I just panted my first orange tree. Question.

calkenApril 29, 2006

I am very proud to say that I have just planted my first orange tree! It is a parent Washington navel that I purchased from Costco for only $16.50. A small tag attached to one of the limbs said it was from Willits & Newcomb Inc.

Here is my question: It has a few tiny green oranges on it. Should I cut them off in order to help stimulate root growth this season? It would be nice to have at least a couple oranges grow on it, but if it will hinder root growth I will sacrifice them.

I put up an easy up tent to shade the new tree from the Fresno heat for maybe a week or two until it gets a little tougher. It may reach the 90s this week.

Also, any advice you could give on general care for the tree would be much appreciated. Should I water it more frequently (every two or three days) for the first couple of weeks? Does it need any fertilizer this year? Any other advice you could give would be much appreciated.



Zone 9

Fresno, CA

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rickjames(9 Cali)

Nice tree. Good idea on acclimating it to the sun.

I assume you planted it in the ground, though your pic shows it containerized still...

DO NOT overwater that tree. I think every 2-3 days is too much, even newly planted. Since you mentioned it is a Costco WN special--and it is a bargain, isn't it? I bought a couple myself :)--that hard sandy stuff the tree comes packed in does not aerate very well, so if you placed it intact in the ground you may run into fast trouble if you overwater. Just be cautious, and IMHO while it is ususally hard to overwater in our dry climate (unless you plant somewhere low-laying or something like that) it isn't impossible--and did Fresno get lots of rain this year? Our Bay Area soils are still soaked, and I am not going to need to irrigate my trees for a few weeks yet, though none are new plantings and it ain't anywhere near 90* here... A good habit is slow and less frequent deep irrigation in the end--I will turn a hose on at the base of the tree and let it literally *drip* for hours a few times a month, chased intermittently with a few faster, more shallow and random waterings and my in-ground trees really loved this regimen, done only in the summer... You'll get the hang of it; though your tree needs to be kept slightly moist remember the rootball is still small.

When you see some new growth on it--it'll love the warm temps!--you can apply some fertilizer. pick one that has a lot of nirogen in it comparatively, as well as some iron. I recently switched to miracle-grow acid and my trees like it, but you can use a citrus formula of your choice, easily available. If you want you can sprinkle some slow-release granules on top of it now.

Primary pests will be snails/slugs, aphids/mealy, and scale, Just check your tree occasionally for these buggers, that will appear magically overnite in hordes. Bait for snails(I use organic Sluggo), and manual removal of all is helpful with a hose and blunt twig, or soapy sprays. (I really try to avoid pesticides, but gonna try Neem soon). From what I have experienced, aphids are the big problem in the spring, but as temps climb and things dry they seem to be fewer, and then scale and I *enjoy each other's company*. Also, ant control is important-->they farm these nasties, and so if you see ants hangin' out with your orange there is a reason...

HTH. Enjoy your tree.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2006 at 1:15PM
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Thanks for all the helpful advice. I will get some citrus fertilizer and spread out some snail bait. I know the care for container grown trees is different from those in the ground. I did plant the tree in the ground. I should have made that more clear. Here's a new picture.

Would you suggest I cut off the two or three little green oranges that are on the tree to stimulate root growth this season, or just let them be. I know I should be more concerned with getting a good healthy tree than having a couple of oranges.


    Bookmark   April 30, 2006 at 6:20PM
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rickjames(9 Cali)

Hey, nice job on your planting.

You may wish to consider putting a layer of mulch on the dirt, you'll find that it will help with water conservation and keep weeds/grass down. Just be careful of it piling up right against the trunk and causing the bark to rot.

You can do whatever you want with those baby oranges :) Your tree will probably grow larger a bit faster, if you remove fruit/blossoms at this time; and the chances are good they may drop on their own...but it's really up to you. If you leave them it won't kill your tree ;) There is something about the fruit you grow yourself...and sometimes I just don't have the patience to wait and see what it's gonna be like.

