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yellow grapefruit's hanging in a tree
Grapefruit is a diverse and distinctive citrus fruit. It was once promoted as a weight loss tool and involved eating grapefruit with every meal. Today, the ‘grapefruit diet’ has been debunked; when consumed as desired, grapefruit can deliver a sweet, tangy, and bitter flavour profile.

 

What you need to know about grapefruit

Name: grapefruit, Citrus x paradisi.

Height: 4-6m, dwarf forms 1-2m.

Plant type: evergreen tree.

Climate: prefers subtropical or warm, frost-free zones.

Soil: moist, well-drained and enriched with plenty of organic matter.

Position: full sun.

Foliage: glossy, deep green, with a winged petiole. Fragrant when crushed.

Flowering and fruiting: clusters of white, waxy perfumed flowers. Fruit is large and round, up to 15cm in diameter. The skin is usually yellow, but some varieties can be orange. Flesh is red, pink, or yellow.

Feeding: granular or pelletised citrus fertiliser in spring, summer and autumn.

Watering: water regularly when flowering and fruiting.

Appearance and characteristics

Grapefruit is an attractive evergreen tree with a dense, rounded canopy. The large glossy, deep green leaves have winged petioles (a pair of leaves on the stalk) and are dotted with oil glands that release a strong citrus scent when crushed. Grapefruit trees have white, fragrant flowers and will typically grow to 4-6m tall, while dwarf varieties will reach 1-2m in height.

The most common grapefruit has yellow skin and yellow flesh (also known as ‘white grapefruit'). Other varieties have orange skin and flesh may be red, pink, or yellow. Pink grapefruit has a thicker rind than white grapefruit but is sweeter and less tart. Seed and seedless varieties are available.

grapefruit hanging in a tree

Uses for grapefruit

Enjoy grapefruit fresh, juiced, in salads, or use it to make marmalade. It’s also great for adding flavour to savoury dishes and sauces.

How to grow grapefruit

Grapefruit thrives in subtropical and warm, frost-free zones. While grapefruit is frost-tolerant once it's established, the quality and flavour of the fruit will be better in warmer climates.

Grapefruit can be planted at any time of the year, but ideally in autumn or spring, giving it a chance to establish before weather is too hot or cold. Choose a spot in full sun with well-draining soil. Dig a hole twice the size of the root ball and to the same depth. Mix in plenty of compost and aged manure and fork in well. Plant up, backfill and water in well with a diluted seaweed solution. Mulch around the base with an organic mulch like pine bark or sugar cane mulch, keeping it at least 10cm away from the trunk.

Caring for grapefruit

Grapefruit requires minimal care once established. Pruning is occasionally needed to remove suckers and shoots from the rootstock (near the base of the plant), and from the canopy if there is any deadwood or crowded branches.

grapefruit sitting on a timber table and one of them sliced in half

How often should you water and feed grapefruit?

Once established, grapefruit is tolerant of dry conditions. However, to maintain the tree's health and maximise fruit production, water regularly when flowering and fruiting.

Like all citrus, grapefruit likes to be fed well and often. Apply a citrus-specific fertiliser in spring, summer and autumn, but not when the tree is in flower.

How and when to harvest grapefruit

After planting, grapefruit trees take two to three years to bear fruit. Pick fruit when ripe, choosing those that are uniformly yellow or orange with firm, smooth skin. Ripe fruit can also be left on the tree for a few months, as it keeps its flavour well.

Diseases and pests that affect grapefruit

Grapefruit trees may be affected by citrus leaf miner, bronze orange bug, mealybug,and scale. Treat at first sight with a suitable insecticide.

How to propagate grapefruit

While you can grow grapefruit from seed, it’s not recommended, as the resulting tree can take five to ten years to produce fruit, and the tree is unlikely to bear fruit like the original tree. It’s best to buy grafted varieties that will grow and perform as expected.

If you like this, then try

Avocado: a handsome evergreen tree with delicious, creamy fruit.

Watermelon: produces sweet fruit on spreading vines but needs plenty of room to grow.

Mulberry: this fast-growing deciduous tree is laden with fruit from late spring through summer.

Start planting today

Check out our huge range of plants now and get your garden growing!

 

Photo credit: Getty Images

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.