How to transplant an orange tree

How To Transplant A Fruit Tree - In 4 Easy Steps?

Fruit trees are arguably the best and most important plants people can grow in their garden. These trees provide us with good healthy food, fantastic scenery, habitat for animals, and an excellent excuse to wander out through the orchard (or garden).

Most fruit trees have similar sighting considerations, and whilst there are some exceptions, trees positioned in full-sun and planted in well draining fertile soil will often do best. However, sighting for the tree's best interest can clash with our landscaping plans or impede other aspects of our garden. Therefore, if we really want to grow a particular tree and if compromises need to be made then erring on the side of good growing conditions above anything else is the way to go because what's the use of planting a fruit tree if it isn't going to perform and thrive?

Here is a young orange tree (Valencia) thriving and producing fruit (image above)

Why transplant a fruit tree?

Nevertheless, even the most careful consideration and planning sometimes results in a fruit tree being planted in the wrong spot. It could be in a position where we just don't want it there anymore or in a spot that just isn't good enough for optimal growth and health of the tree. Once, I had a mandarin tree which was planted in perfect soil but was growing poorly and I realised a large ant nest had developed right through the root system. Transplanting this tree saved its life and my money.

For for whatever reasons, often issues with fruit trees become prevalent over time. When this situation happens, we are faced with really only two courses of action. Either leave the tree where it is and deal with the consequences or remove the tree.

An established fruit tree is expensive to buy; relocating a tree, rather than chopping it out or leaving it die a slow death in a position it hates, will save money and growing time.

It's important to remember just because a tree has been growing in a certain position for a length of time (possibly years) it can be removed and transplanted successfully with a little forethought and care. A fruit tree should be thriving not just surviving and moving the tree to a better position can make a world of difference. Even if a tree is thriving but the positioning is inconvenient it's best to move the tree rather than be constantly annoyed of its presence whenever you venture into the garden.

Yes, it is possible relocating the tree will kill it anyway due to transplant shock but at the end of the day the risk is worth the effort… in my humble opinion.

Steps to relocating a fruit tree

There are 4 main steps to relocating a fruit tree and these are: establish the new location, prune, Dig-out, and re-plant. Let's go through these steps one-by-one and in order below.

In the following example images shown in the rest of this article, I had planted a mulberry tree in a position where at the time seemed perfect. However, over a few years and consecutive excessive wet seasons it became apparent the tree was suffering from wet feet as the once free draining soil was now an almost permanent bog.

The tree didn't have to be moved very far to solve the wet feet problem, it just had to be moved away from the depression it was in and to a higher point on my property. To be certain I wouldn't have the wet feet issue again, I planted the tree almost at ground level and built the soil up rather than digging a large hole. I also timed the transplant during winter (hence the sparce foliage) so the tree was in its most dormant state to cope best with transplant shock.

The image above shows the location of the mulberry fruit tree before transplanting. On the left are tyre tracks from where I nearly bogged my ride-on mower – this demonstrates how saturated the soil surrounding the tree had become. Here, I have begun the process of transplanting by pruning and clearing the base of the tree for digging out.

 Step 1 – Establish the new location

The first thing that should be done is a yard reconnaissance to find a spot where the transplanted tree will go. Digging the tree out first and then deciding on where it is to go will just cause unnecessary stress for the tree and could cause you to make another ill-considered decision.

The obvious aim for where the tree should go is a location which improves on its current position. A hole in the new location should be pre-dug and any excess soil, compost, or mulch required should be pre-positioned near the hole.

Along with location is timing and winter is generally a good time for replanting as most fruit trees are semi or fully dormant during this time. If the tree happens to be fruiting through winter (like some citrus in the sub-tropics) then transplanting can be done after fruiting but before the start of the new spring growth. That way, growth won't be “checked” at the most important time of the year and the following growth season after transplanting can take immediate effect getting the tree off to a good start in its new location.

Step 2 – Prune

To minimise water loss through evaporation and encourage a flush of new growth a good pruning should be done before transplanting.

Pruning whilst the tree is in its current location is easier because it already has a firm footing so removing branches is easier and pruning before moving means less tree to move and a tidier tree to move.

