The sweet tangy flavor of a fresh orange is something that you never forget, and if you live in a warm zone (zones 9-11) like California or Florida you can enjoy fresh oranges from your own trees. What follows are some tips on how to grow oranges at home.
While germinating seeds is fairly easy, it is far more common to see orange tree seedlings used as a starting point for urban gardeners. Oranges started from store-bought seed will rarely produce fruit that is similar to the original orange, and it can take as long as 10 years to fruit at all. There are dwarf varieties that thrive in containers on patios and balconies, and by using container orange trees you can grow oranges in zones that are less conducive to citrus trees under usual circumstances.
Generally speaking, you should not expect your first fruit from a new orange tree until it has been planted for two to three years. The soil should be fertile and very well drained and you will need to water your orange tree frequently to keep the fruit nice and juicy.
Scale is one of the most common pests for orange trees, but it is fairly easy to combat with a spray made from a weak solution of water and rubbing alcohol. Many commercial products are not effective against scale because of a tough outer shell that is difficult to break through, and the alcohol solution works well. Scale can often be very difficult to spot, but if you begin to notice a large number of ants on and around your orange tree, that’s a good sign that scale is present because ants feed on a secreted substance known as honeydew that comes from scale.
Dormant oil sprayed in early spring can keep mites at bay, but infestations can be handled with a variety of insecticide sprays.