A mature, standard orange tree in full fruit against an ancient pink mud wall
How to grow an orange tree from seed

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 online through a specialist supplier or, if you only want a few, collect your own from shop bought fruit.

Half an orange with the seeds being removed into a bowl
How to grow an orange tree from seed
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 seedling emerging through the soil
How to grow an orange tree from seed
 Soak the seeds for a couple of hours or so before planting them into 2-3 inch pots. Only sow one 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. However there is no need for concern if it takes longer as orange seeds have been known to take several months before they germinate.

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 outside to harden off over the next two to three weeks.

Orange seedling in a terracotta pot placed on a green aluminium garden furniture
How to grow an orange tree from seed
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.

For related articles click onto the following links:

No comments: