February is here, which means it’s citrus season in Arizona! We’re one of four citrus-producing states in the U.S. along with California, Florida and Texas. And because many of you probably have a citrus tree or two in your backyard, we’ve put together some great tips about where to find the best citrus, types of citrus available in Arizona, and how to care for those trees you might have.
Almost any citrus fruit can be grown in Arizona, but the most common types are lemons, tangerines, oranges and grapefruit; they are produced and commercially farmed in the warmer counties of Yuma, Mojave, Maricopa and Pinal. Making Arizona one of the country’s largest producers of tangerines, oranges and grapefruit.
Where Can I Buy the Freshest Citrus?
If you don’t have your own citrus trees, we’ve got you covered. Aside from your local grocery store, there are plenty of fruit trees in Arizona in farmers’ markets offering locally grown citrus. Some of most notable markets with Arizona fruit trees in the Scottsdale/North Phoenix:
- Roadrunner Park Farmers’ Market on Cactus Road is open every Saturday and is one of the few farmers’ markets open year round in Phoenix.
- The Old Town Scottsdale Farmers’ Market on Brown Avenue is open on Saturdays from 8 A.M. to 1 P.M. through May and has great citrus trees in Arizona.
- Farmers Market North Scottsdale on Pinnacle Peak Road reopens Saturday, February 17 and will run through May; it is open on Saturdays from 9 A.M. to 1 P.M.
- Arizona Orange Company has oranges for sale as well as lemons, tangerines, and grapefruit by the case, and orders can be placed online for home delivery.
- The Orange Patch Too in Mesa offers a wide selection of fresh citrus and specialty foods.
How to Plant a Citrus Tree
If you’d like to grow and care for your own citrus tree, February is the best time to start. Stop by a nursery that focuses on citrus, like Greenfield Citrus Nursery or Whitfill Nursery. First it is important to verify your HOA guidelines as some may not allow citrus trees. We recommend purchasing a Dwarf Citrus tree that is in a 15 gallon container or smaller, as these comply with most HOA guidelines. Once you’re ready to plant, start by:
- Digging a hole that measures twice the diameter of the container of your new tree but around the same depth. You’ll want to make certain that the hole you dig is no deeper than the height of the container.
- Make sure the tree in the container is damp enough so that once you remove it and place it in the hole it will hold together.
- After the tree is placed, set a garden hose in the hole prior to filling it with dirt.
- Once the hole is filled with dirt, turn on your hose slowly and fill the hole with water (you’ll be able to pull the hose out once the tree is watered).
You can also plant your citrus tree in a container rather than in the ground.
How to Care for Your Citrus Tree
Now that your Arizona fruit tree is planted (or if you already have a tree in your yard), you’ll want to water it frequently; typically every 1-2 weeks in the summer and ever 3-4 weeks in the winter. Make sure you stick to a schedule! Proper citrus tree care recommends that you fertilize your tree; you can purchase fertilizer at any local home improvement store.
Since Arizona is such a large producer of citrus, there is often a lot of excess. There are thousands of great recipes that call for oranges, lemons and grapefruit, including cakes, salads, soups and main courses. Taking advantage of locally grown fruit is a great way to spark new ideas for recipes. Try out different types of citrus to add a fun twist to your personal recipes at home to take full advantage of citrus season in Arizona!