Hand Pollinating Grapefruit Trees: How To Hand Pollinate A Grapefruit Tree
By: Amy Grant
Grapefruit is a cross between the pomelo (Citrus grandis) and the sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) and is hardy to USDA growing zones 9-10. If you’re lucky enough to live in those regions and have your own grapefruit tree, you may be wondering about grapefruit tree pollination. Is pollinating grapefruit trees manually possible and, if so, how to hand pollinate a grapefruit tree?
How to Hand Pollinate a Grapefruit Tree
First and foremost when thinking about grapefruit tree pollination, grapefruits are self-pollinating. That said, some people enjoy pollinating grapefruit trees manually. Generally, hand pollinating grapefruit trees is done because the tree is grown indoors or in a greenhouse where there is a lack of natural pollinators.
In a natural outdoor setting, the grapefruit depends on bees and other insects to pass the pollen from bloom to bloom. In some areas, a lack of bees due to pesticide use or colony collapse may also mean hand pollinating grapefruit trees is necessary.
So, how to hand pollinate a grapefruit citrus tree? You should first understand the mechanics or rather biology of the citrus blossom. The basics are that the pollen grains need to be transferred to the sticky, yellow stigma which is located at the top of the column in the center of the flower and is surrounded by the anthers.
The male part of the flower is made up of all those anthers combined with a long, slim strand called the stamen. Within the pollen grains lies the sperm. The female part of the flower is made up of the stigma, the style (pollen tube) and the ovary where the eggs are located. The entire female portion is called the pistil.
Using a small, delicate paint brush or a song bird feather (a cotton swab will also work), carefully transfer the pollen from the anthers to the stigma. The stigma is sticky, allowing the pollen to adhere to it. You should see pollen on the brush when you are transferring it. Citrus trees like humidity, so adding a vaporizer may increase pollination rates. And that’s how to hand pollinate citrus trees!
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Easy to grow fruit trees for greenhouses: Tropical and subtropical fruits
Anything coming from Mediterranean, subtropical, and tropical climates will do fine in greenhouses unless it exceeds a certain height or width (depending on your greenhouse).
Back in the days, orangeries were the most typical greenhouses and they all grew lemons and oranges in them. This doesn’t have to limit you to citrus trees, though. Pomegranate and avocado can grow just as well.
So, if you haven’t seen your favorite tropical fruit on the list, you just need to research the average height of it. You can also search for dwarf varieties. Sometimes this will be your best bet or you have to regularly trim the trees.
Tips for growing fruit trees in a greenhouse
In order to succeed with growing fruit trees in your greenhouse, you should go through these tips!
The size of the greenhouse
No matter what fruit tree you’re going to pick, you’ll need a large greenhouse with a high ceiling. An 8×8 with 7.5ft at its peak will not suffice.
You want to be able to grow more than just a tree and you need to reach those plants. In some cases, you may even need two trees for pollination.
I would go as tall and large as your budget allows. The minimum height should be about 9ft in the center. This way you have some room for growth.
Janssens Cathedral Greenhouse
Picking suitable fruit trees
Before you run into the store, you should think about the overall plan for your greenhouse. The plants you choose have to harmonize. It’s not possible to achieve 2-3 different climates.
If you grow tropical plants, you should stick to those and not mix it with temperate plants. Unless you only start the seedlings and transplant them outdoors. Then you’ll be fine.
Producing fruits doesn’t work without pollination. There are some fruit trees that are self-pollinating and others that need insects or wind, or even cross-pollination.
This means you either have to attract beneficial insects into your greenhouse or practice manual pollination. For fruit trees that require cross-pollination you will need at least 2 trees (e.g. apples, pears).
Pots vs. in-ground
99% of the people will plant them in pots in a greenhouse so they can move them around. The tree will bear less fruit than if it were in the ground since it will have fewer branches. This doesn’t affect the size of its fruit, though.
The problem with trees that are grown in the ground inside a greenhouse is the flexibility. Maybe you want to re-organize your shelves and beds after a few years and the tree would do better in a different corner. This is almost impossible or much more work if it’s planted in the ground.
Another problem will be weeds. The depth of the roots will make it impossible to install a complete layer of weed protection. You have to leave a hole for the tree. This provides an opening for weeds to start spreading.
Backyard Fruit Trees for Beginners
If you are looking for the best place to buy fruit trees online look no further! Growing your own fruits in your own backyard is one of life’s simple pleasures. However, some types of fruit trees can be challenging to grow – what with pests, diseases, and specialized cultivation requirements. Here, though, we introduce some of the easiest backyard fruit trees for beginners and backyard orchardists to maintain: Pear trees, apple trees, fig trees, and citrus fruits. Slightly more challenging, but still within the capabilities of the part time amateur orchardist are plum trees, cherries, and peach trees. Stone fruits are a great choice for any home gardener to start growing right from their backyard!
