Thorny Question

by Alex
Hi! @ eight years ago, we bought a "Mickey's Mini Orange Tree" at Disney World. Started in a pot @ 9" tall, grown inside until about a year ago and now thrives in our yard.
Question: Unlike those we''ve seen at Home Depot and Lowe's, it has thorns. Is this unique or is it normal? PS It has never flowered nor has it had any signs of fruit.
As always, many thanks.
  33 answers
  • Sherrie S Sherrie S on Mar 25, 2012
    Before I moved to Florida I bought a "Florida" orange tree at the airport. Looked like your "Mickey's Tree" After 4 or so years it produced sour tiny oranges and very pretty nice smelling white flowers (like a real orange tree).
  • 3po3 3po3 on Mar 25, 2012
    Many fruits can take several years to bloom and grow fruit. I don't know anything about the thorns.
  • Alex Alex on Mar 25, 2012
    Thanks for the answers, but I'm still hoping for more ideas.
  • Douglas Hunt Douglas Hunt on Mar 26, 2012
    I think all citrus has thorns to some degree or another. Perhaps they had been snipped off at the big box stores. If the trees Disney was selling were grown from seed and not grafted, it could easily take a decade to reach fruiting size. But your tree looks happy, so it should do so eventually. The oranges may be better for making marmalade than eating, however.
  • Ann W Ann W on Mar 26, 2012
    I, personally, planted a lemon tree many years ago....brought it outside in the warmer months, then back inside for the winter....and let me tell almost had to don chain mail in order to move it!! The thorns were strong and painful....we learned to wear proper attire when moving yes....MOST, have thorns. Mine took 10 years to finally start blooming...then a hail storm knocked them all off!!!!
  • Jane M Jane M on Mar 26, 2012
    Go to a local nursery and talk to the specialist. I understand there are different types of fertilizer that can improve the flavors of fruit on fruit trees. Someone who is an expert at the nursery, will know what type of fertilizer to use and have other suggestions to improve the flavor of your fruit.
  • Rhonda I Rhonda I on Mar 26, 2012
  • Michael M Michael M on Mar 26, 2012
    Probably, like most fruit trees, you need another before you'll get fruit. Sort of like a male female thing.
  • Rhonda I Rhonda I on Mar 26, 2012
    also keep the grass away from around the base of the not mulch or straw up to the base either it makes the tree most likely to get diseases and fungus.
  • Teresa P Teresa P on Mar 26, 2012
    I took care of my dad's 3 citrus trees when he passed for 16 years. I do know for them to produce you should have a pair. They do not have to be the same kind of citrus to bare fruit. They will bare fruit every other year. One will produce more on year, then the next year the other will produce more. Also he had a navel orange and satsuma. Then 2yrs later he bought an Orlando Tangalo. They are wonderful. They also had thorns usually right before they would bloom. Hope this helps.
  • Katianne A Katianne A on Mar 26, 2012
    EPCOT has a department that is specifically dedicated to experimental friut and vegetable plants and their production. The tree could be a hybrid of a thornless type they may have developed, and if the oranges are 'mini' than it definitely shows that it has been adapted....or you could be working with a mandarin or tangarine tree which is somewhat different from real orange trees....perhaps you can get a hold of Disney to be directed to the proper department to ask them questions. You can also go to Stark Bro's website to ask the experts by following this link or cutting and pasting it into your browser bar. Good Luck!;jsessionid=7DB4C72739D52C3C5FB6C2B81146ADE5
  • Nancy K Nancy K on Mar 26, 2012
    Most Orange trees I have seen do have thorns, this is normal. It takes about 6 years before it will bear fruit, the fruit comes from your blloms. I am not sure what type of soil you have. I would go to a reputable Nursery and enquire about your trees needs for food, take a smaple of your soil as they can do a PH test, or sell you a test. Do it on the spot and then find the food needed. I use Bat Guano on my plants and trees with a good compost you will have lots of food. Ask when you should start to feed for blooms to appear, I'd say your getting close. I am a Master Gardener here in the Portland Oregon Area. This is my advice.
  • Lora H Lora H on Mar 26, 2012
    the thorns usually are on new branches and come from whatever tree they grafted it with.....i have a kumquat tree the does that....i cut them off....
  • Angie L Angie L on Mar 26, 2012
    from what i was told, the reason it is not producing is because you have to have another tree (same kind) in the same yard so they can polinate each other
  • Lora H Lora H on Mar 26, 2012
    are there any branches that don't have thorns...
  • Nancy K Nancy K on Mar 26, 2012
    I meant blooms, home Depot buys plants in huge lots. All these plants have been forced, meaning taller than they should be for their age. The caliber (inches around the trunk) shows a trees age the larger the caliber the older the tree. This is 1 reason you have thorns and the HD trees do not.
