If you’re looking for a super juicy sweet orange to grow, you can’t go wrong with the Hamlin orange tree. Although these trees can be difficult to find, it’s time well spent if you can buy them online or at a local nursery
A favorite for snacking and juicing, Hamlin oranges are a popular orange in the U.S. Here’s another reason to love the Hamlin orange tree: The fruit ripens in the earlier part of the citrus season, so you can enjoy oranges as early as October and on through March in some areas.
Let’s dive in and learn all about the amazing Hamlin orange tree.
History of the Hamlin Orange Tree
The true origin of oranges is a bit of a mystery, but it’s widely believed that the first cultivation of oranges started thousands of years ago in eastern Asia.
The Hamlin Orange, otherwise known as the sweet orange, was an accidental creation in 1879. A farmer based in Glenwood, Florida by the name of A. G. Hamlin (makes sense, right?) crossed a pomelo, a Southeastern Asian citrus fruit, with a mandarin. This is the more modern version, however.
The Hamlin orange tree became a popular variety with enthusiasts who wanted an early fruit while they waited for the popular California Valencia crop to become ripe in the spring. Hamlin oranges filled the void for people who were looking for another good juicing orange.
Hamlin orange trees are one of the top juice oranges grown commercially in the United States. Moreover, in Florida, these beautiful trees are the most widely grown early harvest sweet oranges, making up about 50% of Florida’s orange crop.
Fruit Tree / Fruit Characteristics
The Hamlin orange tree produces a nice-sized heavy crop with high yields in the early part of the citrus harvest season. Hamlin orange trees have broadleaf leaves and white flowers.
The Hamlin orange tree is also a cold resisting powerhouse. It’s even considered to be the strongest sweet orange tree that’s cold tolerant. One account proved the tree withstood twenty-degree weather with a twenty-five mile an hour wind. A bed sheet over the leaves paired with a thick blanket near the base of the tree protected it from the elements.
Hamlin oranges are known for being deliciously juicy and their low-acid content makes them favorites for snacking and making orange juice. They are round with smooth skin, and their color is dull orange to dark yellow. The ripened fruit has very few seeds.
The Hamlin orange tree grows to approximately 2 Ã‚½ inches in diameter. Some Hamlin oranges may be about the size of a baseball. They’re slightly larger than some other oranges.
Note that Hamlin oranges aren’t grown to be beautiful additions to your fruit bowl. They may actually be quite unattractive. However, people grow these incredible oranges for their sweet juice.
The Hamlin orange tree grows best in USDA Hardiness Zones 9-11.
If you happen to live in Zone 9, you have an advantage over many other fruit growers in the country because you can grow several types of citrus trees, including the Hamlin orange tree.
Zone 9 is the thermal belt, where the weather is affected by both interior and coastal weather patterns. Though it was mentioned before that this is the strongest of the orange trees when it comes to cold weather, subzero temperatures and multiple feet of snow in some of the worst winters would be damaging to the tree.
Like most citrus trees, the Hamlin orange tree can be grown in a pot so that it can be moved indoors during the colder months. For those who are in the northern states and parts of Canada, keeping your Hamlin orange tree in a container may be the best option for you.
A container allows for easy relocation to a greenhouse or garage for those harsher elements, and then back outside when the sun is shining bright. Be sure to plant your tree in the biggest pot you can easily move with a dolly.
For more information, please visit our guide on “How to Grow the Hamlin Orange Tree.”
Size and Spacing
Mature full-sized Hamlin orange trees will grow to be between 20-25 feet tall. Dwarf varieties are 8-10 feet tall.
The width of a mature tree is between 6-8 feet.
Hamlin orange trees are self-pollinating. However, if you want to get better yield from your orange trees, check out this video that will show you how to help your tree pollinate.
In heavy crop years, small fruit size can sometimes be a problem when it comes to the market for fresh fruit. Inadequate soil potassium levels can contribute to the size of the fruit, so be sure to test your soil.
