The orange tree has been enchanting our gardens for centuries. It’s quite easy to grow.
Key Orange tree facts
Name – Citrus sinensis
Family – Rutaceae (Rue family)
Type – fruit tree
Height – about 16 feet (5 meters)
Soil – well drained, sandy and rich
Exposure – full sun
Foliage – evergreen – Flowering – April to July – Harvest – winter
But planting, care and pruning are all good practices that will allow you to grow luscious oranges and avoid orange tree diseases.
Planting an orange tree
In mild climates, you can grow the orange tree directly in the ground if the weather permits it: it shouldn’t freeze in winter. If it does freeze, you’ll have to grow your orange tree in a pot so that you can bring it indoors when the temperature drops.
- The trunk can survive a cold spell as cold as 15°F (-9°C). Leaves, however, show signs of damage when it’s colder than 26°F (-3°).
- The orange tree will go dormant between 32° and 50°F (0 to 10°C).
Interestingly, you should know that the orange tree also doesn’t like it when the temperature gets too hot. Over 95°F (35°C), it again goes dormant. Last tip: avoid windy areas because branches are brittle and will break easily, especially when heavy with fruit.
First thing to remember: the orange tree can only be planted directly in the ground in regions where it doesn’t freeze in winter.
- Select a spot that is in full sun but is sheltered from wind.
- Mix garden soil with soil mix, it’s a step you must absolutely remember to do.
- Make sure the soil is rich and drains well. Adding fertilizer as you’re planting will help the tree settle in.
- Water well during the first year after planting.
Orange tree in a pot
In winter, try to place it in a very bright room, where the temperature should not drop below 41 to 43°F (5 to 6° C) during this time.
Early spring, you can bring it out for it to spend the rest of the year outdoors.
Repotting your orange tree
When planting or repotting, favor a blend of soil mix and plant-based soil without any chalk, one part each.
Repotting is preferably in spring, after the fruit harvest or at the end of summer before flowering.
- Refer to our all our tips on how to grow an orange tree in a pot
Pruning and caring for an orange tree
Fruits only grow on new growth, so you must prune at the end of winter, during the months of February or March.
- Eliminate branches that are ingrowing to provide as much light as possible inside. In addition, remove branches that cross over each other.
- You can also balance the silhouette to give it a nice shape. Prune lightly.
Producing nice oranges: to produce nice oranges, add citrus-specific fertilizer during the growth phase.
Some orange tree varieties don’t self-pollinate easily. It’s therefore best if you can ensure proper cross-pollination between compatible varieties.
Watering orange trees
Watering of the orange tree is very important, all the more so if it is in a pot, since it tends to dry off much faster.
- Orange trees hate having too much water.
- So watering, although necessary in summer, must not be abundant, but reduced and regular.
- Favor watering in the evening so that water isn’t lost through evaporation so fast.
Orange tree varieties
Professionals propagate orange trees through cuttings. This ensures new trees match the taste and characteristics of the mother plant. Regularly, new hybrids are developed to try and enhance productivity, resistance, and taste.
Typical varieties for growing in the garden include “navel” varieties. They’re healthy, sweet and juicy.
For potted growing, dwarf varieties are better. For instance, the “dwarf Valencia” is both productive and suited for container growing.
Diseases and parasites that attack orange trees
As is the case for most citrus trees, the orange tree may fall victim to fungus and/or parasites. It’s important to treat them fast.
- Brown rot – oranges rot on the orange tree
- Scale insects – whitish masses colonize leaves
- Aphids – leaves curl up and eventually fall off
- The caterpillars of the citrus blossom moth (or citrus fruit borer) devours stamens and blocks fruit formation.
- Chlorosis will lead to yellowing leaves
- A range of viral diseases may infect and kill your orange trees. When growing an orange tree indoors, make sure to eliminate whitefly.
- Citrus foot rot – learn to control Phytophthora when it appears.
Learn more about the orange tree
These wide-windowed buildings were the greenhouses of old, with much light and a mild temperatures during winter: perfect to winterize these little trees!
- Orange trees today are increasingly sought after. Most horticulture stores have at least one variety for sale.
Citrus trees are remarkable for the deep green of their foliage and their white, fragrant flowers. As can be seen, this all makes the tree pretty ornamental!
Fruits add to this exotic appearance, you’ll be thrilled!
Protect them well in winter, and shelter them from wind in summer to best support fruit bearing!
Read also on the topic of citrus trees:
- Special information on citrus plants: pruning, watering…
- Caring for lemon tree
- Clementine tree care
- Caring for pomelo, the grapefruit tree
CC BY 2.0: Thom Quine, Keith Roper, Vassil Tzvetanov