 Give the tree a really good trim cutting back to just above nodes or likely new growth points where possible. Ensure any crossing branches or dead-wood are pruned also, and try to open the centre of the tree to allow good air circulation.  


Some results of pruning before transplanting (above image)

Step 3 – Dig-out

Work around the tree digging down until a full circle has been cut then start moving around again using the same spade entry and start lifting and loosening the root ball. Depending on the size of the tree, it may be easy enough to lift out at this stage with the spade or by lifting at the trunk. For larger trees it may be necessary to gently push the tree over on one side and back the other way to fully loosen the root system and surrounding soil.

Keeping as much of the root ball as possible will reduce transplant shock. Having said that, the tree still needs to be manageable so digging out a massive hunk of ground with the roots is not practicable if it can't be moved due to the weight (unless you have machinery – like a digger: My father in-law used to own a commercial orchard and he tells me how using a digger can be a very effective way to dig-out, move, and transplant large fruit trees). But, if it's manpower you're using then weight is a definite consideration when digging out the tree.


Digging a spade depth down around the base of the tree on a slight angle inwards (above image)

The two most important roots on a fruit tree is it's tap root and feeder roots. The tap root is the root which is generally situated under the trunk going straight down. Severing the tap root too close to the base can be bad because it is like a main artery for the tree. Feeder roots are the surface roots (close to the surface) looking like a fine weaving nest of roots. These roots capture much of the immediate water and nutrients needed for the tree. Feeder roots can be easily disturbed and torn away when moving a tree so care needs to be taken to keep as many feeder roots intact as possible.

With the two important root systems in mind it's time to start digging. A spade with a sharp edge is optimal for this task as it will be used to sever the root system cleanly. With the spade angled slightly inward not straight down and about 45cm away from the base of the tree firmly push down the full depth of the blade. If a root is hit and the spade fails to cut through then a few hard step-downs on the spade should get through.

Eventually, the tree should feel like it has “come away” if it feels like it is still bound to the ground then it probably still is; therefore, it is likely some deeper roots have been missed. Just find these anchor roots by pushing the tree to one side (or the other) and cut them. With some effort, the tree should then lift out and have most or all of its tap root intact.

When lifting the fruit tree (you may need some help) try to do so with as little disturbance to the roots as possible. Soil can be lost from below the feeder roots but try to keep some of the top soil attached to the feeder roots.

Step 4 – Re-plant

Depending on how far the tree needs to be transported extra equipment might be required for moving the tree to make the task easier and minimise disturbance to the root ball. Equipment like: a wheelbarrow, cart, open grow-bag with handles, or a simple tarp can be handy when moving the tree to its new location. With a tarp, just position the tree central and then drag the tarp to the transplant location. Naturally, if the distance to the transplant location is considerable (especially if moving house, for example) then the back of a utility/pick-up is optimal.

Position the tree in the new hole and take the time to ensure the orientation is how you like, before starting to backfill, as this is the time to turn the tree so it is positioned best. If the tree is being planted into dry soil then pre-wetting the hole is a good idea, also.

Backfill the new hole ensuring the tree trunk is at the same ground height as before and the soil doesn't encroach around the trunk base above the original collar mark. Gently firm-down the soil then top with some well matured compost and water-in with a watering can full (9ltrs) of a seaweed solution (recommended dose) to help the tree cope better with transplant shock. Mulch well with sugar cane or lucerne to retain moisture and protect the newly transplanted roots from the elements.

Staking the tree at this point can also be helpful until the tree has re-established a solid root system. Two stakes driven-in on each side of the root ball (not through it) with some material or twine from one to the other in a figure 8 style tie works well.


Here we have the mulberry tree staked and mulched (image above)

Finally, water the newly transplanted fruit tree regularly until established and this is particularly important in the warmer climates where some winter days can be quite dry and warm.

Here's the same tree a just over 12 months later and it's doing well (image above)

Other points

Some fully dormant fruit trees (like stone fruit) can be removed and the roots washed clean to become bare rooted before transplanting (deciduous fruit trees are often sold like this) but I still think transplanting with minimal root disturbance is best (unless a disease or pest happened to be attacking the root system, in which case, bare rooting the plant by washing off the soil might be good practice).

Fruit removal at the pruning step is wise so the tree's energy can go into producing new growth and getting over transplant shock instead of producing fruit. Removing the fruit in the next season may be a good idea also for the same reasons.

