7 USDA Zone 9 Citrus Trees to Grow in Your Yard

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Written By Shannon Campbell

Off-Grid Gardener & Food Forager

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Home » USDA Zone 9 » 7 USDA Zone 9 Citrus Trees to Grow in Your Yard

Establishing gardens and orchards in USDA hardiness zone 9 isn’t always easy – there are plenty of common plants and trees that will not survive the long, sweltering summers of this zone. This is especially true for fruit trees.

Fortunately, this will not be a problem for citrus lovers, as they are some of the most suitable fruit trees for these regions. Most citrus trees thrive in hot, tropical climates, and are best suited to zones 9 to 11.

If you’re interested in planting oranges, lemons, grapefruits, and more on your property, you’re in luck!

Here are seven excellent zone 9 citrus trees to grow in your backyard.

7 Citrus Trees To Plant In Zone 9

1. Valencia Orange (Citrus x ‘Valencia’)

Valencia Orange tree and fruit
Images by Fern Berg, Own Work, for Tree Vitalize

First developed in Southern California in the 1870s, the Valencia orange is a highly popular citrus fruit – in fact, it is believed to be the most widely planted orange in the world!

Zesty, juicy, and very high in vitamin C, they are a fabulous fruit to have growing fresh in your zone 9 garden or orchard. They are also convenient to eat, with few seeds and easy-peeling skin.

The Valencia tree is a dwarf-sized evergreen with lustrous leaves and fragrant white blossoms that grace its branches throughout spring. It is a lover of consistently warm weather and thrives outdoors in zones 9 and 10, but it also grows well as a container plant in lower zones.

With all of their benefits, you may be surprised to learn that the Valencia is one of the easiest zone 9 citrus trees to grow. Just make sure it is planted in full sunlight in zone 9 with fertile, well-draining soil. Avoid planting in heavy or clay soil.

Growing Zones: 9-10

Average Size at Maturity: 8-10 feet tall, with a 3-4 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Spring to Summer

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

2. Rio Red Grapefruit (Citrus x ‘Rio Red’)

Rio Red Grapefruit
Image via Nature Hills

Grapefruits may be known for their tangy, sour flavor, but not the Rio Red Grapefruit cultivar. Developed in the 1980s, you won’t need any sugar to balance out the flavors of this fruit, since the Rio Red is the world’s sweetest grapefruit!

You can pick these pale yellow fruits in winter and spring and enjoy their bright red flesh fresh from the tree. They are certainly one of the best pink grapefruits on the market.

The Rio Red tree is a natural dwarf with dark evergreen leaves and lovely white winter blooms. They provide their own ornamental appeal outside of their fruit-bearing capabilities, able to be used as a specimen, accent, and en masse as a small hedge or screen.

Plant your Rio Red in a location with full sun and loamy or sandy well-draining soil with an acidic pH. It is a fast-growing and disease-resistant specimen.

Growing Zones: 9-10

Average Size at Maturity: 8-12 feet tall, with a 4-8 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Winter to Spring

Available at: Nature Hills

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

Ponderosa Lemon
Image by F Delventhal via Flickr

An unusual citrus fruit hybrid that is well worth considering for your zone 9 edible garden is the Ponderosa lemon.

This large, 4-5 pound fruit is a natural cross between a lemon and a citron. It has the thick, wrinkled skin of a citron but all of the sour, acidic flavor of lemon. Use it in sweet and savory dishes, in meals and drinks, as a garnish or seasoning, and more!

Despite its useful citrus fruits, the Ponderosa is actually grown more often as an ornamental due to its large, elliptical evergreen leaves, white flowers with a purple tinge, and a heavy citrus fragrance that will fill your garden.

It can reach up to 24 feet tall outdoors but will grow as a dwarf when planted in containers.

The Ponderosa is self-fertile, and it can be pollinated by applying a paintbrush to its flowers. Plant it in a location with full sun and adequate air circulation, in rich, well-draining soil.

Other Common Names: Skierniewice Lemon, American Wonder Lemon

Growing Zones: 8-11

Average Size at Maturity: 12-24 feet tall

Fruiting Season: Winter to Early Spring

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

4. California Honey Mandarin (Citrus x reticulata ‘California Honey’)

California Honey Mandarin
Image via Nature Hills

One of the sweetest-tasting and best-smelling of all mandarin varieties, the California Honey Mandarin is an absolute winner of homegrown citrus trees. Despite its small size and seedy flesh, it has a gorgeous flavor – a mixture of honey and cinnamon with a high juice content. These warm, spicy fruits are rarely sold in stores, so you can spoil your friends and family with their exquisite taste.

