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 you live in Michigan. Yet we have been growing it now for over a decade while watching the white tail deer eat the foliage. Our plants are not producing fruit yet but it is not the cold that has slowed it down. Heavy snowfalls are common at our farm which is in the snowbelt of western Michigan. As a result this has greatly protected the plants.
The trifoliate orange is well known in the south, as it is often used as a rootstock for citrus. There it persists in abandoned orchards. Its large thorns are a means of protection to browsing especially to feral hogs. Hardy oranges produce a crop of small oranges that have the flavor of a lemon crossed with a lime. There are producing plants in Lansing, MI and Philadelphia, PA and other northern locations depending on the location of the plants and their protection against sudden drops below minus 15 F. This temperature might be its limit but further selection could be done on this and we have noticed some seed sources appear better than others. We are currently using seed wild collected from Georgia which is the 'flying dragon' type of seedling. It produces a zig zag pattern of growth so common with the rooted clones of this particular cultivar. This strain hardens off early and has shown good resilience to cold taking minus 17 F more than once here at our farm in southwestern Michigan. Obviously it has a greater chance than people realize and snow cover may play a role of its use as a landscape tree near a home.
This tree is used 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. 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.|