Blood Orange Tree Care: How To Grow Blood Oranges


Growing blood orange trees is a great way to enjoy this unusual little fruit. Keep reading to learn more about how to grow blood oranges.

What are Blood Oranges?

Hailing from the continent of Asia, blood orange trees (Citrus sinensis) thrive in warm climates and are ideal candidates for container gardening in cooler areas. Blood orange tree care dictates the need for a temperate climate as the oranges will thrive in USDA zones 9-10. Growing blood orange trees in containers allows one to easily move trees indoors or to another sheltered area in cooler regions or during cold snaps.

So what are blood oranges? Blood orange facts refer to it as a citrus fruit prized and cultivated for centuries for its juice, pulp, and sweet rind used in culinary creations. From the outside, this smaller than a naval orange-sized fruit looks quite similar to most other orange citrus fruits. However, another blood orange fact is that once cut into, a surprising “blood red” color is revealed. This brilliant crimson lends itself to the fleshy pulp as well as the juice, making it ideal for some gruesome sounding cocktail names.

The blossoms of blood orange trees are creamy white and have a delicious scent reminiscent of the tropics. Other blood orange facts are that culinarily they pair beautifully with seafood and can be used in surprising ways within desserts. The fruit of blood orange trees is also sweeter than most other varieties of orange, it has very few seeds, and is easy to peel compared to other citrus fruits.

How to Grow Blood Oranges

The question of how to grow blood oranges is a common one. First of all, remember that blood orange trees require a warm climate, between 55-85 F. (13-29 C.) outdoors and an average of 65 F. (18 C.) inside provided there is sufficient light.

Outdoor planting of blood orange trees should occur in late March after the danger of frost has passed, choosing a location that gets full sun for most of the day. Indoor plantings of blood orange trees should be kept at least 24 inches (61 cm.) away from windows so they do not act as magnifiers and burn the leaves, but not so far away that the plant gets insufficient light.

Blood orange tree care also dictates planting in a soil that is well-draining so the roots do not sit in water. To achieve this state, add equal portions of peat moss or another organic compost to the soil.

Once the optimum location has been selected for your blood orange tree, dig a hole and bury only the roots of the tree, avoiding burying any of the trunk. Some varieties of blood orange have spines, so wear gloves and use caution.

Immediately water your tree and continue to keep the soil moist, watering every two to three days until well established and showing signs of new growth.

Keep the area around your blood oranges clear of weeds to prevent them from absorbing the nutrients the new trees need to thrive.

Blood Orange Tree Care

During the winter months, keep blood orange trees in a bright location. If need be, move blood orange trees indoors during the possibility of frost or wrap the trunk with blankets or plastic combined with a thick layer of mulch around the base of the tree to protect it from freezing temperatures. Keep in mind that if blood orange trees are moved indoors during the winter months, additional humidity may be needed to keep the foliage pliable and lush.

Water once a week once blood orange trees have become established, keeping moist, not wet. Skip watering during rainy periods and feed three to four times a year with an organic fertilizer, working it into the soil around the tree and watering in well or using a liquid fertilizer according to the manufacturer’s instructions every second or third watering. Blood orange trees require plenty of iron, manganese and zinc to produce healthy fruit, so don’t be stingy with the feeding. Yellow leaves may indicate a lack of fertilization or overwatering.

Prune blood orange trees according to container size or area of planting. These trees will flower heaviest in the spring, but continue blooming off and on throughout the year. Feel free to prune back heavy growth at the tips to reduce the height of blood orange trees. If the blood orange tree is grown in a pot, remove it every two to three years and cut back about one-third of the roots and then repot with new amended soil, which will keep this little citrus happy and healthy for many years to come.


Have you ever wanted to pick a fresh orange off your very own tree?

Did you think it isn’t possible because you live in the wrong climate or don’t have enough space?

I am here to tell you that you can grow orange trees no matter where you live in the world.

All you need is a pot, a few dollars to spend, and 2 minutes of care a day!

Below, are 10 EASY Tips if you want to learn How to Grow Orange Trees in Pots! These tips will make growing orange trees easy, simple, and cost-effective!


Blood Oranges: Getting Started with Selecting Varieties and Individual Trees

Blood oranges have become the foodie’s citrus tree, loved for their rich orange flavor with raspberry overtones and deep color. Blood oranges grow best in areas with warm to hot summers and mild winters. Those who live in citrus growing county will be rewarded by growing this attractive plant with tasty fruit. As with citrus trees in general, gardeners growing blood oranges should begin with a careful selection of varieties and individual trees.

