Sweet Orange trees are grafted, consisting of two parts: a scion (upper part) that produces desirable variety and a rootstock (lower trunk and roots) selected for size of desired tree and hardiness to temperature and pest and disease resistance. They are attractive evergreen trees with dark green waxy ovate leaves and white highly fragrant flowers. Blooms appear for the next years’ fruit before the current years fruit is off the tree!
Orange trees make excellent accent trees in the yard and are self pollinating so you only need one for bushels of fruit on a mature tree. Standard size trees grow to 20 feet in height and 15 feet wide. Dwarf trees are also available for smaller yards or for container growing in colder areas to be brought inside in the winter, growing 6-8 feet. Branches form a dense canopy that can be used for shade or privacy. Plant 15-20 feet from buildings and do not plant over septic drainfields or near sidewalks. Fruit drop can be a nuisance if placed to close to a patio or deck.
March is a safe time to plant new trees. Early fall is also acceptable. Usually found in 3 gal. pots in the nursery, bare root plants are available thru mail-order.
In the Kitchen
The most obvious use of your abundant harvest is to juice your oranges. Nothing is like fresh squeezed, especially at room temperature, the flavor is amazing! Invest in a good electric juicer as you won’t last with manual types. Very high in Vitamin C and calcium, orange juice is one of the most nutritious of fruit juice.
Making orange marmalade is easy and also makes great gifts and use of your harvest. Oranges can be used in most recipes in place of lemons, providing a sweeter version of the recipe. Go to our recipe section to see the many uses of oranges and orange marmalade in recipes.