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Lubera stops plant deliveries to the UK
Due to Brexit, we are not able to deliver to the UK. We are working on a solution on how we can continue to bring a wide range of Lubera plants to the UK and directly to our customers' homes in the future. However, such a solution will not be available before 2022 or 2023.

Bitter oranges, marmelade oranges

Bitter orange Lubera

Why should you buy a bitter orange and not a sweet orange? Who would prefer bitterness to sweetness? But the Citrus aurantium, which is also called sour orange or Seville orange, also has clear advantages over sweet oranges.

Bitter orange

Citrus aurantium – the robust orange that is very useful and ornamental

£38.40 *

Bitter Orange with Variegated Foliage

Bitter orange 'Turcicum Salicifolia' – The sour orange with the variegated leaves

£38.40 *

Bundle of Frutilizer® Instant Fertiliser

4 x nutrient salts for plants

Instead of: £38.90 * £31.40 *

Fruitful Soil No. 1 | Pots & Containers

For balconies and terraces

From £18.90 *

Frutilizer® Instant Citrus Fertiliser

Nutrient salt for citrus and plants with a high iron requirement

From £9.90 *

Frutilizer® Instant Solution Fe Iron Fertiliser

Nutrient salt with plant-ready iron

From £9.90 *

Grooved Bitter Orange 'Canaliculata'

Citrus aurantium – the grooved bitter orange with the extravagant fruits

£57.40 *

Swiss Bitter Orange

Citrus aurantium 'Virgatum'

£38.40 *

Willow Leaf Sour Orange

Citrus aurantium Salicifolia

From £38.40 *


More information about bitter orange


Bitter oranges or Seville oranges bloom more intensively and are correspondingly more fertile. All in all, the scent of the flowers (and also of the leaves!) is more intense. Bitter orange plants are more robust than many other types of citrus; they can withstand temperatures as low as -5°C, even for short periods, and they have a dense and beautiful, regular growth. In addition, the attractive, typically somewhat "rough-peeled", bumpy fruits remain on the tree long after their physiological ripeness, waiting for their use, so to speak, and thus further increase their decorative value.



Buy bitter orange plants


The ornamental character is perhaps one of the biggest advantages of buying Seville orange plants. In addition, they have a tendency to bud mutations. Suddenly new leaf and fruit forms appear on a branch and these mutations are then propagated as ornamental forms, such as the willow-leaved bitter orange. Nevertheless, the eating quality of these oranges should not be underestimated: the sour, sometimes slightly bitter taste makes this orange interesting for many kitchen uses, especially for dishes where contrasts such as sharp-mild, sweet, sour and bitter are played with. The English have a legendary preference for Seville orange marmalade - and to be honest, I can well understand this bitter-sweet taste preference for breakfast. Bittersweet - every morning is like this!

So there are good reasons to buy these oranges. Here in the Lubera® Garden Shop, you will find a large selection of varieties that will not only make the collector's heart beat faster. 


Origin and historyBitter orange Lubera


The bitter orange came to Europe long before the sweet oranges. Overall, it could be described as the second type of citrus after the citrons, which came to Europe via Palestine and the Mediterranean region. From the 10th century onwards, it was already spread by the Arabs in the Mediterranean region. First in al-Andalus, in their colonies in southern Spain and Sicily. Originally, however, Citrus aurantium comes from southeastern China and Burma. If this orange is sometimes called a primordial orange, it is slightly misleading: the bitter orange is only a temporal precursor of the sweet orange and genetically only indirectly related to it. Both 'species' seem to be independent of each other, a cross between mandarin (Citrus reticulata) and grapefruit (Citrus maxima), which has developed into a group of varieties, even into a species of its own. If one looks at the Moorish architecture and the Arabic gardens in southern Spain (Granada, Seville and Cordoba) and considers the typical use of the Citrus aurantium trees as a formal design element, the Arabs' preference for bitter oranges can also be explained: not only do they bloom in the spring with an incredibly intense scent, they also tolerate a somewhat rougher climate compared to the Moorish tribal lands. Above all, however, these oranges have the ability to bear the ornamental and bright fruits on the tree for months after ripening. What a colour effect!