Use clean garden tools to ensure no new disease is introduced just on transplanting. A light spray with a disinfectant over tools like secateurs, for example is all that's required.


A month on, and healthy shoots appearing on the transplanted tree is a really good sign (image left).

For a fruit tree to do its job and provide us with edible, great tasting, nutritious produce we need to provide it with the best growing conditions we can offer. Therefore, sometimes relocating the tree is necessary in order to facilitate the best growing conditions.

The alternative is to persist with the tree in the current location and “baby it” but from my experience all the fertiliser and doting in the world is just palliative care for a dying tree. The only real chance for the tree to live a good existence is to take it from the location, which is making it sick, and place it in an environment to help it thrive.

I buy a lot of my fruit trees online because of the variety – try:

  • eBay Australia;
  • eBay USA; and
  • Amazon. 

Feel free to use the comment section below and have your say (no email is required).

Thanks for reading and thanks for your support.

Look, and see the Earth through her eyes

Mark Valencia – Editor SSM



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Transplanting citrus trees takes care and effort, but it can be done – Daily News

Question: I have a lemon tree that was planted in partial shade one year ago. My gardener claims it’s in too much shade. I was thinking I needed to wait for winter to transplant it to a sunny spot. Is this true?

— Marlene de Valera, Simi Valley

Answer: You want to avoid citrus transplanting — or planting, for that matter — in winter because of the danger of frost. Citrus trees are evergreen, which means they are constantly putting out new growth, even if during the winter new growth slows down. In any event, you do not want to risk killing new growth from frost damage on a newly transplanted citrus since there is always some shock associated with transplanting, and you do not want to add to it.

Ideally, you would transplant in spring or early fall, just before or just after the onslaught of summer heat. Early morning is the best time to transplant as a precaution against desiccation of the root ball.

That being said, you really can transplant any time in our area as long as you take precautions when extreme weather is forecast. For instance, if a freeze was forecast soon after you transplanted your citrus tree in winter, you would want to cover your tree that evening with an old blanket that reached all the way to the ground, making sure to remove it in the morning. Or, if you planted this time of year and a sudden heat wave occurred, you would want to make sure to give your tree a nice shower with a hose several times during the day.

If you are moving from shade to sun, you have to be especially concerned about transplant shock. If you could initially provide some sort or screen or shade cloth canopy for the tree while it acclimated to the sunnier exposure, that would help it adapt to its new surroundings.

Anti-transparent sprays are also available. Anti-transparent spray covers foliage with a thin film that does not interfere with critical gas exchange between leaves and atmosphere even while it prevents transpiration or water loss from leaf surfaces. Aside from reducing transplant shock, anti-transparent spray is used for keeping needles on Christmas trees and for extending the longevity of cut flowers and vase arrangements. Anti-transparent spray is widely available through online vendors.

Application of root hormone, mixed in water, is another measure recommended to reduce transplant shock. Superthrive is a popular product, found in just about every nursery and garden center, that contains NAA (naphthyl acetic acid), a naturally occurring plant hormone that stimulates root growth.

Mulch is another safeguard for successful transplanting. Apply several inches of wood chips, hedge clippings, fallen leaves, or other garden debris between the trunk and drip line or canopy perimeter, making sure your mulch does not touch the trunk since mulch that covers tree bark can bring on fungus problems.

More important than any of the above measures is making sure that you dig up as much of the root ball as is physically possible to carry. If your tree has been in the ground only a year, assuming it was planted from a 15 gallon container, the root ball should still be of manageable size, so no more than two people would be needed to carry it. Before digging, give the tree a good soaking. This will make it easier to dig up the tree and also minimize transplant shock.

Before digging up your tree, you will want to dig the hole where the tree is to be placed. That way, you minimize the danger of the root ball drying out before it can be placed in its new home.

Dig a hole that is the same diameter as the circle corresponding to the drip line or canopy perimeter and at least 2 feet deep.

Ideally, you will start digging the tree destined for transplanting at its drip line and dig down to a 2-foot depth, making a circular trench, as wide as you need it to be to stand in it. Once you can step down into the trench, you can start digging underneath the block of soil that you plan to remove. Keep in mind that the most important roots, the ones that take up water and minerals, are in the top several inches of soil so you do not want to disturb these.

