Rio Red Grapefruit Tree

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


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1 Gallon 2 - 3 FT $85.95 04/04
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The Rio Red Grapefruit Tree is an evergreen citrus tree that does not require elaborate pruning or special care to start producing lots of grapefruit. This citrus tree grows faster than other grapefruit trees, you don’t have to wait long for the white, fragrant blooms to turn into a bountiful grapefruit harvest.

The Rio Red Grapefruit Tree is an evergreen citrus tree that flourishes in USDA growing zones 8 to 11 and can grow to up to 20-25 ft tall. This grapefruit tree does not require elaborate pruning or special care to start producing large crops of grapefruit. Also, since it grows faster than other grapefruit trees, you don’t have to wait long for the white, fragrant blooms to develop and mature and deliver a bountiful grapefruit harvest.

Rio Red Grapefruits are 5-6 inches in diameter and have a slightly pebbled pale yellow surface with irregular blushes of pink-red. The flesh is tasty and sweet with a slight hint of tartness. This grapefruit’s flesh is juicy and has a deep salmon-red color with very few seeds if any.

The Rio Red Grapefruit tree was developed by treating Ruby Red seedlings at the Citrus Center in Weslaco, a research arm of the old Texas A&I system. This variety was discovered by R.A. Hensz in 1976 and was determined to have exceeded its predecessors in all aspects as it is sweeter than the white and other red varieties with just a teeny-weeny hint of tartness. This grapefruit also has an attractive dark-pink flesh that persists throughout the season. The Rio Red grapefruit tree is more cold-resistant and grows faster than other grapefruit trees. By 1990 almost all white Grapefruit Trees in Texas and were replaced by Rio Red Grapefruit Trees.

Citrus Tree Care

  • Soil – Citrus trees, including Grapefruit Trees, come in containers and need to be replanted either in the ground or in another pot in which they can grow. Make sure to prepare the planting area before planting and amend the soil if needed. Growing grapefruit Trees are partial to well-draining, loamy (or sandy) soil. When planted in a poor draining, heavy clay or salty soil, fruit production will be reduced and plant lifespan will be shortened.
  • Planting Location – Your Grapefruit Tree will just be a few feet tall when it arrives and the root system will not yet be fully developed. However, it will grow into a vigorous tree that can have a wide diameter up to 25 feet. Make sure to plant your tree at least 12 feet away from buildings, sidewalks, and driveways to allow it ample space to grow.
  • Cold and Winter Protection – A Rio Red Grapefruit tree loves full sunshine and will grow well in USDA growing zones 9 to 11. You can also plant it in a pot in USDA growing zones 4 to 8. It is ideal to plant citrus trees like Grapefruit trees on the southernmost side of your property as this location offers the most sun and help with protection during the winter. Furthermore, keep in mind that even if you are located in an area that offers a warm climate, there are still occasional cold snaps and you may need to protect your tree from frost or freezes. You can protect your tree from possible damage from cold temperatures by draping a tarp or blanket over it and tying down the corners so the wind will not blow the cover away. It the temperature drops to below freezing for an extended period of time, place a heat lamp or incandescent bulb under the cover to prevent the accumulation of extended frost.
  • Watering – growing citrus trees need more water compared to already established ones. Newly planted Rio Red Grapefruit trees should be watered every three days during its first two weeks after planting. Watering should be gradually decreased to every seven to ten days, except during dry periods when your grapefruit tree will require additional water.
  • Pruning – like most citrus trees, the Rio Red Grapefruit tree does not require elaborate pruning. To maintain the overall health of your tree just prune the diseased, damaged, dying, or dead branches from the tree. Also be sure to remove any suckers (small green upstart branches) that begin to grow below the graft, as they suck out the much needed nutrients that your citrus tree requires to grow and start bearing fruits.
  • Weeding – Weeds growing around the base of your grapefruit tree can be competition for water and nutrients. To prevent this you can mulch around the tree base using a systematic, contact herbicide to get rid of grass and weeds. Just make sure that the mulch or herbicide does not touch the trunk or any part of the tree as this can lead to retaining moisture that may lead to root rot.
  • Fertilizing – All citrus trees require citrus tree fertilizer. Once you spot new growth on your Grapefruit tree it is time to start applying a 21-0-0 citrus fertilizer. Feed the tree with a total of 1 cup of fertilizer for citrus trees. Split applications and fertilize in late winter, mid-spring, and early autumn.

Fruit & Harvesting


The Rio Red grapefruit is a mid-to-late season grapefruit that is the superior and preferred variety of growers. It was the result of a breeding program led by Dr. R.A. Hensz from the Texas A&I Citrus Center, now the Texas A&M Citrus Center.

The Rio Red is large grapefruit with yellow or gold slightly thick rind tinged with red blush when matured. It has a signature deep-red color flesh that is juicy, tasty, and sweet. It is typically seedless or some individual fruit may contain very few seeds. Because of its juiciness and excellent sweet taste it is great for juicing or eating whole fresh from the rind for breakfast, dessert, or a snack. You can also bake it in a tart, add it as a salad ingredient, use the juice to make sangria, or whip it up into a tasty smoothie.

Aside from its exquisite taste, it is also a great source of Vitamin C and A, dietary fiber, folate, choline, limonins, and lycopene.


When you buy a Rio Red Grapefruit citrus tree  it takes about a year for it to start producing fruit, depending on the size of tree you purchase. From the time the white flowers develop into green fruit, it takes a few months for the fruit to mature and be ready for harvest. For areas with warmer weather it takes about seven to eight months for the fruit to be ready for picking but for areas with colder temperature it can take up to 13 months for the fruit to be ready to eat. However, Rio Red Grapefruits are generally ready to pick in the fall.

To know if your Rio Red Grapefruit is ready for picking, check when half of the peel has turned from green to yellow or pink. The best bet is to wait for the fruit to change its hue. Doing so will help ensure an excellent harvest, since the longer this grapefruit stays on the tree, the bigger and sweeter it gets. You can also do a taste test which is guaranteed fool-proof.

Growing Zones


The Rio Red Grapefruit tree is a pest/disease tolerant and cold hardy citrus tree that grows to 8`-12` when pruned for easy fruit picking or up to 25 ft when left to grow without pruning. Its usual bloom season is in spring and fruit season is in winter. It grows quickly and effectively in well-draining soil and full sunlight in USDA growing zones 9 to 11, as it needs the warmer temperatures to sweeten the fruit. It also has to be protected when the temperature dips below 28º F.

Pest and Diseases

  • Brown Rot Disease – Caused by Phytophthora spp, a common garden fungal pest, causes damping off that can kill plants while they are developing or wreck havoc in mature or nearly-mature fruit. Brown rot manifests itself as a tiny discolored spot that rapidly spreads on the fruit’s surface creating lesions with a fetid smell. It is transmitted by splashing infected soil to low hanging fruits during watering or when it is raining.

Brown Rot can be prevented by increasing circulation to prohibit standing water, pruning trees away from the ground, the use of copper salts and removing any infected fruits or debris from the tree. If the disease persists, you can use fa ungicide spray to control infection.

  • Blast (Pseudomonas syringae) Disease – Infected citrus trees have discolored or necrotic spots on twigs, branches, leaves and blossoms. You will notice water-soaked or sunken lesions on various parts of the citrus tree including fruit which can have black lesions.

This disease can be managed with the use of a copper fungicide that should be applied before the first rain in fall and winter.

  • Citrus Leaf Miner Pest – Leaf Miner is a tiny moth that lays eggs under the leaf that when hatched, burrow into the leaf. They tunnel around the leaf in a snake-like pattern leaving a silvery, white track throughout the leaf. Leaf Miner causes the foliage to cup and twist resulting in a malformed leaf.

Cultural control methods involve removal of water sprouts from trees and not pruning live branches to discourage unusual growth flushes that entices leaf miners to lay eggs on your tree. You can also use parasitic wasps to help destroy the leaf miner population.


Are grapefruits a hybrid?

Yes. The grapefruit is a hybrid of the larger pummelo (Citrus grandis), and the sweet orange (Citrus sinensis). The first cultivated grapefruits met with a mild response due to their acidic flavor and astringent pulp. The modern, sweeter, less acidic grapefruits are the result of naturally occurring bud sports that had different characteristics than the original tree upon which they were discovered. The branches that produced the better tasting fruits were grafted to other rootstock to cultivate these superior varieties.

Where are grapefruits grown?

Grapefruit trees are grown commercially in India, Florida, Texas, California, Arizona, South Africa, South America, Israel, and Australia. There may also be some grapefruit grown for local consumption in any of the warmer locations around the world, such as parts of Indonesia, Asia, China, and the Caribbean and Pacific Islands.

Do grapefruit trees require a second tree for pollination?

Like most citrus, grapefruit trees are self-pollinating and will produce fruit without a pollinator tree. However, trees with a pollinator may grow more fruit than a solitary tree.

Can grapefruit trees be grown indoors?

It is possible to grow grapefruit indoors in a container, as long as the tree gets adequate sunlight or is grown under artificial growing lights. Grapefruit trees become large, and indoor trees will often require pruning, depending on the space available.

How long does it take a grafted grapefruit tree to grow fruit?

Grafted grapefruit trees that have been started on living rootstock will bloom much faster than seedlings. In general, grafted trees can start to grow fruit as early as two years after planting.

Can you grow grapefruit from seeds?

Growing grapefruit from seeds is possible, but remember that seedlings take much longer to mature and produce fruit, and you will not know the quality of the fruit until your seed-grown tree produces. This can take as long as 5 to 6 years. Grafted trees are much faster to produce fruit, and you will already know the variety’s quality and taste reputation before the fruit appears.

How often should I water my grapefruit tree?

When first planted in well-drained soil, water your grapefruit tree once every four days for about sixteen days. Then monitor the soil, and water once per week. If the soil becomes dry to below four inches before the next week’s watering, increase watering to twice a week. Rainfall and soil composition will affect the amount of water the tree needs. Do not constantly saturate the ground to make standing water, and do not let it dry out to below six inches below the soil surface.