Proper site placement, proper planting, and care of citrus trees for the first 2 or 3 years or until established are all important for the long-term health and productivity of your citrus tree. Initial attention in these areas will often help citrus trees to produce fruit for decades with minimal maintenance and relatively few problems.

Consider your long-term landscape needs before planting any citrus tree. Evaluate your available space and how your needs for that space may change over years. Plan for irrigation, soil amending or fertilizing, mulching, care during establishment, and long-term care of trees before purchasing.

The most common blood orange tree varieties available at local garden centers include Moro, Tarocco and Sanguinelli. Moro has deep red fruit with luscious, rich orange flavor with raspberry overtones and burgundy juice. Moro is productive in areas of California with moderate summers, such as coastal Northern California, but produces the best color in hot interior regions. Tarocco is less productive than Moro, but has deep red fruit and good flavor, somewhat sweeter than Moro. Juice is burgundy. Tarocco also produces best color and sweetest flavor in California’s warm to hot inland valleys. Both Moro and Tarocco are vigorous, medium-sized spreading trees. Sanguinelli is sweeter than Moro and is also best adapted to warmer inland areas. Although these varieties ripen at different times in different microclimates, they typically ripen in late winter to early spring. GardenZeus expert Darren Butler recommends tasting the variety of any fruit before purchasing. Local farmers’ markets and gourmet grocery stores often offer a variety of blood oranges. Purchase one or two or three! Then decide which tree to plant.

After selecting the variety, obtain a healthy young tree of an appropriate variety, one with good stem structure, from a reputable nursery or other local source. It’s important to obtain healthy trees that aren’t rootbound, and GardenZeus generally recommends planting younger, smaller trees rather than older trees that may have root issues after spending long periods being successively rootbound in multiple nursery pots or containers.

In the first 2 to 4 years of a young citrus tree’s life after planting, it’s important to encourage a strong tree with a healthy root system and large canopy before putting attention onto fruiting. Soil fertility and irrigation for young orange trees are critical to healthy development.

Once established, a blood orange tree is fairly simple to maintain, and can provide decades of healthy, nutritious, and delicious fruit.

GardenZeus provides gardening information customized by plant and zip code. Don’t know your GardenZeus zone? Click here.

Other articles of interest:

Have blood oranges? Need additional ideas on how to use them? Make sangria or marmalade. Or read the excellent suggestions at Los Angeles Times.


How to Care for a Blood Orange Tree

The blood orange tree is an unusual addition to any landscape. Although it appears to be a regular citrus tree, when cut open its fruit is dark purple and red. It grows best in zones 9 to 11, and cannot tolerate very extreme winters or summers. Certain aspects that makes the blood orange tree different from the regular orange tree is that it must be fertilized frequently, with properly prepared soil upon planting. Apart from this, the blood orange tree is not high-maintenance.

Prepare the planting site properly for the blood orange tree. It is smartest to grow the tree from a transplant, as seeds will take more time, money and patience. Combine 5 cups of sand and 5 cups of loam into a 3-foot-square plot of ground or in a planter pot. The tree must be in full sun in its own territory. It cannot be within 15 feet of buildings, and make sure there are no power lines around.

  • The blood orange tree is an unusual addition to any landscape.
  • Certain aspects that makes the blood orange tree different from the regular orange tree is that it must be fertilized frequently, with properly prepared soil upon planting.

Fertilize the blood orange tree about four times a year (corresponding with the seasons) with a fruit tree fertilizer, found at your local nursery. Keep in mind that liquid fruit fertilizers will soak into the ground much easier than powdered ones. Layer pine needles around the base of the tree to make the soil more acidic if your pH is unbalanced.

Prune the blood orange tree in the early spring season, as this is important to fruit production and maintaining the ideal oval tree shape. Prune back any dead or injured branches, and only cut other branches that compete for space or are overcrowding half way back. Never prune when there are blossoms or fruit.

Transplant the tree into a larger pot (if applicable) to keep it healthy. Every two to three years, carefully slide the tree from its pot and prune away 1/3 of its roots. Then repot using a good quality potting soil to promote fresh root growth.

  • Fertilize the blood orange tree about four times a year (corresponding with the seasons) with a fruit tree fertilizer, found at your local nursery.
  • Prune the blood orange tree in the early spring season, as this is important to fruit production and maintaining the ideal oval tree shape.

