Image by Hugh Nelson
By Jackie Carroll
Growing orange trees is a great way to enjoy these sweet, tasty fruits straight from your own garden. But what happens when there’s no orange tree fruit? Finding that there are no oranges on trees can be quite alarming, especially after all of your hard work. So why won’t an orange tree produce? Let’s find out the reasons for an orange tree not fruiting.
Orange Tree Not Fruiting
There are several reasons why an orange tree may have no oranges. On trees that flower but don’t produce fruit, the problem may be that the flowers aren’t pollinated, especially when they are grown in a protected area, such as a sunroom or greenhouse.
If the tree doesn’t flower, look at the location of the tree and the care it receives. Orange trees need sun, plenty of water, and regular fertilization. Also consider the age of the orange tree. Fruit is expected three to five years after you plant the tree.
Next time you wonder why won’t an orange tree produce, you should consider the most common possibilities for your situation. Here are some things that can prevent an orange tree from producing fruit:
- The tree is not old enough to produce fruit
- The tree doesn’t receive enough sunlight
- The flowers are not being pollinated
- Cold temperatures that kill the flower buds
- Improper watering, fertilizing or pruning
How to Get Fruit on Orange Trees
If the tree produces flowers but no fruit, it’s possible that the flowers aren’t getting pollinated. Give the branches a shake while the tree is in flower to shake loose the pollen and allow it to fall onto the pistil. You’ll have to do this regularly over a period of several days.
Did you have unusually cold temperatures or a warm spell followed by a sudden return to cold temperatures? Temperatures can cause the loss of flower buds or prevent the buds from opening. Throwing a blanket over the canopy of small trees may help prevent a crop loss.
Proper care results in a healthy tree that produces a good crop. Water the trees weekly in the absence of rain. Use drip irrigation or water slowly by hand so that the soil has a chance to absorb as much water as possible. If your soil is heavy clay and doesn’t absorb moisture well, give water frequently but in smaller amounts.
Orange trees need plenty of nitrogen, but too much prevents flowering. The best way to make sure you are giving your tree the right amount of fertilizer is to use a fertilizer specially designed for citrus trees. Read and follow the label instructions carefully. If your tree is in the lawn, remember that when you fertilize your lawn you are giving the tree an extra dose of high-nitrogen fertilizer. One way to prevent this is to cover the soil over the tree’s root zone with mulch so that you don’t have grass to fertilize in that area.
Prune young citrus trees to give them good shape and structure. If done properly, the tree will need very little pruning when it is old enough to fruit. Prune mature trees to remove dead and damaged limbs. Every three or four years, remove branches from the canopy so that you see dappled sunlight under the tree. An open canopy that gets plenty of light encourages good production. Removing only part of a branch, called heading back, encourages new growth at the expense of fruit and flowers.