Growing orange trees from seed is surprisingly straight forward, and something that anyone can do if they have a warm, sunny windowsill. Getting the seed is probably the hardest part of the whole operation. You can either buy on-line through a specialist supplier or,  if you only want a few, collect your own from shop bought fruit.

Once you have cut open the fruit and exposed the seed, remove the seed and wash off any fruit residue. You should always clean seed collected from within fruiting bodies as they will normally contain chemicals which actively prevent seed germination.

Place the ‘clean’ seed into a glass of water and discard any that immediately float to the surface as these will not be viable. Smaller seeds may rise to the surface as air bubbles form on the surface of the seed coat.

If you have a variety of seed sizes you may also wish to discard any that look undersized as these are unlikely to have a large enough store of energy required for successful germination. Once you have selected your seed it can be dried off and stored in an envelope until required.
Orange seed – like all citrus – have a natural dormancy period and so will require a period of cold temperature in order to initiate germination. They will germinate without this cold period but results will be poorer.

Luckily, most citrus fruits are transported using a cool-chain system so they have already been 'pre-chilled' before they reach you. If not, this can be overcome by placing the seed into the vegetable compartment of any household fridge and left for a few weeks. First, secure the seed into a paper towel by folding the towel it back on itself a couple of times, then place into a plastic bag or sterile food container before leaving it in the fridge.

After approximately three weeks - although they can be left in there for a month or so should they need to be – they can be removed from the fridge ready for potting on. Soak the seeds for a couple of hours or so before planting them into 2-3 inch pots. Only sow 1 seed per pot using a good quality, free draining soil based compost such as John Innes seed or No 1, then water in..

If you can, place the pots into a heated propagator at a temperature of 16 degrees Celsius, otherwise transfer them to a warm, bright position such as a kitchen windowsill. Water periodically so that the compost doesn't dry out, but make sure that the compost is never left waterlogged either.
Germination should occur any time from 4 – 6 weeks, but don’t worry if it takes a little longer as orange seeds have been known to take several months before they show.
The newly emerged seedlings can be left in their pots for a further 3 – 6 months depending on how they develop but once they get to about 4 or 5 inches they can be potted on to the next size pot using a John Innes ericaceous mix or No 2 potting compost. So long as there are no frosts predicted the young orange plants can be put out side to harden off over the next two to three weeks.

During the growing period they can be regularly watered and feed with a water soluble fertilizer once a week. You can often get yellowing of the leaves with orange plants due to chlorosis but this can be dealt with by feeding an acidic plant food.

Tip out the seedling depending on whether you are growing your orange plant as a bush, wall shrub or standard, or you can leave it alone - allowing it to take on its natural shape.

Unfortunately oranges are not particularly cold hardy although they will tolerate temperatures as low as 4 or 5 degrees Celsius for short periods without to much trouble.

For northern European countries it is best to keep all oranges under protection during the winter periods, but once the threat of frosts are over they can then be hardened off for a couple of weeks before spending the rest of the growing season outside in the full sun.

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Flowers said...

Thanks for sharing the tips to grow an orange tree from seed. It was nice going through your blog. keep it up the good work.

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember encountering this web page before.

As far as I am aware, no citrus plant seed requires any form of cold stratification, or for that matter, any other form of pretreatment.

It is however beneficial to remove the testa or seed coat to promote linear radicle extension.

Can you please respond to my post and state the source(s) to which you have referred when compiling your article.

Thank you

Anonymous said...

Furthermore, to misspell the word expertise is very sloppy indeed.

I await your evidence with regard to Citrus seeds.

Simon Eade said...

Hello Anonymous and thank you for your comments. Firstly, the word 'expertise' does not appear in this article and so your 'sloppy' comment should perhaps be directed elsewhere. Secondly, the 'sources' I refer to are my own experiences with growing citrus from seed, including various lemon and orange varietie. The subsequent plants I grow from them I give to my friends and family. As I have stated in reply your previous comment, citrus plants are cold refrigerated before they reach this country - England - making cold stratification somewhat unnecessary on imported food citrus to Northern countries. However, this aticle is read in over 130 countries so making a point about cold stratification is in my opinion - important. Kind regards, Simon. For further comments I will expect you to remove your anonymous status.

Simon Eade said...

My apologies, I see that you have left your name under a differetn article. May I further ask where you obtained your fruit?

Forrest said...

When the Orange seeds are wrapped in a paper towel in the refrigerator does the Paper towel need to be damp at all?

kimberly said...

