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13 Best Citrus Varieties to Grow in Florida (Lemons, Limes, Oranges, Grapefruit & More)

Driving down rural central Florida highways in February is one of my favorite memories. During this period, citrus blossoms’ potent and intoxicatingly sweet fragrance dominates the air. 

Florida’s mild winters and long hot summers make it one of the best places in the world to grow citrus trees. During my 12 years living in Central Florida, it seemed like most people who enjoy gardening had at least one citrus tree. 

To start growing citrus in Florida, let’s look at some of the best-tasting and easy-to-find citrus trees. 

Among citrus trees, I recommend planting lemon trees, especially the large and juicy Ponderosa lemon. Lemon trees are surprisingly easy to grow, produce fruit faster, and save money since they are pricey in grocery stores. 

13 Really Tasty and Popular Citrus Varieties for Florida

1. ‘Improved’ Meyer Lemon Tree (Citrus x meyeri ‘Improved’)

‘Improved’ Meyer Lemon Tree with Lemons
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees – Combined by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

The ‘Improved’ Meyer lemon tree produces larger, less acidic, and sweeter fruit than the little tart ones you find in the grocery store. Such flavor is because they are a cross between the common sour lemon and sweet oranges. For this reason, Meyer lemon is excellent for desserts and juices.

What I like about Meyer lemon is its hardiness. From the relatively colder panhandle down to the Florida Keys, any Florida grower can plant this tree.

The ‘Improved’ Meyer lemon cultivar is excellent for those new to growing citrus trees because it has powerful disease resistance. You will start to get fruit when the tree gets about 3 – 4 feet tall. As the tree ages, harvests should get heavier.

You should provide your Meyer lemon tree with at least 6 hours of direct sunlight throughout the year. It is a good idea to allow the soil to dry down to about 2 inches between watering because the roots like it on the drier side.

Applying a high-nitrogen fertilizer each month between April to September is helpful; if leaves turn yellow, adding more fertilizer is a great idea.

USDA Growing Zones: 8 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 8 feet tall with a spread of 3 – 4 feet

Harvest Season: October – March

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

2. Ponderosa Lemon (Citrus x limon ‘Ponderosa’)

Ponderosa lemons make a lot of sweet juice. For this reason alone, it is one of my favorite lemon trees.

Also, the fruits are enormous! One fruit can reach the size of grapefruits, about 1 to 2 pounds. The rinds are thick, which makes them the perfect lemon for zest.

Another great feature of the ponderosa lemon is its reliable production. In Central and South Florida, you can expect this tree to produce lemons year-round, with a peak in late summer and winter. Also, you will get fruits and flowers on the tree simultaneously.

But to ensure that your tree is blooming and fruiting consistently, you must plant them in the sunniest spot possible (at least 6 hours of direct sunlight).

Ponderosa lemon is tolerant of poor soils as long as it gets good drainage. It prefers the soil pH to be slightly acidic (5.5 – 6.5).

The major drawback of this sweet and juicy lemon is its lack of cold hardiness. The freezes in the Florida panhandle will do lots of damage; for those in North Florida, I recommend planting it indoors or on a sunny patio.

USDA Growing Zones: 9 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 12 – 24 feet tall with a spread of 10 – 12 feet

Harvest Season: Year-Round (More abundant in late summer and winter)

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

3. Persian ‘Bearss’ Lime Tree (Citrus latifolia)

Persian Lime, Tahiti Lime, Bearss Lime (Citrus latifolia) Tree and Fruit
Images by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

Bearss lime is one of the hardest available. But if that’s not your concern, it is worth planting because the fruits are seedless with a smooth, less acidic, and less bitter flavor. Some say the taste is between a Key lime and a lemon.

Bearss lime is a small tree that is excellent for container gardening and indoors.

As with all citrus trees, the more sunlight, the better, plant it in a spot with at least 6 to 8 hours of sunlight each day.

Bearss lime trees should get a deep watering to penetrate the root system. But too much water is not good, so allow the first 2 to 3 inches of the soil to dry out before watering again.

Other Common Names: Tahiti Lime

USDA Growing Zones: 8 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 8 feet tall with a spread of 5 – 10 feet

Harvest Season: July – September

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

4. Key Lime Tree (Citrus aurantifolia)

Key Lime Tree and close up of Limes
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees – Combined by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

The Florida Keys and key lime pie are the first things that come to mind when I think about this tree. 

Key lime is small, seedy, acidic, has a strong aroma, and has a thin rind. These features make it a powerful flavoring ingredient for desserts and alcoholic drinks.  

One great reason to plant Key lime trees is that they flower and produce fruit throughout the year. Though in Florida, you will notice that crops are heavier from June through September. 

