The Best Fruit Trees to Grow in Southern California

California is budding with fruit trees. In backyards, on side roads, drooping over neighbors' fences and flowering on business properties, you can find fruit trees crowded with juicy citrus fruit. In Southern California, the best fruit trees to grow are citrus trees, which depend on abundant sunshine, regular rainwater, well-drained soil and consistent care and harvesting.

Orange trees yield festive and bountiful crops.


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Grapefruits hanging from branch

Grapefruit trees grow extremely well in Southern California, especially along the coast in places such as San Diego and Coronado. Because grapefruit trees need plenty of sun, ideally you should plant the tree in a side garden or an area where the tree gets full to partial sun and a lot of room to grow. Grapefruit trees grow tall and wide, so expect a sprawling root system. Plan on picking the plump yellow and pinkish globes every week in the spring and early summer months. Look forward to a fresh grapefruit in the morning and juice throughout the day.


Orange trees
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Row of orange trees

Valencia, California, is named after an orange variety, and Orange County also takes its name from the bountiful orange trees in the Southern California area. Valencia orange trees produce clusters from April until late October, when cooler temperatures move in. Valencia is known as the best juice orange. The Washington navel, another successful Southern California orange tree, produces what is regarded as the best fresh-off-the-tree and dessert oranges. The Washington navel matures from December though April, producing easy-to-peel fruits. Planting a Valencia or navel tree gives you oranges almost year-round. Because orange trees grow 22 to 30 feet high, consider planting the tree in a side garden where you can enjoying watching it grow.


branch of lemons
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Lemons hanging from branch

If you visit Southern California in the spring or early summer, you can see lemons littered on the streets and dropping out of trees. Lemon varieties such as the Meyer, a highly ornamental tree, are extremely productive in Southern California. The improved Meyer lemon, a variation of the Meyer tree, is an orange-lemon hybrid with a milder lemon taste but a strong, zesty flavor. You can start growing a lemon tree in a pot indoors or in a greenhouse. Make sure that you have a place to move the tree when it outgrows the pot—the trees grow extensive root systems and can become quite bushy.


Fruit meal with sweetie oroblanco
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Cross section of an Oroblanco

Consider planting the Oroblanco, a cross between the pummelo and the grapefruit. It is the sweetest grapefruit variety, without the tangy acid taste of a typical grapefruit. The tree prospers in the Southern California climate.


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Ripe figs on branch

The brown turkey fig tree variety—also known as the Aubique Noire, Negro Largo or San Piero—performs best in Southern California. The fig tree is a handsome and mysterious beast of a tree, with a wide stocky trunk with complex interwoven branches. The brown turkey variety produces medium fruits with purplish-brown skin, pink-amber flesh and a luxurious seedy fig flavor. To produce the most figs, prune regularly so that all the fruits grow unobstructed by distracting branches and heavy limbs.

Noelle Carver

Noelle Carver has been a freelance writer since 2009, with work published in "SSYK" and "The Wolf," two U.K. literary journals. Carver holds a Bachelor of Arts in literature from American University and a Master of Fine Arts in writing from The New School. She lives in New York City.