Can You Grow Citrus Trees in USDA Zone 7? Which Are Best?

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Written By Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

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Home » USDA Zone 7 » Can You Grow Citrus Trees in USDA Zone 7? Which Are Best?

An edible garden or home orchard can hardly feel complete without some variety of citrus trees.

Their sweet, perfectly juicy fruits are perfect for eating fresh or using in cooking and baking, and along with the tree’s evergreen foliage, they add a colorful, exotic touch to any landscape.

But are these heat-loving species able to adapt to the mild winter temperatures of USDA zone 7?

Let’s take a look.

Can You Grow Citrus Trees in USDA Zone 7?

With its mild winters and long hot summers, there are plenty of fruit tree varieties that grow excellently in USDA hardiness zone 7. But even with average summer temperatures of 80 to 90 degrees F, there are very few citrus trees that zone 7 gardeners will not struggle to grow.

This is because most citrus trees need consistent temperatures of above 20 degrees F in order to grow and produce fruit reliably. Since USDA zone 7 sees minimum average temperatures of 0 to 10 degrees F in winter, it is too cold for the vast majority of citrus varieties to be planted directly into the ground in this climate. Winter frosts will severely stunt fruit production and even kill the tree.

But that doesn’t mean that delicious citrus fruits can’t be produced at all. Zone 7 gardeners are recommended to plant dwarf citrus varieties that can be planted in containers. Container planting will allow trees to be moved indoors to a greenhouse during the colder months.

Here are 7 promising options for zone 7 citrus trees.

7 Citrus Fruit Trees For Zone 7

1. Owari Satsuma (Citrus reticulata ‘Owari’)

Owari Satsuma
Image via Nature Hills

Satsuma’s are some of the most cold hardy citrus fruits available, and the Owari is one of the most popular satsuma varieties. Not only is the Owari satsuma juicy, sweet, and delicious, but it is an exceedingly convenient cultivar to eat, being seedless and easy to peel.

The tree itself is an evergreen, with dark green foliage and a rounded growth habit. In spring its delicate white flowers will fill your garden with a bright, zesty fragrance. It is not just useful as a fruiting tree – it can also be planted as an attractive specimen, a focal point, or a privacy screen.

With enough winter protection, the Owari satsuma can be planted outdoors in zone 7, but as a dwarf variety, it also does well as a container tree. They are self-fruiting, so only one tree is necessary, though more will boost its fruit production significantly.

Other Common Names: Owari Mandarin

Growing Zones: 7-11

Average Size at Maturity: 7-10 feet tall

Fruiting Season: Early Winter

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

2. Meyer Lemon (Citrus limon ‘Meyer’)

Meyer Lemon
Image by Design Build Love via Flickr

The Meyer lemon is perhaps the most widely grown lemon in the US, though it only arrived from China in 1908, according to the University of Florida Gardening Extension. It is a lemon/mandarin orange hybrid and the most cold hardy of all the lemon varieties, but will only tolerate winter temperatures as low as 20-25 degrees F.

Your best option for planting the Meyer lemon in zone 7 is to grow it as a container plant but only keep it indoors during the frost period – if kept indoors for too long it may struggle to produce fruits. You can choose a dwarf or semi-dwarf variety, though they will both grow to a similar size when grown in a container.

The Meyer lemon fruit is sweeter than true lemons, and every part of it (including the rind) is prized as a culinary ingredient. The tree provides an attractive, tropical splash to your landscape with its glossy evergreen foliage and bright fruits.

Growing Zones: 9-11, or 4-11 as a container plant

Average Size at Maturity: 6-10 feet tall, with a 4-8 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Late Winter to Early Spring

Available at: Nature Hills

3. Calamondin Orange (Citrus madurensis Lour. ‘Calamondin’)

Calamondin Orange
Image by Christopher Sessums via Flickr

While the Calamondin may look and even smell like a tiny orange, you’ll be surprised by its tangy taste! These juicy orange fruits taste more like a sour lime and are believed to be a hybrid cross between a satsuma and kumquat. They are most excellent used as a substitute for lemons and limes in cooking.

Like the Meyer lemon, the Calamondin is only cold hardy down to 20-25 degrees F, so is best grown as a container tree. Though they grow quite large compared to other trees on this list, planting in a container and regular pruning will keep their size manageable. They can even be used as ornamental bonsai.

When kept outside, the Calamondin orange tree should be left in a sunny but sheltered spot, and fertilized weekly during the growing season. While indoors during the winter, be sure to keep it in a warm, light-filled spot.

Other Common Names: Citrus Calamondin, Phillipine Lime, Calamansi Lime, Acid Orange

Growing Zones: 7-11

Average Size at Maturity: 16-18 feet tall, with a 4-8 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Mid Winter to Mid Spring

Available at: Nature Hills

4. Marumi Kumquat (Fortunella japonica ‘Marumi’)

Marumi Kumquat
Image by Forest and Kim Starr via Flickr

Seen as a symbol of good luck in East Asia where they grow as natives, kumquats are an uncommon citrus tree in the west. Kumquat fruits look like tiny oranges and have a singularly sweet and sour taste. The semi-dwarf Marumi is a popular variety of kumquat trees and is considered to be the most cold-tolerant citrus tree in the world.

