Holding orange tree - all about care, cutting and wintering

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Orange tree - Citrus sinensis

Already in the Renaissance, the orange tree came to Europe. To this day, the fascination for these plants is unbroken. However, under the prevailing climatic conditions in this country, the ornamental wood belonging to the genus of citrus plants is not hardy. Accordingly, it is kept exclusively in the bucket, where in summer sunny areas in the garden, on the terrace, the balcony but also conservatories graces. A year-round attitude in the living room, however, is problematic.
In its natural habitat, the orange tree thrives in a permanently warm, sunny and very humid climate. In order for us to grow well, flourish and develop fruits, the conditions regarding location and care must be adapted as well as possible. To avoid serious care mistakes, some basic things should be considered.


Orange trees are very warm plants. Therefore, they prefer a sunny spot. A year-round attitude in the room is not recommended and fails in most cases. Even if the plant has a sunny spot on the window, the lighting conditions in the house are not optimal, even in summer. Therefore, it should be in the garden from spring to autumn or on a sunny balcony to the south.
In order to flower twice a year and produce fruit, the orange tree needs at least 4-6 hours of sun a day, though the roots tend to be a bit more shady. Therefore, it makes sense to cover the root area with jute or similar on hot days. In addition, the plant should be protected against strong and cold winds, especially in spring and autumn.


  • The substrate should be lime-free and permeable with a stable structure
  • For young plants that are repotted every 1-2 years, it can be a bit finer
  • The substrate of older plants should also contain coarse constituents
  • Fine substrates sludge in the long run and suffocate the roots
  • A stable structure is achieved by incorporating gravel or granules
  • So excess water can drain well
Commercially special substrates for citrus plants are offered. Professionals recommend a mixture of 40% organic components such as peat, bark mulch or coconut fiber and 60% mineral parts such as expanded clay, lava scour or pumice.

K├╝belhaltung the best choice

In the prevailing climate in Germany you should not plant orange trees in the garden. They are not hardy and would not survive a winter outdoors. Accordingly, the K├╝belhaltung is the best alternative. So you can put them in warm and sunny weather out in the garden, because the sun is full, and fresh air appreciate these plants very much and return the favor with lush growth, rich flowering and maybe even fruits.
The respective planter should have sufficient vent holes and, above all, be large enough. In addition, it is recommended to use planters made of clay, they do not dry out as quickly in the summer as, for example, plastic pots. Not to mention a drainage layer on the bottom of the pot of coarse gravel. The not only ensures a good drainage, but complains the pot, so he does not tip over immediately with every small gust of wind. The heavier the planter the more stable it is.
Tip: In order to minimize the evaporation through the pot walls, you can brush it with vegetable oil before planting, which closes the pores in the clay.

to water

Orange tree - Citrus sinensis

Special attention should be on irrigation. Most of these plants are doused, so it comes to rotting and ultimately to their death. With a moisture meter you can avoid excessive watering. It is inserted into the soil and uses a scale to indicate the moisture content of the soil, which in turn gives indications as to whether and how much must be poured. Otherwise, one should not only orientate to the upper substrate layer, because the lower layers are then usually still relatively moist.
  • One should only water with lime-free water if possible
  • Watering should always be well tempered and not too cold
  • Preferably water with the dipping method
  • This is how the low-lying roots are reached
  • To do this put the pot once a week in a container with not too cold water
  • If there are no more bubbles, remove the pot
Basically, you should consider the current weather conditions when pouring. If it is warm and windy, the evaporation is much higher than in cool and humid weather. Incidentally, an orange tree naturally evaporates less water on very hot days, closing its stomata and thus reducing evaporation to a minimum. While rolled leaves may indicate a lack of water, flat yellow leaves may be an indication of too much moisture.


Like all citrus plants, the orange tree needs sufficient nutrients during the growing season, so long as it forms new shoots, flowers and fruits. If the plant is optimally supplied with nutrients, it blooms twice a year, in spring and autumn. With budding beginning around March / April fertilizes the first time and then once a week until July. Best suited for citrus plants, they are tailored to the needs of these particular plants. Important are fertilizers with a reduced phosphate and a higher nitrogen content. In addition, they should contain important trace elements such as iron, magnesium, zinc and copper.
Tip: It is best to always administer the fertilizer with the irrigation water and not to put on the dry substrate, which would lead to burns of the roots.


