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Intriguedbybonsai
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Citrus trees

Since recently moving to California I've noticed these trees are very pricey at nurseries. Even on Ebay the prices are not what I would consider cheap either. Why do growers charge so much for them?

With Ebay I was able to find a few sellers of citrus seedlings. While those are nice I'd much rather have an actual "tree". And when I do find cheap trees on Ebay, they will not ship to CA, AZ, TX, FL or any other citrus states because the USDA does not want an infectious canker disease to spread.

Luckily last night I found a seller in Puerto Rico who sells citrus trees at reasonable prices. $20 a tree plus the shipping of $13. :)

I live in an apartment so planting one in the ground is not an option. Would a navel orange do okay in a large pot sitting out on my patio?

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rainbowgardener
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I don't know the answer to your question, but it seems like you have found a seller who is willing to break the law. The law is there for a reason, to protect the California citrus industry. I can't in conscience recommend ignoring it. Seems like if you are just looking for something to stick in a pot a seedling would do fine. It will be a good size for a pot in just a year or so.

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applestar
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If eating quality fruit is not your prime objective, and you're willing to take the chance that fruiting will take a long time AND that they may not be good to eat, citrus seeds are gratifyingly easy to sprout and grow. I just stick few seeds in any available flowerpot on the windowsill whenever the mood strikes me.

I have 5 or 6 seedlings varying in size from 4~5" to 12" or so. The problem is I've no idea which one is what! :lol: Since I stick them in the pot at random, then transplant when they get big enough to crowd the resident plant of that pot, the emerged seedlings could be from any seed. Label them when I sow the seeds? NEVER! :roll: :wink:

I don't have the right climate for growing citrus and they get stressed during the winter due to temps that are too high/insufficient light indoors, but you probably could give them much better growing conditions and probably obtain faster growth.

If you DO want edible fruits within reasonable amount of time, then grafted dwarf intended for pot culture is probably what you need, and they would cost extra compared to seedlings no matter how you look at it.

--
Came back to add the other thing I meant to say: If you have seedlings growing, you may have an occasion in the future to get scions -- of varieties of citrus that you DO want to grow -- to graft onto them -- from other gardening friends, citrus hobby club, or whatever.

Last fall, I planted a Trifoliate Orange Flying Dragon -- hardy to my area. Some day, when it starts bearing fruits, I intend to grow seedlings of this tree because I've heard that they confer additional cold-hardiness to citrus scions grafted to them. :wink:

damethod
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Most fruits will not grow true to type when grown from seed. Citrus is known to be one that does grow true to type the majority of the time, but there is no guarantee.

Your best option is to find a local nursery and purchase a tree from them. Grafted fruit trees guarantee production and will fruit much sooner. That is why nurseries charge so much for their trees. It also depends on the type of tree you want. A fruiting Jaboticaba tree will run at least $350. Why? Because the tree grows VERY slowly and takes at least 10 years to fruit if grown from seed.

I wouldn't trust any seller form Puerto Rico or ebay for plants. It's probably a tiny plant grown from seed or a bare root stick in a box. You should spend the extra money and get a local, quality product.

Last, but not least.. Most citrus trees can grow well in potts, but will not fruit as much as a plant in the ground. The key lime is a pretty small tree that will be happy in a pott and fruit well. I think a navel will be too large to maintain in a pott. You would need to repot every 5-6 months(at least) until you get to a 25 gal container(almost need a forklift to move it!).

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Intriguedbybonsai
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Thanks for your replies, everyone!

Damethod,
A lot of people tend to give the "great auctioning site" the stink face, and with good reasons. I go for those sellers with good reputations. I read other buyer's feedback for tips as well.

While I can't go back on a now existing bid(unless of course someone outbids me), I have not once experienced any issues with purchasing plants from ebay. I've purchased many plants from that site. I just do my research about maintaining them, knowing which is suitable for my climate zone, and they do fine. I tend to go for powersellers, and those with 100% positive ratings. I try to get them to show me a picture if possible of what I'm buying.

