Orange trees are one of the most popular fruit trees worldwide. They are hardy and take little effort to grow. Also, they offer a mesmerizing show of fragrant flowers followed by a handsome crop of luscious oranges and rejuvenating foliage throughout the year! Wish to have all of these exciting perks in your yard? Below is a comprehensive guide that we hope you find helpful.
Orange tree varieties
Many different orange tree specimens are grown around the world. However, the two most common varieties found in the U.S. include the ‘Navel’ and the ‘Valencia’. Navel oranges are commonly found shelved in stores and are widely consumed. These trees grow up to 20 feet high and can bear fruit from October to April.
Valencia, on the other hand, are perfect for squeezing some fresh orange juice. These trees bear abundant succulent fruit for a space as little as 8 -15 feet. Other common varieties include Hamlin, Mandarin, Ambersweet, and Honeybells, among many others.
Size & appearance
In contrast to most other fruit trees, an orange tree is an evergreen that shows off its color year-round! The cheerful blossom of orange trees paired with a refreshingly aromatic citrus fragrance during Spring would leave you breathless. Summers go out with the ripening of little green fruit, whereas Fall and Winter enjoy a lovely foliage.
Orange trees grow up to a height of 30 feet while semi-dwarf and dwarf specimens take a height of 10-15 feet and 5-10 feet, respectively. Once matured, they attain a similar spread (around 20 – 30 ft) that offers a splendid show of colors throughout the year. These trees take the shape of an umbrella or that of a round globe.
Orange trees are well-suited to tropical and sub-tropical regions. These are climate-sensitive trees and do best when offered with temperatures ranging between 50 – 100 F. These enter dormancy during Winter and sustain well in Winter temperatures ranging from 35 – 50 F. Orange trees are sensitive to cold and may get damaged when temperatures are too frigid.
If your area observes a warm climate with fine hot summers, an orange tree might make a good choice for your yard. They are best planted in hardiness zone 9 and above.
When does an orange tree generate fruit?
Orange trees generally bear fruit by the time they are three years old, long before they attain maturity and full height. The time between flower bloom and fruit ripening depends upon the cultivar, maturity, and growing conditions. This period may extend from seven to fifteen months.
During the juvenile phase of production (first two to three years), the crop is likely to be small in size and bland in taste. However, the taste and quality develops over time. Also, most of the orange tree blossoms would fall off and turn into fruit. Not to worry nevertheless, this is a natural thinning process that keeps the tree from bearing more fruit than it can manage.
Like most citrus trees, an orange tree is expected to live up to 50 years!
Why are orange trees so special?
We all love oranges, don’t we? Plant an orange tree in your yard, and you will love them even more. Orange trees are evergreen trees that hold onto their green attire even during Winters. While the average height of orange trees ranges somewhere between 25 to 30 feet, some prolific specimens can thrive double that height with time.
Orange trees start to develop buds during late Winter, which unfurl as Spring knocks in. These buds then open into small waxy white-pinkish flowers shaped like a cup inverted around a cluster of yellow stamens. You’ll love the magically rejuvenating fragrance of these frothy white blossoms that perfume the air in Spring! These flowers soon fall and make way for a little green fruit that ripen into juicy oranges.
An orange tree has a single trunk but a wide round crown with many slender branches. The elliptic leaves of this tree are 4 to 6 inches long and 3 inches wide, and best of all, they are refreshingly fragrant! These leaves smell like fresh lime, lemon, oranges, and all the citrus goodness.
Where to plant an orange tree?
The US is the second-largest grower of oranges around the world (producing more than 25 billion oranges each year!). Florida alone has a $9 billion orange industry and 80% of the orange juice enjoyed in the U.S. is sourced from Florida raised oranges.
Oranges, thus, make a great choice for yards. However, within your yard, a few important points must be considered while choosing a planting site.
- Plant your orange tree in a loamy, slightly acidic, fertile, well-drained soil that comes off as a mixture of clay, sand, and organic content.
- Make sure to plant the tree at a site that enjoys full sunlight (for at least five to six hours a day) and is protected from strong wind.
- Orange trees require regular irrigation and although they are healthy, look out for any plant diseases caused by fruit flies, aphids, spider mites, etc. Applying citrus-special fertilizers can also be handy.
- These trees are self-fertile and do not need other varieties in their neighborhood for pollination. However, if planted nearby, do maintain a space of 12-25 feet among standard trees and that of 6-10 feet among dwarf specimens.
- It is advised to plant orange trees on the southeast of your yard or at such a place that receives good sunlight during Winter to protect any frost damage to the buds developing during the Winter months. Also, keeping the soil moist helps.
Interesting facts about orange trees!
- The world enjoys more than 600 varieties of oranges that come from widely cultivated orange trees specific to different regions. These varieties include Blood oranges, Sweet and Sour oranges, Navel oranges etc.
- Orange trees can bear more than 60,000 fragrant blossoms each year, out of which only 1% turn into fruit.
- Orange trees (seeds and seedlings) were introduced to the ‘new world’ by Christopher Columbus in 1493.
- The Washington Navel Orange tree that triggered the citrus industry of California worth billions of dollars still stands in Riverside, California producing delicious fruit every year.
Brain Teaser: Orange fruit or orange color, which came first? The mystery finally finds a solution as the word Orange comes from the Persian word ‘Narang’, which meant ‘bitter’ referring to the bitter taste of orange peel. So, it seems fruit came first!