Now, you will want to prepare a burlap tarp to enclose the root ball. This tarp, available at any lawnmower shop, should be thoroughly soaked. The moment the last of the tree’s roots are severed from the ground, slip the tarp under the root ball and wrap it around, tying it off at the trunk. It’s important that the root ball be completely enclosed by the tarp or tarps (you may need to tie two or more of them together at the corners, depending on the size of the root ball) and moved completely intact. Before moving the tree, soak the burlap again.

Once the tree has been moved, water it copiously in its new location. If, despite your best efforts, the foliage begins to wilt, do not despair. Where leaves are wilting on the shoot of any plant, the best practice is to remove the lower leaves on that shoot. Your first impulse when seeing wilted leaves will probably be to cut off the terminal end of the shoot. This is a mistake because root hormone is manufactured in the shoot terminals or newest leaves on any shoot so that removal of these leaves depresses growth of new roots.

Question: I have three orange trees that I’m guessing were planted when my house was built since everyone on the street has the same tract home set up with orange trees. That would make the trees 52 years old.

All the trees get full sun. All have the same issue of branches losing new green growth, turning brown and dying. My landscape guy has cut them back only twice in the four years we’ve lived here so not sure if that was a good or bad thing. I only have them set up for water using the sprinkler system, and I’ve never given them fertilizer. I’ve also never picked all the oranges off during the season, so older ones seem to be hanging on into the next year, which could be a problem as well.

I really love my trees and want them to thrive, so I’ll do whatever is necessary to fix the issue.

— Lynne Gilliam, Granada Hills

Answer: Orange trees usually do not live much longer than 50 years and, if they do, will not give you much fruit. Consider any oranges you see from now a special gift.

Mature backyard orange trees will typically produce heavy crops without fertilization, so your instinct in not fertilizing is correct. However, since your trees appear to be in decline, I would fertilize at this time with any fertilizer formulated specifically for citrus trees and apply it according to the directions given on the bag. That being said, I would not fertilize later than this week since you do not want to go into the fall with a lot of new growth that could be killed in a frost.

As for pruning, orange trees do not require it except to remove dead or broken shoots or branches. Commercial orange growers prune for the sole purpose of keeping trees lower so that harvesting is easier and thus less costly. When these growers prune, they bring in a gigantic hedge trimmer mounted on a truck that goes down the rows of trees, shearing the trees down to a more manageable height. It’s not a good idea to keep old fruit on a tree since it can attract fungus and insect pests, although, in your case, I think the decline you are witnessing is more a function of age than any other factor.

For more information about area plants and gardens, go to Joshua Siskin’s website at Send questions and photos to [email protected]

Tip of the week

To save an old tree, you may need to resort to inarching, which is the practice of grafting shoots from a young tree into an older one because the roots of the old tree are failing, usually because of disease.

You plant the young trees around the older one and bend shoots of the young tree toward healthy growth on the older tree, uniting them through grafting. Thus the healthy roots of the young trees sustain the older one.

The most famous case of inarching is found in Riverside, at 7115 Magnolia Ave., where California’s parent navel orange tree was planted in 1873. Several times since then, when the tree was dying from a root fungus, inarching was performed and the tree was saved. Every navel orange tree in California owes its origin to this tree.

Growing an orange tree | Pavlovolimon

Orange tree (lat. Citrus sinensis ) is a member of the Rutaceae family. It began to grow more than two thousand years ago in China. It was brought to European countries by Portuguese navigators in the 15th century. Initially, this fruit was intended for aristocrats and individuals of noble blood. Two centuries later, the orange came to Russia. The nobles considered it a delicacy.

Orange fruits contain a large amount of vitamin and mineral substances. Freshly squeezed ripe fruit juice is useful in the treatment of diseases such as:

  • hypovitaminosis;
  • diseases of the vascular system;
  • liver;
  • failures in metabolism.

Thanks to pectins, intestinal peristalsis improves, the functions of the digestive organs improve.

Indoor orange is a small evergreen tree. It grows no more than two meters in height. During flowering, fragrant white inflorescences appear on the shoots. Adult plants bear fruit three years after planting. This period is determined by the variety. With proper care, you can get delicious fruits.

