Even if you live in a cold climate you can still grow oranges (Citrus × sinensis) -- indoors, that is. You will need one of the dwarf, not semi-drawf, varieties and a space with plenty of sunlight or a good full spectrum florescent light bulb. Miniature orange trees grown as houseplants bring fragrant and lovely orange blossoms to your home. Depending on the variety, you may need to help with the pollinating process in order to get fruit. Appearance, fragrance and taste varies with the variety. Some will grow taller and faster than others, and all will need to be pruned to keep them productive, attractive and compact. Orange trees are hardy growing in US Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11.
If you love the aroma of orange blossoms, the calamondin (Citrofortunella mitis), will make a nice houseplant. This hybrid produces abundant, fragrant blossoms that make it prized as an ornamental. Even the leaves of this tree are aromatic. If it bears fruit indoors, you will have oranges as tart as lemons that are good in marmalades and as garnishments for summer beverages. Some growers even call this a golden or scarlet lime. Calamondin can grow as much as a foot per year, and without pruning, it will outgrow your house. These citrus trees are self-pollinating so they are ideal for growing indoors.
The satsuma orange (Citrus reticulata satsuma) is available in mandarin and tangerine varieties. Satsuma trees often do not get taller than 6 feet, even after many years, an ideal quality for an indoor tree. They produce small, sweet, easily peeled oranges that children love. Satsuma oranges need eight to ten hours of strong light every day for a good fruit yield. The fragrant white flowers are self-pollinating, so there's no need to have more than one tree if you want fruit. Satsuma oranges like cool winters and hot summers and do well if taken outside during the summer months.
If your favorite fruit at the grocery store happens to be the sweet-tasting "Valencia" orange (Sinensis "Valencia"), you will likely enjoy a dwarf "Valencia" tree. And it will only reach eight feet tops. Semi-dwarf cultivars, on the other hand, will quickly outgrow the house. Dwarf "Valencia" oranges need to be pollinated by gently shaking the flowers or lightly flicking them with your fingers.
Seedless oranges can also be grown indoors. Washington oranges (Sinesis Washington) are a navel orange variety. The Washington orange variety is often sold in the produce section, so this is a good choice if you want a familiar- tasting orange. Like with the "Valencia," you need to be sure to purchase a true dwarf cultivar or you will end up with a very large tree. Washington oranges need to be pollinated by hand by shaking the tree or flicking the blossoms gently, but the sweet juicy fruit is well worth the effort, especially picked right before eating. Washington oranges are good for making orange juice as well.
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