I think I read somewhere that if you prune the roots of potted trees they will do just fine. Already I have a key lime seedling, a tangerine seedling, and a soon to be red grapefruit if the seed ever sprouts it's leaves. So far I've gotten it to grow a root. I'm just keeping it planted in a cup of moist soil.
Maybe in time I'll travel to a local nursery, spend the extra money, and purchase a kumquat tree I've been wanting for so long now.

damethod
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Just curious, but how much do Citrus trees cost in your area? Here in South FL, they go for $25-35 in 3 gallon potts with fruit already on them. Larger ones go for much more, but are less common. If Cali does charge higher prices, I assume it's because they have not been hit by the greening problem that we now have.

I have no problem shopping on ebay for many products. I am also an ebay seller myself and have sold one of my trees before. I even purchased raspberry plants from an ebay store and they started to grow well, but they were not adopted to my zone and produced no fruit in two years. The only other time I purchased a plant was when I purchased a Hass Avocado from a SoCal vendor. The plant seemed fine at first, but a little less than a year later, it started to rott at the graft union.

So, I gave up on ebay stores when looking for plants. I have tons of nurseries around here and I'm sure it's the same for you... u just have to do your research about your local area and be willing to take a small road trip if need be. Also, all nurseries are usually willing to negotiate.

Oh, and you can in fact retract a bid. You can also ask the seller politely to omit the transaction if you've already checked out. Most reputable sellers will be glad to do that as long as the product hasn't been shipped, although some may try to hold your feedback hostage! LOL

damethod
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rainbowgardener wrote:I don't know the answer to your question, but it seems like you have found a seller who is willing to break the law. The law is there for a reason, to protect the California citrus industry. I can't in conscience recommend ignoring it. Seems like if you are just looking for something to stick in a pot a seedling would do fine. It will be a good size for a pot in just a year or so.
Agreed. Laws are in place for a reason(for the most part).

Florida brought in tons of tropicals from Asia, India, Brazil, etc. Unfortunately, an asian insect hitched a ride over and is the cause of the "citrus greening" problem we are having. The Ag. dept realized this and thus began another quarantine(the first being for citrus canker).

If you purchase a plant abroad, unwillingly cause a problem to the local agg industry, and it is traced back to you..... Uh oh

damethod
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Intriguedbybonsai wrote:I think I read somewhere that if you prune the roots of potted trees they will do just fine.
You do need to prune the roots every so often. Once it starts to get crowded, you will need to repot in larger pott. You always want to maintain a good tree to root ball ratio. In other words, you don't want a big tree in a small container. If you do it right, your plant should be happy in a pott for many years.

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Intriguedbybonsai
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damethod wrote:Just curious, but how much do Citrus trees cost in your area? Here in South FL, they go for $25-35 in 3 gallon potts with fruit already on them. Larger ones go for much more, but are less common. If Cali does charge higher prices, I assume it's because they have not been hit by the greening problem that we now have.
Anywhere from $55 to $90. That's no exaggeration. It seems like everyone around here sells just 5 gallon pots. I don't want one that big. A simple 1 gallon pot is what I'm looking for.

So, I gave up on ebay stores when looking for plants. I have tons of nurseries around here and I'm sure it's the same for you... u just have to do your research about your local area and be willing to take a small road trip if need be. Also, all nurseries are usually willing to negotiate.
You may be right about that. I haven't discovered all of the nurseries yet.

Oh, and you can in fact retract a bid. You can also ask the seller politely to omit the transaction if you've already checked out. Most reputable sellers will be glad to do that as long as the product hasn't been shipped, although some may try to hold your feedback hostage! LOL
I sure hope so.
The citrus canker has me thinking about this story of a Florida man who for many years had a small 4 tree orchard of citrus trees in his backyard. His trees fell within a certain(I can't remember the number) mile radius of the quarantine. Some USDA inspectors told him his trees would have to be destroyed. He fought for it in court, but the article never told the outcome.

