Orange Citrus auranticum / Citrus sinensis

Oranges are a fruit that are used a great deal in our daily lives. In the right location and with the right preparation they can be grown in all parts of the country – either as a small tree planted in the garden or a container grown specimen. Oranges are highly productive plants and home grown fruit are often much sweeter and juicier than those for sale in shops. Oranges are frost-sensitive and need warm winter temperatures if they are to be planted in the ground. To get round this in cooler areas they can be grown in containers and protected during winter. Oranges are rich in vitamin C. Plants are self fertile – meaning they can be pollinated without the need for another plant. Orange trees can grow quite large – reaching the height of an average two storey house but the are plenty of compact varieties around that make them a suitable choice for most gardens – either planted in the ground or in containers.

Companions Dill, yarrow, thyme, marigold, borage, cosmos, calendula.

Quantity 1 - 2 plants per household.

THE GROWING LIFECYCLE



Oranges

  • Medium sized evergeen tree
  • Self fertile
  • Can be grown in pots
  • Harvest from spring to autumn
  • Sweet and bitter varieties

Jean Paul Knight's Orange Cake

I love this cake, it melts in your mouth. The ground almonds give it a silky rich texture.

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Our Top 5 Varieties

Ruby Blood a blood orange with rich red-flecked, juicy flesh. Fruit have smooth orange skins. Trees are highly productive with a spring harvest.

Best Seedless Dwarf produces medium sized fruits in early spring. Good for containers.

Harwood Late a popular sweet variety juicy fruit that have very few seeds. Forms a highly productive tree with a comparatively long harvest between summer and autumn.

Washington Navel a delicious, juicy thin-skinned orange. Fruit are large and produced in heavy numbers on these compact growing trees. Harvest is in late winter and early spring, fruit will hold on the tree once ripe for several months. Good planted into the garden or grown as a container specimen.

Seveille the chosen orange of marmalade makers. Seville is a ‘bitter’ orange that is very good for cooking – it is used for making marmalade, liquers, sauces and preserves. Grows well in containers – as long as they are large.

Getting started

When

Plant container grown plants in winter and spring.

Where

Plant oranges in full sun with room to grow. They will tolerate some partial afternoon shade. Protect them from strong winds. Trees planted in lawns or grassy orchards will grow better if grass is removed from a circle around their stem – take a stride away from the stem and make this the radius of your circle, remove grass and add a finger-deep layer of mulch.

Oranges grow very well in containers such as half barrels. This will reduce their ultimate size and is a good way of growing them in a small garden. Planting oranges in containers means you can put them in your sunniest spot – say on a deck or terrace. In colder areas pots can be moved to a protected location in winter or they can be insulated with frost cloth.

Soil

Oranges grow well on fertile soils with good drainage. If your soil is very sandy or slightly sticky and you want to improve it, you can add well-rotted compost at the time of planting and continue to mulch with rich compost as your plants get established. You can always grow oranges in a raised bed filled with sterilized topsoil and well-rotted organic compost if you have a really sticky clay soil.

SOW & PLANT

PLANT

Plant orange trees at least four full strides apart. Soak plants in water before planting them.
Prepare the planting area. Soil should be weed-free and well dug through to at least a full spade’s depth. Add well-rotted compost if necessary and mix with surrounding garden soil. Carefully remove orange plant from container by turning upside down and holding the plant across the base of its stem with a spread hand. Tap the bottom of the container until the plant and its root ball come loose. Handle plants by the root ball to prevent damage to stems and shallow roots. Place orange plant in a hole that is just larger than the container it came in. Back fill around root ball making sure there are no air pockets. Water well and mulch with a finger-thick layer of compost, shredded bark or untreated sawdust.
If planting in a container ensure it is large enough. Half barrels or large terracotta pots look good with oranges and they are the right size too. Use a rich, fertile compost with a layer of drainage material – scoria or broken pot fragments – at the bottom. Add slow release granules or sheep pellets before planting. When oranges are grown in containers it pays to put them where you’ll easily monitor them to ensure soil is moist – particularly in dry weather.

MAINTAIN

Keep plants weed free and maintain constant moisture levels – this is especially important as fruit swell and start to ripen.

Feed: To give plants a boost, feed them with a sprinkling of blood and bone meal around outer edge of foliage in spring. Ensure you keep a nutrient rich layer of mulch around the base or your trees at all times – this should give the shallow roots the nutrients as well as protection that they need.
Container grown plants may need more regular feeding with a constant layer of mulch maintained at all times and a sprinkling of blood and bone meal every spring and autumn.
Flowering: Flowers are pollinated by bees and other insects.

HARVEST OR PICK

Oranges can usually be harvested between early spring and autumn depending on varieties grown. Fruit are ripe when they turn fully orange and soften slightly. Fruit do not ripen off the tree so wait till they dislodge with a gentle twist. You can snip them with secateurs if you are sure they are ready. Fallen oranges are likely to be bruised and they’ll not last long so use them straightaway.
Storage: Once picked, oranges should last a week or so at room temperature. Chilling them in the fridge keeps them viable for longer.  

PRUNING

Not much pruning required:
Young trees are pruned to create a suitable, open shape
General maintenance:
Cut out any suckers from the base of plants.
Remove stems to improve shape and open up center of large growing plants.
Remove dead, diseased and spindly stems.

PESTS

Aphids and scale insects can be a problem on tender growing tips. These sap sucking insects deposit a sticky sugar solution on leaves and this often causes spore of a sooty black fungus to coat leaves. Use Neem oil spray in spring to control an early outbreak.