How Big Will My Citrus Trees Get?

We get this question on a regular basis - and understandably so. Space is a critical aspect in the growth of a citrus tree and we know that in many cases space is limited. In this post we describe how you can enjoy homegrown citrus of your own, no matter how much space you have.

Dwarf varieties explained

A dwarf citrus tree is created by grafting a bud from a standard size variety onto a rootstock that is genetically inclined to produce smaller trees. Dwarfing trees in this way limits their potential size to around 6-10 feet tall, as opposed to their natural height of 10 to 30 feet. This keeps fruit close to the ground and ensures harvesting is safe and easy.

While it does result in smaller tree, using a dwarf rootstock is not the only way to ensure your trees remain within reach. In fact, planting a dwarf tree is entirely unnecessary if you practice the methods outlined below. By planting your trees in a container and/or routinely pruning your trees you will ensure your trees remain the exact height you desire.

Planting in a container

Planting citrus trees in a container is the largest contributing factor in their growth potential. Doing so automatically limits the potential size of the canopy by restricting the growth of the root system.

Even standard size trees can be grown with great success in containers throughout the United States. 

Keys when planting in a container:

  • Make sure your container has drainage holes on the bottom or sides. Only water your tree when the soil is dry.
  • Place the container in a location that gets at least 50% sun during the day.
  • Be sure to bring your tree indoors if below freezing temperatures are expected.
  • We recommend gradually stepping up your tree from small (7 gallon) to larger containers. Your tree should spend at least 2-3 months in each container before being stepped up.
  • Always follow directions for container growing when using fertilizer on a tree in a container.

Pruning your citrus trees

Routine pruning not only keeps your trees to your desired size, but also promotes vigorous growth and larger fruit. Pruning encourages branching which leads to a full, vibrant tree that is best suited for high fruit production. There are many articles and videos available on the web with helpful tips and best practices for pruning citrus trees.

So, what size tree should I get?

If you live in a warm enough climate (growing zones 8-11), citrus trees can be planted directly in the ground. This will result in the full growth potential of both dwarf (6-10 ft.) and standard (10+ ft) trees. 

In any climate, citrus trees can be planted and grown in containers. Based on the size of the container, this will significantly lower the growth potential of the tree. A dwarf tree is not necessary when planting in a container.

No matter where your trees are planted, routine pruning should be performed to size your trees and encourage fruit development. 

Leave a comment below or reach out to us with any questions you may have about citrus tree sizes. 


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John Sutton - December 18, 2020

I live in zone 8 and we have weather that drops a few days a year below freezing, is it possible for me to plant my tree in the ground or should I continue to pot it? also at what age of the tree or when should I plant the tree in the ground if I can? I have a Duncan grapefruit and a satsuma (Owari) tree. thanks.

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Joy Cook - September 22, 2020

My Meyer Lemon Tree will be delivered today. How long should I wait to put it in a larger container and how large should the next container be? Thank you

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