The special and distinct peculiarity of the bitter orange, often to form interesting mutations with additional ornamental value, has led to the fact that in the citrus collection fever of the Renaissance, when every royal house wanted to have the more beautiful and special citrus collection, they were given special attention. Many of the varieties that were created or collected and propagated at that time, which, besides the additional leaf and fruit ornamental values, have all the fruit characteristics of the Seville orange and can also be used in the same way, have fortunately been preserved until today and are also offered in the Lubera assortment. If you would like to buy these oranges, you will find a large selection of different varieties in our shop.


Different names


You have already read about the different names in the previous sections. There are lots of names for Citrus aurantium. It starts with bitter orange and sour orange, the English call it Seville orange, and the names bigarade orange or marmalade orange are also common. The bitter orange is most likely a cross between the pomelo, Citrus maxima, and the mandarin orange, Citrus reticulata.


Flowering and growth


The bitter orange (or Seville orange) in all its forms shows good and healthy growth. The dense and beautiful, dark green leaf crowns are striking. You can enjoy a wonderful ornamental value when you buy these oranges. The very strong-smelling, white blossom appears in the spring and early summer, after which the fruits ripen until winter and often remain hanging until the spring. This is why bitter oranges are often used as avenue and street trees in the south, especially in Spain and southern Italy. For ripening and for the red-orange colouration, the sour oranges need a slightly cooler climate. In our northern gardens, on balconies and terraces, the ripening process almost always continues into the next year. The robustness of the growth, the formation of a very strong root system and also the short-term frost tolerance of up to -5°C and more mean that these oranges are often used as rootstocks, as root systems for other citrus species, in addition to Poncirus trifoliata.


Bitter oranges and sweet oranges


We have already mentioned it above: bitter oranges and sweet oranges, this is not 'old' and 'modern', not 'worse' and 'better'. Both types of citrus probably originated from the same primaeval species, from the mandarin (Citrus reticulata) and the grapefruit (Citrus maxima), but they both have a value of their own: when you buy the bitter types, the ornamental value, the more intense flowering and thus the incomparable scent is of particular importance. In addition, the many different ornamental forms. Conversely, their sweetness and juiciness have made sweet oranges a global product, one of the most important types of fruit. But sweet oranges still cannot reproduce the exciting bittersweet taste nuances that are characteristic of the Seville oranges and which have always enchanted the English.


Difference between hardy bitter and edible bitter oranges


There are two different bitter orange varieties, which are somewhat misleading: Citrus aurantium and Poncirus trifoliata. You can already see it by the different genus name. This is by no means the same, although Poncirus trifoliata can usually be crossed with various citrus species without problems. But Poncirus trifoliata is a deciduous tree, and unlike (almost) all other citrus species, it loses its leaves in the winter, which makes it absolutely hardy. Unfortunately, the fruits are not directly edible, but with a little skill, you can make a good jam with them. In order to avoid misunderstandings, Poncirus trifoliata should therefore always be referred to as the hardy bitter orange. Citrus aurantium, on the other hand, is evergreen and can tolerate temperatures down to -5°C for short periods, but must otherwise be wintered frost-free at 6-12°C. The fruits are edible; thanks to the interaction of acidity, sweetness and a little bitterness they are also popular as ingredients for many dishes. Well known is, as already mentioned, the Seville orange marmalade, which is so popular in England for Continental breakfast and toast.


Oil and juice


The secret of the use of the Seville orange lies in its aromatic and flavouring properties: the bitter oil in the blossoms, the fragrant oil of the peel, the sweet-bitter juice as a base for aperitifs and digestives and, more recently, salad dressings. From ancient times to the present day, these raw materials extracted from Citrus aurantium have been used primarily as flavour and fragrance carriers, and ultimately as spices. Even if the bitter orange has been forgotten in the meantime due to the boom of the sweet orange, today the internet is overflowing with recipes.


