The trifoliate orange is not known much in Michigan. To mention it in horticultural circles is a good way to get a laugh. Just say 'hardy orange' and mention you live in Michigan. Yet we have been growing it now for over a decade and it so far it appears to be hardy in southwestern Michigan. Ours are not producing fruit yet but it is not the cold that has slowed it down. It is the white tailed deer. They seem to love the foliage and branches.
Though it is well known in the south, it is often used as a rootstock for citrus where it persists in abandoned orchards. Its large thorns are a means of protection to browsing. Apparently our deer did not get the memo and this has been an issue with our plants loosing the one year growth every winter. Hardy oranges produce a crop of small oranges that has the flavor of a lemon crossed with a lime once the plants reach caliper size.
For us it was more of long shot to find the right strain that might survive our winters here in southern Michigan while at the same time produce some sort of citrus or citrus type fruit. Well it turns out, we were not that far off. Even though we do not have fruiting trees yet to prove our point some of our trees are quite durable and are now close to fruiting age. During the winter of 2018 the trees took a -10 F one night with no issue but the minus 27 F in Feb. of 2019 took most of them to the ground. That is probably past the limit. In 2020 the trees took a few minus 15 F and there was little die back on most of the seedlings. The large thorns and semi evergreen foliage create a sort of Zen garden tree with its zig-zag pattern. The fruits need a nice warm fall to ripen. The fruits are seedy yet the juice is like a super orange concentrate with a more lemon like flavor.
This tree has potential uses for fencing to keep deer out as well as a means to grow some type of citrus in the north. It thrives in rock and sand. Zone 6 seed source. Cannot ship to CA, FL, AZ.
|Genus & Species||Poncirus trifoliata|
|Seed Source||Zone 6 Equivalent|
|Pollination Requirements||Self fertile as far as we know.|
|Soil||Rock and sand, loam or clay loam ok. Acidic or slightly acidic is ideal.|
|Climate||Zone 6-7 ideal. Zone 5 experimental. Likes hot weather. Currently doing well at our zone 5b nursery in two locations both highly exposed.|
|Ease of Cultivation||Easy. Can often go leafless and reproduce new leaves even if deer browse them which has no effect.|