How to Grow Citrus Fruits That Resist the Hard Cold Temperatures


Because citrus trees are subtropical plants, all varieties are subject to damage when temperatures drop below 32 degrees F. But if you purchase a grafted citrus tree, it will be a bit more tolerant of frost than trees you begin from seed, according to Phoenix (Arizona) Tropicals. Lemon and lime trees are most likely to suffer frost damage, while kumquats are the hardiest citrus. You can protect your citrus from cold weather by planting it in a protected area and by providing cover, lights or a spray of water.

Step 1

Purchase a grafted citrus tree of a frost-hardy variety. For example, Satsuma mandarins are more tolerant of hard, cold temperatures than other types of citrus, according to the University of California; ripe fruit can withstand 25 degrees. Kumquats are also frost tolerant.

Step 2

Plant your young tree in an area that receives some protection from cold weather. Avoid planting your tree in open areas where there is no protection against wind. Do not plant citrus in low areas. Favor locations near buildings, fences or walls and areas with a southwest exposure.

Step 3

Keep your tree strong and healthy by giving it sufficient water and fertilizer; good cultural practices reduce frost's impact. Water your tree deeply once a week throughout winter if rains are slight. Fertilize your tree four times each year with a special plant food developed for citrus; these products normally have an N-P-K ratio of 8-8-8. Limit your application of fertilizer to spring and summer.

Step 4

Spray your citrus tree with a garden sprinkler all night long when temperatures are forecast to drop below freezing--moving water cannot freeze, so this will protect your tree.

Step 5

String Christmas lights over your tree and turn them on to provide warmth on cold nights. You can also hang a 100-watt incandescent light bulb from the upper branches of your tree to generate warmth that will protect it.

Step 6

Use an anti-transpirant spray product such as "Moisturin" or "Cloud Cover"--these products prevent your tree from the dehydration that frost causes.

Things You'll Need

  • Protected location
  • Resistant variety
  • Sprinklers
  • Christmas lights
  • Incandescent light
  • Anti-transpirant
  • Container (optional)
  • Potting soil (optional)


  • Phoenix Tropicals: Growing Citrus in Phoenix, Arizona
  • University of California: Frost Protection for Citrus and Other Subtropicals
  • GSI Horticulturals: Anti-Transpirants
  • Redwood Barn Nursery: Frost vs. Freeze
Keywords: citrus trees, frost tolerance, freezing oranges, frost tolerant citrus, frost citrus tree, cold temperature citrus

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides and eHow. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.