Citrus trees are the mainstay of home gardens in Australia and while the backyard lemon tree has almost iconic status in Aussie backyards, the orange tree is not far behind. Thankfully it is fairly easy to grow oranges in Western Australia.
Oranges are the perfect tree for every sunny outdoor space as the have glossy dark green foliage, highly perfumed blossoms, and delicious vibrant coloured fruit. The fruit is actually and the spongy skin has glands which produce oil used for flavouring, fragrances, and some solvents. Orange trees are often solid grafted on to tough rootstock making them suitable for medium to large sized pots. Full sized trees will grow in half wine barrels however this will limit how big the tree will grow. The sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) cultivars include the two most commonly eaten varieties which are Valencia and Washington Naval. Sweet orange varieties originated in China and where brought to Australia by the early settlers.
If you have ever wondered how to grow oranges in Perth then look no further. A relatively simple fruit tree to grow there are a few tricks to successfully growing oranges in Perth, Western Australia but get these right and you will be laughing.
When to plant oranges:
The ideal spot to grow oranges is in a sunny area which is protected from strong winds. Soils should be improved with lots of organic matter plus some clay if you have sandy soils. Plant your citrus trees so the rootstock is well above the bud union as otherwise collar rot may occur. Mulch well and water with a seaweed tonic, provide soil-wetting agent and extra hand watering over the first summer. Container-grown trees may need daily watering during the summer months. Orange trees need consistent watering otherwise the fruit will be of low quality and may split. Once new growth develops provide citrus fertiliser at the recommended packet or container rate. Trees should be watered before and after fertiliser application occurs.
Common orange varieties in Australia:
There are plenty of types of oranges available in Western Australia. Below are some of the more popular varieties of oranges.
Washington Navel: This is he most popular home-garden variety of oranges and the sweetest of all oranges. While originating in China the fruit was first imported into Australia from America in the late 1880s. Large, seedless juicy fruit matures from May to September and is easy to peel with big navel-shaped pump at the bottom of the fruit.
Valencia: A popular sweet orange with medium-sized fruit is very juicy and is the mainstay of the commercial fruit-juice industry. This variety typically matures from September to December, cropping over a long period with thin-skinned, mostly seedless fruit.
Maltesse Blood: Orange-reddish in skin colour, flesh with irregular red pigmentation. Matures from July to September.
Cara Cara: A low-acid, virtually seedless blood navel orange. Cara Cara’s raspberry coloured flesh is sweet and juicy with subtle cherry undertones. Fruit matures in winter.
Navelina: Very sweet, slightly oval shape with a deep orange colour. Originally imported from Spain. Matures from May and is an easy to peel variety of orange.
Pests and Diseases:
Mediterranean fruit fly must be controlled to obtain edible fruit, especially for oranges being grown in the Perth metropolitan area of WA. The best controls are netting or off the shelf fruit fly control products. Scale is a pest which shows up as raised bumps on the trunk, stems and even fruits. Spray with horticultural oil. Sooty mould a fungus, which causes blackening of citrus leaves. Spraying with an insecticide should prevent the occurrence.
How to store oranges:
Storing oranges is very straightforward. Oranges can be kept at room temperature for 1-2 days. If you are not going to eat them that quickly, store them in the refrigerator. Oranges can be kept in the fridge for up to two weeks.
If you have any tips on how to grow oranges please feel free to share them in the comments section below.
Check out our other how to grow in Perth guides: