You may have considered growing your own oranges but thought that it was too hard or that you lived in a climate that is too cold. We have some good news for you, in that case. No matter where you live or what your gardening experience is, you can grow oranges! This guide is for anyone who is interested in learning about growing orange trees, regardless of the location.
While orange trees thrive in hot, sunny climates outdoors, there are a number of ways to grow orange trees, even in cold climates!
In your garden or a grove, outside or in a container, and even in partial shade, you can plant an orange tree! Just be mindful of your climate, as areas that get cold often won’t be able to grow orange trees.
If you live somewhere cold or cloudy but want to grow oranges, this guide is for you. And if you live somewhere warm and sunny, this guide is for you, too! Read on for all the info you need to grow your own orange tree, whether that is indoors in a container or outdoors in a grove of citrus trees.
We’ve got you covered, either way!
Why You Should Consider Growing An Orange Tree
The number one reason to grow an orange tree is, for many people, because the tree will produce delicious oranges. There are few things in the world as nutritious and refreshing as a glass of fresh orange juice. Maybe you buy your orange juice pre-bottled, but if you are a fan of freshly squeezed juice, you need a lot of oranges.
But there are other reasons, as well.
Orange trees are pretty trees with green leaves and, of course, colorful fruit, so they can work very well as ornamental trees. Also, orange trees blossom before they produce fruit, so they are flowering trees in the spring, which can add not only a beautiful look but also a great fragrance to your yard or garden.
Orange trees are also a good choice for some people because these trees have dwarf varieties that can be planted and grown in containers, which means that you can enjoy this tree in your home throughout the winter months.
Grow An Orange Tree Inside Or Outside
This table can help as a quick reference for types of orange trees and how well-suited they are to be grown in your garden or yard outdoors, or in a container indoors.
|Type of Orange Tree||Type of Orange||Size of Tree||Growing Environment|
|Blood orange||Large fruit with a grapefruit-like taste||8 – 15 feet tall depending on pruning||Indoors in cool climates; outdoors in very warm climates|
|Valencia orange||Most common type for eating||Very tall, up to over 30 feet||Very hot outdoor climate|
|Mandarin||Small, easy-to-eat, sweet||Varies widely; dwarf varieties up to 10 feet, others up to 25 feet||Warm to hot outdoor climate; indoor climate warm|
|Navel orange||Sweet, easy to peel, popular in grocery stores||Tall, as high as 30 feet, but there are dwarf varieties.||Dwarf trees can be grown indoors; outdoor trees need high heat|
Four Great Places To Plant An Orange Tree
Once you know what type of orange tree you want to plant, you can begin considering locations for your new tree.
You can also check out our article on the 4 most common places orange trees grow.
1. Plant An Orange Tree In Your Garden
No matter what size your garden is, there is probably a type of orange tree that will work in your space. You can plant a full-sized orange tree in a large section of your garden, providing shade for shade plants as well as fruit in the summer.
You can also choose a dwarf variety to add variety and color to a sunny corner of your garden or to accent a pathway. Orange trees work well in any space that is warm and sunny enough, as long as you have chosen the right size tree for the section of your garden that is available.
2. Plant An Orange Tree In A Grove
This location is for those who are ready to make a big investment, especially in time, to grow a lot of oranges. You will need a lot of space, too, as a grove of orange trees can take up a large yard quickly.
If you want to plant several orange trees but do not have a lot of space, you might consider using dwarf varieties of orange trees. They still grow oranges, but the trees themselves are much smaller than the standard varieties, which means that you can plant more of them.
Just make sure to leave enough space between all of your orange trees. Orange trees can have big canopies when they are mature, and you don’t want them to run into each other, so leave at least twelve feet between each tree as you are planting.
3. Plant An Orange Tree In Partial Shade
This location can be a bit tricky, as orange trees love sunshine. They are well known for growing in states like California and Florida (which is even called the sunshine state), where the sun shines most of the time. But there are some areas of the country where the sunshine is so relentless and the elevation makes the UV rays so high that a little shade is not a bad idea.
If you live somewhere where the sunshine is actually a threat to your citrus tree because it causes it to dry out too much or it even scorches the leaves or blossoms, you can plant your orange tree in partial shade.
The best sunshine for orange trees is the sunshine of the morning time, so choose a location in your yard that gets sunshine in the morning for several hours but is shaded for a few hours during the harsh sunshine of the afternoon. This shade might be provided by other trees, structures, or even your house itself.
