Originating from the Far East, the Orange tree is one of our favourite fruit trees in South Africa. The trees were initially planted in the Cape and the first sweet oranges were harvested in 1661. Over the years many different varieties of oranges have been introduced into South Africa.
Best known for its sweet fruit and perfumed blossoms, Citrus sinensis is a good specimen tree that attract bees and butterflies to you garden. The tree grows to a height of between 3 and 4 m and thrives in full sun, although it will tolerate partial shade. The evergreen foliage is dark green with a glossy, leathery texture and has a pleasing aroma when crushed. Small, white flowers appear in clusters from August to October.
The rounded, orange coloured fruit appear from February to July, but is dependent on the variety and location of the trees. The size of the fruit also varies with navel orange varieties generally being larger and sweeter than Valencia varieties. Oranges should be left on the trees until you are ready to use them, as the fruit does not ripen any further once picked.
Orange trees require moderate watering and do well in a temperate climate. The tree is not very frost resistant and should be protected against the cold when young. Alternatively, the tree can be grown in a container where it will flourish on a patio.
With its evergreen leaves, aromatic flowers and delicious fruit, the Orange tree is a good choice for an interesting tree in the garden.