Growing an Orange Tree from seed

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How to grow orange trees from seeds

Orange trees are usually propagated by grafting. If we want to start an orange tree from seed, we have to understand that the orange tree grown from seed may not bear fruits for the first 10-12 years or more. It may not be able to bear fruit for the whole of its lifetime. Moreover, the tree will be susceptible to various diseases. These are the reasons why commercial orange growers never choose this method. They rather choose to use grafted seedlings. In that way, they benefit from a combination of a healthy mature tree with a desired highly productive variety. Thus, they can harvest a fair production after 2-3 years.

However, if we want to start from seed, the first thing we have to do is cut an orange in the middle and carefully collect its seeds. This may turn to be more difficult than it seems, because nearly all popular orange varieties are seedless.

Once we find a non-seedless orange, we have to wash the seeds with water and soap. Then, we carefully unpeel the seeds. We carefully rip the seed with our nails, in order to get rid of the various membranes that protect the inner part of the seed and will surely delay germination. The best season for sowing the seeds is during the spring, when the soil is warm enough (temperature over 60 °F- 15 ° C). We have to sow many seeds, since only a fraction of them will finally turn into young seedlings. Sowing takes place inside a big pot in lines spaced 3 inches (8.5 cm) and the seeds are sown on the line at a distance of 1 inch (2.5 cm). The soil mix consists of sand, soil and/or compost or other potting mix. We lightly press the seedling into the soil mix and cover with a layer of clean river sand to a depth of 0,7-1 inch (1.5-2 cm). Some growers cover the pot with a dark plastic bag, in order to create greenhouse conditions. The pots must be placed in a dark and warm place for 10-12 days. The soil should be kept moist (but not soggy) until seedlings appear.

When seedlings are in a height 8-11 inches (20-30 cm), we can transplant them in larger individual pots filled with soil, fertilizer and well rotted manure. Generally, the young seedlings shall have access to plenty of sunlight, but they must experience their first winter in a protected indoors environment.

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