Orange Tree Care - How to Grow Citrus Sinensis

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by Max - last update on September 17, 2019, 7:38 pm
Orange Tree

Orange trees aren’t as difficult to grow as you might think. Keep them outside if temperatures in your area don’t fall below 25⁰ F or grow them indoors for fresh, homegrown, oranges.

Read here all about the orange tree facts and how to grow and care for it the right way.

Orange Tree Quick Facts

OriginChina and India
Scientific Name:Citrus sinensis
Common NamesOrange tree
FamilyRutaceae
TypeEvergreen tree
HeightUp to 30 feet
WateringMaintain moist soil
LightFull sun to bright, indirect light
HumidityAverage to high humidity
ToxicityNon-toxic
PestsCitrus mites, thrips, aphids, leaf miners, scale insects

Varieties of Orange Tree

There are dozens of types of orange trees, with many varieties and cultivars within each category. Some of the most popularly grown orange trees as houseplants, in home gardens, and commercially include the following.

Calamondin Orange Tree (Citrus mitis)

Calamondin Orange Tree (Citrus mitis)
Calamondin Orange Tree (Citrus mitis)

This is a miniature orange tree mostly grown for ornamental purposes because its small fruit is sour. It is easy to grow indoors and is a popular choice for a houseplant due to its maximum height of 4 feet and its thornless branches (University of Illinois Extension).

Satsuma Orange Tree (Citrus unshiu)

Satsuma Orange Tree (Citrus unshiu)
Satsuma Orange Tree (Citrus unshiu)

This tree originated in China and produces fruit that is very popular thanks to the oranges being seedless and easy to peel. The tree is cold hardy to a low of 15° F, though it prefers temperatures between 55 and 70° F. Satsuma trees grown in colder climates will actually produce sweeter oranges.

Sweet Orange Tree (Citrus aurantium var. sinensis)

Sweet Orange Tree (Citrus aurantium var. sinensis)
Sweet Orange Tree (Citrus aurantium var. sinensis) - Credit to john_d_rusk

This tree is not found in the wild, as it is a hybrid of two other types of orange tree. There is much speculation about which two trees resulted in the creation of the sweet orange tree, but many agree that it is a hybrid of the Mandarin and Pomelo orange trees. Sweet orange trees are commonly grown for the sweet fruit they produce and are an important commercial fruit. There are many varieties of sweet orange tree, including the Valencia orange tree, which is grown for its fruit that is commonly used to make orange juice, and the Hamlin orange tree.

Seville Orange Tree (Citrus aurantium)

Seville Orange Tree (Citrus aurantium)
Seville Orange Tree (Citrus aurantium) - Credit to hisgett

This is a type of bitter orange tree, grown for its fruit, which is widely used to produce marmalade.

Bergamot Orange Tree (Citrus bergamia Risso)

Bergamot Orange Tree (Citrus bergamia Risso)
Bergamot Orange Tree (Citrus bergamia Risso)

This orange tree is another variety that falls under the heading of bitter orange trees and is grown for its fruit peel, which is used to flavor Earl Grey tea and is also used in perfumes.

Orange Tree Care Tips

Watering

Young orange trees will need to be watered more regularly to sustain their developing roots. Once the tree is mature, you can expect to water it once a twice a week throughout summer and less so in cooler months.

The orange tree likes to be kept in moist but not wet soil. The best way to ensure you achieve this is by planting the tree in a high quality well-draining soil. This will help to make sure any excess water, either from overwatering or heavy rain, will drain away from the roots and prevent the plant from becoming waterlogged and victim of root rot. Well-draining soil is essential whether you grow your orange tree in a pot or directly in the ground. For trees grown in a pot, ensure the pot has plenty of drainage holes and that excess water is disposed of. If possible, water your tree with rainwater.

Light

orange tree in full sunlight

When grown outside, orange trees like to benefit from plenty of sun, but should be sheltered from the more intense light of the afternoon. Around 4 to 6 hours of sunlight will be enough for an orange tree growing outside, but you have to be careful with younger trees, which can become damaged from the sun. The trunk of young trees can be harmed from too much sun, so you may need to protect the trunk until the foliage grows enough to offer its own protection. You can buy a tree wrap for the trunk, of paint it with whitewash.

Orange trees grown indoors have slightly different needs. They prefer bright indirect light, preferably near a west or south-facing window. Indoor orange trees need plenty of light, around six to eight hours each day, to be able to produce the energy to bear fruit.

Temperature

orange tree likes consistent comfortable temperature for fruit production

If you are growing an orange tree specifically with the intent to produce fruit, then an indoor climate is most likely to yield results thanks to the consistent, comfortable temperature found in homes, which orange trees prefer. The ideal daytime temperature for indoor orange trees is 65° F, with this dropping by around 5 or 10 degrees each night.

Orange trees grown outdoors can be quite picky, and though they may grow well outside, they often fail to produce fruit in home gardens. If you grow orange trees outside, they will like to be kept warm. Once mature, orange trees can tolerate temperatures up to 25° F, but temperatures in this range can harm or kill young orange trees. If your tree is grown outside all year round, then temperatures will need to stay above 25° F. If the weather gets colder than this, you will need to bring your tree inside, or if it is growing in the ground, you can protect it from low temperatures by wrapping it in a blanket (University of Minnesota Extension).

Humidity

The ideal humidity range for orange trees is between 50 and 70%. To achieve this indoors, you can employ the use of water misting sprays, pebble trays, or humidifiers. Keep the plant away from heating vents, which will quickly dry out a tree, and make an extra effort to artificially increase your inside humidity during winter when heating systems dry out the air.

Propagation

Propagate your orange tree by taking a softwood cutting in the spring of about eight inches long. Dip the cut end in rooting hormone and then, plant it in a pot of moist growing medium and keep it in a warm sheltered spot. Success rates of propagating orange trees from stem cuttings aren’t great, so do several stems at a time to increase chances of one rooting. Stems should start to root in 8 to 12 weeks.

Pruning

Orange trees need pruning in the same way as other citrus trees. Remove any dead, damaged, or diseased growth to keep the plant tidy and healthy. Thinning out weak branches will help to improve air circulation, and allow more light to reach the inner parts of the tree, which is essential for the tree’s ability to thrive. Remove any branches that reach the ground, or are growing within a foot of the soil level. Orange trees naturally tend to form a round shape, and you can prune any branches that fall outside of this shape to keep the tree looking neat and well-kept.

Flowering

orange tree flowering

Orange trees typically bloom in early spring when kept outside, though indoor orange trees may flower during winter. The flowers are small, white, and heavily fragrant. When kept as a houseplant, the flowers will fill your home with a deliciously sweet aroma.

Common Pests and Diseases

Orange trees kept outdoors can be affected by pests that are common among all citrus fruits, including citrus mites, thrips, aphids, scale insects, and leaf miners. Orange trees kept inside will be more likely victim of typical houseplant pests, such as spider mites. All of these pests can be discouraged from setting up camp on your orange tree by routinely spraying it with a neem oil mix.

Neem oil is an organic substance which gets rid of most common pests, and it is safe for children, pets, and the environment. You can spray your orange tree with neem oil as a preventative method, or you can treat your plants with it after finding an infestation. Heavier infestations may require the use of an insecticide.

Are you excited to try growing an orange tree? Let us know your results by leaving a comment, and don’t forget to share this page with others!

Orange Tree Care - How to Grow Citrus Sinensis

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