How To Grow Orange Trees: Grow Orange Groves, Dwarf Varieties, Care

Man walking in an Orange grove after learning how to grow orange trees (indoors), citrus fruits planting steps, orange tree care tips, best soil for orange trees, and how tall do orange trees grow, as well as dwarf oranges and types of oranges to grow.

Whether you are interested in learning how to grow orange trees to produce your own supply of this zesty, delicious fruit or to create an attractive addition to your garden or indoor space, there is a lot to know about properly caring for these types of trees.

It is important to note that specific growth and care instructions can vary depending on the variety you plant so reading up more on the type of tree you choose specifically will be important for optimal results.

Orange trees are limited to specific climates, so if you don’t live in areas that support their growth year-round, that doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to grow grow Orange trees indoors (the dwarf varieties).

This guide explains the process so that you can give it a try yourself, no matter where you reside.

How To Grow Orange Trees in Colder Zones

You may be able to grow oranges in Zone 8, but you will be limited to certain varieties that handle the cold better, and they will require more diligent care. Hamlin and mandarin oranges are probably the most cold-hardy, especially satsuma mandarins.

You should plant them in the warmest part of your garden where they will get the most sun, somewhere in the south or southeast area. Having them near a wall for extra protection is helpful.

Citrus grows well in a container and this may be a better option than planting them in the ground since you can move them indoors when it gets too cold.

How Long Do Orange Trees Take to Grow?

So how long does it take for a tree to grow? A tree grown from seed can take up to 10 years to grow to its full size.

If you purchase a younger tree, it will probably reach its full size in five to seven years. So doing the latter is obviously a good idea if you are wondering how to grow an orange tree faster.

As for fruit production, that typically occurs in the third to sixth year of life. The size and amount of fruit may be smaller in the first few years, but once the trees fully mature, they can produce much more.

A navel orange tree for example may only produce 10 to 15 pounds of fruit in its third year, but by the time it matures at 10 years, it may produce up to 150!

How To Grow Orange Trees: How To Plant an Orange Seed

If you are interested in growing an orange tree ‘from scratch’ here is what you need to know about this process.

It is important to note that some varieties of oranges, such as clementine and navel, are seedless, meaning you can’t grow them in this way.

You would need to buy a tree from a nursery.

Orange Seed Germination

Step 1: Remove the seeds from the fruit. Look for healthy seeds free of discoloration, blemishes, and other signs of imperfection.

Soak the seeds in water to remove any flesh, juice, mold spores, and fungus.

Step 2: Soak the clean seeds in a clean bowl of water for 24 hours. Get rid of any that float to the top.

Soaking is important for the sprouting process because it softens the coating of the seed and ‘activates’ the germination process. Do not soak longer than this.

Waterlogged seeds will be damaged and won’t sprout.

Step 3: Put the seed in a pot or in the ground with a traditional potting mix. If planting in a container, put a layer of pebbles on the bottom to improve drainage.

Make a half-inch hole in the ground or the container and place the seed there. Make sure the seed gets lots of sunlight regardless of whether you are growing it inside or out.

Keeping the soil moist is important and you may want to cover the trays or pot with damp paper towels or plastic. You can remove them once the seed sprouts.

Step 4: Once the seed sprouts, giving it a mild fertilizer every couple of weeks will help it grow healthy. Give it a good watering once a week, or more often if the soil dries out before then.

Step 5: Once leaves start sprouting, you will need to transfer the plant to a larger pot. If you plan on keeping the tree in a pot, you will need to keep transferring it to larger ones every so often.

Graphics with texts and images that shows the five common citrus fruits grown at home.

If you live in a warmer area, you may eventually decide to plant it outdoors. If you do decide to transfer the plant to the ground, make sure you leave the root ball undisturbed as you remove the plant from the container.

The hole should be slightly larger than the rootball.

Orange Tree Care: How To Grow Orange Trees

Ensure successful orange tree care by following these essential steps on how to grow orange trees.


Orange trees require abundant amounts of sunshine to thrive. How sweet an orange gets is directly dependent on how much sun it receives.

Plant them in areas where they will get full sun for at least 8 hours a day. If you are growing a dwarf variety inside your home, place them near a sunny window.

How Often To Water Orange Trees

Orange trees need regular watering, but overly soggy soil can damage them. Younger trees typically need watering once or twice a week.