Since the Marumi is able to survive winter temperatures as low as 0 degrees F without winter protection, it is perfect for zone 7 gardeners who don’t have the time to overwinter their trees or the space to bring container trees indoors through winter. Just keep in mind the Marumi will go dormant and lose all of its leaves when temperatures hit 0 degrees, but will return in early spring.

This dwarf variety can be easily tucked away in even the smallest gardens, and are highly ornamental when its colorful orange fruits appear in fall.

Growing Zones: 7-11

Average Size at Maturity: 7-10 feet tall, with a 3-4 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Winter

Available at: Nature Hills

5. Meiwa Kumquat (Citrus crassifolia ‘Meiwa’)

Meiwa Kumquat
Image by Tracie Hall via Flickr

A hybrid of the Marumi and Magami, the Meiwa is the sweetest kumquat on the market, providing a burst of flavor that is excellent eaten sweet or used in cooking and preserves. The fruits of the Meiwa are almost seedless and can be eaten whole (including the rind).

Ripening in late fall, this kumquat variety can sometimes have thousands of fruits on its branches at the same time! With dark evergreen foliage and a neat, upright growth habit, it looks lovely and vibrant in any landscape even outside of the fruiting period.

The Meiwa is exceptionally cold and hardy, and with enough winter protection can be planted outdoors in zone 7. As a dwarf tree, it can fit easily into the landscape and is relatively resistant to pests and disease. Plant your Meiwa in acidic, well-draining soil in a location with full sun.

Other Common Names: Sweet Kumquat, Round Kumquat

Growing Zones: 7-11

Average Size at Maturity: 7-10 feet tall, with a 3-4 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Late Fall to Early Winter

Available at: Nature Hills

6. Dancy Tangerine (Citrus reticulata ‘Dancy’)

Dancy Tangerine
Image via Nature Hills

Hailing from Tangiers, Morocco, the exotic Dancy tangerine has been a popular citrus variety in the US since the late 19th century. Closely related to the orange, the tangerine is actually a subtype of the mandarin. The Dancy tangerine is prized for its heavy crops of sweet and tart smooth-skinned fruits.

With broadleaf evergreen foliage and bright, fragrant spring flowers, it makes a lovely focal point in a smaller landscape, and an equally good patio or courtyard tree.

While the Dancy is more cold-tolerant than most citrus trees, it is still poorly suited to the zone 7 climate and should be planted in a container if you want to enjoy its delicious fruits. Thankfully, the Dancy is a truly excellent container plant due to its compact size and relatively low needs. Plant it in well-draining, acidic soil in a location with full sun exposure. Fertilize regularly, and prune each spring after it has finished fruiting.

Other Common Names: Kid Glove Orange, Zipper-Skin Tangerine, Christmas Tangerine

Growing Zones: 9-10, or 4-11 as a container plant

Average Size at Maturity: 10-15 feet tall, with a 5-8 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Early to Mid Winter

Available at: Nature Hills

7. Yuzu (Citrus junos)

Yuzu Tree
Image by rosewoman via Flickr

An extremely cold hardy citrus tree, the Yuzu is an interesting option for your garden and is a good choice for zone 7 growers. Since the Yuzu can survive winter temperatures of 5 degrees F, it could plausibly be grown in zone 7b without winter protection. However, overwintering or container planting is strongly encouraged to ensure success.

Though still relatively obscure in the US, Yuzu fruits are widely known in Asia and used extensively in Japanese cuisine, where the Yuzu grows natively. However, the fruits are rarely eaten fresh – instead, the rind and juice of the Yuzu are used in a number of different recipes, both sweet and savory.

The tree is an attractive specimen, with lustrous leaves and delicate white flowers. Its fruits and flowers will fill your garden with a fresh lemon fragrance in spring and fall. Plant in well-draining, acidic soil in a location with full sun exposure.

Other Common Names: Yuja, Youzi

Growing Zones: 7-11

Average Size at Maturity: 8-12 feet tall

Fruiting Season: Mid to Late Fall

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

Grow Your Own Cold Hardy Citrus Fruit Trees

Growing citrus trees successfully in USDA zone 7 is no simple task. It requires plenty of knowledge on the specific cultivars you want to plant: can they make it through winter with basic overwintering techniques? Or do they need to be planted in a container and moved indoors through the coldest parts of the year?

Whatever the case, zone 7 gardeners with the time and space to grow citrus trees are sure to be rewarded. For more excellent fruit tree varieties that may grow more easily in zone 7, take a look at these full-sized and dwarf fruit trees for zone 7.

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Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

Shannon has always loved looking after trees and plants since as long as she can remember. She grew up gardening with her family in their off-grid home and looking after her neighbor's plant nursery. As a child she also participated in native tree replanting, and as an adult has volunteered in reforestation programs in northern Vietnam. Today, she puts her horticultural efforts into tending her vegetable and herb gardens, and learning about homesteading and permaculture. When she’s not reading, writing, and gardening, she’ll be out fishing and foraging for edible flora and fungi in the countryside around her home.

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