If you choose to grow a blood orange tree where there are harsh winters, plant it in a pot so you can transport it indoors.


Growing a Blood Orange Tree

Dig a planting hole twice the size of your blood orange’s root system. Spring is the best time to plant in climate zones 9 and 10. If you live in a colder climate zone, grow your blood orange tree in a large container, which you can move indoors in the winter. If your soil is rich and contains organic material such as decomposed leaves and humus, you need not add compost. If your soil is clay or sandy, mix one two-gallon bucket full of organic compost of any type with the soil you dug out. If the soil you removed from your planting hole fills two five-gallon buckets, two gallons of compost is the correct amount.

  • Blood oranges have red flesh inside and a reddish tinge to their rind on the outside, making them a different type of orange than the common Valencias and navels.
  • If you live in a colder climate zone, grow your blood orange tree in a large container, which you can move indoors in the winter.

Return about half of your soil/compost mixture to your planting hole and then set your potted blood orange tree into the hole to determine whether you need to add more soil/compost or whether you need to remove some. It’s important not to bury the base of the tree’s trunk, especially if it has been grafted. Leave the graft above the top of the soil.

Remove your blood orange tree from its nursery pot and loosen the roots slightly, especially if it appears to be rootbound. Then set your unpotted tree into the planting hole and fill in with the additional soil/compost mixture you removed. Tamp the soil down lightly by stepping on it.

Water your blood orange tree every three to four days for two weeks after you plant it. After it begins to show signs of new growth, water it once a week to 10 days.

  • Return about half of your soil/compost mixture to your planting hole and then set your potted blood orange tree into the hole to determine whether you need to add more soil/compost or whether you need to remove some.
  • Remove your blood orange tree from its nursery pot and loosen the roots slightly, especially if it appears to be rootbound.

Fertilize your blood orange tree with a commercial plant food designed for citrus trees three to four times a year, according to package instructions. Blood oranges also respond well to bimonthly applications of fish emulsion and by having a layer of compost spread around their drip line, in a doughnut-shaped configuration at least 2 feet from the trunk.

Do not plant your blood orange tree in a basin because this citrus needs good drainage—if it sits in a puddle of water, it can develop root rot and eventually die.


Most blood oranges are in season and ready for harvest from December to May. Low temperature plays a part in the darkness of the red color of blood orange. The more cold weather has passed, the more pigment will develop and bloodier your orange will be. However, some cultivars of blood orange can yield fruit in autumn or early spring. The two most popular varieties are the dark-fleshed Moro which is available from December to March and the delicately flavored Tarocco which is available in the market from January to May.

In choosing a fruit to eat, pick blood oranges that are firm to touch and heavy for their size. Take note that a brownish area on the skin has no effect on its flavor or quality but do avoid ones with mold or spongy spots. Oranges don’t continue ripening once you pick them, so leave the fruit on the tree until the time you plan to use them. The blood orange fruit can last 4 to 6 weeks in the refrigerator.

Orange planting season

It is best to plant a blood orange tree in the spring or autumn but it can also be planted on any season except the warm months. It requires full sun and cool winter that is not more than light frost to grow well. The blood orange tree grows up to 3-8 meters and can also do well in a pot with loamy soil.

Follow a regular watering schedule during the first year to establish a deep, extensive root system. After that, you may reduce or increase the amount and frequency of watering based on the climate. In hot seasons, it requires 4 to 6 inches of water every month. Keep in mind that this is a medium growing plant and may take 2 to 3 years before it yields fruits.

Orange blooming season

Blood oranges bloom with white fragrant flowers in spring or winter. Most of its pollination is assisted by bees. Flowers will appear from small shoots that originate where the leaves meet the stem. You should take extra careful if blooms appear in winter since frost can typically destroy its flowers. You may bring your blood orange tree indoors during this season or cover it with blanket. Placing an incandescent light bulb beneath the cover can provide the tree with the warmth it needs through the winter. You may also opt to place your potted tree in a heated room.

In addition, a blood orange tree needs an annual dosage of citrus fertilizer in half the recommended strength. It should be applied to the plant at least once a month except during winter. It will also respond well to a foliar feeding of a water-soluble fertilizer applied as a spray. Choose a fertilizer that is rich in iron, manganese and zinc.


Watch the video: Growing Blood Orange Citrus in a Container. My first blood orange. #howtogrowcitrus #gardentips


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