Established trees typically need watering once weekly. Watering a tree like this will depend on many factors such as the type of soil in which they are planted, the time of year, how much it rains where you live, or whether it is very windy.

If you see the leaves folding in on themselves, that indicates the tree needs more water.

Best Soil for Citrus Trees

Citrus trees need very well-draining soil since their roots are very sensitive to excess moisture. Heavy, wet soil will lead to ‘root rot.’

They do best with slightly acidic to neutral soil with pH levels between 6 and 7. At the same time, they can grow pretty well in any soil that has good drainage, sandy, loamy soil rich in organic matter is best for them.

Temperature and Humidity

As you already know, orange trees are native to subtropical regions and grown commercially in very warm areas of the US. While orange trees are hardy in certain respects–such as the type of soil in which they can be grown–they are not so hardy when it comes to weather.

They can begin to go dormant as soon as temperatures drop below 50 degrees. The optimal temperature range for growth ranges between 60 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit, whether grown in the ground or in a pot.

They do best with moderate humidity levels of at least 50 percent. As it was previously mentioned, some trees are a bit more tolerant of the cold, such as the Hamlin and mandarin varieties.


The fertilizer needs of orange trees primarily depend on the age, size, and type of tree.4 Generally, you fertilize the tree three times a year, meaning you would split the annual recommended amount into three ‘doses.’

The time of year to fertilize would also depend on the variety. Typically, trees do not need fertilization for the first one to two years of life.

The best types of fertilizer for orange and other citrus trees are ammonium sulfate, ammonium phosphate or fertilizers specifically made for citrus trees.

Pruning Orange Trees

Pruning trees after they have harvested their fruit for the year is the best way to benefit next year’s crop.5 If growing your orange tree in cooler regions of their recommended planting zones, pruning is best done after fruiting in the fall, before the temperatures turn significantly colder.

If you live somewhere consistently warm year-round, you can prune pretty much any time, but for optimal benefit, do so before the new growth of spring. Like any other tree, it is important to remove dead, damaged, and crossing orange tree branches to optimize growth, airflow, and the amount of light the tree receives.

For younger trees, prune away any branches less than a foot from the ground.

Growing an Orange Tree From a Cutting

If you would like to plant a new tree from a cutting, the best time to do so is later in the spring and earlier in the summer when there is still new growth being produced.

  • Use a pair of sharp snips to cut off a branch tip about 6 inches long. Be sure it has healthy leaves.
  • Cut it below the leaf node at a 45-degree angle and take off the leaves on the lower half of the cutting. Take off any developing fruit or blossoms.
  • Scoring the bark near the end of the cutting will facilitate root growth.
  • The cut end should be dipped into the rooting hormone.6
  • Plant the cutting into the center of the container, being sure to moisten the soil first.
  • The pot should be placed in a warm area that gets lots of indirect sunlight and covered with plastic to maintain optimal humidity levels.
  • After about a week, remove the bag so the plant can get used to normal levels of humidity.
  • Roots should form in about 8 weeks or so. You will typically need to place the plant in a larger pot at about 12 to 14 weeks.
    If you don’t live somewhere warm year-round, you should keep the plant indoors until the first winter has passed. How soon to place the plant in direct sunshine may vary depending on the variety so you should read up on the one you plant specifically.

Caring for an Indoor Citrus Tree

When it comes to growing an indoor citrus tree, here are some helpful tips to grow healthy plants with delicious fruit:

  • Orange trees need 8 to 12 hours of direct sunlight. Grow lights may be a good idea if your geographic location or the orientation of your house cannot provide this.
  • When grown indoors, they like temperatures of at least 65 degrees, with drops of no more than 5 to 10 degrees in the evening.7
  • How often your trees need watering will depend on the specific conditions of your home. Generally speaking, if the soil is dry one to two inches down, give the tree more water.
  • The soil in the ground will naturally contain all sorts of elements that allow optimal growth for the orange tree. So when growing the tree indoors in a container, you must mimic these conditions.
    The best soil for your indoor trees will include five percent nitrogen, two percent phosphorus, and six percent potassium. Soils produced for citrus trees specifically are probably best as they also include minerals that are particularly good for this type of tree, such as manganese, zinc, and iron.
  • Orange trees need moderate amounts of humidity. If your home is dry, misting the leaves with water or getting a humidifier is a good idea.
  • Once they are dormant in the winter, you still need to be mindful of the conditions in which they are kept and where. Keep them away from radiators or heaters so they aren’t exposed to dry air.
    Move them away from areas where they may be exposed to colder air, such as windows or drafty parts of your home.
  • The size of the pot will depend on the size of the tree. Generally, you need to re-pot an orange tree every two to three years as it grows.
    Each pot should be about one to two inches in diameter larger than the current pot.