Jam and marmalade


However, one classic remains indestructible: bitter orange jam or marmalade, which itself is also used again in a wide variety of dishes. This taste on the edge, this bitter resistance always seems to find its lovers and is a blessing, especially in our sugar-contaminated times, which not only paralyses the palate and makes it fall asleep in well-being, but also tickles our sense of taste. I cannot eat this preserve without asking myself what it is that I like about it, what makes me reach for it again, what occupies my memory when I hear the words bitter orange. There are few foods and tastes that have such individuality, such a presence of memory!




As with all types of citrus, watering must be done according to the season and weather conditions. When you buy bitter oranges, you should always follow the three most important rules:

  • When watering, water correctly so that the entire pot and root ball is soaked.
  • The excess water must be able to run off without any problems, the drainage holes must be sufficiently large and it is advantageous to place a drainage layer in the bottom 20 per cent of the pot. It is also advantageous if the pots are placed on a grate so that they can drain better. A saucer that catches the water and thus allows the plant to stand in water for a longer period of time is absolutely counterproductive.
  • Watering is only resumed when the uppermost 20-30% of the pot volume has largely dried out.




We recommend basic fertilisation with slow release fertiliser (Frutilizer Seasonal Fertilizer Plus). This is applied in 2 to 4 holes in the root ball (in the middle between the edge of the pot and the stem). For each 5-litre pot volume, approx. 20 to 30 grams of slow release fertiliser should be added. In addition, Frutilizer Instant Citrus (half a measuring spoonful of 10 grams of Frutilizer Instant Citrus for 10 litres of water) can be added every two weeks and depending on the growth results. The fertilising season starts with the dewinterising and a possible pruning and ends at the end of August/beginning of September when the growth of these oranges should slow down in view of the upcoming winter break.


Are they hardy?


If you buy bitter oranges, you should know that they are somewhat more hardy and cold tolerant than the average other citrus plants. They can withstand -5°C for short periods of time and it is reported that older street trees of the species have also withstood much colder temperatures. However, the long-term overwintering in our northern climate has to be frost-free in a temperature range of 5-12°C. The ideal is a cool staircase or a garage with 1-2 windows. Of course, it is important to make sure that the citrus plants are then close to the light sources.


How does the pollination work?


As with most citrus plants, Seville oranges have almost all possible types of fruit and seed formation, thus guaranteeing fruit set in every case. In contrast to many northern, central European fruit species, pollination is therefore not a problem. Cross-pollination is possible with these oranges, but it is not necessary. Self-pollination is also possible, but the orange is also able to set fruit without fertilisation and at the same time produce seeds that are genetically identical to each other and to the mother plant. For some reason, evolution has chosen this combination for most citrus species, which makes fruit set possible in almost all circumstances. In addition, this process, called apomixis and nucellar embryony, causes the seeds to fall true to variety when sown (usually at least when there has been no successful cross-pollination). In some citrus species, these processes are additionally overlaid or replaced by parthenocarpia, which leads to the formation of fruits without fertilisation and without seed formation. This is the case for all species and varieties with little or no seed, for example, clementines. In most cases, these seedless varieties are also created by mutations, spontaneous plant changes and bud mutations. From a bud, a shoot with different characteristics suddenly grows. In the case of Seville oranges, however, there are more than enough seeds.


Why are they grafted?


One might ask why Seville oranges and with them most citrus plants must and should be grafted when the seeds are true to the variety. Actually one could sow the seeds of a variety and in most cases, one would get the same variety again. However, the so-called juvenile growth phase, which is very pronounced in citrus and can last up to 15 years, speaks against this. This means that it takes 7 to 15 years before a citrus plant that has grown from seeds begins to grow and produce fruit. Thanks to the grafting process, in which wood from an adult, fruiting plant of the desired variety is grafted onto a support, the resulting little tree is able to flower and bear fruit almost immediately, already in the second or third year after grafting. We at Lubera therefore only sell grafted plants and guarantee immediate flowering and fruiting. Bitter oranges are best bought at Lubera - at Lubera you get real quality.




Bitter oranges actually grow relatively regularly and densely. When taking the plants out of winter storage, however, it makes sense to remove dried and dead wood, to cut back branches growing across the crown and to bring back even widely protruding parts of the branches into shape. This is done at the beginning of spring, around mid-April to the beginning of May.

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