Orange trees do not necessarily have to be blended. Nevertheless, a pruning before wintering and a rejuvenation cut in spring are quite useful for older, sparse and longer uncut plants. Since these are evergreen plants, foliage loss is always to be expected after a cut, which is not unusual. The next sprouting the plant sprouts then the more magnificent.


The best time for a shape cut is in autumn, before the orange tree moves to winter quarters. These cutting measures help to minimize evaporation in winter and also reduce the footprint of the plant during the winter. In the form of cutting, all branches that disturb the desired shape of the crown are removed, as well as all protruding into the interior of the crown, too dense and lively growing shoots.
That all deadwood and stunted shoots should be cut out, goes without saying. For a dense and well-branched crown you cut in addition the outermost young shoots and all Neutriebe longer than 40 cm are about half. Even so-called water guns should always be removed immediately when they occur, they cost the plant unnecessary power.
Tip: It should always be cut close to the trunk or a strong subsidiary branch and no stumps left behind. Remaining stumps could favor infestation by the Botrytis fungus.

rejuvenation pruning

If a shape cut is made regularly, a taper cut can usually be dispensed with. A rejuvenation cut not only serves to maintain the health of the plant, but also to rebuild the crown. In contrast to the shape cut, almost all the foliage is removed here, and the entire crown is severely cut back down to about 15 cm long stumps.

Orange tree - Citrus sinensis

It should be neither consideration for leaves and buds nor possible fruits, even if it hurts. While no stumps are desired in the form of cutting, they are indispensable in a rejuvenation cut for the construction of the plant, because from the sleeping buds of these stumps drives the plant again. The subsequently growing new shoots are cut back to a length of 30 - 40 cm to achieve a better branching of the crown.
Tip: Isolated or herbaceous shoots that grow out of the crown, can be trimmed easily throughout the year. Used cutting tools should be disinfected before cutting to prevent the transmission of germs. In addition, the tools should be very sharp to avoid bruising when cutting.


The right winter quarters

As orange trees are very sensitive to cold, overwintering must always take place in a frost-free area. Nevertheless, they should be given as late as possible and returned to the outside as soon as possible, so that they can grow as long as possible under largely natural conditions. This generally makes them more resistant. When the right time is, u.a. from the weather conditions, which vary from region to region.
  • In the east, southeast and the altitudes from mid / end of October bring in the house
  • In the north of Germany from the beginning of November to winter quarters
  • Leave in the west and southwest until about mid-November
  • Moving to winter quarters when temperatures drop permanently below 10 degrees
  • Check for possible pest infestation prior to collection
  • Eliminate an existing infestation before tidying
  • Wintering places with temperatures around 10 degrees optimal
  • Winter quarters must be frost-free
  • Particularly suitable are unheated but frost-free greenhouses and conservatories
  • Here the light output is highest
  • Ensure adequate ventilation on sunny days
  • Avoid drafts at all costs
  • At temperatures up to 10 degrees, orange tree sets resting phase
  • Heated living rooms for wintering completely unsuitable
In the cold season, the light is significantly limited. Nevertheless, these evergreen plants require a minimum yield of light even in winter. Only then can they maintain their vital functions throughout the time. As the number of hours of sunshine in winter is usually not sufficient, it is advisable, depending on local conditions, to use additional plant lamps.The root ball should also be protected from the cold from below. For this you can put the pot on a Styrofoam plate or Kokosmatte and wrap it in addition with jute or fleece.

Care during the hibernation

If the temperature and light conditions are optimally adapted, the right care in the winter quarters is important. Even now, the orange tree must be poured and fertilized, but only in moderation. Normally, it is sufficient to fertilize the plants once and also cast according to needs, ie. always only when the upper third of the substrate is dry. As mentioned before, a moisture meter can do a very good job of protecting the plants from drowning. Too much wetness is the biggest enemy of citrus plants such as the organ tree. With proper care, the plants already welcome the spring with a fantastically beautiful flower.
Tip: Orange trees should always be kept in a cool winter. Thus, abrupt changes between temperature and light conditions can be avoided, they would put the plant strong and lead to leaf shedding. Domestic living rooms are usually too warm and too dark to overwinter citrus plants.