Orange Tree

(Citrus sinensis)

Photo of the Orange Tree in an oval frame on green background.
  • Family: Rutaceae
  • Genus: Citrus
  • Leaf: Dark green, glossy, large, long, pointed, smooth texture
  • Bark: Smooth
  • Seed: The seeds or ‘pips’ are found within each segment of the fruit, rich in healthy fats
  • Blossom: White with five petals, fragrant
  • Fruit: Juicy, sweet flesh with 10-14 segments
  • Native Habitat: Tropical regions of Asia, particularly the Malay Archipelago
  • Height: 6 to 25 feet tall depending on the variety
  • Canopy: Up to 30 ft wide, very leafy and full
  • Type: Evergreen
  • Native Growing Zone: 9 to 11

IUCN Red List of Threatened Species Ranking

Not Evaluated


Types of Orange Trees

Orange trees like many other types of citrus trees come in a variety, with some being better to choose than others depending on the growing conditions in your geographic region, what you want to use the oranges for, and other factors.1 Dwarf varieties typically grow 8 to 12 feet maximum but will be even smaller than this if you grow them in a container, whether indoors or out.

There are many different varieties of orange trees but here are some of the most popular ones you are likely to see in your local nursery catalog. Most types of orange trees are available in the standard size and the dwarf variety.

5 Common Citrus Fruits Grown at Home

Here are the common citrus fruits that you can grow at home.

1. Washington Navel

This is probably the most popular type of orange you will see growing in people’s yards or in supermarkets. While many orange varieties are harder to peel because of their thin skin, the thick skin of the navel orange won’t give you this problem.

Photo of Washington Navel still on its tree.

(Image: Forest and Kim Starr8)

Grown outdoors, it can reach anywhere from 15 to 20 feet, while the dwarf variety will grow to about 10 feet maximum. Their peak fruit production is from October to February, but it can produce oranges all the way until April.

Photo of Valencia still attached to the tree.

(Image: Forest and Kim Starr9)

2. Valencia

Valencia trees produce very juicy, succulent oranges so are a good choice if you want to make lots of freshly squeezed OJ. They are relatively small with the standard variety growing 8 to 15 feet and the dwarf variety growing between 8 and 10 feet.

Peak fruit production occurs from March to September, and this tree is known for producing copious amounts for being so small. Valencia trees need abundant sunshine.

3. Moro Blood Orange

Their crimson, blood-like shade of red is due to a type of pigment that is very common in a variety of fruits and vegetables but is typically not present in citrus fruits, giving them a very interesting appearance. Blood oranges are typically sweeter and less acidic than most other types, and some have compared their flavor to that of a raspberry.

Photo of Moro Blood Orange tree full of ripe fruits.

(Image: Schipkeb10)

Blood oranges can be used for a variety of uses, from juicing to an easy-to-peel snack to a colorful garnish. Standard varieties grow 8 to 15 feet while the dwarf variety grows 8 to 10 feet.

The fruit is usually ready to be picked between January and March.

4. Hamlin

Hamlins are one of the more cold-hardy varieties and are best grown outdoors. Also known as the Louisiana sweet orange tree, it is known for its tangy flavor.

Hamlin trees grow to about 14 feet and its fruits are available from October to January.

5. Mandarin Oranges

Mandarin oranges are most popular as a handy snack due to their easy peeling and small size. They are in season from November through April.

Standard mandarin trees can grow up to 25 feet while dwarf varieties can grow up to 6 feet.

Photo of fresh Mandarin Oranges.

(Image: Tong Kuan Chuah11)

When Do Orange Trees Bloom?

Orange trees typically start budding in the early winter and begin to bloom in the middle of spring. This can vary depending on where the tree is grown.

In California for example, trees in warmer areas inland usually bloom in April while trees in the cooler coastal areas will bloom later in the spring, sometime in May. As for when the fruit is ready, that again will depend on the variety.

