Navel orange tree care: Candy orange fruit

Navel oranges have been grossly underrated as mandarins have skyrocketed in popularity. Growing a umbilical orange tree will produce delicious, sweet fruit in the winter when most gardens slow down or lie completely dormant. A umbilical orange tree can be grown as a dwarf or standard tree in the ground or in a container so almost any gardener can grow it. They can be grown as a patio tree in almost any growth zone, as long as they can be brought indoors during severe winters.

Navel oranges are naturally seedless and perfectly sweet. They are incredibly versatile as they can be used in an infinite number of recipes, homemade cleaning products, and even for home improvement. Navel oranges are also remarkably nutritious and healthy. Oranges are packed with vitamin C, potassium, and fiber, which offer several health benefits, such as: B. to prevent heart disease, cancer and strokes.

While navel oranges are easy to find in stores, there is nothing more convenient than growing them in your own yard. The amount of products a tree can provide is more than enough to share and can encourage you to get creative and try new recipes.

Good products on Amazon for growing umbilical orange trees:

Brief instructions for care

The umbilical orange tree produces sweet, delicious fruits. Source: niiicedave

Common name (s) Orange, navel, navel orange, sweet orange
Scientific name Citrus sinensis
Days to harvest Annually in winter or spring
light Full sun
water Moderate
floor Well-drained sandy loam soil
fertilizer Citrus mix
Pests Mites, thrips, scales, aphids, butterflies, Asian citrus psyllids
Diseases Phytophthora root rot, anthracnose, botrytis, huanglongbing (HLB)

Everything about the navel orange tree

Small green fruitSmall green fruits form immediately after flowering. Source: RBerteig

Sweet oranges are classified under the botanical name Citrus sinensis, which is a cross between a pummelo and a tangerine. Sweet oranges include navel, valencia, and blood oranges.

Navel is different from other types of sweet oranges because they are seedless. A mutation in sweet orange resulted in a small secondary fruit forming at the flower end of the fruit, creating the appearance of a "belly button". This secondary fruit is also the reason why navel oranges are seedless. The original mutation was found in Brazil in the 19th century and eventually brought to the United States as the Washington navel orange. Additional mutations to Washington Navel Orange were discovered and developed into new navel varieties.

Citrus sinensis is an evergreen tree that grows to anywhere from 6 to 30 feet, depending on the variety and rhizome. Trees bloom in spring, the fruits develop in summer and autumn and are ready for harvest in winter or spring. Navel orange trees have dark green, elliptical, waxy leaves. The flowers are white and fragrant. The fruits are green during development and turn bright orange when ripe. The average fruit size is about 3 inches in diameter. Navel oranges are self-fertile and therefore do not require pollination.

While there are several navel variants, there are a few that are worth highlighting. Although the Washington Navel Orange is an old variety, it is still one of the best strains to grow today. It is ready for harvest between November and January. If you've ever had navel oranges from the store, it was most likely Washington navel oranges.

Cara Cara is another variety that is also ready to harvest between November and January. Cara Cara is the result of a mutation in a Washington umbilical orange tree. It has an excellent taste and the flesh is deep pink instead of orange.

Lane Late is a late ripening, mutated bud sport from a Washington umbilical orange tree. This variety is very similar to the Washington Navel Orange, but can be harvested between February and June. The fruit is very well stored on the tree and extends the harvest time by a few months.


The best time to plant umbilical orange trees is from April to August. Avoid planting when temperatures are above 100 ° F. Plant in a sunny spot in well-drained soil. If the soil has poor drainage, plant it in a raised bed or large container.

Since navel oranges are seedless, they must be planted as a grafted tree. Dig a hole twice the width of the root ball and fill it with loose soil. When planting, do not bury the graft joint and try to leave at least a couple of inches of the rhizome above the ground. If you are planting in a container, umbilical orange trees will need at least a 15-20 gallon container. Young trees can be planted in a smaller container and transplanted later as the tree grows and matures.

Trees should be purchased from a trusted nursery or garden center that complies with local regulations regarding citrus fruits. Citrus producing states like California, Texas, Arizona, and Florida may have movement restrictions for young trees. Contact your local agricultural advisory office for more information on restrictions in your area.


Almost ripe orangesOranges turn from green to yellow before reaching their orange color. Source: slworking2

Navel orange trees are known to grow with minimal effort. If you apply all of the care tips listed below, you will get quality products and a beautiful tree.

Sun and temperature

Navel orange trees require full or partial sun, which means they need at least 8 hours of direct sun each day. Hot summers and mild winters bring the best fruits. They are robust to USDA Zones 8-11, so they can withstand temperatures of up to 20 ° F and temperatures above 100 ° F for short periods of time. Temperatures below 26 ° F can damage the product.

