Big Orange Tree Fruits don’t have flavor
I have this big orange tree in my backyard. It must be quite old from its size. I was told till about 2-3 years ago it had good tasting fruit. However, the fruit now is quite juicy but does not have much flavor, kind of a watery taste. If some are picked at exactly the right time, they do have somewhat ok flavor. I'm seeing dead branches so I'm guessing it needs some care. What do I need to do? If I need to spray with something, how do I get to the top? It must be about 12-13ft tall. And whats the deal with those ornamental plants at its base- can they get trimmed and stay, or do they need to be removed? Thanks much, Norm.
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Oranges tend to be more sour when the weather has been cool, and sweeter when the weather has been hot. If you've had cooler than normal weather while the oranges were developing, this might be the cause. Also, prune out the branches that have died (if you can reach them), sterilizing your tools in between with 10% bleach to prevent the spread of any possible disease.
Another possibility is that the rootstock may have taken over the tree. Most oranges are grafted onto sour orange roots because of their better disease resistance, but suckers growing from the rootstock will grow faster, so they can outcompete the sweet orange branches if not pruned back. It does seem unlikely that this would have happened in just 2-3 years, but check the graft union just in case. Here is how to recognize it:
The ornamentals at the base may be taking a significant amount of water from the tree, so if you want to keep them, you may need to water every 2-4 weeks, depending on the weather, to ensure the orange tree gets enough. Trees prefer deep, infrequent watering.