Key lime is the most popular lime tree in many parts of the world, including the Caribbean and South East Asia. One primary reason for its popularity is that it’s very resistant to pests and disease and is low maintenance. 

Key lime produces fruit at a young age. Some vendors, such as FastGrowingTrees.com, offer trees that produce fruit in their first year.

Other Common Names: West Indian lime, Bartender’s lime, Omani lime, Mexican lime

USDA Growing Zones:  8 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 8 feet tall with a spread of 6 – 8 feet

Harvest Season: June through September

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

5. Harvey Lemon Tree (Citrus limon ‘Harvey’)

Harvey Lemon Tree with closeup of lemons
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees – Combined by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

This is your run-of-the-mill grocery store lemon. The hallmark of this lemon tree is its versatility. You can use it for a wide variety of culinary purposes. It is a safe pick for growing lemons.

Another significant aspect of the Harvey Lemon is its disease resistance. You don’t have to worry so much about finding the right treatments for it.

As with other citrus trees, ensure your Harvey Lemon gets at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight each day.

It is not fussy about soil type, but the soil should always be well-draining. In addition, consistent growth is a great idea to provide these trees with fertilizer in spring and summer. Make sure that the fertilizer has a unique formula for citrus.

While Harvey lemon is self-fertile, adding an extra one will significantly increase production.

USDA Growing Zones: 8 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 12 – 14 feet tall with a spread of 8 – 10 feet

Harvest Season: September through March

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

6. Australian Finger Lime Tree (Citrus australasica)

Australian Finger Lime (Citrus australasica) tree and fruit
Images by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

Why consider this unique-looking lime tree? It is a tough tree that does well without much care. Also, kids love playing with the caviar-looking flesh. The flesh has a sour and slightly bitter taste.

The taste is not as unique as Key Lime or Bearss lime, but it is fun to grow for ornamental value. The limes look like little cucumbers, and the flesh is too interesting not to stare. Also, the tree is a heavy producer. Australian finger lime takes a long time to ripen – about six months or more.

Overall, this tree is low maintenance. It will benefit a lot from watering once or twice a week.

Other Common Names: Finger lime

USDA Growing Zones: 8 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 8 feet tall with a spread of 4 – 5 feet

Harvest Season: May through June

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

7. Hamlin Sweet Orange Tree (Citrus sinensis ‘Hamlin’)

Hamlin Sweet Orange Tree with close up of oranges in a basket
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees – Combined by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

Hamlin sweet orange is popular in Florida. It is one of the hardiest orange trees and can survive winters throughout the state except for the panhandle.

Hamlin sweet oranges have a lot of tangy sweet juice. They are great for baking, making marmalades and salads, or eating fresh.

This tree also has tremendous ornamental value. It has bright green evergreen foliage and highly fragrant white blooms that so many people adore. The orange blossom is Florida’s state flower. The flowers also attract butterflies and birds. I recommend planting the tree you’re your window or porch to benefit from the sweet aroma.

Hamlin sweet orange does best in full sun but can tolerate some shade. But ensure not to go below 4 hours of direct sunlight each day.

USDA Growing Zones: 8B – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 12 – 14 feet tall with a spread of 8 – 10 feet

Harvest Season: October through January

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

8. Ruby Red Grapefruit Tree (Citrus x paradise ‘Ruby Red’)

Ruby Red Grapefruit Tree with Grapefruit cut open
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees – Combined by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

Ruby Red grapefruit is one of the most popular grapefruit trees in Florida. This reputation is because it is one of the sweetest grapefruits. Also, the tree produces a heavy crop throughout the winter months.

This popular and healthy grapefruit is seedless and easy to peel. It produces lots of sweet-tart juice. In most cases, your Ruby Red grapefruit tree will start to produce fruit from 5 years old, dependably.

It is best to plant Ruby Red grapefruit trees in well-drained soil in a spot with abundant sunlight. During the first year, you should water it regularly. But once the roots are established, one every two weeks should be fine.

Some gardeners report that a balanced citrus fertilizer does wander for Ruby Red grapefruit trees, promoting healthy foliage and abundant fruit. While fertilizing is not a requirement, if you choose to make sure it is one formulated for citrus.

USDA Growing Zones: 8 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 15 – 20 feet tall and 8 – 10 feet wide

Harvest Season: October

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

9. Tangelo Tree (Citrus x tangelo)

Tangelo Tree with a close up of a tangelo
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees – Combined by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

Tangelos look a lot like oranges, and the taste is similar too. The fruits are refreshing and sweet. A way to tell the difference is at the top of the fruit, where it attaches to the stem. The top is more elongated.

Many people love tangelos because they are seedless, making them attractive fruits for those with children.

Taking good care of your tangelo tree will provide you with lots of fantastic fruit for months during the winter.