You can determine the best spot by going out in your yard on a very sunny day and making note of which spots are sunny in the morning. Then check those same spots later in the day. If you see one that is now shady, you might have found the perfect place to plant your orange tree.
4. Plant An Orange Tree In A Container
One of the biggest factors in whether or not people plant citrus trees is probably the climate in which they live. Since citrus trees need warm weather and lots of sunshine, there are many locations in the United States that are not suitable for growing citrus fruits outdoors.
If you live in one of these colder regions, or even if you just live somewhere with frequent cloudy days or cold winters, no matter how hot the summers are, you may think that growing an orange tree is not possible at your house.
But that is not true! Anyone can grow an orange tree with the right tools, preparation, and indoor conditions. You may not be able to change the outdoor climate of your home, but you do have the ability to change the indoor environment. If you are willing to put in a little extra work, a container can be a wonderful home for a new orange tree.
We detail the steps of how to plant an orange tree in a container below, but the basic requirements are that you have somewhere indoors that stays consistently warm and gets lots of sunshine. For many people, this could be as simple as placing your orange tree near the windows in your kitchen.
If you are going to choose a room for placing your orange tree, choose a southern-facing room if possible. You can also put your container in a sunroom or an enclosed porch. Just make sure that the tree is going to be protected from any cold fall, winter, or early spring temperatures, especially freezes.
For a more detailed guide on growing fruit indoors, check out our article on the 7 easiest indoor fruit trees.
How To Plant An Orange Tree Outside
To plant an orange tree outside, you will need to first find the right outdoor location, as we detailed above. Here, we will detail all the steps and information you need to plant your orange tree outside.
A Quick Reminder
Remember that, to grow outside, an orange tree needs a warm climate year-round and lots of sunshine. Check the growing zone of your home; orange trees usually have to be planted in zones 8 to 11, so if you live in zone 7 or lower, skip ahead and plant that orange tree in a container so you can bring it indoors. Otherwise, it is not likely to survive when the temperatures drop.
Orange trees have to have warm weather to survive.
Preparing The Planting Spot
First, prepare the area where you are going to plant your orange tree by clearing all the debris away, like rocks, other plants, branches, or anything except grass and soil. If you have weeds growing there, you should pull or remove those, as well.
Digging The Hole For Your Orange Tree
Dig a hole that is about twice the size of the root ball of your new orange tree. Do not dig deeper than that, but make sure that the hole is deep enough that you can easily place the entire root ball of the orange tree below the surface of the ground and that the bottom of the tree trunk will be even with the ground.
You can water the hole you have dug before you put the orange tree in, especially if the soil is very dry. Do not use any fertilizer at this point, as it can damage young trees. But it can be useful later in your tree’s growth cycle, as we detail below.
Even if your orange tree loses some leaves, that will not necessarily affect its orange fruit production.
Planting Your New Orange Tree
Gently remove the orange tree from its container. If it is stuck, squeeze softly around the sides of the plastic container until it easily comes free. Do not pull it out if it is stuck, as that can cause the tree to literally break and die before you even get it in the ground.
Carefully place the tree in the center of the hole and begin replacing the soil around it. Pat gently as you go but do not pack the soil too firmly. Once the tree is stable, check the soil levels and adjust as needed.
When you have finished replacing the soil, thoroughly water your new orange tree and the soil all around it with your garden hose. You can also set up a soaker hose with a timer or a sprinkler to help water your tree on the first day or for the foreseeable future if you live somewhere that does not get enough rain.
Lastly, you can place a layer of mulch around your orange tree to help keep the soil moist and to prevent weeds from growing near your orange tree. Make sure that you leave some space between the mulch and the trunk of your tree. The mulch should instead cover the ground over the area where your orange tree’s roots will eventually be underground.
How To Plant An Orange Tree In A Container
Planting trees in containers is a little different from planting trees outdoors in the ground, but with these tips, you will be on your way to growing a tree indoors in no time.
Planting an orange tree in a container is as simple as choosing the right container, knowing a few extra tips while planting, and setting yourself up with the ability to move the container around so you can always optimize your orange tree’s sunlight, water, and temperature.
You can also take some added steps to make the air near your tree more humid, which is especially important in the winter when artificial indoor heating dries out the air. Read on for the steps to plant your orange tree in a container.
