How to Grow an Orange Tree
Oranges share a long history of being cultivated and enjoyed by people, and were first introduced to America in the 1500's. They can grow anywhere from 6 to 30 feet tall or more, depending upon the particular variety you have. Orange trees grow glossy green foliage and white,sweet scented flowers that produce the delicious fruit. They can be grown in a pot from seed or obtained from a nursery already established for planting in the garden. How you care for your orange tree depends on whether you are growing it in a pot or in the yard.
How to Start an Orange Tree From Seed
All orange trees are cultivated which means that they are not found growing wild. Most people decide to get their orange trees from a nursery, because oranges grown from seed take up to 6 or seven years to bear fruit. If you have the patience then by all means give it a try. If you do decide to grow from a seed it is quite easy to do, just follow these steps.
1) Save seeds from an orange fruit. Clean them under running water very thoroughly and be careful to remove all of the pulp clinging to them.
2) Soak them in a glass of water overnight. Fill a small 3 to 4 inch pot with an equal mix of sphagnum moss and sterile potting soil.
3) Poke a hole with your finger about ½ an inch deep in the center of the pot. Place the seed into the hole and cover it with the potting mix.
4) Place it in a sunny window and keep the soil moist at all times. It should sprout in about 4 to 6 weeks. Transplant it to a larger pot when it is about 6 inches tall, using all-purpose potting mix.
Care of Potted Orange Trees
As your tree grows, transplant it to a larger pot to give space for the growing roots. A good quality potting mix that contains sphagnum moss is a good choice to use because it is anti-microbial and retains water nicely. Use a pot that is two inches larger than the one it is already in. It isn't good for the roots to go in a pot any larger than that in a one-year period. Always use a pot that has drainage holes in the bottom or the plant can develop root rot from sitting in too much moisture. Root rot will kill your orange tree.
Water it when the surface layers of soil are dry. Pour water over the entire soil surface – don’t just pour the water into one spot because you want to get it onto all of the roots. Keep pouring until the water starts draining from the bottom of the pot and use a tray underneath it to catch the water and save yourself from having to mop up.
Keep your orange tree well watered at all times, because after all it does require a lot of moisture to grow the juicy orange fruits. Once per week should be sufficient but if you live in a dry area you may need to water it more often. Potted plants do tend to dry out more than plants that are outdoors in the ground. Let it dry out completely before you water your orange tree during winter months.
Keep it in a bright area that receives at least 8 hours of direct sunshine. Use a slow release fertilizer during the growing season and stop in the fall and winter months.
In Case You Forgot
Care of Garden Orange Trees
How to Plant Young Tree
Choose a location that receives full sun for your orange tree. Plan on planting it after the danger of frost is passed in the spring. Dig a hole that is twice as wide and the same depth as the root ball on the plant. Rinse off the roots to remove some of the soil that is clinging to them and loosen the roots to release them from the mass. This will ensure that the roots start to grow outward and spread rather than continuing to grow in a bunch.
Plant the tree as deep as it was sitting in the pot you removed it from. Create a basin around the trunk at the drip line to help conserve water by building a soil ridge. Give it a good soak immediately after planting it in the ground by filling the basin you made. Wait until the basin drains and fill it up again.
Water your orange tree twice per week in the same manner as you did when you first planted it or about 8 to 10 gallons of water each time.
Fertilize your tree after about three weeks, or when you see new growth developing. Give it ½ cup of 8-8-8 balanced fertilizer by sprinkling it in the basin and then water it into the soil. Continue this treatment every four to six weeks until September.
For trees that are two years or older, spread the fertilizer beyond the drip line and water it in. This will ensure that the nutrients get to the roots growing under the ground.
Pruning is only necessary on young orange tree that grows suckers from the base of the trunk. If you leave these to grow they never produce fruit and take energy away from the main plant, so they are basically useless. Remove dead, diseased and damaged limbs each fall by cutting at the base of the limb, flush to where you remove it. In other words, don’t leave a stub because these are susceptible to getting infected by disease and pests.