Orange trees require additional resources to bloom and bear fruit. Sweet oranges, or round oranges, are some of the most popular home orchard fruits in the country. These trees grow from 25 to 50 feet tall to provide dark green foliage, sweet orange blooms and a full fruit harvest over summer for gardeners who care for them.
Oranges are a delicious, tangy fruit that you can eat as a snack, add to your breakfast plate, or even blend to make a juice or smoothie! This fruit has lots of benefits, from providing a good dose of vitamin C, to lowering cholesterol levels and making your immune system stronger overall, and even helping to reduce your risk for cancer.
Without the right amount of sun and nutrition, though, orange trees fail to bloom and grow oranges. To encourage your orange tree to produce sweet, juicy oranges, follow some specific care guidelines during planting and growth.
4 Steps to help an Orange Tree Produce Sweet Oranges
Put the orange tree in the right site, where it will receive full sun for at least eight hours every day. The tree won’t bloom or bear fruit if it doesn’t get the right amount of sunshine. If you can move your orange tree, do so. If you can’t move the tree, prune away any surrounding foliage to open up the area.
Increase the orange tree’s nutrition by amending the soil around its trunk with a mix of quick-draining soil and organic compost. Add a dose of fruit fertilizer to the orange tree’s soil in early spring to promote growth and blooming.
Water orange trees with 2 to 3 inches of water a week. Increase your watering when the tree begins blooming and bearing fruit, as increased water at that time will encourage bigger, juicier oranges.
Fertilize orange trees with fruit-specific or phosphorous and potassium fertilizer at the start of the fruiting period to encourage better fruiting and ripening. Orange trees require additional resources to bear fruit, and will bear larger, sweeter fruit if the right nutrition is available.
Many orange trees are self-infertile, meaning that the flowers on the tree cannot pollinate other flowers on the tree. If your orange tree isn’t bearing any fruit at all, you may need to plant a second orange tree as a pollinator, to fertilize the flowers and produce oranges.
What to Make With Sour Oranges
You probably won’t want to snack on a sour orange as you would a sweet orange, but you can use it in cooking. They can be used as a spice in certain dishes, and their peels have a pleasant, fresh, citrusy fragrance.
Sour oranges can be used to flavor beer, tea or to make jam. In certain countries, you may see the sour orange accompanying certain drinks or meals.
These days, even if you don’t have much experience as a cook, it’s easy to learn how to make a new dish that utilizes relatively obscure ingredients like sour oranges.
Use them in a marinade for chicken or pork dishes, as is common in many parts of Latin America. Or, use them to make a bitter orange juice, which may be a bit hard to get used to, but has numerous health benefits nevertheless.
Keep in mind that you’re using a fruit from a sour orange species, not an orange that is supposed to be sweet but has developed into a sour-tasting fruit for some reason.
How to Grow Sour Orange Trees
If you’d like to grow sour orange trees, you’ll have to do your research to ensure your hard work yields the best oranges. Before buying sour orange seedlings, it’s important to know whether you live in a climate that’s ideal for growing them.
Sour orange trees grow best in tropical to near-tropical climates, though they can generally tolerate some frost and extreme weather conditions (except for the bergamot orange, which wouldn’t do as well as other sour orange species).
The next thing to do before growing sour oranges is to check the soil. This is one of the ways in which sour oranges differ from sweet oranges. While sweet oranges should be grown in deep, well-drained soil, sour orange trees need low, rich soils with higher water content.
Sour oranges are usually able to handle various soil conditions that possess these characteristics. Also, unlike sweet oranges, sour oranges don’t need a tremendous amount of care to thrive.
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What Makes Sweet Oranges Grow Sour?
If you like to eat oranges as a snack, then you’re probably eating sweet oranges, as sour oranges are often much too bitter to consume out-of-hand. However, if you know that you’re eating a sweet orange, and it tastes bitter or sour, it could mean that the orange is not fresh, similar to milk that has soured.
You’ll know that a sweet orange is sour when the taste is just not what it should be, perhaps even causing you to scrunch up your face with the bitter taste.
Many factors can contribute to sweet oranges tasting sour. If you’re not an experienced farmer, it could take several growing seasons to get it right. It’s not just one factor that can turn sweet oranges sour.
Various factors include the location of the trees (climate, soil, etc.); irrigation; the fertilizers you’re using; the timing of your harvest: how early or late you harvest the oranges and your care of the trees.
If you’ve purchased sweet oranges, consider keeping them refrigerated, as this can help preserve your oranges a little longer. Between 40 degrees and 50 degrees F should help slow down the decomposing process, which can make sweet oranges taste a bit sour.
Secrets to Make Your Oranges Trees Grow Bigger
If you want to get the the largest trees possible that are capable of producing the most oranges, there are a number of steps you can take. Utilizing these tips should not sacrifice the quality, and may enhance both the quality and size of the fruit. To grow oranges effectively, keep in mind that the trees need nutrients, water and sunshine more than anything else.
One of the most important things you can do to encourage orange tree growth is make sure you provide enough light for your tree. Light helps the tree produce the energy that is needed to power fruit production. In order to make sure the tree is getting enough light, plant it in full sun.
If you plant the tree on a hill, make sure the tree is on a south-facing slope. Further, remember that pruning can ensure that enough light reaches the entire tree, but also that pruning can result in energy being transferred to fewer locations. If you do prune, do so sparingly.
Producing sweet, juicy fruit can take a great deal of nutrients out of the soil. Therefore, if you want the fruit tree to grow larger, the best option is to use a fertilizer heavy in nitrogen, perhaps with an N-P-K ratio of 2-1-1 or 3-1-1. If the fertilizer is slightly acidic, that would also be beneficial as citrus trees, including oranges, generally prefer to have a slightly acidic soil.
Fertilization should be done every month during the active growing season and one or twice during more dormant periods. If you want more specialized direction on which fertilizer to use, take a soil sample in for testing to your local extension office.
Citrus trees are often capable of withstanding some moderate drought conditions, especially in more dormant times of the year. However, the ideal conditions for optimum growth include regular watering in a soil that is well drained.
You should not water orange trees too much or keep the soil saturated because too much moisture can promote root rot. Water when the soil becomes dry to the touch.
If the size of the orange tree is a priority, your best choice may be the navel orange. This tree is one of the tallest growing, capable of reaching heights of up to 30 feet and growing out as far as 20 feet in diameter. The Washington navel orange is one of the most juicy and popular of all orange trees as well and can easily be grown in a grove or a backyard.