The Osage orange (Maclura pomifera) grows native in the Southeastern and Midwestern United States. The tree easily attains a height of 40 feet with a spread up to 40 feet. The tree makes an excellent windbreak and was commonly grown as a hedge by early American settlers. The abundant green leaves grow up to 6 inches in length and 3 inches in width. The tree turns a bright yellow each fall. In late spring inconspicuous flowers occur and are followed by fruit on the female tree that measures 5 inches in diameter. The fruit turns a yellowish green color when ripe in October. The fruit is inedible to humans but widely enjoyed by squirrels who consume the seeds.
Select only male Osage orange trees to plant in a landscape because the male trees do not produce fruit. When the female tree's fruit falls to the ground it becomes extremely messy and unsightly. Only plant female Osage orange trees to help feed squirrels or other small wild mammals.
Plant Osage orange trees in full sunlight. They enjoy well-draining soil but they are not picky about what type of soil. The tree is a survivor and will readily adapt to a wide range of soil conditions.
Mix peat moss and aged manure into the soil to offer organic matter. Even though the Osage orange is a tough tree that does not require many nutrients, it will benefit from the addition of organic matter when first establishing itself. The soil should feel crumbly to the touch.
Mulch around the Osage orange tree with peat moss, leaf debris or bark chips. Apply 2 to 3 inches around the tree. The mulch will help the soil retain water and limit weed growth.
Water the Osage orange tree regularly when first planted. Keep the soil around the tree moist but not waterlogged. Once the tree is established it will easily withstand drought conditons.
Apply 2 to 3 inches of aged manure around the base of the Osage orange tree each spring. The aged manure will help fertilize the tree.