The good news is that even small Hamlin oranges yield a high ration of flesh to peel.
If you want to fertilize your Hamlin orange tree, fertilize it in early spring or late winter.
Hamlin orange trees need soil with a neutral pH (6.6-7.3pH), good drainage, and can benefit from airing the soil so they can breathe. Being sure to not over mulch trees will also help with healthy growth.
Citrus trees, including the Hamlin orange tree, enjoy full sun from eight to 12 hours per day.
Technically, Hamlin orange trees will grow in partial sunlight, but you’ll maximize your harvest if your trees receive a full day of sunlight every day.
If you’re growing your trees inside, place them beside a window that faces south. The area should have good airflow. During darker winter months, you can supplement the sunlight with grow lights.
If you grow your Hamlin orange tree in a container, it will need more water than those planted in the ground outside. You will need to water your tree two to three times per week in the spring.
When temperatures rise in the summer, you will need to water your Hamlin orange tree every day, keeping the soil moist. However, don’t let your soil get soggy and limit the amount of water that the tree receives. Otherwise, the tree will contract root rot.
One good way to check to see if your tree needs water is to put your finger in the soil to the depth of two to three inches. If it feels dry to the touch, your Hamlin orange tree needs to be watered.
Misting Your Hamlin Orange Tree
Equally important, if you’re growing your Hamlin orange tree inside, remember that most homes don’t have the humidity that citrus trees need. Because of this, you need to mist your Hamlin orange tree several times every week.
The Hamlin orange tree needs regular pruning to encourage the trees to grow outward. Doing this will increase your tree’s fruit production. A common trade practice is to reduce the amount of orange buds that grow. Reducing the tree’s orange buds to roughly twenty percent will help the tree put more energy into the remaining oranges and will then produce larger and even sweeter Hamlin oranges.
Before pruning, disinfect your pruning tools with a 10% bleach solution. This is nine parts water and one part bleach. Rinse your pruning tools after using the solution.
Cut back broken, diseased, or dead branches as they develop over the course of the year. Be sure to eliminate any crossing or rubbing branchings so that you can encourage the outward growing habit. This will ensure that sunlight reaches every branch.
For more information, see the guide on “Pruning The Hamlin Orange Tree” on our website.
Diseases & Care
Hamlin orange trees may be vulnerable to sooty mold, white flies, and leaf miners.
For more information about diseases that affect this tree, see “Hamlin Orange Tree Diseases and Care.”
Harvesting Hamlin Oranges
The Hamlin orange tree is high-yielding; so, a good collection of the trees will provide you with a great stock of oranges to juice and eat. The harvesting season for these oranges is October to December.
In the off-season fruit is still produced; however, at a smaller level. If you’re running a large-scale orchard, having other commercial-grade fruit that grows in its off-season is ideal, but for personal use, this tree is perfect.
Common Uses for the Hamlin Orange Tree
The secret to the sweetest and most delicious Hamlin oranges is to leave them on your trees until they’re fully ripened. Once ripened, you can eat these tasty little oranges straight off the trees or juice them.
You can store Hamlin oranges for up to three days at room temperature or in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. Note that if you do store them in the refrigerator, the flesh may break down.
If possible, try to store your Hamlin oranges at around 50 degrees. If you have an attached garage, that can be the ideal place to store them.
What Do Hamlin Oranges Taste Like?
Hamlin oranges are incredibly juicy, and they’re not too acidic. This makes them perfect for easy and quick snacking. Hamlin oranges also make delicious orange juice.
The best and juiciest Hamlin oranges will feel heavy for their size. Later in the season, these oranges will also be soft and that’s fine as long as the skin is still elastic.
These oranges are perfect for eating and juicing, and they’re not as beautiful in the fruit bowl as some other varieties.
Of course, you can use Hamlin oranges for any other recipe that calls for oranges, orange peel, or orange juice.
Like all oranges, you can enjoy Hamlin oranges raw right off the trees if you allow them to fully ripen.