  • Tammy K Tammy K on Mar 26, 2012
    We live in Southern California, have several citrus trees, 2 oranges, 1 Valencia & 1 navel, a lemon & pink grapefruit tree. I believe you may have a Lemon variety, lemon trees put on thorns, orange trees, that I know of, do not. They are lovely trees, so enjoy it & see what happens next!
  • Barb H Barb H on Mar 26, 2012
    Citrus does have thorns as it matures
  • Pat H Pat H on Mar 26, 2012
    As a Florida Master Gardener, I can tell you that if your orange tree has thorns, it is sour. Sour oranges are used for marmalade. The tree will never be sweet. The following is the Univ of Florida's website for information; type in Orange Tree Care in the search line. good luck.
  • Alex Alex on Mar 26, 2012
    THANK YOU to all. I really appreciate it.
  • Andrea R Andrea R on Mar 26, 2012
    It is common -- especially from big box stores like Home Depot -- to have mislabled stock. You probably didn't get what you thought you were getting :(
  • Betty M Betty M on Mar 26, 2012
    Most all citrus, oanges, lemons, limes, etc., tree are graphted on to hearty root stock. Unfortuneatly these are normally citrus called Sour Orange, whose fruit is so bad it is not desireable except for special recipies that have a lot of sugar added to cut the taste. They also have long hard thorns. Once the graph of the desired citrus survives then it should produce fruit with in a couple of years or so, depending on the type, The root stock will send up sucker stems from the bottom, cut those off. To do this find the graphting point and cut any growth below it starting at the normal bud sites on the stem. All citrus including the variety you want will have small thorns that are a bit easier to deal with, Good Luck. I went to Palo Alto College Degree in Horticultural Sciences. :)
  • Jane P Jane P on Mar 26, 2012
    I'm glad you asked this Alex--I am growing a miniature lime tree from seeds I bought on Etsy. It is now 3 years old and has giant thorns! I guess this is normal, but they are serious weapons...
  • Mary E Mary E on Mar 26, 2012
    ok, here is what i see happening. the thorniness probably comes from the stock on which the graft was grafted into. if anything happens to a graft, such as a freeze, the tree reverts to its stock, which is thorny and sour. same goes for seed planting. the seed will likely produce a thorny, sour orange which is hardy, but useless.
  • Jeanne B Jeanne B on Mar 26, 2012
    I once had a Valencia Orange tree that I kept in a south facing sun room during the cold weather. After a few years we had about 6 delicious full size oranges that ripened at Christmas time. I now have a dwarf Campbell Valencia which has just finished blooming and has a few fruits hanging on. Just put it outside today. The blossoms smell heavenly when blooming. Don't see any thorns on it.
  • Roxanne S Roxanne S on Mar 26, 2012
    this is all very informative to me as a future Florida resident, looking forward to planting some lemon & lime trees too
  • Kelly M Kelly M on Mar 26, 2012
    thorns are normal on all citrus trees
  • Maria N Maria N on Mar 26, 2012
    Your Orange tree was not married to another tree, so will get fruit about 7 years from now and the thorns are part of your tree, just like hair is part of us, go to lowe's and get some Ctrus-tone citrus& avocado food, springle 1/4 cup aoround the trunk every 3 month. water once or 2 time a week if no rain in the forcast.good luck.
  • Cindy L Cindy L on Mar 26, 2012
    I believe what you have is the root stock. Most domestic citrus are grafted to a wild stock. This improves the disease resistance etc. of the grafted stock. Sometimes the grated portion dies (for whatever reason) and the wild stock grows out. Look at tree trunk about 6 inches above the ground and you should be able to see where the domestic stock was grafted to the wild stock. You should also be able to tell if there is no graft mark that the tree is entirely wild stock.
  • Paul M Paul M on Mar 27, 2012
    Trifoliate orange. This native of China has been used extensively to graft into other varieties to enhance their cold tolerance. The Trifoliate has long hard thorns and is really good at creating a barrier is you want something like that. The fruit is not edible on it but the grafted ones do have edible fruit. There is a lot of information on this plant on the web and there are groves of them scattered about still growing because at one time people thought that the fruit could be used for something.
  • Kathy Kathy on Jun 02, 2015
    I moved into a home that had a small citrus tree. As it grew it developed thorns. I was told by several people that it would only produce sour citrus. I didn't know what type of citrus it was so decided to leave it alone and just cut off the thorny stems as it developed. Well, I have to tell you I'm glad I did that because the tree turned out to be a tangerine and they were so sweet and wonderful last year.
  • Tom Tom on May 25, 2016
    Your citrus may have been a Calamondin Orange intended for growing in a container. Perhaps when you planted it outdoors it was buried too deep and the root stock took over. Even so , thorns on citrus is typical.
  • Estelle Estelle on Nov 07, 2017

    Never heard of Micky's Orange tree, but, orange trees generally start to mature around five to eight years. Maybe because it has been inside it has failed to flower and be pollinated to produce oranges. And YES, citrus trees have thorns, some very long and thick. Being poked by one is painful and sometimes makes healing of the injury very slow.