The Ruby Red Grapefruit Tree has shiny, green foliage that covers the tree from top to bottom and produces fragrant, white four-petal flowers. Ruby Red Grapefruits are round, baseball sized fruit with a pale lemon color tinged with pink blush. The flesh of the fruit is sweet, juicy and brightly red.
The Ruby Red Grapefruit tree with botanical name Citrus Paradise, is from an evergreen citrus tree from the Citrus genus in the family Rutaceae. Although its origin is a little bit obscure, the variety may have been a horticultural accident or meticulous hybridization. Research shows that this Grapefruit is a hybrid of pummelo (Citrus grandis) and the sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) and was named thus due to the grape-like clusters in which fruit grows on trees.
This Grapefruit tree first arrived in the state of Florida in 1823 but did not gain popularity due to its acidity and difficulty to peel. Some planted the citrus tree and sold or gave away the produce as a novelty fruit. It was only in 1929 when the most celebrated mutation in the history of citrus fruit was discovered in an orchard in Texas that the fruit gained its popularity. Growing on a pink grapefruit tree was a mutated red grapefruit, which became the Ruby Red Grapefruit tree variety the first of its kind to get U.S. patent.
The Ruby Red Grapefruit Tree is usually grown to 16-20 ft tall to ensure large fruit size and easy fruit picking, although when left alone it can grow as high as 40-50ft. This citrus tree has shiny, green foliage that covers the tree from top to bottom and produces fragrant, white four-petal flowers.
The Ruby Red Grapefruits are round, baseball sized fruit with a pale lemon color tinged with pink blush. The flesh of the fruit is sweet, juicy and brightly red. Ruby Red Grapefruit is a rich source of vitamin C and vitamin A, potassium, fiber, beta-carotene, lycopene that gives it its distinct red color and is a powerful antioxidant.
Citrus Tree Care
Growing Grapefruit trees is not hard but is actually fun and overly rewarding. Just imagine having an all-natural air-freshener that bears sweet, nutritious fruit, and you will realize what a great thing it is to growGrapefruit trees yourself.
Just like many growing citrus trees, Ruby Red Grapefruit Trees are tropical trees that do well in full sunlight. The best time of the year to plant Ruby Red Grapefruit Trees is after the winter frost has passed but before the searing summer heat sets in.
Finding a great location for your growing citrus trees is important. Grapefruit citrus trees mature into big trees and should be planted 20-25 feet away from any structures like buildings, sidewalks or driveways. They should be planted on well-draining soil that is on the highest point of your property. The soil should also be amended with some perlite and sand if water is retained to avert possible root rot caused by wet feet.
Apply 2-3 inch of organic mulch like grass clipping, compost hay, leaves or pine needles to enrich the soil, keep it moist and impede any weed growth. Make sure to apply mulch in a broad area around the tree but keep it about a foot between the trunk and the mulch to keep the bark dry and prevent root rot.
Grapefruit trees should be watered regularly during the 1st year; 3 to 6 inches of water every three to seven days or when the 3 to 4 inches of soil below the ground becomes dry. Cut back on watering to once or twice a week in spring in summer and 2 to 3 times a month in fall and winter. 2-year-old trees should be watered once or twice a week during spring and summer and 2-3 times a month during fall and winter. 3-year old Grapefruit trees should be watered every other week during warm months and once during colder months.
The Grapefruit tree, like most citrus trees, need citrus fertilizer to grow healthy. During its first year after planting feed your Ruby Red Grapefruit Tree a tablespoon of 21-0-0 ammonium sulfate fertilizer for citrus trees once month (total of one-third cup) by broadcasting the fertilizer from trunk to the tip of canopy and then water thoroughly.
Prune your Ruby Red Grapefruit tree only when necessary: cutting off dead or damaged branches in early spring when threat of frost damage has passed and when suckers have formed on the bud union or graft of the tree. This citrus tree does not require much pruning as it can develop its natural shape on its own.
