You can plant orange pips to obtain fruit some time later. However, by replanting pips from hybrid varieties, you risk not finding the exact variety you planted. Be sure to plant seeds from fruit purchased from small, organic, local growers.
This is also not the safest method of obtaining fruit that is identical to the mother plant (the tree that bore the fruit). Although most orange seeds ensure faithful reproduction (clone), there can be a risk of regression of the variety to a more bitter fruit. Nevertheless, sowing is still the easiest way to grow many beautiful green plants… so let’s not deprive ourselves!
The multiplication of oranges by sowing
It is very easy to germinate orange seeds. Of course, it is not the fastest method of propagation to obtain fruit, since on average, it takes about seven to eight years to obtain fruit on an orange from seed (it may happen, however, that the fruiting is faster, depending on the variety, climate or a lucky chance), while three years are enough for a grafted subject.
How to sow orange seeds
- Collect fresh seeds from nice, ripe, seasonal fruits: seeds from immature fruits have a low germination rate. Keep only the best and largest seeds (discard cut or damaged seeds). Wash them in water, in a sieve to remove the pulp and mucilage.
- Note: a period of cold weather is necessary for the orange seeds to start the germination process. The transport and the storage of oranges before the sale to the private individuals being done in refrigerators, one can estimate that this stage is acquired (if not 15 days in the refrigerator will be enough. Before sowing, soak them in warm water for ½ day).
- Install a small drainage layer at the bottom of a 4 inch diameter pot: clay balls, gravel… Fill it to 0.5 inch from the edge with a good mixture of special seedling soil, or a mixture of one part universal soil and one part peat. The substrate should be soft and airy.
- Wet the substrate and sow 4 seeds at 0.5 inch deep. Pack the surface.
- Place the pot in a warm room (77°F) and water regularly, or cover the pot with a clear plastic bag held together with a rubber band to form a protective bell and place the pot in a cool room (64°F), bright but without direct sunlight.
- Rooting occurs in two to three weeks, followed by the appearance of the two cotyledons. If the seedlings are under protection, air the “mini greenhouse” once a day.
- When the first two true leaves are there, remove the plastic permanently and leave the pot at the same temperature.
- Spray the foliage with rainwater. Water once or twice a week.
Transplanting orange seedlings
Once your seedlings are well established in the pot and can be handled without risk of damage, transplant them. Each seedling should be transplanted into a 4 to 10 inch diameter pot filled with a mixture of 2/3 potting soil and 1/3 garden soil. Planting is an important step.
When your plants have reached 8 to 12 inches in height, you will need to do the second transplanting into even larger pots.
If you ever plan to plant them in the ground in your garden, start hardening them off when they reach 25 inches tall.
Planting oranges is a change from planting tomatoes, beans, lettuce, carrots and other “classic” vegetables in the garden! Life as a gardener is beautiful, isn’t it?
Getting flowers and oranges
From 1 and 5 years old, from a certain size, the orange will bloom.
The flowering period depends on the species and varieties.
All oranges will also bear fruit one day. But if the orange has not been grafted, it is possible that the fruit is not faithful to the one from which you took the seeds.
It is customary to graft citrus fruits from 2 years old. Grafting, according to different techniques, consists in welding a plant on another one, so that they make only one. Grafting allows the plant to make less thorns, more fruits, and to have a better resistance. However, you should know that grafting is not compulsory nor essential, especially if you simply want a decorative plant.