This easy step by step guide with pictures shows how to plant an orange tree in your home garden. Oranges are a versatile fruit that are wonderful picked straight from the tree.
An orange tree with its sweet smelling blossom is a must have for any garden as any excess fruit can be made into juice, marmalade or even canned with a water bath canner for future use. See this guide to Canning Oranges with Cinnamon and Cloves.
Finding the right spot for your new orange tree will ensure the longevity of the tree and will increase the amount of fruit it will produce.
Orange trees like a full sun position which is protected from winds especially the hot summer winds. They are best planted amongst other trees or near a fence to provide protection.
Plant your orange tree at least 15 feet (4.5m) from other trees, fence posts and buildings. This will give the roots plenty of space to grow.
Orange trees like free draining soil. Clay and heavy soils can be improved with the addition of compost and gypsum. Areas which experience drought conditions will benefit from the addition of water crystals prior to planting.
You can plant orange trees in a pot but the pot or container must be at least 23 inches x 23 inches (60cm x 60cm) wide. Use a good quality potting mix with added slow release fertilizer for citrus trees.
Buying an Orange Tree
There are many different varieties from the seedless Navel oranges to Blood oranges and the popular Italian Chinotto which is great for marmalade and drinks. Whatever variety you choose it is best to buy a grafted orange tree as they will be stronger and will have a higher fruit production.
Always check the leaves. You are looking for healthy green leaves which don’t have a yellow tinge. Also avoid trees with black splotches on the leaves or that generally look sad.
Dwarf orange trees are also available and are a great option for planting in pots. See this guide to Growing Orange Trees in Pots for more information.
Planting an Orange Tree
The best time to plant an orange tree is in early to mid-spring when the threat of frosts is over. This will give the tree time to acclimatize and settle in before the next winter.
Tools and Materials Needed
- Compost or Aged Manure
- Water Crystals (For dry areas)
- Edging (For grassy areas) – Such as this top rated grass barrier from Amazon. (Paid link)
- Orange Tree
Time needed: 30 minutes.
How to Plant an Orange Tree
- Prepare the Hole
First dig the hole at least twice the width of the root ball and 1 ½ times the root ball deep then water well. Place either straight compost or several handfuls of manure mixed with the soil back into the hole.
- Adjust the Height
Set the tree in the hole to make sure the base of the orange tree is level with the surrounding soil. Add more soil if needed. For dry areas scatter a handful of water crystals around the bottom of the hole.
- Plant the Orange Tree
Next water the tree well then gently remove from the bag. Place in the hole then backfill around the plant with either compost or soil mixed with aged manure. If there is any soil left in the bag tip it around the tree as it will contain slow release fertilizer.
- Install Grass Barrier
For grassy areas place edging around the edge of the hole to prevent the grass from growing around the tree. It will need to be at least 6 to 8 inches (15 to 20cm) deep. Make sure an inch or two is above the ground to prevent the grass from growing over the top.
- Mulch and Water
Place at least an inch of mulch around the tree to prevent weeds and reduce water loss then water in well.
Caring for Your New Orange Tree
It is a good idea to pick off any fruit formed in the first season after planting to let the tree concentrate on producing a strong root system.
Water regularly during warm weather when the fruit is forming but be careful not to water the trunk of the tree. Oranges which have been planted in pots will need to be watered every 3 to 4 days in warm weather.
Are you looking for a pot for your orange tree? Try this beautiful 26 inch planter from Tusco. (Paid link)
Fertilize in the spring and late summer to early fall with a fertilizer high in nitrogen. Slow release fertilizers (paid link) made especially for citrus trees are commonly found at your local garden centre.
Poultry manure is also great for citrus however you must wait until after they have finished flowering or they will drop their fruit. Always leave a gap between the fertilizer and the trunk of the tree.
Ground up egg shells are great for spreading around your orange tree as they act as a slow release calcium supplement. See this guide to Using Egg Shells.
Oranges are ready to harvest after the first few frosts. If you find they are quite bitter then wait another week or two before trying another one.
Saving Money on Grass Barriers
To save money on purchasing edging to use as a grass barrier try using leftover damp coarse from your last building project. It can be easily cut to size and provides an effective barrier.
Another method is to collect used egg cartons then remove the top. Overlap the carton tops around the edge of the hole making small cuts in the cardboard if needed. These will disintegrate over time and will need to be replaced every 6 to 12 months. See this guide to Reusing Egg Cartons.
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