Choosing A Container
The container that you choose is of utmost importance when planting an orange tree. The size is super important, as are some other qualities like the ability to drain and the ability to move around easily. Let’s take a look at some detailed tips to help you pick the right container from your orange tree from the very beginning, so you do not have to replant your tree any time soon, or even ever at all!
Choosing The Right Size Container For Your Orange Tree
In general, choose a container that is significantly larger than the root ball of your tree. You want to avoid moving your tree for as long as possible, or, even better, you want to keep your tree in the same container for the span of its lifetime.
Moving your tree leaves it open to potential damage to its roots or branches just from being moved, and it makes it possible that the tree could go into shock, so try not to move it if you can avoid it.
Making Sure Your Container Has Adequate Drainage
Choose a container that has drainage holes in the bottom. You can buy a pot with an attached pan for catching the water that drains out or you can buy a separate one, but either way, make sure you have some sort of pan or attachment for catching water that drains out.
Many times, plants can easily be overwatered indoors and, while this probably will not be dangerous to the plant if you have taken the right steps to help the soil drain adequately, it can be really messy!
Avoid flooded floors by placing a saucer made for pots under your container to catch that extra water when the orange tree’s soil drains.
Give Your Orange Tree The Ability To Be Easily Moved
Lastly, choose a container that fits on a rolling plant stand. If you place the container on a plant stand that has wheels, you can make it much easier to move the orange tree around in your home, or even move it between the indoors and outdoors.
The container may seem light when you first purchase it, but it will assuredly become much, much heavier once you add soil, the orange tree itself, and especially the water. Water is super heavy! Once you plant and water your tree, those wheels will definitely come in handy.
The amount of sunlight in your home will vary throughout the year, and the temperatures and humidity of rooms can change throughout the year, too. Plus, some people like to keep their orange trees outdoors in the warm summer months and then move them inside during the colder parts of the year.
Having the ability to roll your orange tree around on a plant stand with wheels will be very beneficial.
You can try one like this Dulce Luna Plant Caddy with Lockable Wheels, which is a plant stand that holds up to 150 pounds and comes in a pack of two. Or you could also take a look at this option, a 14-inch Wandering Donkey Heavy-Duty Plant Caddie with Wheels, which also has a little bit of a rim around it to hold just a tiny bit of drained water.
You should still use a saucer even with options like these, but that ridge does provide you with a tiny bit of extra coverage for leaks from your container orange tree.
Preparing Your Container For Planting
Before you put the orange tree or any soil in your container, it’s a good idea to prep it and you should definitely set it up for good drainage. First, give your container a quick spray with your garden hose just to rinse off any residual dirt from where you purchased it and to make sure no other plants are going to accidentally interfere with your orange tree.
Next, make sure your orange tree’s soil will be well drained by giving your container an extra layer of protection against too much water being stuck in the container, which can cause root rot, a dangerous condition for trees.
Start with your empty container and put a layer of pebbles, bark, or even just rocks from your yard in the bottom. Make at least one full layer that is a couple of inches thick.
This bottom layer of rocks will help water drain from the container better than if the bottom of the container were just packed solid with soil. Now you have prepped your container and you are ready to actually plant the orange tree.
Planting The Orange Tree
Make sure you give yourself enough time for these next steps. If you need to keep your container outdoors for the initial planting and watering stages, make sure to begin in the morning when your orange tree will have plenty of time to dry and will not get too cold before you move it indoors.
The best time to plant most trees is in the fall or spring, but you can plant a container tree at any time of the year as long as you make sure you do not leave it outside for very long on the first day. If you are planting during a cold time of year, try to plant indoors or at least somewhere not completely exposed to the elements, like your garage or porch. Give your orange tree the best environment from day one.
Placing The Orange Tree In The Container
Look at the orange tree in whatever container the seedling has arrived in and estimate how much room you need in the container to allow the orange tree to rest on a layer of soil and for there to be at least a couple of inches between the top layer of soil and the rim of the container. Don’t leave too much space, but make sure there are at least a couple of inches.
Use a spade or your hands to place some potting soil in your container.
Another advantage of planting your orange tree in a container is that you have complete control over the type and contents of the soil you use. You can use potting soil that is specifically formulated for indoor trees, like this Soil Sunrise Store Citrus Tree Potting Soil Mix, which is made for this exact scenario: planting an orange tree in a container for growth indoors.
