Citrus killing freeze of 16F in Houston a few weeks ago

Well here we go again. We had a citrus killing freeze of 16F here near Houston,TX a month ago. The second in the last 3 years. It didn’t help that it was 80F one day and 16F the next. In years past I’ve had satsuma trees survive 18F and not drop a leaf. My 20+ inground citrus trees all appear dead except one. 18 of 20 survived 2 years ago by being covered in mulch. So much for global warming.
I was super busy with home re-modeling this year so didn’t put in a 2 day effort to mulch 20 inground trees.

This is my 8 year old ingrouind xie shan satsuma on flying dragon that survived 14F a few years ago being covered in mulch. Looks dead this time as I was lulled into thinking it was cold hardy and didn’t cover with mulch. Perhaps the rootstock survived. With a 32 year space between 1989 and 2021 killing freezes I just crossed my fingers this time.

My marumi kumquat is apparently the only citrus that survived unprotected. Planted it after the 2021 freeze.

Citrus cold hardiness is not cut and dried. Cold hardy to 20F really means for a few hours if the weather was cold the week before. It is also tree specific, how dormant each tree is. And variety of course, with satsuma and kumquat the most, next is mandarins, and last is round oranges and grapefruit. Cold hardy in Houston,TX is not the same as cold hardy in northern California.


What specifically do you mean that cold hardy in Houston is not the same as cold hardy in Northern California? Are you alluding to the fact that Texas gets more frigid during cold snaps? Because in Mendocino County we have several citrus trees that have endured many many nights over the years where the temps dropped into the mid teens and didn’t look at all like specimens in the pics you posted.

What a bummer this happened to your citrus. I’m sorry for the loss. Mother Nature can be a cruel mistress sometimes.

Citrus hardiness is influenced by the dormancy status of the tree. In CA winter weather is cool. That shuts down vegetative growth making the tree hardier. In Texas severe cold often follows long periods of warm weather. If the tree is growing when the freeze hits damage is worse.

The same thing is seen in other plants like figs.


My citrus in Atlanta took a big hit too,…
The only one that is visibly alive is the Citrangequat. The seedless Changsha looks lit might come back. Satsumas look on death’s door.

The killers are these cold snaps that come right on top of 70 something degree winters. Despite being in a Zone that is warm enough to grow in ground citrus supposedly, it looks like I’m still stuck with the not so great tasting hardier citrus. It stays too warm for them to go dormant, so they get smashed when these Arctic blasts come through…


Ah, well that makes sense. So it’s preferable to have the steady influence of the Pacific moderating the temps and preventing these drastic swings. Thanks for sharing that insight. I’d imagine a similar phenomenon is one of the factors that allows Japan and Jeju Island South Korea to have such excellent citrus. Despite have very wet, snowy, frigid conditions for much of the winter the citrus in those places is quite happy.


Sorry for those of you who lost trees. I have toyed around with growing some of those same types of citrus trees here in 7B but never pulled the trigger. We had similar huge temperature swings and I’m not sure how much damage was done, just that, like you, things that had endured much colder temperatures for many years look dead now. Mother Nature continues to prove she bats last.

mrtexas How would you rate the flavor of your Marumi kumquat.

Flavor is good, small and tart. Big downside is very hard to
find marumi as not commercially propagated. Got budwood
from my friend PANZARELLA CITRUS - About John
Don’t know where he got it. His grafted tree died but he
has seedlings in pots that fruit. BTW in 2021 John
lost all his in ground citrus to the freeze as they were unprotected
including his original seedling Panzarella orange and lemon.

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Thank you; Fourwinds carries Marumi and they graft to C35. It seems to me that Flying dragon would be a much better rootstock for both fruit quality and plant slowing down for the winter months for those of us that bring them in for the winter months in a colder room with adequate light.

Just don’t give up too early. My satsumas looked bad after 2021, lost all their leaves but they did put out later in the spring. My 10 foot Lemonade tree lost all its leaves, and then put leaves back on in three different segments, one at about 4 feet, another at 6 and the last at 9 foot, all about 2 weeks apart if I remember correctly. Only died back about a foot on each branch. This year it lost all its leaves also, but seems to have had a little worse damage. But the lower limbs are starting to push some green shoots.

In 2021 I had a N33 navel orange that was unprotected, about 4 foot tall. It died back to the trunk, and lost about a foot of height. But it survived with no protection. This year I did protect it, seem to have worse damage. This freeze has harder for us than 2021.