View Full Version : Orange blossom in France

01-08-2010, 11:33 PM
Does anybody actually know when orange trees blossom in France?

I am ashamed to ask such a simple question, but my books are silent on the subject, my French contacts don't know, and my google-fu is failing me totally. I can cheat if necessary, since the book is set in the 17th century and Louis XIV reputedly insisted his gardeners kept orange trees in bloom all year round, but since the action at this point is a small village in Picardie I'd rather be natural if I possibly can. There is a sophisticated garden nearby which would undoubtedly have a manure-heated greenhouse (yuk) in which orange trees could be grown in tubs, but even in greenhouses I don't know a realistic date. :(

I don't need to see the trees, I only need the blossom - for a wedding. I know wax flowers were used out of season, but it would be wonderful if I could get the real thing.

Please - does anyone know?


01-08-2010, 11:50 PM
I always read that they bloom 'in winter', but it would surprise me if they bloom all winter long. I'll try to look it up :)

01-09-2010, 12:02 AM
Thanks so much, backslashbaby.

That's my guess too, since the fruit is available as early as December in some regions, but I wish I knew exactly how long it took from blossom to fruit, or if there were significant variations.

My best bet is usually those wonderful people living in France who post photos of their gardens in their blogs with dates, but none of them seem to grow oranges. Very inconsiderate... :D


01-09-2010, 12:02 AM
I'm with backslash as far as the "winter" thing. My mother used to work at a citrus factory in the Rio Grande Valley, and it was always really popular to send Xmas gifts of oranges and grapefruits to family in more northern climes.

Probably the best thing to do is find out if France has gardening zones like we do in North America (the little colored maps you see on the backs of seed packages). For instance, in Texas we were in Zone 7 or 8. If you can narrow down the zones, then you can consult a gardening book and try to figure out when fruits may bloom in that zone. Maybe ask your friends in France if they can at least find out about the zone thing, then take it from there?

Does that make sense?

01-09-2010, 12:06 AM
Thank you, Hip-Hop-a-Potamus, and yes, that makes perfect sense. I'm not sure we titchy countries have zones, but there's such disparity between the climates of Northern and Southern France they may well have zones there.

I'll certainly follow it up - and thank you very much for the tip. It may help with other things as well.


01-09-2010, 12:19 AM


Looks like most of France is Zone 8, which is way warm enough for growing oranges (similar zonage). And in the Rio Grande Valley, they're pretty much growing all year round.


The Rio Grande Valley is the orange area at the very pointy southern tip of Texas. :)

01-09-2010, 12:37 AM
Flying through with a bit of procrastination - maybe this will at least help you extrapolate something:
Scroll halfway down or so - there's a bit on when and how the buds form (early winter, to start)
I think HHAP nailed the zone stuff - looks to me like Picardie, being north of Paris, would be roughly equivalent to our Washington DC climate? Maybe Georgia?
eta: One more link with some historical introduction stuff, though sadly, nothing I saw in france :( http://www.essortment.com/all/orangetreeora_rnbe.htm

01-09-2010, 12:40 AM
Wow - that's really helpful. Thank you so much, Hip-Hop-a-potamus.

I admit I'm still struggling a little, as Zone 8 invariably brings up US results, usually relating to the Mexican Mock-Orange, but if I persevere I'm sure it'll come. At least I now know the Mexican variety blossoms in Spring (which is sooooo when I want it!) but I have to keep going till I see somewhere in France and eye-witness evidence. Sad, I know, but I write historicals and have got to be 150% right.

But this is a terrific starting point, and I bet it will help a lot of others as well as me. Thank you from all of us.


ETA And thank you too, Becky - that will help me narrow things down a lot.
Why is it only Americans who are public-spirited enough to put this kind of info on the net, so we have to extrapolate Europe from US sources?
Louise, beginning to think she's writing about the wrong continent altogether...

01-09-2010, 12:59 AM
Apparently they bloom all year (harvests in France are generally from October through December). I'm getting that from French sites.

But here is something conclusive in plain English:

Although some citrus, mainly lemons and limes, can flower all year long, the majority of flower production occurs in late February through March.


That would fit with everything I've read. And citrus will only grow in the hottest regions of France, but it has to be darned warm to grow citrus anywhere.

Paris and the Loire are a lot like here, so yes to DC and a lot of Georgia :) Go much more south in France than that and it's like going through Charleston to Savannah, eventually to the Midi - like Florida but much drier!

01-09-2010, 01:16 AM
Backslashbaby, I love you.

This is perfect. Thank you. You just gave me a great scene, and I am now steaming off to write it.

Thank you, all of you, for going to so much time and trouble to help me out. This is truly a great place, and I'm quite pathetically grateful.


01-09-2010, 01:55 AM
Edit: Never mind, the date was too late. Mock orange didn't get introduced to Europe until the 1820s.

Tsu Dho Nimh
01-09-2010, 03:08 AM
Does anybody actually know when orange trees blossom in France?Louise

Hothouse oranges would bloom in late winter.

In Arizona some varieties are blooming in late January, others are later, and it's all over by March.

01-09-2010, 03:43 AM
Thanks anyway, Canotila, I appreciate your taking the time.

Thank you too, Tsu Dho Nimh (such a great 'pseudonym'!) - that seems to fit in nicely and helps me feel I'm on the right track.


01-09-2010, 11:04 AM
oranges and other citrus fruit in NZ. I have 'em in the garden.They are always a winter crop, blooming in Autumn.

I'd say in France they would blossom in Nov, Dec and Jan and produce fruit in March. If you have those hot bed hothouses then orange blossom is available all year. Also if your wedding involves Lord of the Manor types and the wedding was planned and a few months away then their gardeners would be able to bring on orange blossom. This was done in the UK in the 17thC, right up to the mid 1900s for weddings.

Oranges will produce the odd scatter of blossom all year especially if sheltered and well fed. My lemon trees always have blossom and fruit all the year but I do really spoil them!

01-10-2010, 12:35 AM
That's great, pdr. Thank you. First hand experience trumps all, and I shall use the hothouse to contrive my blossoms exactly when I want them.

Thank you, everybody. Your help is greatly appreciated.