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Orange

Citrus spp.

Orange trees are a popular selection for gardeners in citrus-friendly climates. While grapefruits, mandarins, and acid fruits are also favored, sweet and juicy oranges are the most popular. In addition to producing tasty fruit, the trees have ornamental value, too. When in bloom they will perfume a landscape and a well-maintained tree makes a striking focal point. Plant an orange tree where it can be enjoyed from outdoor living spaces but far enough removed that any falling fruit will not create a messy problem.

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Light:

Sun

Type:

Height:

From 8 to 20 feet or more

Width:

10-30 feet wide

Flower Color:

Foliage Color:

Seasonal Features:

Special Features:

Zones:

8-11

Propagation

Choosing an Orange Tree

There are hundreds of varieties of sweet orange trees. Orange varieties are most often distinguished by when the fruit matures. There are early-, mid-, and late-season varieties. Expect early ones to ripen in November and December. Midseason trees will produce edible fruit January through March, and trees classified as late season will produce from April through June. Sort through those that grow well in your area to find the best fit for your landscape. Then plant a tree from each maturity season to enjoy fresh citrus fruit from November through June.

Turn your homegrown oranges into sweet orange desserts.

Orange Tree Care

Orange trees grow well in well-drained soil in a spot that gets full sun, though they will tolerate light shade. Plant at least 15 feet apart to prevent trees from shading each other. When shopping, select container-grown plants showing vigorous growth.

Container-grown plants can be planted any time of the year in warm climates. Place the tree in a hole so that the top of the root ball is even with the surrounding grade. Carefully remove some of the soil around the root ball to expose the outer roots to the surrounding soil to encourage growth into the planting site. Use soil to build a shallow basin around the root ball to contain water when watering the young tree. Make sure your tree gets 10 to 15 gallons of water each week during the first growing season. Spread a 2-inch-thick layer of mulch over the root zone to prevent weeds and conserve soil moisture. (An orange tree can be planted in Zone 8 but you'll need to research site requirements and growing tips at your extension service.)

Many orange trees benefit from regular fertilization. The tree's leaves and growth rate will indicate if fertilizer is needed. Trees planted in humus-rich soil are less likely to suffer from nutrient deficiencies than trees in sandy sites. Macro- and micronutrients are generally applied to citrus trees during their first few years after planting. High pH soil and iron deficiencies can be corrected through nutrition and fertilizer. Your extension service or local garden center can help address your tree's nutrient needs.

Orange trees require a minimal amount of pruning. Clip away shoots that grow from the base of the tree. These shoots, called suckers, will interfere with tree development if not removed. Pruning in the canopy should be reserved to remove dead or rubbing branches or to prevent trees from crowding buildings or nearby plants. Make all pruning cuts flush with the trunk or surface to prevent rot and pest damage.

New Innovations

Plant breeders are continuously working to develop orange trees that are more productive and grow well in small landscapes. Hardiness is also improving. For easy harvest and integration into small landscapes, choose one of the many dwarf varieties on the market. Dwarf orange trees are well-suited for growing in large containers for a statement on the patio.

More Varieties of Orange

'Cara Cara' navel orange

Citrus sinensis 'Cara Cara' is an early-ripening navel variety with pink-red flesh and a rich, sweet flavor. Zones 8-11

'Chinotto' sour orange

This cultivar produces small, sour fruits in clusters on a slow-growing ornamental shrub. It's a great choice for small landscapes. Zones 8-11

'Dancy' mandarin orange

Citrus reticulata 'Dancy' is also known as a tangerine. The sweet and flavorful fruit is smaller and seedier than other mandarins and bears heavily every other year. Zones 8-11

'Lane Late' navel orange

This variety bears seedless fruits with a rich flavor. A good keeper, this variety stays sweet and juicy from March to October. Zones 8-11

'Moro' blood orange

Citrus sinensis 'Moro' is a very productive cultivar with a distinctive berrylike flavor. Its skin is purple-red. Zones 8-11

'Oroval' clementine orange

This cultivar produces fruits early in the season, but other clementine varieties surpass it in fruit quality and flavor. Zones 8-11

'Sanguinelli' blood orange

Citrus sinensis 'Sanguinelli' bears tart, spicy-flavor fruits with few seeds. The deep-red juice and blushed rind make it a favorite. It thrives in heat. Zones 8-11

Satsuma orange

This variety bears easy-to-peel fruits with very few seeds and an intense sweet flavor. The juicy fruits are produced on semidwarf, hardy trees. Zones 8-11

'Shasta Gold' mandarin orange

Citrus reticulata 'Shasta Gold' bears fruits with a deep orange rind and rich flavor. The nearly seedless fruits are notably large. Zones 8-11

'Tahoe Gold' mandarin orange

This cultivar is a recent introduction that produces large fruits with a rich flavor. Breeding advancements make this one of the easiest citrus plants to grow. Zones 8-11

'Tarocco' blood orange

Citrus sinensis 'Tarocco' produces larger and sweeter fruits than its cousin, 'Moro'. It has few seeds and brilliant purple-red skin. Zones 8-11

'Valencia' orange

This orange variety is the most widely planted cultivar in the world. Its medium-size fruits are seedless with a thick peel and boast excellent, juicy flesh. Zones 8-11

Variegated 'Calamondin' orange

Citrus reticulata 'Calamondin Variegata' has green-and-white mottled foliage on a dwarf plant. The fragrant blossoms are a treat. The miniature orangelike fruits have a strong flavor. Zones 9-11

'Washington' navel orange

The 'Washington' navel orange produces large, oblong fruits. This cultivar is considered to be the parent of most other navel orange cultivars. Zones 8-11

'W. Murcott' mandarin orange

Citrus reticulata 'W. Murcott' produces seedy fruits with tender and very juicy flesh. It is also known as 'Honey' in Florida. Zones 8-11

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