While I certainly do not want to cause harm to citrus in the area, I most certainly do not want to pay the outrageous prices most nurseries are charging for such a plentiful plant.

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Gary350
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My parents live in Tempe Arizona. My mother bought some oranges, grapefruit, lemons at the store and planted the seeds in the yard. They now have a grapefruit tree in the front yard and a lemon and orange tree in the back yard. All the trees produce good fruit. Those trees were planted in 1964 and they are still doing good. Interesting thing about the fruit, if you don't pick it then it stays good. If you pick it then it dehydrates in the house in a few weeks it is dryed out and you have to throw it away. My parents leave the fruit on the trees then any time they want one they pick it and eat it. Fruit is ripe in late November. I visit in the summer July the fruit is still on the tree and it is still good.

Plant some trees from seeds.

damethod
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As I stated earlier, Citrus is one of the few fruits that will grow true to type the majority of the time. However, there is a chance that you will get marginal fruit from the tree. The reason is because store bought fruit comes from grafted trees in commercial orchards. A grafted tree is a combination of two trees to make one. They choose a fruit tree with strong, disease resistant roots, but usually terrible fruit...then they choose another fruit tree with excellent quality fruit and take a branch from it....this branch is then joined with the "rootstock" to form one tree.

The seeds from the fruit you buy at the store may give you an exact copy of the fruit you ate...OR an exact copy of the rootstock plant...or a completely different type. It's simple when you compare it to the classic green peas example from biology class...or our own reproduction cycle as well. You never know what your child is going to look like right? Same with a tree. :D

That being said, the other drawback is you will have to wait several years in order to get fruit from a plant grown from seed. The amount of time and money spent on caring for the tree will probably surpass the purchase price of a small grafted tree with fruit already on it.

Gary, you mentioned the seeds were planted in 1964. When did they first produce fruit?

Last, but not least, there are several cultivars of each and every fruit. Some people love navel oranges above all others, I like Valencias, and some prefer Temple oranges. There are also Pineapple, Hamlin, Blood, and several other types of oranges. You can only be sure you are getting one of the above mentioned fruit by getting a grafted tree.

Look up videos on grafting. It isn't rocket science, but isn't easy either. With some practice, you can grow your seedlings , then take a few small branches from a neighbor/friend/relative whose fruit you love and successfully grat them yourself! :D

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Intriguedbybonsai
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Come to think of it, I do have an aunt that has a lemon tree in her yard. I don't know if she'd let me take cuttings from her tree though. I guess it wouldn't hurt to ask.

As for growing a citrus tree from the seed, I have started the seed germination of a ruby red grapefruit. After cutting open the grapefruit I managed to find 1 single developed seed. I peeled off the seed's husk, and did the "moist paper towel in a ziploc bag" method. After a root emerged I put it in a cup of moist soil. It's already rooted it's way down into the soil. I check it everyday for signs of leaf shoots.

It's a slow process, and so fascinating watching this seed come along.

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momo
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I don't know about your local nurseries but I recently got a Meyer Lemon in a 5-gallon pot for $22.50 which I thought was pretty reasonable. Their 15-gallon pots were $95, and they also had a 24" box for $250 :shock:
But I haven't noticed citrus being more expensive than other potted plants, of course the bare-root fruit trees are less expensive but I don't think you can get citrus bare-root because it doesn't go dormant.
Sunset zone 14

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Gnome
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damethod,
The seeds from the fruit you buy at the store may give you an exact copy of the fruit you ate...OR an exact copy of the rootstock plant...or a completely different type.
Sorry, but the text In red above is incorrect. While it is true that seedlings of fruit trees usually do exhibit some degree of variability, the rootstock is of no consequence when passing on genes, only the scion (grafted portion) is relevant in this regard.

One exception might be if a sucker was allowed to grow from the rootstock, the seeds originating from this fruit would inherit the genes from the rootstock rather than the scion. But you are not likely to receive such a fruit from your grocery.

Norm



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