A member of the Rue family. Modern citrus fruits, according to genetic analysis,
are complex hybrids arising from mandarin, pummelo, citron and pepeda ancestors,
refined by more than four thousand years of cultivation.
Citrus sinensis, the sweet orange, has hundreds of cultivars, classified into
four groups: Mediterranean, Spanish, Blood, and Naval.
Lifespan: 50-100 years.
Leaf retention: Evergreen.
Growth rate: Slow to moderate, depending on rootstock.
Mature Size: 30' high, depending on rootstock. Width varies
Flowers: White, five petals, fragrant.
Bloom: Late winter into early spring.
Years before fruiting: 5-6 years from seed, less on some
Fruit: Round to oval, ripens to yellow or orange. Flesh is
juicy and sweet, yellow, orange or red in color, divided into
10-14 segments. The skin is tight and difficult to peel.
Seedless cultivars are available. Sweetness depends on total
amount of sunlight, nothing else.
Months for fruit to ripen: 9-12. Color is not a reliable
indicator of ripeness. Remove one from the tree and taste it to
determine if fruit are ready for harvest. Fruit that have dropped
from the tree within the last 24 hours are ripe and safe to use
if they have no cuts and smell citrus-like and not moldy. Most
Naval Oranges ripen in winter or early spring. Valencia Oranges
ripen in late spring and remain on the tree in summer. Fruit do
not ripen after harvest.
Storage after harvest: Oranges can last 2-3 months in a
refrigerator but must be well ventilated, not in a sealed container.
Leaves: Green, smooth, thick, ovate to lance-shaped.
Stems: A few spines. Bark is prone to sunscald if not shaded
by leaves, especially in higher temperatures.
Roots: Usually grafted onto a special rootstock that is pest
resistant and adapted to the local climate. Avoid the Flying Dragon
dwarfing rootstock because its limited roots need frequent and
Wildlife: Attracts bees, butterflies, birds, mammals,
including raccoons which climb the tree to pick the fruit.
A caterpillar host plant for the Giant Swallowtail butterfly.
Toxic / Danger: Not to humans. Leaves toxic to pets.
Origin: Southeastern Asia, likely China.
Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones:
9-11. Frost-tender. Best grown
on a south- or east-facing slope above the valley bottom
in zone 9a.
Sunset climate zones:
Depends on cultivar.
Depends on rootstock. Drought will damage fruit crop.
Water after becoming established:
Every two weeks, to weekly when
fruiting in the hottest parts of the summer. Orange tree roots can extend
twice as far as the canopy, so water beyond the canopy. Young trees
need watering more often than older trees even though older trees
consume more water.
Well drained, can be mixed with aged compost and sand,
pH 5.6-8.5 (acidic to alkaline).
Apply a citrus fertilizer mid-February, May, and early October.
Follow directions on package.
Or, if using organic fertilizer, apply every month from mid-February to
early October. Do not fertilize after October to keep the plant from producing
new growth that will be harmed by early frost.
Keep all mulches at least 1' away from the base of the trunk.
Keep grasses and vegetation 3' away from bud union on trunk.
Place the root ball so that it is slightly higher than the
surrounding soil and not at the bottom of a large basin that will cause
overly wet soil during rains and subsequent root rot.
Remove sprouts growing on the trunk under the bud union as they occur.
Remove dead, damaged, crossing and weak branches in late winter. When shaping into
a tree, unshaded trunks and branches should be painted with a white tree trunk paint
to protect against sunscald.
Dropped fruit must be picked up immediately to avoid attracting
Cuttings grafted onto disease resistant rootstock
adapted to the local climate. Trees grown from seed are usually true to
their parent tree characteristics.
Citrus: Diseases and Disorders
Ornamental, edible fruit.
The tree pictured is a Seville Orange.
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