Repot after the winter break

While annual repotting is advisable in young plants, older plants should be repotted every 2-3 years, because then the roots are usually felty and the substrate is leached out. The best time for this is immediately after the winter break, because from now on, the roots grow stronger again. The size of the new pot depends on the size of the root ball and should be about one third larger than the bale.

Orange tree - Citrus sinensis

At least as important is a good drainage on the bottom of the pot. Then come a few inches of the new substrate. Afterwards carefully lift the plant out of the old pot. The loose soil and the top, non-rooted substrate layer are removed. When inserting the plant, make sure that it is at the same level in the new pot again. By gently tapping against the pot wall, cavities in the root area can be avoided when filling with substrate. Finally, press the soil and water the whole thing abundantly.

When to go outside?

Basically, the duration of hibernation should be kept as short as possible. When is the right time to put the plants out, depends on the weather and the prevailing night temperatures. In any case, it should be frost-free, both during the day and at night.
  • Clear out as soon as the nighttime temperatures are permanently in the plus range
  • Not relying solely on weather forecasts of the German weather services
  • In mild regions, the plants can get out a little earlier than in cold locations
  • Slowly get used to the orange tree to the new conditions
  • Do not stand in the direct sun immediately
  • Otherwise, burns threaten
  • If possible on a cloudy day outside
  • Start with a rather shady spot
  • Good is a protective house wall or a place under a canopy
Should it come despite frost damage, perhaps because you have missed the right time, this does not necessarily mean that the orange tree is received. Mostly the young buds, buds and flowers show frostbite because they are the most sensitive. If the damage is still relatively small, you can cut off the affected parts of the plant. If the frost has already damaged branches and twigs, you can not save the plant in the worst case. But until that happens, the temperatures must drop well below zero.



For sowing you should only use fresh seeds of fully ripe fruits, because they are germinable only for a maximum of one week. Therefore, they are placed directly after the removal about 1-1.5 cm deep in a sandy growing substrate, for example in a room greenhouse. Then moisten the soil and put it in a warm and bright place with temperatures between 20 and 30 degrees. You can also use commercial source tablets. Dipping the seeds in lukewarm water for about a day before sowing may accelerate germination. Then germination can take between three and six weeks. Then the plantlets can be separated and cultivated accordingly.


Slightly easier is the propagation over cuttings. For this you cut about 15-20 cm long and young shoot tips, which should have several buds and 1-2 leaves. These cuttings are then inserted into a rooting hormone and then about one-third in small pots of quartz sand. The sand is moistened and put over the pots a translucent foil. Then put in a warm and shady place. For rooting the cuttings now need temperatures between 20 and 25 degrees and a uniformly high humidity.

Diseases and pests


Ground rot is probably caused by a fungus. An infestation usually begins at the lower end of the stem and can spread over the entire plant. Parts of the bark are dark discolored and burst.Affected plants but at these points from a rubbery substance. As a rule, these plants die off.

Scale insects

Scale lice are usually the result of unfavorable housing conditions, often it is too warm and too dry. They are recognizable by small brownish shields on leaves and shoots. They can be combated with oily means and calise soap.

Wool and lice

These pests also feel particularly comfortable in warm and dry air. They sit on leaf axils, leaf undersides and shoot tips and can be treated with spraying against sucking insects. The treatment must be repeated several times.

spider mites

The spider mite stands out with its fine webs, which leaves it on the plant. She is also one of the sucking insects. Higher humidity and the use of predatory mites can reduce an infestation. In addition, spraying with oil-containing agents may be helpful.
An adornment for every sun terrace
Anyone who has ever seen a blossoming orange tree, is fascinated by the fantastically beautiful, snow-white and pleasantly fragrant flowers, which set spectacular accents together with the shiny green foliage. Although the care is a little more elaborate, this plant is worth every effort and thanks them with vigorous growth, magical flowers and maybe even juicy fruits.

Video Board: EZ Preparing Fruit Trees Young or Old For Winter.

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