The best time to plant fruit trees is in early spring so they have the whole growing season to establish their tree root systems. Some garden fruit trees can tolerate a fall planting if they are fast growers. Most trees require full sun to set fruit crops. Be sure to regulate soil conditions with newly planted trees
For more specific information on how to grow fruit trees, head over to our Grow Guides pages. Start enjoying delicious fruit in no time!
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The round, gritty “sand pears” (derived from Asian pears) are among the easiest fruit bearing trees to grow. You can sometimes see old sand pear trees still gamely producing pears in southern homesteads long after the house itself has crumbled. The pears you see in the grocery store are European pears and you can grow them too.
Except for their susceptibility to fire blight, which causes stem tips to turn black and die, pears are almost disease-free, and do not need a regular spraying program as do many other fruit trees. Pear trees do not take well to transplanting so choose a long term planting site.
The ‘Kieffer’ pear is resistant to fire blight and a good choice everywhere in the continental United States. ‘Kieffer’, like most pear fruit varieties, are self-fertile, but you get better production if you have two cultivars for cross-pollination. The popular ‘Hood’ pear is a good choice for southern orchards. Don’t overlook the new Asian pears. These are hardy in the North, disease-resistant, and generally begin bearing fruit at an early age as a young tree.
Learn the “chill hours” for your area and select varieties adapted to your climate. Check out our Pear Grow Guide for more on pear trees.
Apples are only slightly more difficult to grow than pears. Perfect Plants offers eight different apple tree varieties to choose from.
Our favorite varieties include ‘Anna’, ‘Ein Shemer’, and ‘Dorset Golden’ for the South and ‘Fuji’ and ‘Granny Smith’ for more northern climates. If you are looking for a self fertile apple tree check out the Golden Delicious!
Apple trees go through a dormant season so you need to know your local “chill hours” and hardiness zone (they are not the same) and check out the Apple Tree Grow Guide for information on how to grow apple varieties.
Fig trees may well be the easiest fruit trees of all to grow as they are disease-free, drought tolerant, heat tolerant, fairly cold hardy, early bearing, and self-pollinating. If you are looking for a fast growing fruit tree this is it!
We also have semi dwarf fruit tree varieties if you need a small fruit tree to grow in small space that will still produce full size fruit. They are perfect as potted plants! Some fig trees will stay compact at 5-15 feet tall as mature trees. A self-pollinating fruit tree variety means it does not need a second tree to cross pollinate and have trees produce fruit.
The ‘Brown Turkey’ Fig tree is one of our favorites. It grows fast, gets large, is highly productive, and it is more cold weather hardy (to USDA zone 7) than most other fig varieties. If you live further Up North, the ‘Chicago Hardy’ fig is your best choice it will survive in zone 5!
If your garden is in USDA zones 8 through 11, you can grow citrus fruits. Tangerine trees (aka mandarins), orange trees, grapefruit trees, kumquat trees, lemon trees, and lime trees are all very easy to grow.
Citrus fruit trees are drought-tolerant, self-pollinating, and disease-free. Unfortunately, due to agricultural laws, we cannot ship citrus trees out of the state. Citrus fruits do not handle extreme freezes well so if you live in an area with exceptionally cold winters then consider growing in containers.
For more information on how to plant these fruit trees, you can go to their specific grow guides that we have curated! There you will find more information on planting each specific fruit tree, how to dig the hole, loosen the root ball, get rid of air pockets, and fill the hole with soil. It is a good idea to fertilize your fruit trees annually at the base of the tree trunk for the best growth and production. Grape vines are also an easy, self fertile fruit tree to grow for beginners.
Fruit tree care is not complicated and the growing guides will help guide you. You may have some container fruit trees on your patio or front porch if you do not have a yard. Fruit trees in pots will require good drainage holes so the plants do not get wet feet or shallow root rot. Be sure to use nutrient rich potting soil to keep your trees flourishing. We have our very own Fruit Tree Planting Mix specially formulated for fruit trees. Our fruit tree nursery produces and ships high quality plants that you will be pleased with.
Shop all fruit trees for sale to see our availability and start a fruit orchard of your own. These are dwarf trees that have been grafted onto high root stock. They are rooted in their nursery container with soil and are NOT bare root trees.
Most of these fruit trees in Florida and surrounding states will do well with fruit production because of the warm climate. Be sure to check your USDA growing zone before buying fruit trees online. Backyard fruit trees are a way to get the whole family involved in home gardening and spending time outside besides the vegetable garden! Check out Fruit Trees for the Midwest.
What kinds of fruit trees have you had success growing? Let us know in the comments!