Dwarf Ruby Red Grapefruit Tree

Growing Zones in Ground: 8 - 11 / in Pots: 4 - 11

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The dwarf Ruby Red Grapefruit tree is easy to grow, has rich green leaves and a handsome, well-shaped canopy that requires minimal pruning. Standard and dwarf Ruby Red Grapefruit Trees bear large-sized grapefruit that have red-blushed yellow rind and sweet, luscious deep ruby flesh.

The subtropical dwarf Ruby Red Grapefruit tree with botanical name Citrus × paradisi ‘Ruby Red’ is an evergreen dwarf citrus tree of the flowering family Rutaceae. It is a bud sport (mutation of one tree limb that bears fruits that have different characteristics than the rest of the tree) that grew on the limb of “Pink Marsh” grapefruit tree. The initial bud sport was first found in Texas in 1929 by A. E. Henninger of McAllen.

Back then grapefruit were not popular because of their unattractive white-yellow flesh and acrid-tart flavor. But the discovery of the mutated red-fleshed, sweet-flavored Ruby Red grapefruit tree changed all that, and gave birth to the great Texas grapefruit industry. From that moment on, grapefruit has become one of America’s favorite breakfast staples. Due to high demand, Texas eliminated all pink and white grapefruit trees and dedicated their time and land to cultivating Ruby Red grapefruits and other red-fleshed varieties.

The dwarf Ruby Red Grapefruit Tree is similar to the standard-sized grapefruit tree in that they can both be planted outdoors in USDA growing zones 8 through 11 and potted to be taken indoors during winter in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 to 7. Both types are easy to grow, have rich green leaves and handsome, well-shaped canopy that requires minimal pruning. Furthermore, standard and dwarf Ruby Red Grapefruit Trees bear large-sized grapefruit that have red-blushed yellow rind and sweet, luscious deep ruby flesh.

Ruby Red grapefruit are in season from December to May so you can still enjoy vitamin C-packed citrus fruit in winter when most citrus fruits are not in season. Aside from being rich in vitamin C, Ruby Red grapefruit also contain vitamin A, potassium, dietary fiber and other nutrients.

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Citrus Tree Care

Dwarf citrus trees are easy to grow and needs the same care as their standard-sized counterparts; they both need plenty of sunlight, right amount of water and sufficient application of citrus fertilizer to grow healthy and become prolific fruit bearers.

  • Seasonal Information – Ruby Red grapefruit is a sub-tropical tree that thrives in full sun and best planted outdoors in USDA growing zones 8 through 11. This citrus tree is frost sensitive and can be damaged when temperature dips below 29ºF. If your area more often than not experience freezing cold winters with temperatures going below 29ºF, it is highly recommended that you plant your grapefruit tree in a pot so you can take it indoors before the chilling winter sets in.
  • Planting Information and Fertilization –When you buy Grapefruit Trees, or any citrus trees for that matter, make sure to time their arrival after the danger of frost has passed and before the hot summer season starts.That period is the optimal time for planting young or growing citrus trees.

If you are going to re-plant agrapefruit tree you bought online in the ground, choose a location that will not retain water, or become saturated for long periods of time. Furthermore, keep in mind that cold winds generally come from the north and the west so never plant your growing grapefruit trees in the north wind. Feed with fertilizer for citrus trees in spring and summer with a tablespoon of ammonium sulfate once a month during the growing season.

  • Planting Instruction (Potted) – If you wish to re-plant the citrus tree you purchased in a pot do not use any container that is absorptive as it would be more difficult to monitor or measure the soil moisture. It is better to use pots made out of plastic as they do not absorb or retain water, plus they are more lightweight and easier to move indoors when the weather turns cold, and back outside when warm weather resumes.
  1. Since we want to avoid retaining water, use a pot with numerous holes for water to pass thru easily.
  2. Use good quality potting soil that is lightweight and contains inorganic materials like vermiculite and perlite which would help with drainage and aeration.
  3. Gently release the dwarf grapefruit tree from the pot in which it arrived in and place in the planting hole. To avoid burying too deep, look for the grafting union or the part of the tree that was grafted to the rootstock above the rootball, and make sure that it is positioned above the soil line. Backfill the hole with potting soil while tamping it in to eliminate air pockets.
  4. Deeply water the tree until you see water running out of the holes to settle the roots.

Fruit & Harvesting


Although born from a dwarf grapefruit tree, the Ruby Red Grapefruits are the same size as those from a standard-sized tree. They are typically 15cm in diameter and 12cm in height, globular in shape and somewhat flattened. Ruby Red Grapefruit have yellow-orange peel with a slight rose-blush that is the indicator of their ripeness. The medium-thick rind of Ruby Reds contains volatile aromatic oils that are released when the peel is punctured or zested.

