People are often surprised at how easy it is when they first learn how to plant orange seeds. Basically, it's much like planting any other seed. Plop an orange seed into the ground, give it water, nutrients and sunlight and it will probably grow. However, as with most things, you can get a lot more precise or detailed with the science of citrus growing.
If you plant a seed from a ripe fruit directly into the ground, it should take several weeks to germinate. You can speed up the germination process by placing moist seeds in a plastic bag and setting it in the refrigerator for 30 days prior to planting. You can also sprout the seeds in a container filled with moist potting soil placed on a sunny windowsill.
Warm to Moderate Climates
If you live in an area with harsh winters, your plant will not grow well in the ground outside. You will have to keep it in a container and move it indoors during cold weather. This is why most oranges are grown in Florida - the southeast has a warm winter climate. Citrus cannot survive in freezing temperatures and must be protected when temperatures fall below 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you'd like to eat an orange the year after you plant a seed, you'll have to buy the orange. It takes orange trees many years to reach maturity, from a few years up to 15, depending upon the variety. At maturity, the tree may be eight feet tall by eight feet wide, so anticipate this when thinking about where and how to plant orange seeds. Transplant your orange plant when it outgrows the original container so it will have room for the roots to expand.
Some trees may never bear fruit, even though they are lush and healthy and you did everything correctly. When someone plants an orchard, there are always a few trees that do not bear fruit. This is not a problem when you have a whole field full of trees, but when you have only one, you may find it to be disheartening. You do not necessarily need to plant multiple trees for fruit bearing, however. Many oranges have a perfect blossom, which means they have both male and female characteristics, or all that is necessary for fruit production is inherent in the blossom itself. This differs from many other fruit trees and vines, which must be planted in groups of two or three to achieve fertilization. Look up the specific requirements for the particular variety of orange tree you plan to grow.
Time to fruit-bearing for orange trees cannot be stated with certainty since fruit-bearing depends on many factors, such as:
- Growing conditions
- Soil nutrients
- Node development
- Type of seeds or the orange variety that is planted
Once you plant your seeds and germination occurs, you will notice that instead of one sprout from each seed, you will have three sprouts. Orange seeds are called nucellar seedlings. Many citrus trees have this type of seedlings. The sprouts are just like "clones" of the parent tree. Unlike human babies, which have genes from parents, grandparents and other ancestors, the orange tree makes a clone of the one parent tree. A clone is exactly like what it originated from - whereas a child with genes is unique. The child is not exactly like either parent. The genes the child receives are a random mix that is totally unique to this individual.
Of these three orange sprouts, two will be "vegetative" clones that are stronger and one will be "genetic" and weaker. Pull out the weaker, slow-growing sprout and throw it away (or let it grow as an experiment.) Your other two sprouts may grow into an orange tree.
Aside from the obvious benefits of growing your own organic fruit for the nutrition value, freedom from pesticides and waxes, and the great taste, there are other benefits of growing fruit trees:
- Trees filter the air
- Trees condition the soil
- Trees provide shade
- They shelter wildlife
- They attract pollinators to your other plants
How to Plant Orange Seeds
Here are a few more tips for planting orange seeds. Once your sprout has started, keep it growing by following these tips:
- Place it in full sunlight
- Plant in rich, fertile, well-drained soil
- Container plants dry out faster than those in the ground - don't forget to water your orange tree
- Feed it about once every 10 to 14 days with a well-rounded organic fertilizer
- Use compost in the soil mix in your container or garden
- Add a layer of mulch on top to help retain moisture
- Keep it in warm temperatures (never below 25 degrees F)
- If you placed it in a container, transplant it every so often to ensure the roots have room to grow
- Remember the mature specimen will be eight to ten feet tall and almost that wide - this tree needs space to grow
- Should pests become a problem once fruiting occurs, only use organic pesticides since you don't want to contaminate your fruit
- Fall is a great time for planting fruit trees
- If the weather is freezing, move your tree inside or into a greenhouse
Now that you know how to plant orange seeds, you may want to plant a whole orchard. Don't be surprised if the neighborhood wants to buy some of your delicious homegrown oranges!