How to Grow Osage Oranges

Опубликовал Admin
30-10-2020, 09:00
Despite the name, Osage oranges aren’t actually oranges at all! Instead, these trees are used as natural fences and barriers because of their thick branches and fast growth. They’re decorative and can be a great addition to any property. Luckily, Osage trees are tough plants and can grow in most environments. The toughest part is gathering the seeds. After that, you can plant the trees and watch them grow without much care or maintenance.

Gathering and Extracting Seeds

  1. Collect fallen fruit from around Osage trees. Female Osage trees produce large, green, grapefruit-sized fruits that fall to the ground when they’re ripe. Each fruit contains about 200-300 seeds, so collect some fruit from around an Osage tree to gather all the seeds you need.
    • Don’t pick fruits directly from the trees. These seeds may not be mature enough to grow.
    • The milky juice from the fruit could irritate your skin, so be sure to wash your hands any time you handle the oranges.
  2. Store the fruit in a cool, moist place for 2-3 months. Osage seeds germinate over the winter, so exposing them to the cold helps stimulate growth. Aging the fruits also lets some of the pulp decay, and gathering the seeds will be much easier. You can leave the seeds outside if it’s cold, or in a spot that’s cool and moist like a basement. Let the fruit decay for 2-3 months.
    • A popular trick is just leaving the fruit where it falls through the winter and then gathering it in the spring. This way, some of the work is already done.
    • If you leave the fruit outside, make sure no animals can get them.
  3. Soak the fruit in water to remove the pulp. Once the fruits have decayed a bit, removing the seeds is a lot easier. Crush up the fruits and put them in a bucket of water. Let the pulp float to the top and skim it off. Then collect the seeds from the bottom of the bucket.
    • The seeds might still have some pulp on them after you soak them. You can wipe this off easily.
  4. Germinate the seeds by soaking them in cool water for 48 hours. Osage seeds germinate in the winter, so cold and wet conditions are best. Fill a bucket with cold water and throw the seeds in there. Within 48 hours, you should see small sprouts coming out.
    • It’s normal for up to 50% of the seeds in a batch to fail to germinate, so don’t worry if not all the seeds start sprouting. You didn’t do anything wrong.
    • You could also germinate the seeds by storing them in a refrigerator for 30 days.
    • If you prefer to save your seeds rather than plant them right away, then you can store them in a dry, cool place for up to 3 years before planting.
  5. Buy Osage seeds if you prefer to save time. If you don't have any Osage trees that you could collect fruit from, or you just don't want to go through the trouble, then you can also buy them. Find a nursery or garden center and buy the seeds, then follow the provided directions to germinate and plant them.
    • Generally, you'll still have to soak the seeds in cool water before planting them to start germination.

Planting the Seeds

  1. Plant the seeds in indoor pots to get started. Fill a pot with normal potting soil. Then bury each seed about ⁄8 in (0.95 cm) deep and cover it with soil. Keep each seed 20–30 cm (7.9–11.8 in) apart if you’re planting more than one. This gets the seeds started and prepares them for outdoor planting.
    • Make sure the pot has drainage holes on the bottom so the seeds don’t get waterlogged.
    • You can plant several seeds in the same pot, especially if you’ll be transplanting the seedlings outside when they start growing.
    • You could also just start planting the seeds outside if you know exactly where you want the trees. You can plant them any time between Spring and Fall, as long as the first frost hasn't happened yet.
  2. Leave the pot in a sunny spot. Osage trees only need sunlight and water to start growing. Move the pot near a window that gets plenty of direct sunlight and leave it there to get the seeds started.
    • Osage can generally grow in indirect sunlight as well, just not as fast. To get the seeds started, it's best to leave them in direct sunlight for a boost.
  3. Water the seeds when the soil starts getting dry. Osage seeds are pretty tough, so just some regular watering will keep them growing. Water them once, then wait until the soil starts drying out to water again. Keep up this schedule as long as the seeds are potted.
    • Osage trees don’t need much care or nutrition, but you could add some plant food to make them grow faster. Try a slow-release fertilizer. You only need to apply this once while the trees are potted, because it releases nutrients over a long period of time.
  4. Let the seedlings grow until they’re about 1 ft (0.30 m) tall. With enough sunlight and water, the Osage seeds should grow pretty fast. You’ll probably see growth within 10-14 days. Keep watering them regularly and let them grow. It takes a few months for the sprouts to reach 1 ft (0.30 m) tall, depending on how much sunlight and water they're getting. When they reach this height, then they’re ready for transplanting outside.
    • You can also let the trees grow longer in the pot. They can easily reach a few feet tall while still potted.