Enthusiasts say that Hamlin oranges lack the “zing” of Valencia oranges. If you want to jazz your Hamlin orange juice up a bit, consider mixing it with some tangerine juice. Tangerines ripen at about the same time as the Hamlin orange tree.
Adding tangerine juice to your Hamlin orange juice will add not just some spicy zest, but it will also brighten up the color. We recommend using the juice of one tangerine for every four Hamlin oranges.
Another recommendation we’ve seen is to mix your Hamlin orange juice with grapefruit juice for an interesting option.
Canning / Freezing / Drying
There are countless ways to preserve oranges. If you’re lucky enough to have a bumper harvest, you can find plenty of ideas online for how to can, dry, and even freeze your excess fruit.
Canning oranges is a popular way to preserve this tangy fruit. You can use the canned oranges in fruit salads, and you have the option to can them whole or in segments.
Our favorite tip for freezing oranges is to juice them and freeze the juice in ice cubes. Once frozen, pop the juice cubes into a large freezer bag.
Alternatively, if you’re using your oranges for juice only, you can pop the whole oranges right into the freezer.
Another way to dry oranges is to preserve the zest, which can be delicious in recipes. To dry your orange zest, zest your oranges and place the zest on a baking tray in a thin layer.
Once it’s completely dry, put the zest in a jar with an airtight lid. If it’s stored in a dry, cool, dark place, it will keep for a long time. However, after a few months, it will start to lose its potent flavor.
Recipes for Hamlin Oranges
Whether you’re eating your oranges straight off the tree, juicing them, or using them in recipes, there are endless ways to enjoy this delicious citrus fruit. Here are some of our favorite recipes.
- Orange Marmalade
- Orange Jam with Warm Spices
- Sunny Southern Preserved Oranges
- Whole Orange Almond Cake
- Orange Sweet Rolls
- Cranberry Orange Walnut Bread
- Classic Orange Beef
- Gingered Orange Gratin
- Citrus and Avocado Salad with Orange Water
Another interesting use for Hamlin oranges is to make candied citrus peel out of the peels. There’s no need to waste even one bit of this delicious orange.
Basic Hamlin Orange Juice
Here are the steps to making juice out of your Hamlin oranges.
- Since the Hamlin orange is cultivated for juicing, cut it in half and squeeze out the juice with an electric or manual juicer.
- The skin is thin, so it’s harder to peel the Hamlin orange by hand. We recommend peeling it with a thin-bladed knife. Cut off a ÃƒÆ’Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ãƒ”šÃ‚½-inch disk from the bottom of the orange, then insert the knife between the orange peel and the flesh to cut the peel away.
- When you’ve removed the peel, squeeze all the remaining membranes to extract your juice.
Health Benefits of Hamlin Oranges
The health benefits of oranges are well documented. With only 47 calories for half of a large orange, this fruit packs a powerful nutritional punch that’s full of vitamin C, fiber, folate, thiamine, and rich antioxidants.
Here are some of the ways oranges can help us be healthier.
Where To Buy This Fruit Tree?
It’s very difficult to find Hamlin orange trees in stock, so if you find them, grab them as quickly as you can. In some areas, you may get lucky and find them at local nurseries.
Another thing to keep in mind is that certain states don’t allow the Hamlin orange tree to be shipped into the state. For instance, we found a Hamlin orange tree on Amazon, but the tree can’t be shipped to California, Texas, Louisiana, or Arizona.
Check out the selection of orange trees you can buy at Nature Hills Nursery.
Where To Buy the Fruit
To buy Hamlin oranges, check your favorite produce markets between October and March, depending on where you live.
Wrapping up the Hamlin Orange Tree
The Hamlin orange tree is the perfect tree to grow if you want to have your own juicing oranges handy. Whether you grow your tree outside or indoors, you can enjoy the tasty wonder of Hamlin oranges as early as October.
Excited for more orange content? Check out our orange trees page to start learning everything there is to know about your favorite citrus!