Growing Orange Trees in Pots
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Growing Orange Trees in Pots

Growing orange trees in pots is a great option when you don’t have a large backyard or live in a cold or dry climate. This step by step guide shows how to plant orange trees in pots including long term care of the tree.

An orange tree is a must for the garden with their attractive foliage and sweet-smelling blooms. There is nothing better than freshly squeezed orange juice made from fruit from your own garden.

Orange trees do take some space and don’t grow well in some regions which makes growing orange trees in pots a great alternative. In dry areas it is easier to provide enough water to the tree when it is in a pot.

Sweet smelling white orange tree blooms.
Orange tree blooms have a sweet smell.

Growing Orange Trees in Cold Regions

In colder regions it is best to move a potted orange tree under cover once the temperature drops below 26ºF (-3ºC) otherwise the fruit will be damaged. In very cold regions it is best to bring the tree inside during the winter months.

Best Varieties

What are the best orange tree varieties for pots?

Dwarf orange tree varieties are normal fruit trees which have been grafted onto small citrus tree rootstock. This reduces their growth and makes them perfect for growing in pots and containers.
The normal orange varieties of Navel, Valencia and Blood Orange can be found in dwarf form. The Italian orange variety Chinotto also grows well in pots and its branches can be trained against a fence to reduce the amount of space it takes up in your yard.

Purchasing Orange Trees for Pots

Remember to purchase either a dwarf variety or one which says specifically on the tag that it can be grown in containers.

Always look for healthy leaves and new growth. It is best to remove any fruit prior to planting so the tree can concentrate on producing a good root system.

Avoid trees with yellowing leaves. This is a sign of distress or disease.

This highly rated Calamondin Orange Tree is perfect for growing indoors or outdoors. Find it on Amazon. (Paid link)

Potting Up Orange Trees

An orange tree can be planted direct in its final large pot however it may take longer for the tree to reach maturity. The pot will need to be at least 23 inches x 23 inches (60cm x 60cm) wide.

Otherwise consider potting up the orange tree gradually as it grows. It is time to pot up when the tree has lots of new growth and you see the roots growing out of the bottom hole.

Transplanting Orange Trees

Young orange trees can be transplanted successfully. You may find the tree isn’t doing well in the ground with little growth despite your constant care. This could be due to the soil or climatic conditions such as drought.

They can be transplanted at any time of the year but it is best done in the winter when the tree is dormant.

To transplant the orange tree; water it well then insert a shovel straight down in the ground at least 8 inches (20cm) from the trunk. Angle the shovel upwards to loosen the roots then repeat right around the tree until it can be removed.

Transplanting an orange tree by digging it out with a shovel.
Gently prise the tree upwards.

Place in a bucket of water to reduce the shock until you are ready to plant the tree in the pot.

Growing Orange Trees in Pots

Citrus tree roots like to be kept cool so it is wise to avoid dark colored pots which retain more heat or place the pot in a position protected from the afternoon sun in warm climates.

Tools and Materials Needed

Instructions

How to grow orange trees in pots in the home garden.

  1. Prepare the Pot

    First prepare the pot by placing potting mix in the bottom. Place the orange tree in the pot to see if the level of the base of the tree is an inch below the top of the pot then adjust the potting mix as necessary.

  2. Add Fertilizer

    Add 1 tablespoon of slow release citrus fertilizer to the soil in the pot then mix in well.

  3. Remove the Orange Tree from its Bag

    Water the orange tree well then remove from the bag. Hold the centre stem at the base as you gently pull off the bag.

  4. Plant in the Pot

    Place in the pot then fill potting mix around the tree keeping the tree centred. Firm down then water in well. Keep moist for the next week.

    Planting the orange tree in the pot firming the soil down.

  5. Plant Care

    Apply liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks during the warmer months when the tree is growing. Apply a slow release fertilizer every 3 to 6 months depending on the product.

  6. Pot Up

    Pot up when you see lots of new growth and the roots are growing out of the bottom of the pot.

  7. Harvest

    Oranges are usually ready to harvest after the first few frosts. If you find the fruit is bitter it needs to be left longer on the tree.

Pruning Dwarf Orange Trees

It isn’t necessary to prune dwarf orange trees unless you are training the tree along a fence. Long branches may break in strong winds. Always cut the branch with sharp pruners below the break at an angle to prevent disease.

These heavy duty Ratchet Pruners have a wrap around knuckle protector and are easier on the hands. They are highly rated on Amazon. (Paid link)

Diseases Affecting Orange Trees

Leaves

Citrus Greening Disease causes yellowing leaves or small upturned leaves. There may also be leaf drop and dieback of the plant.

Root Rot causes wilting yellowing leaves.

Citrus Canker (Bacteria) causes brown dry spots surrounded by yellow on the leaves.

Greasy Spot (Fungal) will have black spots on the leaves and fruit.

Bark

Citrus Scab cause scabs to form on the bark of the tree. This will also affect the leaves and fruit.

Sooty Mould will cause the bark to peel off the tree and the limbs to die back.

Tip

Don’t throw away your eggshells. They can be dried then ground up in a food processor. Place the ground eggshells around the orange tree for a slow release calcium supplement.

Do you have enough room to plant an orange tree in your garden? Try this guide to Planting Orange Trees.

Dwarf lemon trees also grow well in pots. See this guide to Growing Lemon Trees in Pots for more information.

This guide to Vegetable Gardening is a great place to start if you are new to growing your own food or you might like this Homesteading guide to get more out of your home.

To Print or Save this guide to Growing Orange Trees in Pots, click the button below for the PDF file.

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