I'm so excited - I feel as if I just gave birth!

hayden2February 7, 2011

I've been reading this forum for several weeks, at least enough to know I've been doing eveything wrong.

Here's my story. Our family vacationed in Spain in the summer of 2001. I loved the oranges in the patio of the Mezquita in Cordoba. They're the bitter oranges you make marmalade from, but I don't know what they're called.

I loved those trees so much I picked an orange off the ground. It looked old, and was soft, so I figured no one would miss it. When we walked back to the hotel, I washed the seeds out and wrapped them in a kleenex.

When we got back to the US, and were going through customs, my husband and kids took a different line, saying that if I got arrested, I was on my own. :) Anyway, I successfully smuggled my little dried up seeds into the US. And yes, I know I'm a horrible human being.

I planted two seeds that summer back in 2001. Since then, I have babied and loved my two oranges, but treated them all wrong. I kept them in potting soil filled with peat moss (because I figured they wanted more acid soil). I watered them with tea (again, for the acid). I left them in the dark garage from November to the end of January, but dragged them in and out of the garage to get some light during warmer days, if ever any came along.

For the most part, though, they overwintered in a dark garage with a little watery light, until the end of January. Usually they lost a lot of leaves. When they got mites, which they usually did, I dragged them into the house and we all took a shower together. After the holidays and various guests leave, I bring them into the house and park them in front of a window.

By this time, they're about 6 feet tall, in 10-12 inch pots. One is in plastic pot, the other in clay. They are really a pain to lug around, but I love them, so what do you do. My husband said it was stupid to pay so much attention to two big, unwieldy trees with nothing to show for it.

Last week I went into their little bedroom to give them water, and oh no, they were covered in little white insects. But then I looked closer - they weren't bugs, but BUDS.

And now I have two trees, absolutely covered with the most fragrant white flowers I have ever seen.

I'm going to take all the advice I've read on this forum to treat them better this year. But in the meantime, I feel like the luckiest gardener in the whole world, and I just stand there, taking in that fragrance, like the proud mother I feel like.

It's so wonderful when our plants forgive us.

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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

pretty cool!! Thats proof that patience pays off. Next test is the taste. I dont ever comment on the smuggling part to anyone.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 5:52PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

No comments from me on the smuggling, either.
I'm just glad you got them through, and now you're enjoying the flowers.


    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 6:13PM
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wanttogarden(USDA 9b, Sunset 15, N. Calif.)

Good luck with your trees. I hear sour oranges are the most aromatic citrus, used to obtain flavor of orange in food product. I found a site few days ago. It may help you figure out what kind.

I hope that orange was not a hybrid and would come true to type.

BTW, can you sheer the top of your trees down and make them shorter/bushier?

Good luck,

Here is a link that might be useful: citrus info

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 8:42PM
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Fantastic and what a nice story.

Happy bloom days!!


    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 8:48PM
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wanttogarden, she could shear the top off and turn them into a bush/make them shorter but that would insure that they would NEVER flower or fruit. Citrus need have a certain number of leaf nodes to flower, and only branches "above" that node will flower. So if she keeps pruning it, it will never achieve the required number of nodes.

If she wanted a shorter tree that would flower/fruit, she could take cuttings from mature/flowering wood. Then, if they root, you could have a tree less than a foot tall capable of flowering.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 10:45PM
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wanttogarden(USDA 9b, Sunset 15, N. Calif.)


Thank you. I did not know about about nodes.

Is this true for grafted trees too? I guess what I am asking is, can I sheer the top of my dwarf grafted trees and keep them small/bushy while they still give flower/fruits?


    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 10:59PM
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ashleysf(9 San Jose,CA)

Congratulations! I know that feeling of having given birth when watching your "baby" bloom. Your orange is called "Seville Orange". You can google that phrase to read all the details about them. And I am told that the Seville Orange is the most fragrant of all citrus - enjoy them! And I am not one to pass judgment on the seeds because I am passionate enough about my hobby to do the same given the chance. And regarding your question about grafted tree node count - it does not count for grafted trees because the budwood used to graft onto rootstock is from the mature tree and they have already surpassed the required number of nodes in the mother tree that the budwood is ready to flower and bloom. That is why grafted trees bloom in the first year of grafting.
Enjoy your babies!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 12:42AM
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You are so lucky to have Seville Oranges! I am obsessed with making marmalade and been looking all over for these Seville Oranges. Finally someone sent 6 pounds of them to me from a citrus company in Fresno at a cost of over $24 & shipping. So your babies are worth a lot for marmalade making, etc. I understand these oranges are also used for flavoring in certain Spanish recipes. Good luck with your babies! You must have been a terrific "mommy" for them to have blossoms so quickly!

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 1:21AM
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Ah, Seville oranges. Even the name sounds fragrant.

Thank you all for your help and your comments. I'll definitely be able to apply better techniques in the future, and I appreciate the generosity each of you has shown in answering so many questions on this forum for the benefit of people like me.

And thanks for not turning me in to the authorities. . . . . . . .

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 7:32AM
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ashleysf(9 San Jose,CA)

malibu_rose, my local OSH carries the Seville Orange tree from Menlo Growers. If you want to grow the tree, you may want to ask your local OSH or a nursery if they can order a tree for you.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 1:03PM
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Thank you, Ashleysf! Yes, another friend told me that I could order a Seville Orange free from OSH. Now I am thinking of ordering a Blood Orange tree instead because other than marmalade making, I would not want the Seville oranges for anything else. But Blood Orange not only makes a terrific marmalade (I have made them) but I can eat the oranges also. So I might just get the blood orange tree instead.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 2:54PM
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I totally get your excitement. I have a few citrus trees started from seeds years ago - lemon, key lime, grapefruit, and satsuma orange - some of which are pushing 4 feet tall but none have flowered... yet. I'm sure when they do I'll be gushing on here just like you.

Congrats! Make sure squirrels stay the hell away from them - they will pull every little fruit off they can when they are small. It seems like once they are golf-ball sized squirrels then leave them alone. I have lost entire treefulls of lemons, oranges and grapefruit to the stinkin' squirrels.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 3:03PM
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Thanks for the reminder, va canuck. Right now that's not an issue (hopefully !!) since the trees are in an upstairs bedroom, huddled around a window. But they'll go out once the weather gets warmer, and some of that snow melts. Right now the snow has been with us since Dec 26th, and has melted and re-frozen so often that it's as hard as a coating of white marble all over our state.

    Bookmark   February 8, 2011 at 3:10PM
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For your information, the place where you collected the seeds of those nice oranges trees is the oldest live garden in Europe and is was created on the year 786. Your orange trees are very special!!
Greetings from Andalusia

    Bookmark   February 13, 2011 at 3:19AM
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Thanks for posting your story--very inspirational! I've seen these fruits being sold locally, until yesterday in a local Korean produce store. As I am obsessed with citrus, I grabbed a few an started to plant the seeds. My citrus overwinter in a large, sunny garage and would love eventually adding a couple of large Seville Orange trees to the collection.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 1:49PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Guajar! Greetings to you!
That is an amazing story behind these trees! The oldest garden in Europe....
Now I want to grow one, too.


    Bookmark   February 26, 2011 at 3:28PM
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yaslan(8 WA state)

Congrats, your perseverance and hard work paid off! And what a great story behind it! I, too, now wanna get a sour orange!

Thanks for the very inspirational story. ( :


    Bookmark   February 27, 2011 at 11:38PM
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