Ripe orange tree

Table of contents

Light and temperature

This is a thermophilic and light-loving plant. Therefore, it is important for him to provide appropriate conditions.

Light requirements

This plant is photophilous. It is recommended to place the flowerpot on the southern or eastern windowsill. If the pot with it is placed on the floor, the room should be well lit with natural light. To prevent burns on sensitive leaves, it is recommended to protect them from direct sunlight in summer. You can shade with blinds or use translucent tulle.

In order to ensure uniform development of the crown, it is recommended to periodically turn the flowerpot with the opposite side to the sun. During fruit ripening, it is important to provide an abundance of sunlight to the plant. Otherwise, the fruits will be more acidic. In the summer, it will be useful to take out a flowerpot with a tree to the balcony, veranda or garden.

Temperature requirements

During the flowering period, the optimum temperature is 17-18 degrees above zero. If the temperature is higher, the heat-loving tree will begin to actively grow and develop. And at lower rates, plant growth slows down.

Indoor tree does not withstand cold temperatures. Therefore, in the room where it is grown, it should not be below 5 degrees Celsius.

Humidity and watering considerations

Humidity requirements

To ensure a comfortable development of a tree, it needs to create tropical conditions. To do this, several times a day, it is recommended to spray its ground parts with a spray gun.

Important! If the air in the room is too dry, you can hang a wet towel on the battery, install a humidifier. This plant needs high humidity.

Irrigation features

With the onset of spring, watering becomes plentiful and frequent. Throughout the summer, you also need to frequently and abundantly moisten the soil. It must not be allowed to dry out.

With the onset of autumn, reduce the frequency of watering - no more than twice a week. In winter, adhere to the same soil moisture schedule.

Fertilizing and Transplanting

How to Feed

Fertilize when spring arrives. For this procedure, a ready-made composition intended for citrus fruits is used.

You can also fertilize yourself. To do this, take rotted bird droppings, dilute it in a bucket of water. Watered under the root.

How to transplant

Transplantation is carried out by transferring a clod of earth into a larger pot. Lightly tamp the top, pour the soil. During budding or fruiting, this procedure is not carried out. It is best to do it in March-April.

Transplantation of an adult plant is performed every two years. Otherwise, its root mass suffers.

Prepare the soil for transplanting, which consists of:

  • soddy soil - 3 parts;
  • rotted hardwood - 1 part;
  • rotted mullein or bird droppings - 1 part;
  • sand - 1 part.

Important! When transplanting, a layer of drainage must be laid on the bottom of the flowerpot. With its help, the outflow of excess moisture is ensured, the roots receive a sufficient amount of oxygen.

Orange tree on window

The orange tree needs regular pruning of the branches that grow inside the crown. They thicken the crown. Additionally, you need to periodically cut off the shoots, which are strongly drawn out.

To form a crown, you need to:

  • leave two or three branches of the second order on the layers of the first order;
  • leave three branches of the third order on the layers of the second order.

Fruits are formed on branches of the 4th order.

Features of flowering and fruiting

Budding begins with the onset of summer. After the end of the flowering period, ovaries form in place of the inflorescences.

Fruit formation begins when the plant is three years old. To obtain large sweet fruits, 50% of the buds must be removed. After flowering, leave 4-5 ovaries.

Diseases and pests

Oranges are most often attacked by scale insects and spider mites. The process of dealing with them consists in treating the ground parts with a concentrated solution of laundry soap. After processing, the soap must be carefully rinsed off.

Fungal or bacterial diseases may develop if not properly cared for. The fight against them consists in the treatment with fungicidal preparations.

Growing an orange tree at home is easy. For good growth, development and fruiting, he needs to create optimal growing and care conditions.

Select plants

How to transplant a tangerine tree at home

If you want to add a tangerine tree to your collection, but are worried that you will not cope with the care, your fears are unfounded. You just need to follow the rules for keeping mandarin at home. At the time of purchase, consult what conditions are best to create, what fertilizers to buy, and most importantly, learn how to transplant a tangerine tree at home. Having understood all these issues, you will be calmer.


