How Do I Grow an Orange Tree?

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  • Written By: Emily Pate
  • Edited By: E. E. Hubbard
  • Last Modified Date: 12 December 2018
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To a grow an orange tree, you must carefully prepare a site, and then choose, plant, and properly care for a young orange tree into maturity. It's typically not advisable to grow an orange tree from seed because they are highly susceptible to rot and disease. Consult your local agricultural extension or nursery experts to choose an orange tree adapted to your climate and soil. Oranges cannot tolerate extreme cold well, so if you live in a very cold climate, consider growing a dwarf container tree in a greenhouse or sun room for the best results.

Study your garden, yard, or patio for an appropriate place to grow an orange tree. Most sweet orange varieties need well-drained, loamy soil with a pH level between six and eight, little salt, and a spot on the south or southeast side of the home to protect them from the cold. The spot should receive at least six hours of sunlight each day, and no other trees, bushes, or plants should be planted too close, otherwise the plants will compete for water and nutrients. Choose an area where the soil is higher than the surrounding earth for best drainage, since orange trees are susceptible to foot and root rot.


After selecting an appropriate plant, remove the orange tree from its nursery container. Set it in a hole 1 inch (2.54 cm) shallower than the root ball, so that the tree sits a bit higher than it did in its original container. Place half the soil back in the hole around the root ball, and then water it so that it sets. Return the rest of the soil to the hole, and then water and cover it with an inch (appx. 2.54 cm) or so of topsoil to protect the root ball from losing moisture.

The next step in the planting process is to build a watering ring around your orange tree for irrigation. Pile a dirt ring 3 to 5 inches (about 7.5 to 13 cm) high around the tree so that the ring measures about 2 feet (appx. 0.6 m) in diameter. Water the ring immediately, and then two to three times the first week, and one to two times over the next several weeks. When the orange tree establishes at about 2 months after planting, water whenever the top inch (appx. 2.54 cm) of soil becomes dry. The water ring will wash away over time when you can install a soaker or drip hose system.

You should refrain from fertilizing an establishing orange tree until it shows plenty of new growth. Always test your soil beforehand to help you to choose a fertilizer properly balanced for your tree and soil. Consult your local agricultural extension or nursery if you're unsure about your tree's specific needs. Fertilizing generally should occur once a month during the growing season and stave off during the fall months to discourage tender new growth, since the tree is highly susceptible to damage from colder temperatures.

You should also try to remove any weeds as soon as they appear. They can choke growing orange trees easily. Removing grass from around the tree trunk also helps with weed control, and bare ground is preferable over mulch to discourage root rot.

As you grow an orange tree and sustain a mature one, protect it from extreme cold and freezes. Choosing a variety of orange tree adapted to your local climate can help with this issue, but, for protecting a new tree, building a soil bank may be necessary. Treat the tree with insecticide and fungicide, and then pile soil up to the tree's crown before the first freeze. The soil will protect the trunk and roots, even if the crown dies and must grow back again.



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