America loves Florida oranges. The fruit you find in the grocery store and the juice you find in your favorite cartons was most likely grown in the Sunshine State. And if you are lucky enough to live in Florida, it is exceedingly easy to grow your own. The climate and soil is perfect for growing them, so they require a minimum amount of care. The most popular varieties of Florida oranges are Navels which are great for eating, and Valencias which make great juice oranges. Other popular varieties include Honeybells, Temples and Tangelos.
Dig a hole that is three times the diameter and three times the depth of the container that your orange tree sapling is currently in.
Fill the hole with water and allow it to drain.
Mix half of the excavated soil with a mixture that is 1/2 fine sand, and 1/2 aged compost.
Carefully remove the orange tree from its current container. Check the root ball. If there are any damaged or broken roots, remove them with a pair of disinfected pruning shears. Then loosen the roots by gently pulling them away from the root ball with your fingers.
Place the orange tree seedling in the hole so that the top of the root crown is roughly 1 inch above the surrounding soil. You will have to place some of your soil mixture in the bottom of the hole to accomplish this.
Fill in the rest of your soil mixture. Then, tamp down the soil with your hands to remove any air pockets.
Water the tree well, so that the soil below the root ball is moist. The best way to do this is to turn on the hose so that only a trickle comes out. Then, lay the hose near the roots of the sapling. Continue to water in this fashion (making sure that the ground beneath the root ball stays moist) until the orange tree establishes itself and produces new growth. Then, gradually cut back your watering regimen to 1 or 2 inches of water per week or when the soil is dry 6 inches beneath the soil. Stop watering completely in November and resume in early spring.
Make sure that there is a 3 to 5 foot diameter circle around your orange tree sapling where no grass is growing. If you must remove grass to accomplish this, be sure to remove the root systems as well as the blades.
Cover the grass-less area with a 4-inch layer of organic mulch. A good bark mulch works well, but any type will do.
Fertilize the orange tree once it has produced new growth that is at least 4 inches long. Use a 10-10-10 fertilizer according to the manufacturer's instructions. Continue to apply the fertilizer once a month, until November. Once the tree has reached one year of age, only apply fertilizer three times a year, in February, May and September.
Prune your orange tree. Take off any branches that grow lower than 1 foot off the ground. Also prune dead or diseased wood. Any pruned surface that is over 1 inch in diameter should be sealed with a pruning compound.
Harvest your oranges. Different varieties ripen at different times, although most ripen between late September and early spring. The best way to determine if an orange is ready for harvest is to check for sweet-smelling fruit that has thin skin and feels heavy when resting on your palm.