Best Orange Trees to Grow in the Home Garden

Washington Navel Orange Tree with Orange FruitChoosing the best orange tree to grow in your home garden depends upon your usage, location, climate and growing conditions.

Big benefits
Orange trees produce many gloriously perfumed white flowers, sport glossy, green leaves and brightly coloured fruit – yellow, orange, green and almost red. Best of all, the fruit hold on the orange tree in good condition for many months after ripening. So orange trees provide long-term self-storage of fruit. Oranges are rich in vitamin C and are great for winter health including resistance to colds and ’flu. They protect the family from disease but most of us hardly give them a second thought.

‘Washington’ and ‘Valencia’ orange trees are far and away the most widely grown sweet orange varieties and the ones you are most likely to find at your local nursery. While many people love the taste of navel orange juice, the seedless ‘Valencia’ is also great for juicing and has fewer problems. You may encounter the following orange tree problems, pests and diseases: whiteflies, scale, aphids, fire ants, mites, scales, plant bugs, grasshoppers, katydids and caterpillars. 

‘Washington’ Navel
The ‘Washington Navel’ orange produces superbly sweet fruit in early winter. To eat the fruit off the tree, this is the best orange of all. But it has its disadvantages as follows:
• It is a hard variety to grow well, catching many diseases
• The fruit juice deteriorates rapidly
• It usually produces less fruit than ‘Valencia’ trees.

The ‘Valencia’ is one of the most widely grown orange trees in the world. It is a fast-growing, hardy tree and the fruit holds well on the tree for many months, making it a sweeter fruit than most other oranges in cooler areas. The fruit juice does not go off and turn sour in the refrigerator like ‘Navel’ juice does. ‘Valencia’ oranges are excellent to eat as well.

Best Varieties for Your Location

The seedless ‘Valencia’ is considered the best variety to grow in Australia as it has fewer problems than the ‘Washington’ navel and produces fruit over a longer period.

United States

If only a single citrus tree is to be grown, it may well be an early variety such as ‘Hamlin’ or one of the navel oranges. If there is room for more than one sweet orange tree, a midseason variety such as ‘Pineapple’ or ‘Midsweet’ or the late season ‘Valencia’ should also be considered. Selection of a tree from each of these three maturity seasons (early, midseason, and late) will supply fresh fruit continuously from early November to July.

Southern California
‘Washington’ Navels are popular and suited to cooler areas as they do not do not produce high quality fruit in the desert. They grow well in San Diego County, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, and Redlands areas. They can be harvested from January through April in home gardens.
Other navel oranges include the ‘Cara Cara’ which has reddish pink flesh and is similar to the Washington navel in taste and harvest time (February through March). The ‘Late Lane’ variety ripens late in the season, extending the harvest of navels into early summer. ‘Valencia’ oranges are also popular and ripens later than Navel (early summer through fall). The seedless variety is ‘Delta’. Blood oranges such as Moro and Tarocco do well in inland and coastal areas.

Orange trees growing outside the Lower Rio Grande Valley are at a distinct disadvantage with regard to climate, i.e., winter almost always will be accompanied by one or more freezes. Citrus trees are subtropical to tropical in nature; thus, they may suffer severe damage or even death because of freezing temperatures. However, there are some oranges that have sufficient cold-hardiness to sustain some freezing conditions. If you live in coastal and southern Texas and are willing to put in the effort to provide cold protection for young trees, and sometimes even mature trees, you can successfully produce citrus fruits including oranges.
The ‘Washington’ navel orange is popular in Texas due to it having good cold-hardiness. Other navel oranges grown include Texas, Everhard and Thompson varieties. The ‘Marrs’, ‘Pineapple’, ‘Hamlin’ and ‘Valencia’ varieties are also grown but it is worth noting that these varieties have poor cold-hardiness.

You will find full details about varieties of orange trees and other citrus trees and great advice and photos on recognising and correcting nutrient deficiencies, pest and diseases and problems in Grow Citrus: The Insiders Secrets to Growing Great Citrus

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