Fruit & Harvesting
When you buy a Grapefruit Tree, you don’t only get fresh air, good shade and great curb appeal, but you also get nutritious and tasty grapefruit right in your backyard when the fruits are in season from winter through early spring (November to May).
Ruby Red Grapefruits are nearly round to oblate with size about 4 to 6 inches wide. The rind is yellow with a pink blush, is smooth, finely dotted and up to 3/8 in thick. It also emits an aromatic fragrance when peeled or zested. The fruit inside is red-fleshed, is sweet with a tinge of tartness and is typically seedless. The red pulps are inside 11 to 14 thin, membranous segments.
Ruby Red Grapefruits are often eaten fresh but can be added to seafood and poultry salads and dishes to give them distinctive flavor and color. You can also dip slices of this fruit in yogurt and enjoy it as an appetizer or dessert, or mix it with other fruits to make a smoothie or a flavorful grapefruit juice.
In general, Grapefruits do not ripen rather they mature to good eating quality. They usually mature in mid to late October with their peel still green with some red blushing.
Grapefruits are mature and ready for picking when at least half of the peel has started to turn from green to yellow with tinge of pink or until the fruit turns hue. As the fruits stay longer on the tree, they grow larger and sweeter and are ready for harvesting from November to May. However, the absolute way to determine if your grapefruits are ready for picking is to do a taste test on one. Simply grasp the fruit in your hand and twist gently until the stem detaches from the tree.
Leaving the fruits to mature on the citrus tree is one of the best ways to store grapefruit. However, the downside of this method is that it reduces the yield the succeeding year so winter to early spring is still the best time to harvest your fruits.
Red Ruby Grapefruit trees, when planted in the ground, can grow as high as 16-20 feet. But they can be maintained at a lower height through judicious pruning. Citrus trees that are planted in a pot tend to be smaller. The usual bloom season of a Ruby Red Grapefruit tree is in spring and fruit season is in winter. You can grow them outdoors if you are living in zones 9-11. If you are living within zones 4-8 you can still plant this tree just make sure that you plant it in a pot and take it indoors during cold seasons when there is a possibility of frost damage (should be protected when temp hits below 28ºF) and put it near a sunny window.
Pests and Diseases
Ruby Red Grapefruit Trees are subject to most of the same pests that attack the orange, including Leaf miners, Soft scales and Thrips.
Leaf Miners leave unsightly thin, winding trails on leaves and cause curled and distorted leaves. These pests attack flushes of young growth and feed on leaf interior.
Use of insecticide on mature citrus trees is not advised since fruit production is not affected; young trees should be treated with appropriate, well-timed insecticide to prevent retarded growth.
Soft Scales leaves sticky substance on leaves that encourage growth of black sooty mold. Infestation results to reduced tree vigor, and leaf and fruit drop.
Application of horticultural oils and use of beneficial bugs are recommended to mange Soft Scale insects.
Thrips are insects that feed under sepals of young fruit and leave a scar on the fruit rind.
Use of biological control like beneficial bugs and organic sprays is highly recommended when dealing with thrips. Use of pesticide is discouraged as some contain ingredients that stimulate thrips reproduction.
Aside from pests there are also fungal, bacterial and viral diseases that infect Grapefruit.
Anthracnose is a disease is common during wet spring. It is a type of fungus that causes dieback of twigs, leaf drop and staining on fruit. Fungicide should be applied if the disease is damaging tree and fruit production.
Brown Rot is a disease caused by bacteria Oomycete that causes flowers and twigs to turn brown and leaves water-soaked lesions on fruits that are close to maturation. Disease is brought about by wet and cool conditions like improper irrigation. Brown rot can be prevented by properly watering your citrus tree, pruning branches that are hanging near the ground and mowing the area around the tree to impede grass from growing. Harvesting the fruits should also be delayed until all the infected fruits have dropped to the ground to minimize contamination.
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.