The Q&A Archives: Help with an orange tree

Question: I bought an orange tree from an airport in Florida about 5 years ago. I planted it, and it is now about 4' tall. I maintain the soil and have kept it pruned. I don't live in the South, so it goes indoors for the winter and is placed in a southern facing window. When the temps. get warm, I move the tree outside. It has never bloomed, but it just keeps getting bigger. The box it came in did say I'd have oranges in a few years, but that could be advertising. What can I do to help out my tree?

Answer: Your tree is old enough to set fruit so it should flower. You didn't mention whether or not it produces flowers. If not, you're either accidentally pruning them off, or the growing conditions are not quite right. All types of citrus make wonderful indoor plants, and while they can be quite finicky about flowering and fruiting, their fragrance makes them worth the effort. To encourage flowering, keep your plant where temperatures remain between 50 and 60 degrees at night, fertilize once a month, alternating between a 20-20-20 and a high-phosphorus fertilizer, and maintain about 50 percent humidity around the plant. Since you can move your plant outdoors in the spring and summer, the bees can help with pollinating the flowers.

Hope you have a bountiful harvest!

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