Citrus Trees Dropping Tiny, Green Fruit

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Tiny citrus Fruit
Dropping green fruit

Dropping green fruit

Do you have a citrus in your garden? I do.

Mine are quite young – I have an ‘Arizona Sweet’ orange tree and a ‘Meyer’ lemon.

Growing up in California, we always had citrus trees. When I was a young girl, I remember picking lemons from our large lemon tree in the backyard. We later moved to a larger ranch-style home which had several citrus trees and I honestly never paid much attention to these them, largely because I was a teenager and had much more important things to think about – like boys and how to get the perfectly-permed hair (it was the 80’s).

Dropping green fruit

Now that I am all grown up and permed hair is thankfully in my past, I do pay attention to my citrus trees. Every winter, I look forward to the fragrant blossoms that cover citrus trees. These blossoms slowly turn into tiny citrus fruit. As spring progresses, some of these small, green fruit end up dropping to the ground, which leads to a host of questions from worried gardeners.

Well, I want to put all your worries to rest.  This is a normal occurrence. Citrus trees produce more blossoms than it can grow into mature fruit. They do this in order to attract the most pollinators and after the flower petals drop, little green fruit is left behind, which ideally grow into large delicious fruit that will be harvested in winter. However, the tree cannot support that much fruit, so the tree figures out how much fruit it can grow to maturity and then drops the rest.

For those of you who have young citrus trees, most of the little green fruit will drop.  Citrus trees have to have a large root system and a lot of leaves to support a good amount of fruit and that only comes with age. So, if you see tiny, green citrus on the ground every spring – don’t panic.  It is all part of the normal cycle of growing citrus.

Noelle Johnson, aka, 'AZ Plant Lady' is a author, horticulturist, and landscape consultant who helps people learn how to create, grow, and maintain beautiful desert gardens that thrive in a hot, dry climate. She does this through her consulting services, her online class Desert Gardening 101, and her monthly membership club, Through the Garden Gate. As she likes to tell desert-dwellers, "Gardening in the desert isn't hard, but it is different."
2 replies
  1. Holly
    Holly says:

    I have the huge grapefruit tree from hell in my back yard, wish it would drop every last piece of fruit. Had to deal with roof rats in it this past winter. I know that there is something that they can spray on olive trees to cause it to stop making fruit, can anything be done to cause a grapefruit tree to stop making fruit?

  2. says:

    Hi Holly,

    I'm sorry, but I don't believe that there is a product to keep citrus from producing fruit. You could pick off the small green fruit, after flowering has finished in the spring to decrease the amount of grapefruit that forms though.

    Good Luck!

    Noelle 'azplantlady'

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