When you think the soil level is right, gently remove your orange tree from its container. If it is hard to get it out, gently squeeze around the sides of the plastic until the tree’s root ball comes loose. Then very carefully place it in the center of the container and check the levels.
Once the tree is at the right height, start placing potting soil around the root ball, moving in a circle to keep the soil even and keep the tree upright. When you have completely covered the root ball, gently pat the soil and place more as needed.
Congratulations! You just planted your orange tree!
Watering Your Container Orange Tree For The First Time
Once you have planted your orange tree in the container, you will need to thoroughly water it. This is best done outside, where you don’t have to worry about drainage, and can really give the whole tree a good soaking.
Use a gentle setting on your garden hose and water the whole tree, making sure to completely saturate the soil. If you are able to, it’s a good idea to water the tree until you can tell that your container is draining, then stop and let your orange tree dry a bit before bringing it indoors.
Long-Term Care: Using Fertilizers For Your Orange Tree
When your orange tree has gone through one full growth cycle, it will be mature enough for you to try using some fertilizer. Using fertilizer does not have to be a daunting process. Also, there are fertilizers out there that are made specifically for citrus trees like your new orange tree.
Using Fertilizer Granules
For example, you could try Miracle-Gro Shake ‘N Feed Citrus, Avocado, and Mango Plant Food, which provides some nutrients that are specially meant for citrus trees to help them flourish and grow fruit.
You can also consider an organic version of the same type of fertilizer, like the Down to Earth Organic Citrus Fertilizer Mix. This product is certified for use in organic gardens, so if you have any plans to sell your oranges and would like to market them as organic, they would still qualify even if you use this fertilizer.
The product is specifically made for citrus trees like lemons, oranges, and grapefruits, but it can also be used on other types of trees that are not citrus. It also has a number of interesting ingredients, including fish bone meal and feather meal.
Fertilizer Spikes Make It Easy
If you do not want to sprinkle fertilizer around the soil at the base of your new orange tree, as perhaps you have pets or children and want to make sure that no one tracks the fertilizer into the house or into other places in your yard, you can use spikes instead.
You might want to try something specific to orange trees, like Jobe’s Fertilizer Spikes, which are just what they sound like: spikes of fertilizer that you just stick into the ground in strategic areas around the soil surrounding your orange tree.
Another option for fertilizer specific to citrus trees like your orange tree is Miracle-Gro Fruit and Citrus Plant Food Spikes, which claim to contain some natural ingredients and are also able to be used on palm trees. These spikes claim to provide nutrients that help your tree grow better oranges.
Watering Your Orange Tree To Help It Thrive
As you consider the long-term care of your orange tree, you might want to read more detailed information regarding elements like water.
For just that topic, check out our article on how how of to water an orange tree, which details exactly how much and how often you should water an orange tree in a number of circumstances, environments, and situations.
Take Care To Weed Around Your Orange Tree
The shoots of orange trees do not grow particularly well, so they are not of much value and can just be cleared away. Also, any type of weed can compete with your orange tree for nutrients in the soil and for water, so it is best to keep the area under your orange tree free of any weeds.
You can accomplish this by using herbicide, which kills the weeds when you spray them, or you simply hand weed the area by pulling the weeds yourself. Another method is to surround the base of your tree with mulch to prevent weeds from growing up through the mulch layer.
Keep in mind that, even if you have planted your orange tree in a container, weeds are still a possibility. The wind carries lots of plants through the air, so, especially if your container spends some time outdoors, weeds can still grow in the soil in the container.
Check your orange tree’s container periodically for any growth around the trunk of your orange tree and simply clear it away by hand. It is best not to spray herbicides in a container tree, especially if it is kept indoors, as herbicides should always be kept away from people, pets, and food sources.
That’s A Wrap!
Now you are ready to choose a type of orange tree, scout and decide upon a planting location, plant your tree, and care for your orange tree in the long term.
Enjoy all that fresh orange juice!
Sauer, M. R. (1951). Growth of orange shoots. Australian Journal of Agricultural Research, 2(2), 105-117.
Yuan, R., Alferez, F., Kostenyuk, I., Singh, S., Syvertsen, J. P., & Burns, J. K. (2005). Partial defoliation can decrease average leaf size but has little effect on orange tree growth, fruit yield and juice quality. HortScience, 40(7), 2011-2015.
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