Orange tree container gardening, all you need to know

Pruning a container orange tree

Potted orange is an excellent citrus tree to grow in a pot on a balcony or on a terrace. Caring for this container-grown citrus, from re-potting to pruning helps boost orange harvest and prevents appearance of diseases.

Although the climate in most of our regions isn’t well suited to growing orange trees directly in the ground, growing them in pots is perfectly possible.


Repotting orange trees

Potted orange trees cannot extract the nutrients they need from the ground.

repot orange treeSo the pot and soil you have put in it are their only source of food for them to stock up and grow.

Repotting the orange tree is thus of critical importance.

  • Re-potting takes place every 2 or 3 years in spring.
  • Choose high-quality citrus-specific or planting soil mix.
  • Ensure that the bottom of the pot has a hole drilled in.
  • Place a bed of small pebbles or clay pebbles at the bottom of the pot to ensure excellent drainage.

Pruning a potted orange tree

Pruning isn’t really needed but if you don’t prune your orange tree, it will quickly grow very large.
In pots, it is best to control your tree’s growth with very regular pruning.

Shorten each new shoot back to more or less half its length, taking great care to cut just above a leaf.
This will result in your orange tree keeping a nice, tight shape.
You might need to do this several times a year.

Eliminate dead wood regularly and if possible, clear the inside of your fruit tree to let light penetrate to the center.

Watering a potted orange tree

Watering an orange tree in a potIn pots, orange trees dry up much faster than if they were planted in the ground, which is why watering is a special concern.
In summer, frequent watering is required whereas in winter, it is enough to simply reduce the number of watering rounds.

  • Water as soon as the soil is dry, without flooding the pots.
  • Avoid all heat sources such as nearby radiators, because this could dry your tree out.

Every two weeks, during the growth phase, add citrus-specific fertilizer to boost fruit-bearing.

Potted orange tree in winter

Potted orange treeIf growing in pots is the best solution for your orange tree, it’s because this makes it possible to bring your orange tree indoors in a well-lit place where it doesn’t freeze in the winter.

Orange trees aren’t indoor plants, and can’t bear staying in a heated environment all year round.

They need relatively lower temperatures from October to May.

If you’re looking for an indoor orange tree, choose calamondin instead.

This means it is important to place your orange tree in a non-heated greenhouse or lean-in, where the temperature never drops below 32°F (0°C).

Harvesting the oranges

Harvesting oranges from a container plantOranges are generally ready for harvest from November to March. At this stage, the tree is indoors or in an orangerie (a greenhouse).

So you’ll be ripening your oranges while your tree is kept from freezing and the soil is kept slightly moist.

Since the air inside homes tends to be rather dry, make sure you water regularly: if not, your fruits will be bland and not very juicy.

Diseases that are commonly found on potted orange trees

Learn more about citrus plants

Smart tip about potted orange trees

Pick the oranges as soon as they easily break off from their branch.

Images: adobestock: Mariia Korneeva, MyJuly, CC BY 2.0: Ross Berteig; Pixabay: Henry Damaschke; Unsplash: Erin Profaci