Have you ever wondered about the life cycle of an orange tree? Do you live where you can have citrus or fruit trees in your yard?
Orange trees can have fruit and flowers at the same time. It is not uncommon to see both white flowers and orange fruits decorating an orange tree (Citrus sinensis) throughout the year. Orange trees need full sun and grow in the warm climates of U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11. The life cycle of an orange fruit takes many months, but exactly how long depends on the variety.
With self-pollinating, but highly fragrant flowers, orange fruits start as flowers. The tree may have several blossoming periods between spring and fall. Bees, and other insects, jostle the flowers in search of nectar and fertilize the flowers. Orange trees are evergreen and produce a series of flushes of new leaves and flowers throughout the year, depending on the climate. Only a small proportion of flowers will produce fruit because the tree will drop many of its flowers or young oranges so it can support the ones it does keep.
Tiny oranges may appear in large numbers in the early spring, but the tree will shed many of these smaller fruits at the end of spring. Producing too many fruits spreads the tree's energy too thinly -- it cannot generate quality fruits if it needs to support too many at one time. As a result, the tree uses a natural self-defense mechanism of dropping small and sickly fruits to save energy. This drop also reduces the overall weight on each limb so the branches are less likely to snap.
Oranges take between five and 18 months to develop, depending on the plant. This growth period is often extended three or four months longer to allow for ripening on the tree. The keys to plump, sweet oranges are sun exposure and water. Your orange tree needs a minimum of six hours of sun every day with consistently moist, but never soggy, soil. The leaves absorb energy while busy roots absorb water to supply the fruit. Lack of proper sun or amount of water will lead to smaller oranges of poor quality.
After your oranges have grown to their full size, you can leave them on the tree to ripen for up to six months. They will continue to become sweeter on the tree but that process stops as soon as you pick them. Oranges do not continue to ripen off the tree. It is best to harvest your ripe fruits before the heat of summer arrives because the heat may harm the fruits and stress the entire tree.
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Sunburst Packing Co.
180 South “E” Street
Porterville, CA 93257