  • When to Transplant a Tangerine
  • Choosing a Pot for Transplanting
  • Required Soil and Substrate
  • Rules for Caring for a Transplanted Tree
  • Transplanting a Tangerine Video

When a mandarin needs a transplant

Transplant a tangerine tree in the spring, when the plant wakes up after winter and all its processes are activated. Since this plant develops very quickly, it is recommended to replant a young tree once a year, while the new pot should be 2–3 cm larger than the previous one. And at the age of seven, when the flower is already considered an adult, a mandarin transplant is carried out every three years.

First, make sure that a transplant is necessary, for this, make a small dig and feel the condition of the roots. If the root system is tightly wrapped around the soil, then transplant, and if the roots are loose, it would be better to change the topsoil, and leave the pot the same. Do not forget that there will be no point in transplanting if the plant is in bloom at that moment. It is better not to touch the tangerine tree at all in the flowering phase. Therefore, knowing how to properly and when to transplant a mandarin at home, you will achieve the most positive results.

Pot selection for transplanting

There is no reason to worry about choosing a new pot for planting a citrus tree. If your plant is at the most preparatory stage for growing, then a simple plastic cup may be suitable for it. But if you want an exquisite pot for the future plant, then any other miniature container up to 10 cm deep will do. But do not forget that the root system grows very quickly, and soon you will need another glass or flowerpot for proper transplanting indoor tree.

Required soil and substrate

Proper transplanting of a homemade tangerine tree begins with the selection of a suitable substrate. This is one of the main points and it is not worth saving on it. It is better to purchase ready-made soil in a specialized store, pay attention that it is slightly acidic, without other impurities. The earth should be very airy and nutritious, retain moisture well and pass air. If you do not trust universal soils or just have a desire to prepare the substrate yourself, then the opportunity to prepare the right mixture always exists. For tangerine trees, the following components are suitable:

  • sod and sheet soil in equal proportions;
  • coarse river sand, which must be disinfected before use;
  • humus;
  • clay in very small quantities.

When repotting, remember to drain. At the bottom of the flowerpot, 3-5 centimeters thick, drainage is lined, expanded clay and small pebbles are ideal. The indoor tangerine will really like large stones at the bottom, which perfectly pass air and do not allow stagnant water. One little secret: the neck of an indoor tangerine tree, after you have transplanted it, should remain at the same level above the ground as in another pot.

After completing the process, immediately water the soil, it will settle a little, then add a little more soil and water the last time.

Rules for the care of a transplanted tree

One of the basic rules is that indoor tangerines need light! And the more it is, the better: the tree is gaining health and energy, and the fruits - juice. Place it in the house near the windows, and if it is the south side, then it is still desirable that the glass is covered by blinds or any other diffusing device. It will be bad for the leaves if they are in direct sunlight. In the warm season, you can put homemade tangerine flowers outdoors: balconies, loggias, orchards, but follow the rules of sun protection.

In winter, this plant is a little troublesome, since the daylight hours for it must last at least eight hours. It will be necessary to highlight with phytolamps, otherwise the tree may get sick, and in rare cases die altogether. Therefore, this item must be taken with great responsibility.

As for the air temperature, the optimal value would be 20-25 degrees, if this figure drops, then do not wait for the fruits, they will ripen, but inside they will be hollow. In winter, it is recommended to remove the plant to a cool room - this is necessary so that it can rest before the important and active phase of flowering in the spring. Having gained a lot of strength, indoor citruses give much more fruits, and they are also juicier and sweeter.

Humidity should be high, so it is worth spraying the flower with clean water three times a day. In a hot period, it would be better to place a bucket or basin of water near the pot to prevent the air around the tangerine from drying out. In winter, it will generally be ideal to use a humidifier, especially if the flower is located next to heating appliances. And do not forget to ventilate the room: fresh air has a beneficial effect on development, but do not allow drafts to appear - the indoor tangerine does not tolerate this, like any other house plant.

After you transplant a tree, be sure to water it, and then monitor the condition of the soil. It should always be kept moist, but not wet, to prevent rotting. Most often it turns out that in summer watering is done once a day, and in winter approximately 2-3 times a week. Pay attention to the pan - if water accumulates in it, then reduce the number of waterings.

Use purified and settled water for irrigation, tap water contains a lot of salts and impurities that linger in the soil and have a bad effect on the appearance of the plant.

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