Commercial fruit orchards in the warm of Florida, California and Texas produce large quantities of fresh citrus fruit, including oranges, for transporting to markets and restaurants across the United States. Many individuals and home gardeners in these semi-tropical areas also enjoy growing a few fruit trees for their own enjoyment. Plant an orange tree in the spring to allow plenty of time for your tree to adapt to its new location before winter arrives.
Test the soil before planting your new orange tree. Purchase a basic soil test from your gardening center, landscape nursery or hardware store. Gather the soil and send it to the laboratory in the enclosed container. Purchase any soil amendments recommended by your test results. Orange trees require soils with a pH range between 6 and 8. They prefer deep, well-drained soils with adequate amounts of nitrogen. Increase the porosity of your soil and the available nitrogen with some compost. Work the compost and the recommended soil amendments into the top 6 to 8 inches of soil in your selected site.
Plant your tree in your prepared site when the weather begins to warm up in the spring. Do not plant your orange tree if the threat of frost exists. These trees tolerate only brief periods of slight, sub-freezing temperatures at maturity, and even a short cold spell can kill a young tree. Remove any weeds in the nearby vicinity before planting your tree.
Dig a hole about twice the size of your orange tree's rootball on a dry, spring day. Don't attempt to plant your tree in muddy soil that clumps and forms hard clods. Make your hole the same depth as the rootball to allow the surface of the soil to sit level with the nearby soil. Do not allow your tree to sit in a depression. Carefully remove your orange tree from its pot. Hold it by its rootball, not its limbs or trunk. Set the rootball in the center of its hole, keeping the trunk vertical and straight. Fill in the gaps with backfill and press down lightly to compact the loose soil around the tree.
Build a small water retention dam around the trunk of your orange tree. Make a circle of soil over the outside edge of the rootball. Make the soil ring about 6 inches thick and 6 inches high. This basin helps keep surface moisture from quickly running off and directs the water toward the young roots.
Water your new tree with a garden hose. Slowly run a thin stream of water into the basin until the soil near the roots becomes evenly damp. Water your new citrus tree every few days during the first week after planting. Gradually reduce the watering frequency over the next few weeks, watering only after the surface soil shows signs of dryness. Orange trees planted in the spring generally require minimal supplemental watering, because of seasonal rainfalls.