Are Citrus Trees Evergreen?

Most trees fall into one of two categories: deciduous and evergreen. The word deciduous means “to fall off,” so the trees whose leaves turn pretty colors and fall off each autumn to grow again the following spring are deciduous trees.

The leaves on evergreen trees, however, always stay green and never fall off (unless there’s a problem, but more on that later). When you think of an evergreen tree, you may think first of pines, firs, or trees we use for Christmas trees. Such trees are coniferous trees – that is, they bear cones, and their “leaves” are actually needles or scales. But while all conifers are evergreen, not all evergreens are conifers.

Citrus Trees: A Different Kind of Evergreen

Citrus trees (like a sweet orange tree or lemon and lime tree) are actually evergreen shrubs. As such, they retain the majority of their leaves year-round and never go through a dormant period.

If you decide to look for a Valencia tree or tangerine tree for sale, does this mean that you can expect fruit year-round? Unfortunately, no – while citrus trees don’t go dormant in the wintertime, many varieties do experience a significant slowing in growth during this time. Depending on where they’re grown, these varieties may begin to experience more significant growth beginning in February or whenever the weather starts to warm, slowing as the hot weather progresses, then experiencing another surge toward the end of the summer.

This isn’t the case with all citrus varieties…if you’re interested in finding the best lemon trees to plant, there are many great varieties, but the Meyer Lemon Tree is one variety that produces fruit year-round.

When do Citrus Trees Bloom?

Although some citrus varieties (such as a lemon, lime, or cocktail tree) can flower all year long, most of the flower production occurs in late winter. A mature citrus tree can produce hundreds of thousands of blossoms. Not all of these blooms will result in edible fruit – instead, the heavy blossom production is nature’s way of assuring that insects, attracted by the tree’s fragrance, pollinate as many flowers possible. 

How Much Fruit Does a Citrus Tree Produce?

Depending on the variety, a single citrus tree can produce anywhere from one to one thousand pounds of fruit each season. How much fruit a tree produces depends also on the weather, age of the tree, the care the tree has received, and many other factors (care, age of tree). Unlike deciduous tree fruit, which matures in the span of just a few weeks, citrus trees hold their fruit a lot longer before it’s fully ripe – usually around three or four months. Not picking citrus fruit too early is essential to get the best-tasting fruit.

Does Fruit from an Evergreen Citrus Ripen After It’s Been Picked?

Unlike orchard and stone fruits, citrus fruit don’t generally ripen after they’re picked. This is why citrus fruit should always be allowed to ripen on the tree. The longer the fruit is on the tree, the sweeter and less acidic it becomes. Citrus fruits are fully ripe when they have reached the color, size, and flavor as specified for their type.

How Long Can a Citrus Evergreen Produce Fruit?

With proper care and a healthy root stock, citrus evergreen trees can continue fruit for fifty years or more – sometimes, much more! For instance, the original Washington Navel fruit tree, first brought from Brazil to Washington D.C., then to California, in 1873.  One hundred years later, this tree was still alive and producing fruit.

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