Orange tree, grow a magnificent orange harvest

orange tree

The orange tree has been enchanting our gardens for centuries. It’s easy to grow.

Key Orange tree facts

NameCitrus 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

Planting, care and pruning your orange tree are important tasks. Do them well, and you’ll grow a healthy tree with lots of luscious oranges.

>> Questions about indoor potted orange? Click here <<

Planting an orange tree

planting Orange treeIn mild climates, you can grow the orange tree directly in the ground if the weather permits: 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 down to 15°F (-9°C). Leaves, however, die off under 26°F (-3°).
  • The orange tree goes dormant between 32° and 50°F (0 to 10°C).

Interestingly, you should know that the orange tree also doesn’t like it when it 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.

Planting outdoors

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 a pot near a windowIn areas where winters are on the cold side, you must plant your orange tree in a large garden box.

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 limestone, one part each.

Repot preferably in spring, after the fruit harvest or at the end of summer before flowering.

Watering orange trees

Watering, for an orange tree, is very important. This is even more true if in a pot, since soil 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.

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.

  • Orange tree pruningEliminate ingrowing branches to provide as much light as possible to the center. Also 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.

Orange tree varieties

Some orange tree varieties don’t self-pollinate easily. It’s best if you can ensure proper cross-pollination between compatible varieties.

Orange tree varietiesProfessionals propagate orange trees through cuttings. This ensures new trees match the mother plant’s taste and characteristics. Regularly, new hybrids are developed to try and enhance productivity, resistance (to freezing, for instance), 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 and scar fruit
  • Aphids – leaves curl up and, after a while, 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, especially the devastating citrus spiny whitefly.
  • Citrus foot rot – learn to control Phytophthora when it appears.

Learn more about the orange tree

Orange tree careVery loved by the kings of France, orange trees are the reason many buildings called orangeries were built in castle gardens.

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 tree growing is a rising trend.  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!

It healthy fruits add to this exotic appearance, you’ll be thrilled!

Smart tip

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:


Images: CC BY 2.0: Keith Roper, Thom Quine, Vassil Tzvetanov; Pixabay: Lakeblog, LoggaWiggler