Orange Tree Care

Read this article for an overview of the orange tree, and how to care for your own.

Orange trees are beautiful, and for this reason, they are often featured in advertising as the fauna of exotic, tropical locales. What many people don't know, however, is that orange trees can be grown in your own backyard, provided you have a somewhat moderate climate and are prepared to take care of them. Read this article to find out all about the orange tree, and how to care for your own.

The orange tree was first found in Southern China and North India. Because Europeans in the 1500's valued the fruit for its medicinal qualities, it was imported by Portuguese traders into around the sixteenth century. By the seventeenth century, small greenhouses were being built in Europe to cultivate orange trees, which by then were known for their sweet taste. The orange tree reached America in the nineteenth century, introduced to Florida by the French. Today, California, Arizona and Florida are the chief orange-growing states in the Unites States.

The orange trees is cultivated for its aesthetic qualities as well as its tasty fruit. It can grow up to fifty feet if given the proper care. It usually has very thin branches, which, when they are young, tend to have tiny wing leaves on their sides. Orange leaves generally tend to be long, slender and green. Before oranges bloom on the tree, it opens white flowers in clusters of four to six, with slight, sweet smells. When oranges first appear, they are generally yellow until they turn orange. Oranges can be seedless or with seeds, orange, yellow or red.

Orange trees typically grow in subtropical temperatures. While they are growing, you must make sure that temperatures stay around 50-100 degrees. Seedling orange trees may be able to withstand dips into cold temperatures, but older trees will die. It would be wise to consider placing protection around young trees as well, and perhaps a greenhouse. Orange trees should not be pruned, as this impedes their natural development.

You must make sure the tree is in a sunny area, in soil that does not retain water. Do not plant trees in alkaline soil, as they will not be able to survive. Mulch is always an asset, as it helps water to move through the soil and provides nutrients for the tree. If your area does not receive much rain, water the tree at least once every week and a half. If temperatures drop suddenly, cover the bottom of the trees in plastic, and if it becomes extremely cold, around 30 degrees Farenheit, consider moving the tree inside. You will know when to harvest by the size and taste of the oranges. Do not harvest oranges until they re completely orange, and all green has left them.

If you plan to fertilize your tree, there are several different routes you can take. You should only fertilize the tree 4-5 times during its growth period. When figuring out the dose of fertilizer to give a tree, consider the nitrogen content on the label of the fertilizer you plan to use. Since a tree generally needs 1.5 lbs. Of nitrogen once a year, split your doses up accordingly. If you use fertilizer in the form of pellets, tablets or powder, make sure that these release nutrients slowly enough to ensure steady growth for the tree.

When growing an orange tree, you should make sure you've found a tree that is adapted to your area. For example, Valencia oranges grow extremely well in Texas and Florida climates. You can usually find information on which area your tree is best adapted to on internet plant forums and sites dedicated to trees. The following is a list of some popular orange varieties, and their location:

Valencia oranges: A California orange that can also be grown in Texas, South Africa and South America. Valencia oranges are one of the oldest species of orange, with roots in China. Valencia oranges are notable for a green tinge that they acquire in the spring. For this reason, they are often dyes before being sold in mass quantities.

Hamlin: A breed of orange from Glenwood, Florida. This orange is greenish, with pale juice, but known for its sweet flavor.

Shamouti: This orange originated in Israel, and was introduced to Florida in 1883. It makes up about 80% of all Israeli and Lebanese orange crops.

Parson Brown: Rough skin, with pale juice, this orange was discovered in a hidden grove in Florida. It's primary value is its long survival period.

Washington Navel: This orange comes from Brazil, but is now grown in Florida and California. It is seedless and extremely juicy, and for this reason it is most often used to make orange juice.

These are just a few of the myriad of orange varieties that exist. Orange breeding is a full-time job for some, who work year-round to create a sweeter, tangier or juicier breed of orange. While growing your own plant does not reach this level of orange expertise, it will provide you with an overview of the care and life cycle of the orange tree. So find your tree, be careful and get ready to eat some of the sweetest fruit there is!

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