what-do-oranges-grow-on

What Do Oranges Grow On and How Do They Grow Best?

Packed with vitamin C and perennial members of the Top Ten most-consumed fruits list, oranges are cultivated in most of the world’s tropical and subtropical regions. They grow on trees that, with the right conditions, reach from 4 to 25 feet tall. Healthy orange trees boast fragrant spring flowers, glossy evergreen leaves and sweet, juice-heavy harvests. Read on to learn more!

Where Do Orange Trees Grow?

Native to subtropical India and China, orange trees (Citrus sinensis) grow in USDA plant hardiness zones 9 through 11. Where winters remain warm and humid, they’ll produce thin-skinned, yellowish-orange fruit but in cooler Mediterranean climates, their fruit is has thick, deep-orange skin. Wherever they are, their fruit becomes sweeter the longer it stays on the trees.

How Big Do Orange Trees Get?

Most orange trees are grafted onto rootstocks of different varieties to improve their cold and disease tolerance. Some of these rootstocks, however, have a dwarfing effect on the grafted tree.

Depending on their mature size, grafted orange trees planted in the ground fall one of into three categories:

  • Standard trees stand from 18 to 25 feet tall.
  • Semi-dwarf trees stand from 12 to 18 feet tall.
  • Dwarf trees stand from 4 to 8 feet tall. Grown in containers, they make greatindoor plants for gardeners in USDA zones 8 or colder.

Like all citrus varieties, orange trees grow slowly. Regardless of their rootstock, they need 10 to 15 years to attain their full size.

What Do Orange Trees Need to Grow?

Although orange trees need up to 15 years to reach their full size, they’ll bear fruit much sooner if they’re given the following:

  • Full sun for eight to 12 hours each day.
  • Well draining, loam or sandy loam soil. If you soil drains poorly, plant in a raised bed.
  • A location where nothing else — including a lawn — competes for soil nutrients or water.

The Drainage Test

To test your soil’s drainage before choosing a planting site:

Step 1: Dig a hole 12 or more inches deep.
Step 2: Fill the hole with water and let it drain.
Step 3: Refill it and wait 24 hours. If the water hasn’t drained completely, choose another site or plant your tree on a raised bed.

When’s the Best Time to Plant Orange Trees?

Plant you orange trees in spring, as soon as danger of frost has passed. If your summers are very hot, plant them as early as you can so their roots have established before the temperature climbs. Spring-planted trees are also more likely to tolerate winter cold than those planted later in the year.