This blog is absolutely interesting!! I usually like to use orange juice in every thing. The orange have many properties, vitamin and antioxidats. This is the main reason why i consume a lot. Actually now, that my husband buy viagra i prepare for him recipe who contain many vitamin.

Anonymous said...

Great Article. My daughter and I like to plant fruit seeds when we get them and have had great success with grapefruit, lemons, apples and tangerines. And we do put them in the refridgerator until the sprout. I just drop the seeds into a bag of miracle grow potting soil and throw it in the fridge. As a result, many of the trees we have growing, we don't actually know what they are. But we do have a beautiful grapefruit tree that is about 18 inches tall now after only 9 months or so. My problem with growing oranges (big ones) is that none of the oranges I buy around here have seeds. And we just love to do it from our own fruit. Which types of oranges are best to have get seeds from? Navals don't seem to have any.
Fletcher Smith

Anonymous said...

Caution tho it takes 7 yeard before a tree can fruit. Also the likely hood that the orange seed you planted will be the same in the store is slim. Most oranges have been grafted from a strong wild root stalk that can suport the energy needs of the fruit you like to eat.

Anonymous said...

Does the method you describe produce plants that will yield fruit themselves? In other words, can seed from shop bought fruit produce fruit-bearing plants? If not, is there a way of obtaining more suitable seed? Many thanks.

Anonymous said...

wow, oddly enough after I finished eating an Orange I obliviously threw the seeds in a pot already holding a plant. After a couple months I saw a sprout come up but I thought it was a weed. My father stopped me and verified it was an Orange sappling.

kris said...

this is unnecessary. all i did was take out seeds from an orange and put them into a flower pot and now it grows pretty well.

Anonymous said...

Hi! I am looking for orange seeds and I can hardly if never come across a page that directs me to buying seeds. if possible can you let me know a site that I can access information on Orange seed buying from please....


Roger Van Harn said...

Cold Stratification is not necessary. Last year I picked an orange from a tree near Bradenton Florida, ate it. Saved the seeds. Peeled off the outer layer, put them in a paper towel under a low voltage light. I had at least 12 seeds germinate as I have all 12 saplings now. I threw away at least 5 other seeds as I had more than I expected. Cold stratification is a myth for orange trees, not for apple varieties.

Devin Walker said...

ur information has been extremly helpful. thank u

Joshua said...

How do I trim my orange tree to stay small?

hanaa said...

Old blog but very well written. I have a blood orange tree that I wish to harvest seeds from and make new trees for friends and neighbors. This article solved some of my problems and corrected many mistakes. Thank you so much!

John - Sacramento, CA USA

Emma Dorsey said...

I have never had any problem growing the trees but I have never had fruit on any I have trees that are over 7 years old too. What am I doing wrong? I have lemon and grapefruit trees also from seed.

Brenda McClure said...

My grand daughters and I planted lemon seeds 23 years ago and we now have 2 small trees that are about 5 feet tall! All we did was stick seeds in a jar with soil. Fun.

Steven Vanslette said...

I planted seeds from fruit given to me by my son-in-law, whose father has a backyard full of trees. The fruit was very sweet, but mostly seeds. I collected several mouthfuls of seeds, thinking how sweet the orange is, why not try to grow it. I have 12 sapplings which are in pots that have gone from Clearwater to San Fransisco to Boston... they are on my window sills growing. I water them and fertilize them. My question is should I be pruning them to promote bushy growth, or just nature take its course. I plan to repot to bigger pots, but I intend to keep these plants as indoor plants since Boston is not the orange growing capital.

Danny Brown said...

Looking for a little advice.

I have about 6 orange trees just starting to grow. They have been in pots now for about 5 weeks and one thing I've noticed is they don't seem to be getting much bigger. I'm starting to think I may have done something wrong.

The pots I purchased claim you never have to water from above and all you do is add water to the little lip on each pot and the soil will stay moist. The soil is not dry by any means, but I'm wondering if I'm not giving them enough water.

I also used the Miracle Grow Seedling variety of potting soil and have noticed the soil now has a greenish tint to it. It almost looks sick or maybe like tiny moss is growing on it. Also, ever now and then I add a few tiny drops of the liquid Miracle Grow plant food to the water I add to the bottom. Is this a good thing?

I love in FL so they get plenty of sunlight as I have them in the window, but I wonder sometimes if it is not getting too hot for them as windows can intensify the heat.

any tips or suggestion or maybe just letting me know I'm on the right path would be greatly appreciated!