Transporting the Seedlings Outside

  1. Transplant the seedlings outside before the first autumn frost. Osage trees can be planted any time between the spring and fall. Just make sure you get them in the ground before the first frost in the fall, otherwise it’ll be too cold for them to grow.
    • If you miss the frost, don’t worry. You can keep the trees potted until the spring. You just might have to move them into a larger pot if they’re getting tall.
  2. Dig a hole 2–4 in (5.1–10.2 cm) deep in the spot you want the tree. Find a sunny spot on your property where you want to plant the tree. Dig a wide, shallow hole, about 2–4 in (5.1–10.2 cm) deep and 1–2 ft (0.30–0.61 m) wider than the current root system on the seedling.
    • Keep in mind that generally, Osage trees grow faster and larger when they’re in a sunny spot. If you don’t want the tree to grow out of control, you might want to put the seedling in a spot with some shade.
    • Osage trees are resilient and can grow in most types of soil. While they grow best in moist, mineral-rich soil, they can tolerate alkaline or depleted soil as well. They aren't very picky, so you don't have to worry too much about soil nutrients on your property.
  3. Plant the seedling in the hole. Dig the seedling out of the pot, making sure to get the entire root system as well. Then plant the seedling into the hole and pat dirt around it.
    • Make sure the seedling is facing straight up so it grows properly.
  4. Spread 3–6 in (7.6–15.2 cm) of mulch around the base of the tree. Use a standard mulch and pour it around the base of the tree. Spread it about 3–6 in (7.6–15.2 cm) thick and 1–3 ft (0.30–0.91 m) around the tree. This helps lock moisture and nutrients into the soil.
    • Leave a few inches of space between the tree and the mulch. Direct contact with the mulch could damage the tree.
  5. Leave 4–5 ft (1.2–1.5 m) between the trees if you’re planting more than one. Osage trees are popular for making hedges and natural fences, so you could try and do this on your property as well. Simply plant the trees in a line, about 4–5 ft (1.2–1.5 m) apart. This gives them enough space to grow, but is close enough for them to form a barrier when they’re big enough.
    • Remember that Osage trees can grow a lot and overtake other plants. You might want to avoid planting multiple ones until you’re sure you like them.
  6. Water the trees enough to keep the soil moist. Established Osage trees are very drought-resistant and don't need much water. However, newer trees still need regular watering. Water the plant every few days, often enough to keep the soil around the tree moist and allow it to grow.
    • When the tree is established, it only needs watering about twice per month.
  7. Prune the tree each winter to keep it under control. Osage trees don’t require much maintenance and have few pests. However, you will have to prune them annually so they don’t get out of control. It’s best to prune them in the winter, because pruning in the growing season could cause mold. Cut away the branches low on the trunk, and trim back higher branches so they don’t extend out as far. This should keep the tree under control.
    • Start pruning the tree early in its life. This generally makes the tree more resilient to damage later on and keeps its growth under control.


  • The fruit from Osage trees is usually not eaten because it doesn’t taste very good.
  • Osage wood is very popular for making bows as well.


  • Osage trees are officially considered an invasive species in some places because they grow large and fast. Keep this in mind if you're considering planting one.
  • Osage trees have thorns, so be careful around them when they grow.
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