Successful Orange Tree Planting
An orange tree in your yard will provide many years of fruit and shade, so it pays to take the time to be certain that to pick the right tree for your area. While orange trees are suitable for U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9a through 11, there’s a good deal of variation among different varieties, so do some research prior to purchasing. With just a little work and attention, you can expect your orange tree to start producing fruit in three to five years of planting.
Choosing the Right Tree
You need to consider numerous factors when picking a orange tree for your yard. Considerations include cold hardiness, ripening times and resistance to insects. Local soil conditions and insects will determine that rootstock is most suitable for your area. One of the primary factors is the climate of the area. Orange tree types vary in freeze sensitivity and summer heat requirements for ripening. Nurseries and growers in your town can recommend the very best varieties, or you could consult your neighborhood cooperative extension office. While orange trees could be grown from seed, for the best results select a container-grown tree grafted onto resistant rootstock. Container-grown trees are more vigorous and recover quickly from transplanting.
Choosing the Right Location
Orange trees prefer a location with complete sun and well-draining soil. They need space to spread out — at least 15 feet apart from other trees, power lines and buildings, even farther from septic tanks and drain areas. In cooler climates, planting against a south-facing wall provides additional warmth. Grass and weeds compete with the newly planted tree for nutrients and water, so remove them before you plant the orange tree. In areas with poor drainage or clay soils, do a drainage test prior to planting. Dig a hole about 1 foot deep. Fill it up with water and wait for it to drain, then fill it again. Check the hole the following day. If any water remains, plant the tree on a mound or in a raised bed.
Planting the Tree
Container-grown trees can be planted year-round, but planting in early spring provides the tree time to become established before summer heat and cold winter weather arrives. The planting hole should be the thickness of the first container and twice as wide. The top of the root ball should rest about 1 inch over the surrounding soil. Fill the hole in with indigenous soil and pack it gently round the tree. Water the tree thoroughly, but do not add fertilizer.
Care After Planting
It’s important to water your orange tree correctly to get it established. A watering ring round the tree allows water to soak into the soil for proper watering. Mound soil in a ring round the outside of the planting hole, forming a berm that holds water. Fill inside the ring twice per week during the initial month. The berm will gradually wash away as the tree grows. Decrease watering frequency gradually, watching the tree carefully for signs of wilting during the initial year. A 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch helps the soil retain moisture. Supply extra water during warm, dry weather. A dose of fertilizer created for citrus trees, given when new growth appears, about three weeks following planting, helps nourish the plant. Proceed to fertilize the tree every six weeks throughout the summer and autumn, following the recommendations on the bundle.