The fruit of most orange trees ripens in December, though some types, such as satsuma mandarins and Valencia oranges ripen later.3 Oranges do not sweeten any further once they are picked, so you don’t want to take them off the tree before they have reached their maximum potential flavor-wise.

The best way to tell if they are ready is by their color, but this isn’t always an accurate indicator. Once the fruit enters its ‘ready period’ you can test ripeness by taking one or two off early in December (or when that particular variety is supposed to be ready) and see how they taste.

If they still don’t seem ready, do this again in a week or two. Repeat this ‘testing’ until the fruit seems ready to pick.

Between their pleasant fragrance, delicious, colorful fruits, glossy leaves, and white blossoms, orange trees are a great addition to your garden or home. If you are a fan of this delightful, refreshing fruit, what could be better than being able to pick them fresh from your own trees?

Knowing how to grow Orange trees indoors and out can take your landscape and gardening to the next level, and deliver delicious results.

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Grow Orange Trees

How Far Apart To Grow Orange Trees?

If you are looking to create your own mini-grove in your yard, it is best to space standard-sized trees at least 12 to 20 feet apart depending on the variety, and dwarf trees about six to ten, again depending on the variety.

How Many Blossoms Does an Orange Tree Produce?

Orange trees can produce a whopping 60,000 blossoms but only about one percent will produce fruit.

How To Grow Orange Tree Faster?

There really is no way to make a tree grow faster than it normally does. Buying a tree from a nursery rather than planting from seed will move the process along, additionally, the best way to ensure ‘fastest’ growth is by following all the steps for optimal care, such as proper sunlight, well-draining soil, etc

How Tall Do Orange Trees Grow?

Depending on the variety, standard orange trees typically grow up to 25 feet tall. Dwarf varieties typically grow up to 10 feet.

Where Do Orange Trees Grow?

Orange trees are a very tender crop and are grown in planting zones 9 to 11, meaning areas that do not get colder than 20 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter.2 The bulk of oranges are grown commercially in Florida, California, Texas, and Arizona.


1Sauls, J. W. (1998, December). HOME FRUIT PRODUCTION-ORANGES. Texas Citrus and Subtropical Fruits. Retrieved December 19, 2023, from <>

2United States Department of Agriculture. (2023). 2023 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map. United States Department of Agriculture. Retrieved December 19, 2023, from <>

3Andersen, P. C., Ferguson, J. J., & Sahid, M. A. (2023, September 19). THE SATSUMA MANDARIN. University of Florida. Retrieved December 19, 2023, from <>

4The University of Arizona. (2023). How do I fertilize my citrus trees? The University of Arizona. Retrieved December 19, 2023, from <>

5Matisse, H. (2008, July). Pruning Citrus. The University of Arizona. Retrieved December 19, 2023, from <>

6University of Florida | IFAS Extension. (2021, August 5). ROOTING HORMONES. FLORIDA-FRIENDLY LANDSCAPING™ PROGRAM. Retrieved December 19, 2023, from <>

7Brown, D. L. (2018). Growing citrus indoors. University of Minnesota Extension. Retrieved December 19, 2023, from <>

8starr-150301-0359-Citrus_sinensis-Washington_navel_fruit-Hawea_Pl_Olinda-Maui. Photo by Forest and Kim Starr. CC BY 2.0 DEED | Attribution 2.0 Generic. Cropped and Resized. Flickr. Retrieved December 19, 2023, from <>

9starr-110330-3831-Citrus_sinensis-Valencia_fruit-Garden_of_Eden_Keanae-Maui. Photo by Forest and Kim Starr. CC BY 2.0 DEED | Attribution 2.0 Generic. Cropped and Resized. Flickr. Retrieved December 19, 2023, from <>

10Moro blood oranges. Photo by Malcolm Manners. CC BY 2.0 DEED | Attribution 2.0 Generic. Cropped and Resized. Flickr. Retrieved December 19, 2023, from <>

11Mandarin Orange. Photo by Tong Kuan Chuah. CC BY 2.0 DEED | Attribution 2.0 Generic. Cropped and Resized. Flickr. Retrieved December 19, 2023, from <>

12Species Information Image: Orange Tree Photo by Philippe Gauthier. (2020, August 18) / Unsplash License. Cropped and added text, shape, and background elements. Unsplash. Retrieved February 16, 2024, from <>