The seedless flesh of Ruby Red grapefruit is juicy and has sweet-tangy flavor that makes it great for breakfast or as snack any time of the day. Ruby Red grapefruit are mostly eaten fresh but it is also good for juicing. You can also use it to make smoothies, fruit shakes, jams, syrups, tossed in a salad, or used as an ingredient for baking and making pastry. You can even use it for tuna or seafood recipes, as it gives seafood a distinctive flavor.


Ruby Red Grapefruits typically take 7 to 8 months to mature or ripen and they are in season throughout winter and spring. However, temperature fluxes can affect the time it takes for fruits to mature and may take up to 13 months before the fruits can be harvested.


One way to tell that your Ruby Red grapefruit are ready for picking is when at least 50 percent of the peel has turned yellow or pinkish. There are instances when the fruit has green peel but is already ready for picking but just to be on the safe side try to wait, anyways the longer this fruit stays on the tree the sweeter it becomes. The best way to tell when your grapefruits are ready for picking is by doing a taste test. Just grab a fruit in your hand and twist gently until the fruit is detached from the stem. Once satisfied with the juiciness and taste you can harvest the rest of the fruits from the tree. You can keep grapefruits for 7 days at room temperature or keep refrigerated for up to 2 months.

Growing Zones


The Dwarf Ruby Red Grapefruit tree can reach up to 8’-12’ in height when planted in the ground but tend to be shorter when planted in a pot. Keep the tree at 6’ or smaller by judiciously pruning and pinching it.

The usual bloom season of Ruby Red Grapefruit tree is in spring and fruits are in season during winter months. Also, keep in mind that although cold hardy, it should be protected and taken indoors when temperature goes below 29ºF.

Pests and Diseases

Growing citrus trees need a little more care than established citrus trees since they are more susceptible diseases and get damaged due to insect infestation.

  • Anthracnose – it is a disease caused by fungi in the genus Colletotrichum that commonly attack plants in spring when the weather is cool and wet as it creates the perfect condition for the spores to spread. This disease causes defoliation, dieback of twigs, staining of fruit and spore-covered leaves and twigs.

The best way to combat and resists this type of disease is by practicing good sanitation. Remove and properly dispose diseased plant parts, including leaves, twigs and fruits, under the tree’s canopy and surrounding area. Clean tools and proper pruning technique also help in halting the spread of disease. If disease is already causing damage to your citrus tree then appropriate fungicide should be sprayed to the whole tree.

  • Scales – these are tiny insects that suck away the sap and nutrients much needed by the growing citrus trees. They also excrete honeydew that becomes the breeding ground for black sooty molds that inhibit the leaves from processing photosynthesis and in the long run causes leaf drop and branch die back.

To control the population of scales you can either purchase predator insects like Ladybugs that prey on these pests or use horticultural oil sprays to get rid of them. Use of chemical insecticide or pesticide directly upon fruit is not recommended.


How do you know when it is time to pick a Ruby Red Grapefruit?

Grapefruits can take as long as 8 months to ripen once they first appear after the bloom. When the yellow flesh begins to show pink blush in spots and the fruit yields slightly to gentle pressure, it is time to test taste and ripeness. A taste test is always the best way to know for certain if your Ruby Red Grapefruits are ready to pick. Remember that unlike other fruits, citrus will not ripen further once picked.

Will a Ruby Red Grapefruit tolerate the winter months in USDA Zone 8?

Zone 8 is the coldest USDA Zone where citrus is known to live in the ground successfully. However, in any zone, extended periods of freezing weather can be detrimental to the health and even the survival of any citrus tree. Bring potted citrus indoors when there is a chance of frost, and water in-ground trees fully when cold weather approaches.

What is the best potting soil for a citrus tree grown in a pot?

Citrus trees like sandy loam soil that is well drained. A suitable mixture for potting a Key Lime Tree is three parts potting soil, one part composted manure (such as composted cow or chicken manure), one part perlite, and one part clean sand. You can also mix equal parts regular potting mix and cactus mix soil.

My Ruby Red Grapefruit tree had all of its leaves blown off in a hurricane. Will it live?

If the tree was not blown over and the root system is not damaged, the leaves should grow back and the tree will most likely live and be fine. However, the loss of all leaves may slow it down as far as fruit production goes for the current year.

Are Ruby Red Grapefruit trees self-pollinating?

Yes, grapefruit trees are self-pollinating and will grow fruit without an additional pollinator tree. However, trees that do have a second pollinator tree nearby will grow more fruit than a lone tree.

I have tasted grapefruit before that was sour. Are these fruit really sweet?

Ruby Red Grapefruits are sweeter and less acidic than the original white grapefruits that were once cultivated and grown commercially. They are also juicier and have a thinner rind, and less white pith when compared to many seedling grapefruit or older white grapefruit varieties.

Are the Ruby Red Grapefruit Trees grafted or grown from seeds?

The Ruby Red Grapefruit trees are grown from grafted trees cultivated on growing rootstock.