How to Grow Orange Tree in Pot

In this guide, I will give the steps to grow an orange tree in a pot. Growing orange trees in pots is useful if you are short of sunny spots in the garden. The potted orange tree can be moved in sun or indoors during winter, as I am doing in Australia. Growing oranges like Naval oranges and Valencia oranges in pots allows you to enjoy the sweet oranges right at your home, in your patio or balcony or terrace garden.

Growing Oranges in Pots

Selecting the right orange variety is most important for successfully growing oranges in pots.

Oranges growing in a Pot
Potted Orange Tree
  1. Dwarf orange varieties are ideal for container gardening. Popular choices include Dwarf Valencia orange, Dwarf Navel orange, Washington Navel orange, Calamondin, etc. These dwarf orange varieties are well-suited for limited space and are more manageable in pots.
  2. You should choose orange varieties that will not grow too large, select only small growing varieties.
  3. It is better to buy a seedling from the garden shop rather than to grow it from seeds. The grafted seedling will fruit in only in a couple of years. how to grow oranges from seeds

Select the Right Container

Choosing an appropriate pot size is crucial for the well-being of your orange tree.

  1. Take a large and sturdy pot with good drainage holes to prevent waterlogging.
  2. Start with smaller pots and gradually transplant it to larger pot as the plant grows. Eventually, you will need a container of size 20 gallons to provide ample space for the roots to grow.
  3. It will be better to have a pot with wheels for its easy mobility and positioning.
  4. Do not use a tall pot with a narrow base, it will topple down as the tree grows, or during wind.

Potting Soil

Orange trees are adaptable to different kind of soils. But the best soil for growing orange trees in pots is a soil that is well-draining containing lots of organic matter. You can add perlite or sand to the soil mix to improve aeration and drainage.

Use a high-quality potting mix with added compost or aged manure to enhance drainage and fertility. This will encourage your orange tree to grow faster.

Positioning: Sunlight Requirement

Oranges thrive in full sunlight, so choose a sunny location for your potted orange tree. Ensure that it receives at least 8 hours of direct sunlight daily. You can move the pot in sun if you do not get enough sun light at one place.

If you are growing oranges indoors, place the pot near a south-facing window to maximize sunlight exposure.

Move the pot indoors during winter and extreme temperatures.


Put a thick layer of mulch on the soil to conserve moisture and prevent weeds. You may use pine bark mulch, sugarcane mulch, compost, wood chips, chopped leaves, or straw. The mulch should not touch the trunk, otherwise constantly moist mulch touching the trunk may damage the tree.


Proper watering is crucial for potted citrus trees. Water the orange tree consistently specially when young, keeping the soil evenly moist but not waterlogged. Once established, oranges are fairly drought tolerant, allow the top one inch of soil to dry out before watering again.

In very hot weather, your orange tree may need daily watering, specially if it is flowering or forming fruit.

The orange tree should never have fully dry soil for more than one day.

Fertilizer For Potted Oranges

  1. Citrus trees are heavy feeders, the potted orange trees require regular fertilization to thrive. Use a balanced citrus fertilizer with a high phosphorus, and potassium throughout the year with an organic-based citrus fertilizer. The amount of fertilizer needed per year depends on the age of the tree.
  2. I feed sulfate of potash to my potted orange tree during growing season to produce more flowers and to enhance fruit flavor.
  3. Poultry manure or cow manure is also great for potted orange tree and other citrus trees.
  4. You can add crushed eggshells to the soil around the base of the tree to add calcium to the soil.

Pruning Potted Orange Tree

Pruning helps maintain the shape and the size of the tree, making it more suitable for container gardening. Regular pruning promotes air circulation.

Remove dead and crowded or crossed branches for air flow and to encourage new growth and flowering.

Remove any growth from the root stock in grafted orange tree.

Pests and Diseases

Keep an eye for common citrus pests such as aphids, mites, and scale insects (get rid of orange stink bugs). Inspect the leaves regularly and treat any infestations promptly using natural remedies or insecticidal soap to avoid harming the beneficial insects.

Spray neem oil to fight insect problem. Spray pest oil regularly to prevent leaf curling due to leaf miner pests (citrus leaf curl treatment, oil spray for pests).

Harvesting Oranges

The oranges need about 10 months to ripen after the formation of fruit. The important question is how to know if the oranges are ready to pick. While, Valencia oranges are usually ripen and ready to harvest in the summer, the Navel oranges are harvested in winter. In Australia, the oranges are harvested from late autumn to late spring, from May to November.

To harvest oranges, just twist them off and pull them. I use pruning shears to cut them off the tree.

As oranges do not ripen after they are picked, so it is important to keep them on the tree until they are ripe. They will not ripen in a paper bag like other fruits.

Check the following points to know if the oranges are ready to pick:

  1. The ripe orange will feel firm and smooth with deep orange color. However, color is not always an indicator of ripeness, for example Valencia oranges may have a green tinge, yet ripe. In case of excessive sun, orange fruit can produce chlorophyll to protect itself and become green.
  2. The belly button point where the orange is attached to the tree should normally be concave, means going in.
  3. When you pull an orange, it should come out without any leaves or stem, if it is ripe.
  4. It is better to pick one ripe-looking orange and taste it. If it is sweet and you like its taste, then you can harvest the remaining on tree.

How to make oranges sweeter?

Generally, green or unripe oranges tend to have a more sour taste, while oranges that are allowed to ripen fully on the tree will have a sweeter taste.

If your oranges taste sour and not sweet, it means your area does not have a hot climate. They need warm summers for the fruits to develop sweetness. Summer heat is needed to build sugar in the fruits. You can try adding potash in the soil to make your oranges sweet.

Sometimes, oranges may fall off the tree before they are ripe. This may be because of too much or too less moisture in the soil. Standing water in the soil or dry soil may cause the fruit to fall prematurely. Also too much water may split the fruits.

Storing Oranges

Ripe oranges will remain good on the tree for a long time, until late winter. So you can keep them on the tree.

Once you harvest the oranges, they will remain good only for a week on the countertop. You can store oranges in the crisper drawer in your fridge, where they will stay fresh for up to one month.

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