How to Keep an Orange Tree Healthy


Being able to make your own orange juice from your own orange tree is extremely satisfying. But, do you want to have the tastiest and much nutritious home made orange juice possible? If so, you will need a healthy tree.

The health of an orange tree depends on the quality of the sunlight, mulching, pruning, whitewashing, watering, fertilizing and pest control that your orange tree is receiving.

Sunlight

One of the main contributing factors for the achievement of a healthy orange tree is sunlight . Sunlight is the orange tree’s biggest energy source. Therefore, if you’re planning on planting an orange tree then make sure to plant it in area where it will receive as much sunlight as possible. If you live in a cooler climate you should also think about having the tree positioned in a warm location as well.  Having it next to a warm wall that receives a lot of sunlight during the cooler part of the year may be a good place for an orange tree in that particular geographical location.

Mulching

Mulching is an important component of growing an orange tree. It provides a lot of functions and is crucial in supporting the health of your tree. Mulch is a material that can be made up of many different things.   Most  commonly these substances include:  twigs, straw, grass clippings, wood chips and leaves.  The mulch should be spread out over the surface of the ground below the canopy of the tree. Preferably, the thickness of the mulch layer should be no more than three inches.  If it is any thicker than that, then air could be cut off to the ground and prevent the roots of the tree from receiving crucial oxygen. Thick mulch may also prevent water from seeping down into the ground and to the roots of your orange tree.

Some of the benefits of mulching include protection of the roots against both hot and cold weather. It can also prevent nutrients from being washed away from under the tree.  Another great benefit of mulching is that it kills the existing vegetation on the surface which are competing for nutrients with your orange tree. The mulch also (when it begins to break down) can provide a lot of nutritional value for an orange tree. Additionally, if you were to apply manure under your orange tree then the mulch would prevent the manure from burning the roots of your tree. 

A danger of mulching  that you must consider is that it could result in stem rot if placed up against the bark and trunk of the tree.  Mulch has the ability to retain moisture, so when it rubs off against the bark of the tree it could result in bark rotting. This could in turn cause serious problems for the tree, including the inability of it to properly absorb water and nutrients. 

Therefore, it is advisable that the mulch remain at least two or three inches away from the base of the tree . 

Pruning

The carrying out of pruning on your orange tree can go a long way when trying to optimize its health. Look out for deadwood. Are there particular branches and twigs on your tree that don’t produce leaves or fruit? If so, then it would be wise to remove them. Not only will this let a bit more light into other parts of the tree, but it also improves air circulation. Air circulation can in turn reduce the amount of disease and pests within your orange tree.

Whitewashing

As stated earlier, orange trees love sunlight, however too much sunlight can have some negative effects on the health of the tree. Exposed bark that isn’t shaded by branches may be susceptible to severe sunburn in extremely hot climates. Therefore, if you are worried about tree sunburn or if you have already had some burning issues and you want to prevent it in the future, then there is a quick fix that can be a solution to your problem. 

Whitewashing is the process of painting parts of your tree white so it reflects the sunshine and prevents it from burning.  There are commercial whitewashing products that are dedicated for plant sunburn prevention. Many of these products have low toxicity and won’t be particularly harmful to your tree.

The washing is to cover over the most important parts of your tree to prevent them burning. This would include the main trunk of the tree and large important branches. In the northern hemisphere it will be the south side of the tree that will need the most protection. The opposite is true in the southern hemisphere. 

Whitewashing is a simple procedure to carry out and makes a lot of sense logically. Just think about the amount people in hot climates that wear white or light colored clothes because it cools them down. The same science is behind the whitewashing of trees.

Watering

Significant watering should take place in the flowering and fruit onset phases of your orange tree. If there is limited watering of your plants during these phases then the orange tree may believe it is in a drought and begin acting accordingly. This could result in your tree conserving energy and withholding fruit production. 

Another important suggestion for healthy fruit production is to water your tree right before harvest. This can result in the increased likelihood of healthy and moist fruit being produced. 

Make sure not to have your tree somewhere that is waterlogged. Citrus trees evolved in a subtropical Mediterranean type climate, so the soil the orange tree lives in should resemble this. When your tree is watered the soil should quickly dry but not instantly. You should be able to tell by touching the mulch if there is a little moisture left, so you won’t need to over water it. 

Fertilizing

During spring and summer it is recommended that fertilizing is done once every 4 to 8 weeks. During fall and winter this can be spaced out to 8 to 12 weeks. When the tree is more established there is little need to fertilize during the autumn/winter period. Additionally, when the tree is in this older period of existence fertilizing during the spring/summer period can be reduced to every 8 to 12 weeks. 

Macro-nutrients can be applied to the ground in the form of fertilizer product mixes that you can purchase commercially. Oftentimes these fertilizers contain micro-nutrients as well, however it could be wise to consider purchasing micro-nutrient mixes separately instead. Micro-nutrients can  get lost in the ground or mulch if they’re applied under the tree. You could instead consider spraying these micro-nutrients on the leaves of the trees. Some of these micro-nutrient mixes include ingredients should as  water soluble magnesium, zinc and iron. All of which promote the health of your tree.

If you purchase fertilizer to place on the ground, then don’t just heap large amounts onto the roots of the plants. This can actually cause the tree to produce less fruit and over stimulate it. Putting the fertilizer on mulch instead means that it takes the fertilizer a longer time for its nutrients to drip down into the roots of the tree. This can prevent over stimulation.


Pest control

Harsh pesticides have the potential of doing more harm than good by killing off helpful pollinating insects that actually help your tree grow healthy.  Ways to avoid the use of certain pesticides includes removing some harmful insects off the orange tree by hand. For example, citrus bugs can be picked off by hands and killed. 

Gall wasps can be another headache for orange tree growers. Instead of using tough chemicals and spraying the nests of the wasps, why not just prune off the twig or part of the branch that they are on. 

Overall, you should be more focused on the appearance and health of your fruit as opposed to all the critters and insects that are on the tree. Many of the insects on your tree are non harmful or there to do good. Birds can also help you by simply eating some of your pests. This can be done through no effort on your part. 

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