Tangelo trees are easy to grow and low maintenance. They do not get most of the diseases that other citrus gets. You can grow them organically without stress.

Tangelo trees should get lots of sunlight – 6 to 8 hours daily. Also, it’s a great idea to provide mulch to insulate the soil during the winter months in zone 8.

USDA Growing Zones: 8 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 8 – 12 feet tall with a spread of 6 – 8 feet

Harvest Season: January – March

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

10. Yuzu Tree (Citrus junos)

Yuzu is from East Asia and is popular in Mediterranean Europe, Australia, and New Zealand. It is a cross between sour mandarin and wild citrus.

Yuzu’s fruit looks like a small grapefruit, and the skin is uneven. The flavor is like a mix of lemon and lime, which makes it great for beverages. The rind and juice are remarkable for sweet and savory dishes. The Chinese and Japanese have used this citrus for over a thousand years to flavor dishes.

This citrus variety needs a minimum of four hours of direct sunlight daily. It is easy to maintain, and few pests and diseases affect it. The yuzu fruit is relatively cold hardy, so it will do fine even in the Florida panhandle.

USDA Growing Zones: 8 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 6 – 8 feet tall with a spread of 8 – 10 feet

Harvest Season: April through September

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

11. Blood Orange Tree (Citrus sinesis ‘Moro’)

Moro blood orange is famous for its berry-like aftertaste. The flavor is similar to raspberry or strawberry. A lot of home growers in Florida enjoy growing this amazing supermarket orange. Its rich reddish color means it has many healthy antioxidants, such as anthocyanins, which you don’t usually find in citrus. 

Blood oranges are great juiced in baked goods, cocktails, or salads. Also, they are sweeter than other oranges. But because of its sweetness, it ferments quicker than other orange juice, so you have to drink it the same day. 

Blood orange needs 6 – 8 hours of direct sunlight each day. You can fertilize it during the spring or summer with a product for citrus.

USDA Growing Zones: 8 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 8 feet tall with a spread of 8 – 12 feet

Harvest Season: January – February

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

12. Calamondin Tree (Citrus mitis)

Calamondin Tree and close up of fruit
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees – Combined by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

Calamondin is a cross between mandarin orange and kumquat. Like kumquat, the peel is edible and sweet. The fruit is common in East Asia, where they use it for drinks and a wide range of dishes and marinades. This citrus tree is a tasty and exotic choice if you already have other citruses but want another one for your collection. 

Tasters report that the flavor of Calamondins grown in Florida has elements of apricot, tangerine, lemon, guava, and pineapple. In the early to mid-20th century, many Floridians used the fruit’s flesh to make the then-popular calamondin cake

Calamondin will grow a couple of feet each year and is suitable for container gardening. Like other citruses, it does best in lots of sunlight. 

Other Common Names: Calamansi, Philippine lime, Philippine lemon

USDA Growing Zones: 8 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 8 feet tall with a spread of 5 feet

Harvest Season: August – October

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

13. Washington Navel Orange Tree (Citrus sinesis ‘Osbeck’)

Washington Navel Orange Tree with close up of Oranges
Images via Fast-Growing-Trees – Combined by Fern Berg for Tree Vitalize

I grew up with a navel orange tree in my Florida backyard. It was a big producer; for months during the winter, we had far more oranges than we could consume. But I think it is because my grandfather fertilized them regularly.

It gets its name from the navel-looking base.

Navel oranges are incredibly popular because of the quality of the fruit – sugary sweet, juicy, and seedless. If you don’t like tangy oranges, this one is the best for you. I do not exaggerate when I say it is extremely sweet. For this reason, kids love them.

Navel orange trees are not difficult to grow. They need plenty of sunlight and consistent watering throughout the year.

USDA Growing Zones: 8 – 11

Average Size at Maturity: 8 feet tall with a spread of 8 – 12 feet

Harvest Season: December – January

Available at: Nature Hills & Fast-Growing-Trees

Growing Citrus Trees in Florida is Easy and Rewarding

Citrus is everywhere in Florida, especially oranges. But that should not keep you from growing your citrus trees. 

Citrus trees are so common in Florida that even official license plate designs have orange fruits and blossoms. Moreover, the orange blossom is the state’s flower! 

The Florida climate is perfect for growing plenty of citrus and fruit trees, so that you will get lots of fruit for little work. Also, you save money with a constant supply of fruit and juice. 

All citrus trees require lots of sunshine. I recommend a minimum of 6 hours of direct sunlight each day for best results. In addition, they do not like wet roots, so make sure the soil is well-draining. 

Central and South Floridians can pick up or order any of the trees on this list without fearing that frosts or freezes will kill them. But for those in North Florida, you should always check your local Florida USDA hardiness zone to make sure that your citrus tree of choice can survive winters in your area. 

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