The California Honey can be grown as a standard, dwarf, and semi-dwarf tree, though it is most often grown as a dwarf container plant. The tree itself has a shrubby, evergreen form with white spring blossoms, and its bright orange fruits look highly ornamental in winter as they ripen on the tree.

Plant this citrus tree in full sun and loose, moist, well-draining soil with an acidic pH. It should be fed with citrus fertilizer every spring.

Growing Zones: 9-10

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

Fruiting Season: Winter

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees & Nature Hills

5. Kaffir Lime (Citrus hystrix ‘Kaffir’)

Kaffir Lime on tree
Image by Katja Schulz via Flickr

A unique citrus tree that makes an excellent addition to any foodie garden, the Kaffir Lime is a tropical native of southeast Asia. Instead of its fruits, it is best known for its incredibly fragrant leaves which can be used in a range of savory dishes.

The zest of the lime is also a useful cooking ingredient, and the fruit juice can be used in specialty dishes.

Since the Kaffir Lime is an evergreen tree, its leaves can be harvested as an ingredient all year round. The dwarf-sized tree adds color and texture to the landscape, and though it grows outdoors in zones 8 to 10 it is best used as an indoor container plant.

The Kaffir often produces thorns, so watch out for these as the tree grows – they can be pruned off at any time without damaging the plant according to the University of Maryland Extension.

Other Common Names: Makrut Lime, Thai Lime, Combava, Kiefer Lime

Growing Zones: 8-10

Average Size at Maturity: 10-12 feet tall, with a 5-6 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Fall to Early Winter

Available at: Nature Hills

6. Ponkan Tangerine (Citrus reticulata ‘Blanco’)

Ponkan Tangerine
Image by Carlos Ebert via Flickr

Another excellent option for smaller zone 9 gardens is the Ponkan tangerine, a dwarf cultivar that produces medium-sized bright orange mandarins with a tangy, sweet-tart flavor. They are conveniently easy to peel with relatively few seeds, and while best eaten fresh also make a lovely zesty addition to juices and marinades.

The Ponkan tangerine was first brought to America from China in the late 19th century and is still one of the most popular zone 9 fruit trees in the US today. The tree is a self-fertile, vigorous grower with an upright habit and dark, glossy evergreen leaves.

Plant the Ponkan in a location with full sun and sandy, rich, organic, and well-draining soil. Soil should also have an acidic pH, so consider testing it and amending it if the pH levels are below 7. These trees are also ideal for container planting and use as a porch or patio tree.

Other Common Names: Chinese Honey Orange

Growing Zones: 8-12

Average Size at Maturity: 10-20 feet tall

Fruiting Season: Winter to Early Spring

Available at: Fast-Growing-Trees

7. Valentine Pummelo (Citrus maxima ‘Valentine’)

Valentine Pummelo tree bearing fruit
Image via Nature Hills

Named because it tends to produce fruit around February 14th, the Valentine Pummelo is a citrus cultivar that was created in 2009 as part of a UC Riverside breeding program.

It is a cross hybrid between a Sweet Pummelo and a hybrid cross between a Dancy Mandarin and a Blood Orange. These pale yellow fruits are large and heavy, with attractive pink flesh that has a complex sweet-tart taste.

The Valentine Pummelo tree is a medium-sized evergreen with a surprising amount of landscaping versatility. It can be planted as a specimen, shade tree, hedge, or privacy screen, and looks lovely planted around pools, patios, and courtyards. It also grows well in containers.

These trees require very well-draining acidic soil whether planted outdoors or in a container. It should be fertilized regularly and pruned after fruiting ends in spring.

Growing Zones: 9-11

Average Size at Maturity: 20-25 feet tall, with a 15-20 foot spread

Fruiting Season: Fall to Late Spring

Available at: Nature Hills

Colorful Citrus Fruits For Hot Climates

No matter what kind of citrus fruits you prefer, there will be a suitable option for you to plant in USDA hardiness zone 9.

From useful culinary trees like the Kaffir lime to flavorful fruits that are best eaten fresh like the Ponkan Tangerine, to lovely ornamentals like the Ponderosa Lemon, you are spoilt for choice as a citrus grower in zone 9.

With their evergreen leaves, zesty fragrance, and abundant harvests, citrus trees are some of the best types of fruit trees to plant on your property.

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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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