Semi-Dwarf Orange Trees: All You Need To Know for Success

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Although semi-dwarf orange trees produce a plentiful harvest consistently, they do not require as much space as regular orange trees. However, there are many factors to take into account when cultivating these varieties of orange trees.

The average semi-dwarf orange tree will grow to about 15 feet tall and the same in width by the time it reaches maturity, but some varieties will only grow to 12 feet tall and wide. Compared to standard orange trees, semi-dwarves are easier to care for due to their smaller size.

If you’re planning on growing a semi-dwarf orange tree, size should be one consideration but not the only one.

Care and maintenance along with spacing should also come at the top of the list. Read more to find out how to grow semi-dwarf orange trees successfully.

Semi-Dwarf Orange Trees

Semi-dwarf orange trees have a lot going for them. For one thing, they don’t need as much space as standard orange trees.

At the same time, they produce more fruits on average every year than the dwarf orange trees. In a way, they have the best of both worlds.

Semi-Dwarf Orange Trees at a Glance

Before we get any further, it’s worth taking a quick glance at the main features of what makes semi-dwarf orange trees stand out.

The following table gives you a clear idea of what to expect when you grow one of these orange trees.

Hardiness Zones9-11
Mature size15 feet tall, 12 feet wide
Growth rate13-24 inches per year
Spacing15 feet
Chill hours needed150 chill hours
Years until first fruits2-3 years
Bloom timeEarly spring
Average yields200 to 400 pounds
PestsAphids, scale, spider mites, Asian citrus psyllids, leafminers
DiseasesCitrus canker, citrus melanosis, root rot
Life span20-30 years

Semi-Dwarf Orange Tree Hardiness

Semi-dwarf orange trees will grow successfully in Grow Zones 9-11. They need a lot of sunlight and have little tolerance for cold weather during the growing season.

Semi-Dwarf Orange Tree Requirements

You can always plant another orange tree variety in the vicinity of the semi-dwarf orange tree to increase pollination and fruit production.

However, even if there’s only one orange tree in the area, it will still produce fruits every year within the average range. The tree needs loamy and well-draining soil with slightly acidic pH levels. 

Semi-Dwarf Orange Tree Size

The semi-dwarf orange tree size falls at the top end of the range for semi-dwarf fruit trees in general.

You can expect the tree to reach about 15 feet tall and the same in width by the time it’s mature. However, some varieties will only grow to 12 feet tall and wide.

Semi-Dwarf Orange Tree vs. Standard

The main differences between the semi-dwarf and standard orange trees have to do with the size and yield.

The standard orange tree can reach 30 feet tall and the same in the spread. That means these trees need a lot of space to grow compared to the semi-dwarf varieties that top out at 15 feet tall and wide.

As for the yield, the semi-dwarf types will yield between 200 and 400 pounds a year while the standard tree produces well over 600 pounds a year.

Semi-Dwarf Orange Tree Growth Rate

The semi-dwarf orange tree has a relatively fast growth rate that averages 13 to 24 inches per year depending on the growing conditions.

This growth rate is not as fast as dwarf orange trees, but the semi-dwarf orange tree will mature faster than the standard one.

Semi-Dwarf Orange Tree Spacing

Since semi-dwarf orange trees can grow to 15 feet wide, that should be your guideline when spacing these trees.

The mature tree needs at least 15 feet of space for adequate ventilation and to ensure that sunlight reaches the inner branches of the tree.

Semi-Dwarf Orange Tree Chill Hours

Although famous for their love for hot weather and sunlight, semi-dwarf orange trees can tolerate some chilly weather but not hard freezes.

For most fruit trees, a certain number of chill hours (when the temperatures go below 45 degrees Fahrenheit) are required for flowering and fruit production.

However, citrus trees play by different rules. According to Clemson University:

Citrus flower in mid to late spring after a dormancy period. This period is defined for the commercial citrus production world as 800 chilling hours (just over 33 days) where the temperatures are below 68°F.”

A healthy orange tree full of ripening fruit.

How Long Until Semi-Dwarf Orange Trees Produce Fruit

Semi-dwarf orange trees can start producing fruits within the first 3 years after planting them. Sometimes they might flower and fruit the second year.