Last thought..I personally haven't tried to grow true oranges until the last couple of years--been sticking to mandarins, lemons, limes--and I do find them to be a little more sensitive to light frost than some other citrus, at least at a young tree. I am not familiar with winter in Fresno, and I know that the Central Valley can get pretty cold sometimes--so you may want to plan ahead for a little cold protection if needed. Other than that, you'll prolly get some great oranges where you live.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2006 at 10:05PM
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Rick, I've a question about mulch in winter. First off, do you mulch where u live? If so, when the temps are going to drop, do you mulch all the way to the trunk or do like you advised the above poster?
The reason I ask is, I've a Poncirus growing in my front yard..this will be 3 summers now..and I've always mulched right up against the trunk in late fall..Is this wrong? I don't want my tree to rot. Thanks, Toni

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 4:01PM
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rickjames(9 Cali)

Hey Toni,

Yeah, I mulch my inground citrus (I am in N. CA), but we here in West have a very dry climate with NO RAIN at all for around 6 months of the year. I mulch for water conservation and weed prevention only (I hate hate hate pulling weeds), not for cold protection, which is what I think you are trying to do.

In all honesty, since it gets pretty dry around here and if there is not a *very thick* layer of mulch it'll prolly dry out around the trunk quickly too and will sort of not really stay up around the trunk ( at least that is what I have experienced, using cocoa shell mulch--that's chocolate bean shells not coconut husk chips/CHCs--and plain old bark mulch) in a 2-3 inch layer or so...mmmmm these plants get good stuff, chocolate and coconut ;)....but in the off chance you do thrash your trunk-->well, that is potentially and probably fatal for the tree, so why risk it? I just sorta scoop the mulch back so its not really touching the trunk. Come to think, CHC's would be a good mulch if they didn't fly away when they dry out--too lightweight when they dry.

Other motivation for my use of mulch is a feeble attempt to add organic matter to my nasty hard-as-a-stone clay CA soil...does "adobe brick" mean anything to you....

I think with winter weather protection you are to mulch high on the tree and then take it down when the weather warms. Probably, freezing temps would inhibit the growth of these fungi and you needn't worry, but I can only speculate, someone else will know better that I. Sounds like you've been doing pretty good so far.

I'm gonna go have a Almond Joy candy bar now....lol

HTH, not my screen name :)

    Bookmark   May 1, 2006 at 6:41PM
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No one made a comment about "panting" an orange tree. How sad.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2006 at 10:49AM
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Do you mean the red and blue paint that is on the trunk? That was there when I bought the tree. I was wondering about that. Does anyone know why that is done?


    Bookmark   May 2, 2006 at 3:30PM
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No, Actually, when you wrote the title of this thread, I think you meant to say, "I just planted my first Orange tree", instead of "I just panted..."

And in regards to the paint, I think some of the wholesale nurseries use this as a way of keeping track of what they are growing. I have a kaffir lime, Sweet Lemon and a Limequat all with different paint swatches on the trunk.

FYI You did a great job of putting that tree in the ground. Nicely done!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2006 at 4:32PM
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I was going to mention something about the spelling, citrusboy, but you beat me to the punch. And I wanted to ask Calken how he did such a nice job posting pictures directly on the message itself without needing an external link. (I need lessons!)

    Bookmark   May 2, 2006 at 11:11PM
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Thanks for the input everyone. About the typo in the title--I noticed that once it was too late. Most of the other message boards I post on allow users to edit thier posts, but it looks like this one does not. I'll just have to be more careful next time.

jrdibble: I use ImageShack for image hosting because it's free. There are many sites that will do the same thing. After you upload an image, just copy and paste the picture tag into the message. Use the one that says "hotlink for websites."

Thanks again,

Here is a link that might be useful: ImageShack.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2006 at 9:34AM
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LOL, I too was wondering about panting when 'planting' an orange tree..It's funny and we mean no disrespect to the poster..WE all can use a chuckle from time to time..Toni

    Bookmark   May 3, 2006 at 8:58PM
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I was going to say... I pant over mine every time I ogle the luscious fruit dangling :0) but that's me (mmmm citrus, Lord I'm drooling now)

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 9:27PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

The paint on the trunk is like sunscreen. Prevents sunburn. That's it! Simple, huh?

    Bookmark   December 11, 2008 at 2:57PM
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Ive seen the coloured paint used for specifying rootstock type and the grafted tree type ,also the size reached at certain ages, like a quality test to show it met the standard

    Bookmark   December 11, 2008 at 3:38PM
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