What’s better than enjoying sweet homegrown fruit from your own backyard? In my opinion, not much. And when it comes to orange trees, they don’t just provide you with fresh oranges, they’re also ornamental fruit trees that beautify your garden.
But what if you don’t live in a climate that’s appropriate for growing citrus trees? You don’t have to give up on your fruit tree dreams, because you can grow an indoor orange tree!
Keep reading to learn all about how to grow and care for indoor orange trees.
Why Grow an Orange Tree Indoors?
There are several reasons why you should consider growing an orange tree indoors.
First of all, if you live somewhere chilly, chances are that growing orange trees outdoors won’t be successful. At the very least, the trees might not bear fruit, and then what’s the point of growing an orange tree at all?
Secondly, the varieties of orange trees you grow indoors (unless you live in a castle) are dwarf orange trees. These trees are much smaller than regular orange trees, which means that their care routine is simpler, especially when it comes to pruning and pollinating. Plus, you don’t have to even go outside!
Last but not least, growing indoor orange trees is an easy way to bring a bit of nature into your home. As I mentioned earlier, orange trees are ornamental, so they can easily be a statement piece in your interior decorating. Plus, they’ll add a wonderful fragrance to whatever room you put them in.
Choosing an Indoor Orange Tree Variety
Now that I’ve hopefully convinced you to grow an orange tree indoors, let’s take a look at the varieties you can choose from. As mentioned earlier, most of these varieties are dwarf orange trees, which makes them perfect to grow in regular indoor spaces without having to invest in a giant greenhouse!
This is not a complete list, but rather a starting point to figure out which variety works best for you.
The Calamondin Orange is the most popular choice for growing indoor orange trees, so that’s why I’ve listed it in first place even though this list isn’t organized in any particular order. So it might surprise you to find out that most gardeners who choose Calamondin Oranges do so for their ornamental value!
The Tahitian Orange is actually a lemon and tangerine hybrid. It’s a great choice to grow indoors if you have children or bets wandering your spaces because it doesn’t have any thorns. Its fruit is small, and very sweet—a great snack!
The Otaheite Orange is another hybrid, but this time between a lemon and a tangerine. It also doesn’t have any thorns, so you don’t have to worry about pricking your fingers!
The Satsuma Orange is another great choice if you want to grow an indoor orange tree. It’s actually a tangerine variety, and indoor gardeners love it for its sweet fragrance. Say goodbye to room sprays, and say hello to natural perfumes!
Transplanting Indoor Orange Trees
Now that you’ve chosen an indoor orange tree variety, let’s get into the basics of planting one!
Purchasing a Grafted Dwarf Orange Tree
You’ll find most orange dwarf tree varieties not as seeds but grafted onto roots. Now some of you might be wondering: what’s a grafted fruit tree?
In simple terms, a grafted fruit tree is when you take parts of two different fruit tree varieties and fuse them together. In this process, a detached part of a fruit tree variety (the scion) is fused onto an underground part of another fruit tree variety (the rootstock) in order to grow a fruit tree that has the desirable traits of both varieties.
It might sound dystopian, but it’s a common practice. Read our comprehensive guide on grafting to learn more about the process.
All of that is to say that when you go shopping for indoor orange trees, you’ll likely come home with a small grafted tree. These have most probably been selected to remain small in size, and produce fruit quickly.
If you haven’t already guessed it, that’s why this section is called transplanting indoor orange trees, and not planting them. You’re probably not going to be starting from seed in this process.
Choosing a Container
Once you’ve brought home your orange tree graft, it’s time to pick an appropriate container to transfer it in.
All containers (not just those for indoor orange trees) should have a good system for drainage, even if that’s just some holes at the bottom of the pot.
Choose a container that isn’t made from porous materials (like terracotta, wood, etc.)—these might dry out your soil too quickly. You want a material that helps retain the water, while also providing good aeration. If you’re starting to think this is a difficult compromise, you’re right. It might feel overwhelming at first, but with time you’ll be able to start trusting your gut on these things.
If you’re planning on moving your indoor orange tree around, then you’ll probably want to pick a container that isn’t too heavy. Spare your back! You could even think about getting a little platform with wheels to put the container on and make the whole moving process easier.
