Have you ever considered trying to grow your own oranges? You should – it’s very rewarding! Orange trees are lovely to look at, with glossy evergreen leaves year-round and wonderfully fragrant white blossoms in the spring. And that’s not even taking into account the gorgeous, delicious fruits and orange tree produces!
Orange trees grow outdoors in USDA Growing Zones 10 and 11 (and in Zone 9 with winter protection). But here’s the good news for those who live in Zones 8 and below – dwarf citrus trees of all kinds can be grown in pots so you can keep them indoors some or even all of the time!
How long does it take to grow an orange tree?
The first thing people usually want to know when they find they can grow orange trees anywhere is, when can they expect a citrus harvest? There are lot of factors at play when trying to determine this, most having to do with the cultivar you decide to go with and the growing conditions you provide, but assuming you choose a one-year-old dwarf orange tree from Citrus.com (we offer dwarf varieties of several different orange trees, including the popular Washington Navel Orange Tree and the Valencia citrus tree), you could see fruit in as little as two years. “Seeing” it isn’t the same as “eating” it, though…oranges can take anywhere from seven months to over a year to ripen fully, but the wait is usually well worth it (and the hanging fruit makes the tree look even lovelier)!
Summer oranges vs. winter oranges: how is fruit production affected?
Orange trees begin to bud in the early winter, usually blooming in mid-spring.
Are navel oranges sweet? Oh yes – one of sweetest oranges to eat, in fact, is the navel orange (meaning the fruit actually grows a second, undeveloped “twin” fruit resembling a human navel opposite its stem; hence the name and the reason no navel oranges have seeds). Navel orange season is in the winter, meaning they’re ripe for eating from November to June. This winter orange peels easily and is generally regarded as one of the world’s best-tasting oranges. Because it’s seedless and not overly juicy, it’s a great snacking orange.
At the other end of the spectrum is the Valencia Orange. An example of a summer orange, the Valencia is typically harvested starting in March and continuing through September. Named for the city of Valencia in Spain, Valencia oranges are prized for their high juice content and availability outside of the typical citrus season, Valencia oranges are usually thin-skinned and have a few seeds. They are considered one of the best oranges for juicing.
You can find dwarf varieties of both the Valencia and the navel orange tree for sale on Citrus.com.
How long does it take an orange to ripen?
As stated above, oranges take awhile to ripen fully. Blooms appear on an orange tree with warm spring weather, with the fragrant orange blossoms growing in dense groupings with brilliant white petals. Both the bright color and intoxicating nectar scent attracts insects, such as honeybees, for pollination. If you keep your tree indoors all the time you can help it to self-pollinate by gently shaking the flowers.
Most of your tree’s orange blossoms will drop off without fruiting. That’s okay – most trees can’t possibly support all their blossoms fruiting. The blossoms that remain on the tree and fruit will continue to grow, maturing over seven to fifteen months depending on the variety. Because the fruit set takes so long to fully ripen, you may see new blossoms showing through last year’s yet-to-be-harvested fruit that’s still on the tree. It’s a lovely sight!