Choosing the right citrus depends on your climate

Lauren Bonar Swezey  – August 7, 2004

CITRUS TYPE: ‘Moro’ blood orange

CHARACTERISTICS: Orange-red flesh darkens to deep red as fruit hangs on the tree. Orange flavor with raspberry overtones.

ZONES: 8, 9, 12-14, 15 (warmest areas), 18-23.

USES: Easy to peel; makes beautiful reddish juice.

CITRUS TYPE: ‘Improved Meyer’ lemon

CHARACTERISTICS: A lemon-orange hybrid. Dark yellow flesh tastes sweeter, less acidic than other lemons; flavor has floral overtones.

ZONES: 8, 9, 12-24; H1, H2; indoors

USES: Best in desserts (sorbet, tarts, lemon soufflé) and sweet spreads (lemon curd).

CITRUS TYPE: ‘Nagami’ kumquat

CHARACTERISTICS: Small oval fruit has sweet rind and tart-tasting flesh. Fruiting tree is very ornamental.

ZONES: 8, 9, 12-24; H1, H2; indoors

USES: Eat fresh (unpeeled) or use in sauces, candies, and marmalade.

CITRUS TYPE: ‘Pixie’ mandarin

CHARACTERISTICS: Seedless, late-ripening variety with sweet, mild flesh and a bumpy rind. Pick fruits as soon as they ripen.

ZONES: 8, 9, 12-14, 18-23

USES: Good to eat fresh (it’s easy to peel); tasty in salads.

CITRUS TYPE: ‘Oroblanco’

CHARACTERISTICS: Grapefruit-pummelo hybrid with sweet, juicy flesh and few to no seeds. Better flavor than other grapefruit-pummelo hybrids. Thick rind.

ZONES: 8, 9, 12-24; H1, H2

USES: Cut in half to eat fresh with a spoon grapefruit-style (avoid bitter membranes); great for juice.

CITRUS TYPE: ‘Star Ruby’ grapefruit

CHARACTERISTICS: Smallish fruit has thinner rinds than many other grapefruits and few to no seeds; tastes less acidic than other grapefruit. Flesh is the deepest red in hot-summer climates.

ZONES: 8, 9, 12-14, 18-23

USES: Halve to eat fresh with a spoon; makes excellent pinkish juice.

CITRUS TYPE: Washington’ navel orange

CHARACTERISTICS: Large fruit with moderately thick rind; navel at one end. Moderately juicy, seedless.

ZONES: 8, 9, 14, 15 (warmest areas), 18-23; H1, H2

USES: Tastes best fresh (it’s easy to peel and segment) but can be juiced if used right away (juice turns bitter soon after squeezing); ‘Valencia’ orange is best for juicing.