a hybrid and grow completely different from its parent. So even if the parent had juicy and sweet fruits, there’s no guarantee the tree you grow will have the same.
That’s why more people prefer to grow the grapefruit tree from graft as it develops faster and will produce fruit similar to the tree from which the graft was produced.
Lack of sunlight and heat
The grapefruit is a warm-season plant that needs plenty of light and heat to grow well. You need to provide full sunlight of at least 8-10 hours for the tree to grow well and develop fruit.
If the light is blocked by some other trees, walls, or houses, the grapefruit tree will not grow well and this can hamper fruit production. When planting the tree make sure that such obstructions are far away from the tree.
If you’re growing a dwarf variety in a container, it’s easy to move the container in case of such an issue.
The grapefruit tree also needs warm weather to grow well and produce fruit. If the temperature drops below 28 degrees for even a few hours, the tree will not be able to blossom and develop fruit.
You can solve this problem by covering the tree with a row cover if possible. And if the tree is in a container, you can move it to a warm location indoors till the cold weather has passed.
Your grapefruit tree requires well-draining, loamy soil to grow its best and develop juicy, sweet grapefruits. If the soil contains too much clay, it will retain excess water causing root rot. If the soil contains too much sand, the water will drain too fast and the moisture won’t be available for the tree roots.
Poor soil means that the grapefruit tree will have stunted growth and will be unable to produce fruit when you are expecting some.
I would suggest doing a soil test of your garden soil before growing a grapefruit tree in it. The soil test will tell you whether your garden soil is good enough for growing the tree or you need to add some amendments.
If you’re growing the dwarf variety in a container, you can create your own potting mix that is suitable for the tree. You can mix 1 part sand, 1 part peat moss, and 1 part perlite or vermiculite to create such a mix.
Lack of sufficient moisture
Citrus trees like grapefruit need a lot of water especially in their growing season every year. It’s best to water the garden soil thoroughly every couple of weeks. You should aim to provide at least 1 inch of water per week to the grapefruit tree.
If the weather is very hot during the summer season, I would suggest watering the garden soil every week so the tree roots can keep getting the required moisture.
If there is a lack of moisture, the roots won’t be able to supply the required nutrients from the soil to the tree causing stunted growth. As a result, the grapefruit tree may not be able to bear fruit when the time comes.
I would suggest using a method like drip-irrigation or soaker hose that you can set based on a timer. This helps you avoid forgetting to water the tree when required. And you can also precisely control the amount of water you are providing the tree during each season.
Growing dwarf varieties
You may have limited space in your garden and be growing dwarf varieties either in the garden or a container. A tree grown in a small space or container will always produce less fruit than one grown in a large garden. And the tree will also take a little bit more time to produce fruit than if grown in a regular garden.
You need to be patient when growing such dwarf varieties. You also need to be focused on pruning the tree to remove some of the leaves, branches, and flowers.
This helps the dwarf tree focus its energy on developing a limited but healthy set of branches, leaves, flowers. And once the tree is ready to develop fruit, it will have that much more energy to focus on growing big, healthy, and sweet fruits.
Too much pruning
It’s great that you are pruning your grapefruit tree to remove unwanted and dead leaves, branches, and flowers. You may also need to prune fruits that grow prematurely as they will lack the expected taste and quality.
But too much of pruning is a bad thing. If you cut off too many of the branches and leaves, the tree will become stressed and the growth will be stunted. The tree will not be able to produce the required food for it to grow well if there is a shortage of the required amount of leaves.
I would suggest that you should not trim any more than 1/3rd of the tree as part of the pruning. Make sure to first target any dead branches and leaves before pruning the healthy ones.
I would also recommend using a good bypass lopper or pruning saw to trim the branches of the tree. You should sterilize the gardening tool before and after using it on the branches of the tree. This will help prevent the spread of any bacterial and viral diseases to the grapefruit tree. You can use rubbing alcohol to clean your gardening tools and keep them sterile.
Lack of sufficient pollination
A grapefruit tree is self-pollinating which means it develops both male and female flowers that are required for pollination. But it still needs some pollinating insects or birds to transfer the pollen from the male to female flowers.
If there is a lack of pollinating insects like bees in your garden, the grapefruit tree will develop flowers but it will fail to produce any fruit. The solution to this problem is to hand-pollinate the flowers yourself.
One method is to use a paintbrush and pick the pollen from the anther of the male flower. You then need to gently brush the pollen into the stigma of the female flower so it can get pollinated.
Another method is to pluck one of the male flowers from the tree and use it as a brush to gently put the pollen into the stigma of the female flower for pollination.
Low availability of chill hours
Your grapefruit tree is a warm-season tree that develops in summer when the temperature is above 70 degrees. But to develop fruit, the tree has to get some chill hours. This means the tree has to get a temperature between 32 to 45 degrees for a few hours in dormancy.
If you live in a region that gets a winter climate in this range, you don’t have to worry about it. But if your region does not get such a climate in winter, the grapefruit tree may not be able to figure out that it’s time to grow fruit once the warm season arrives.
You may need to create such an environment artificially. This helps the plant understand that when the weather gets warmer, it’s the beginning of the growing season. One way to do this would be to use some cold water to water the plant for a specific period of time.
There are several reasons that can cause your grapefruit tree to not produce fruit. The tree can take several years before it matures enough to develop fruit. So you may end up waiting a long time and not getting the “fruits” of your labor.
I hope the above information can help you understand the potential pitfalls when growing a grapefruit tree that produces fruit. I would suggest being careful about the soil, water, light, and heat requirements of your grapefruit tree. That should be good enough for ensuring your grapefruit tree produces fruit at maturity.