Navel oranges and foliage
image by littlegentrees/flickr
Caring for your dwarf orange tree is similar to caring for any other type of orange tree. As long as you meet the tree's basic requirements, you should not have many problems caring for it. Dwarf orange trees are perfect grown outside in U.S. hardiness zones 9 and 10 and inside of containers everywhere else. Don't let the name "dwarf" fool you: the trees can reach ten feet in height if left unpruned. With regular pruning, you should be able to contain them to a size of approximately five feet.
Amend the soil with a rich organic matter such as manure, compost or peat, if the soil is not already filled with it. Orange trees grow best in a well-draining, rich soil medium. Make sure the soil drains well and does not retain water, as this will lead to root rot. If the tree is already planted, work the organic matter into the soil underneath the canopy of the tree.
If you are growing your dwarf orange tree in a container, select one that is that is three times larger that the root ball and use a potting mix that is rich in organic matter but drains well. You will have to replant the tree to a larger container every couple of years as the tree grows. Add fresh potting medium to the container when you repot the orange tree.
Select an area to grow your dwarf orange tree that receives as least six hours of full sunlight each day.
Water an outdoor dwarf orange tree once per week. Make sure to give the tree a deep watering that will get down into the root system. Water container-grown dwarf orange tree once to twice a week. Feel the soil with your hand, sticking it deep into the container. If it feels moist, there is no need to water. Orange trees prefer growing in soil that is moist to dry, but not soggy.
Prune the orange tree any time of year except during the winter months. This will keep the tree's size in shape and it will not be allowed to reach its full potential in size.
Fertilize the tree three times per year with a good-quality citrus fertilizer. If growing in a container, place 17-6-10 Osmocote in the container so it will slowly release fertilizer to the plant. Use a water-soluble fertilizer once per month. Do not fertilize a tree growing outside or in a container during the winter months.