Growing an orange tree from seed is easier than you think. Anyone who has a sunny and warm windowsill can do it. However, it is important to know that orange trees are usually propagated by grafting.
That means that if you decide to grow an orange tree by using seed, you should understand that your tree may not bear any fruits for the first 10 to 12 years.
Sometimes, orange trees do not bear any oranges at all. Moreover, orange trees grown from seed are more susceptible to diseases. That is why commercial orange tree growers do not choose this method and prefer grafting seedlings instead.
However, if you still want to grow an orange tree from seed, here is the step-by-step process that you should follow:
The Process Of Growing An Orange Tree From Seed
Here is what you need to do:
First, you need to collect the seeds. In order to do this, cut an orange in the middle and get the seeds. This step an be quite complicated because most oranges are seedless. After finding an orange with seeds and collecting them, you should wash them thoroughly with water and some soap.
Before planting your seeds, you should soak them in clean water for at least 2-3 hours. If you can soak them overnight, it is even better. Do not soak them for more than 24 hours because the seeds can rot.
The next step is planting your seeds.It is recommended to sow only one seed per pot. It is better to use a 3-inch pot and a good quality soil that consists of sand and seed starting potting soil mix. Experts recommend to use seeds from different oranges in order to increase your chance to receive seedlings. The best season for sowing is the spring because of the perfect temperature of the soil – over 60F. The seeds should de sown to a depth of 1/2 inch.
When you are done with sowing, add a layer of river sand on the top of the soil and cover your pot with a black plastic bag. This will help to create perfect greenhouse conditions. It is also recommended to place your pot into a heated propagator at a temperature of 61F.
As an alternative, you can place your pot in a warm place, such as a windowsill for example.
Make sure to water your plant regularly in order to keep the soil moist until the seedlings appear. However, be careful and do not leave the compost waterlogged either. Usually germination occurs from 4 to 6 weeks. It may also take longer, so there is nothing to worry about. Sometimes, it make take several months before the seedlings germinate.
You should leave your seedlings in the initial pot until they reach a height of 8-11 inches. On average, this process takes 3-6 months. When they are high enough, you can transplant them in larger pots. Make sure that your young seedlings have proper access to sunlight.
However, leave them in a protected indoor environment for the first winter. Aslo, do not forget to water them regularly and use a water soluble fertilizer once a week.
If you want, you can tip out the seedling depending on how it is growing and what shape you want it to be. You do not have to do anything and leave it alone by allowing it to take on its natural shape.
If you live in a cold region with harsh winters, it is a good idea to keep your oranges under protection during winter months. However, once the winter is over, your seedlings can be hardened off for a few weeks and then spend the rest of the growing season outside in the full sun.
Problems With Pests
Pests (especially ants) are a common problem for citrus plants, including orange trees.
There are certain things that you can do. For example, you can mix 1 teaspoon dishwasher soap, 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, and one cup of water to create an effective solution.
Then, you should spray it over the tops and undersides of the leaves, leave it for a few hours, and rinse with water.
It is recommended though to test this solution first on a small area of your tree before spraying the whole tree.