Of course, when you first transplant your indoor orange tree, you’ll want to put it into a small pot. There should be ample space for its roots, but you don’t want to transplant it into a giant pot. The reason for this is because the extra soil might retain too much water and cause issues down the line like root rot. Plus, it’s a waste of extra resources for you!
A good starting size for your first pot is about five gallons. The trick is to gradually move it into bigger bots as your indoor orange tree grows bigger itself.
Now it’s finally time to transplant your indoor orange tree! Before starting, locate the graft union. That’s where the two tree varieties have been fused together. You’ll want to make sure that this remains at least two inches higher than the soil line.
Next, you have to make sure you’re using the right kind of soil for orange trees. Make sure to buy good quality potting mix for indoor plants. If you’re not sure which brands to trust, Nature Hill Nursery’s Dr. Earth Mother Land Premium Organic All Purpose Planting Mix is the top pick from our list of Best Soil for Orange Trees.
You can also consider buying amendments like peat, wood chips, perlite, or small pebbles to mix with the soil in order to help with aeration and drainage. We recommend the Sungro’s Sun Gold Perlite from Hoss Tools.
Caring for Indoor Orange Trees
Congratulations! You’ve got yourself an indoor orange tree. Now, how to take care of it? Keep reading to learn all about indoor orange tree essentials.
Orange trees are humidity-loving fruit trees. They thrive in humidity levels of 50% or higher! The humidity inside most homes usually dips below that percentage during the winter, so consider purchasing a humidifier in order to keep your indoor orange plant comfy during the colder months.
Another trick to help with humidity is putting the pot on top of a layer of pebbles.
Orange trees love lots of indirect sunlight. That means six to eight hours of light every day! Your best bet is placing them near windows that face south and west.
You’ve probably already guessed that if indoor orange trees love humidity and sunlight, they probably also love warmth. You’re right! The space you grow an indoor orange tree should be about 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit, but consider researching a more precise temperature range for your variety of choice.
You should also know that to sustain flowering, your orange tree will need a change in temperature between five and ten degrees from day to night. So make sure your temperature isn’t too consistent.
Unfortunately, there aren’t any hard and fast rules about watering orange trees, because it really depends on your indoor orange tree’s specific situation: type of container, size, quantity of soil, etc. That means your best bet is monitoring your plant’s watering needs long enough to recognize patterns to create your own custom watering schedule.
What does that mean? Pay attention to how much and how often you need to water in order to keep the soil thoroughly damp (not just the top layer), but not too soggy or too dry. It might seem complicated, but I’m sure you’ll be able to make your own routine!
If you think your indoor orange tree needs a bit of an extra umph, you can fertilize it during it’s growing period. That’s usually in late spring throughout the entire summer. Make sure to use 20-20-20- fertilizer like the one sold by Hoss Tools (you can also check out other choices in our list of Best Fertilizers for Orange Trees).
As I mentioned earlier, you don’t have to worry about pruning all that much with indoor citrus trees. If, however, the branches seem to be getting a little chaotic, you can cut some out in February, and shorten the longest ones in late spring or summer.
If your indoor orange tree isn’t producing fruit, it might be a pollination issue. For outdoor citrus trees, pollinators like bees and butterflies take care of pollination. That means that indoor plants need an extra hand.
Even though orange trees are self-fertilizing (meaning they don’t need the presence of another tree in order to grow fruit) you can facilitate the process by manually and gently spreading the pollen between flowers.
Yes, You Can Grow an Indoor Orange Tree!
I hope this post has inspired you to grow your own indoor orange tree, and taught you how to take care of it. Even if you live in a warm environment, there are so many reasons to grow indoor orange trees!
Want more orange content? Check out our Orange Trees page for more guides, advice, and informational posts!
- About the Author
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Margherita Bassi is a freelance writer, journalist, and editor. She grew up between the US and Europe, and nurtured her love for nature and the outdoors in both countries.
In the US, she went on dozens of RV trips with her family, scouted out the best restaurants in every city she visited, and learned how to grow herbs and veggies of all kinds by watching her mother.
In Europe, she experimented with gardening in small spaces, like the small balcony of her apartment in France. With an MA in International New Media Journalism, Margherita is also a skilled researcher in a wide range of topics, and has extensive experience interviewing both individuals and experts.