However, those trees that fruit in the second year will have a small yield the first time they produce. By the third year, the yield will be closer to the annual average.

Semi-Dwarf Orange Tree Bloom Time

Growing in Zones 9, 10, and 11, semi-dwarf orange trees are evergreen, and most typically only flower once in early spring. However, some varieties in specific growing conditions may bloom continually.

Although they self-pollinate, having another orange tree variety within 50 feet of the semi-dwarf can improve pollination and increase the annual yield.

Semi-Dwarf Orange Tree Yields

You can expect your semi-dwarf to produce between 200 and 400 pounds of oranges every year, but it might take the young tree a few years to reach its maximum productivity.

Other factors that impact the annual yield include watering, pollination, chill hours, pests, and diseases.

Semi-Dwarf Orange Tree Pests & Diseases

The semi-dwarf orange tree is susceptible to the same pests and diseases as standard orange trees.

For the most part, you’ll have to look out for signs of infestations of aphids, leafminers, Asian citrus psyllids, scales, and spider mites.

You can spray the tree with neem oil (this organic option is perfect) in the early spring before the bloom season. Then spray it again any time you see these pests on the tree.

As for diseases, citrus canker, citrus melanosis, and root rot are the three diseases to look out for. 

Semi-Dwarf Orange Tree Routine Maintenance

One of the advantages of growing a semi-dwarf orange tree is that you don’t have to do a lot of maintenance and care to keep the tree growing.

The routine maintenance revolves around pruning, spraying, feeding, and watering.

Thanks to its small size, you can do most of these tasks without the need for a big ladder!

Semi-Dwarf Orange Tree Life Span

The semi-dwarf orange tree has the same average life span as other fruit trees of its ilk. It can live up to 20 or 30 years depending on the growing conditions.

Best Semi-Dwarf Orange Tree Varieties

As to be expected, there are many semi-dwarf orange tree varieties to choose from. They produce a wide variety of oranges from sweet to navel, blood, and sour.

Some of the best sweet semi-dwarf orange trees are Cara Cara, Valencia, and Trovita. Washington is the best navel semi-dwarf, Sanguinelli and Moro produce blood oranges, and Seville is a sour variety.

Caring for a Semi-Dwarf Orange Tree

When it comes to caring for the semi-dwarf orange tree, you’ll need to choose the location wisely to give the tree a headstart and spare yourself a lot of problems that might come from poor sunlight and lack of ventilation later.

Planting

Plant your semi-dwarf orange tree in loamy and well-draining soil. Choose a location that gets full sun throughout the spring and summer.

Make sure you have at least 15 feet of space to accommodate the future growth of the tree.

Watering

Keep your watering consistent, but don’t overwater the tree. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between irrigations, and give the tree 1 inch of water every week in the spring, summer, and fall. Cut back on watering in the winter.

Spraying

You can spray the tree in the early spring before the buds open to prevent future pest infestations. Once the flowers open, don’t spray the tree as it could harm pollinators. 

Fertilizing

You can apply a balanced fertilizer once a month to encourage growth. Side-dress with organic compost and aged manure during the spring and summer.

Pruning

Prune the tree right before the growing season in the spring. Pruning improves the tree’s flowering and production.

Remove any dead or damaged branches, and make paths inside the canopy to improve airflow and exposure to the sun.

Harvesting

The harvest season of semi-dwarf orange trees varies widely depending on the variety, but for the most part, the season can go on for months as oranges are slow to ripen and don’t all ripen at once. 

Related Questions:

Do Orange Trees Do Well in Containers?

Dwarf orange trees are more suitable for container growing than semi-dwarf ones because they grow to 8-12 feet and could be kept even smaller by pruning to control growth.

Can Orange Trees Be Grown Indoors?

Orange trees need full sun to grow and thrive. They also rely on pollinators for fruit production. Growing them indoors can impact their sun exposure and fruiting.

Closing Thoughts

You can grow a semi-dwarf orange tree in the garden if you live in the right location and have about 15 feet of space.

The tree can do well on its own with minimal care, but having another orange variety nearby can improve the yield for both trees.