Navel orange trees can be grown as container patio trees in USDA Growth Zones 4-11, as long as they can be brought indoors when temperatures are below freezing. You may also be able to offer an alternative method of keeping the tree warm in winter when you are in a cooler growing zone. Trees can be protected from frost by bringing them indoors or covering them with frost fabric.

Sunburn is common on excessively hot summer days, especially with delicate growth, but the damage is minimal and the trees will eventually grow out. Sunburn can be prevented by covering trees with a light shade cloth or by covering the tree with whitewash.

Water and moisture

Water citrus fruits early in the morning once a week. The soil should be kept moist, but not soaked or saturated. Use soaking hoses or drip irrigation to avoid wetting the tree trunk. Trees should be well watered during fruit development. Watering frequency and / or amount should be reduced during the cooler, wet months to avoid overwatering.

Trees that are planted in a pot may need more watering. They should be completely saturated and slightly damp before the next watering. Potted trees can be watered with drip irrigation or manually with a hose. When watering manually, avoid wetting the trunk.


Navel oranges grow best in well-drained, sandy loam soils with a pH between 6.0-7.0. If you are planting in heavy clay soil, supplement with organic matter.


There are many different citrus tree fertilizers available in garden centers. The quantities and frequency of application depend on the fertilizer mixture and whether it is a slow release fertilizer. Slow-release mixtures usually need to be applied once or twice a year. Navel orange fruit trees should be well fed from March to August, when the trees are most actively growing.


Navel oranges can be pruned at any time of the year, but the ideal time to prune is in late winter or early spring before flowering. Navel orange trees are non-deciduous, so their leaves remain year-round. You don't need older growth to produce fruit. Flower buds are very noticeable on trees. Cutting off the flower buds will reduce the number of oranges for the season.

Suction cups and dead or damaged wood should be removed annually. Suction cups are shoots that grow out of the rhizome. These shoots look different from the type of fruit and should always be removed. These shoots will not produce good fruit. Remove suction cups by cutting them flush with the main stem. When removing dead wood or diseased branches, cut back a few inches under the dead or diseased branch to ensure that all of the infection or the dead part is removed. Old or damaged fruits should also be removed manually. While it should fall off naturally, removing old fruit will prevent disease. It also saves resources for shoot development and flowering.

Trees can be designed and pruned as hedges, trellises or high trunks. Tall trees should be pruned to keep the center open to optimize sunlight and airflow throughout the canopy. Trees can reach a full-grown height of up to 30 feet. Pruning is a great way to keep your umbilical orange tree in the shape and height you want.


Before starting citrus propagation, find out about local restrictions on citrus propagation. In some areas, such as California, Arizona, Texas, and Florida, it is illegal to propagate citrus material that does not come from a clean population program.

Grafting is the most reliable way to grow a strong disease-resistant umbilical orange tree. Navel oranges are commonly grafted onto C-35, carrizo, or trifoliate rhizomes. Root stocks are grown from seeds but can be purchased as liners. As soon as the rhizome is thick enough, it can be grafted with the desired variety. Chip budding is the most common method of grafting.

Harvest and storage

Cara Cara navel orangeA Cara Cara navel orange, peeled and ready to eat. Source: Forest & Kim

Harvesting navel is super easy and can be done as needed. Umbilicals are very easy to store on the tree, but there are also some great post-harvest storage options.


Navel are usually ready for harvest in late winter or early spring. The cold temperatures in winter trigger the color change from green to orange. The best way to test readiness is to try the fruit. After harvesting, the navel does not turn sweet, so it is important to pick the fruit when it has developed enough sugar.

Do not pull navel oranges from the tree. Pulling the fruit can damage the branches of the tree. The best way to harvest is to turn the fruit at an angle or to cut the fruit from the tree with scissors. The harvest does not have to be done all at once. Belly buttons can remain on the tree for a longer period of time before the quality deteriorates. Oranges should be washed before storage to avoid contamination.


Navel oranges can be kept for up to a week at room temperature and up to 4 weeks in the refrigerator.

Freezing is an easy and excellent option for long-term storage. There are different ways to freeze it depending on which part of the orange you want to use. Juice can be frozen and stored for 3-4 months. Orange peel can be kept for up to 1 year. If you are storing the fleshy part of the fruit, remove the peel, cut it into slices, and store it in a freezer bag or container for up to 1 year.

Navel oranges can also be canned, used to make jam, or dehydrated, extending their shelf life up to 1 year.


Navel orangeThe “navel” of an umbilical orange is its navel-like flower end. Source: outdoorPDK

Navel orange trees rarely have growth problems once they are fully grown and established. Listed below are some common problems you may encounter while growing and maturing your tree.

Growing problems

Excessively Heat stress or Lack of water can lead to blossom breakage or premature fruit fall. While some fruit droplets are normal, too much indicates stress. Weather differences such as heavy rain or a warm winter lead to fluctuations in the quality of the fruit. Some years will bear better fruit than others due to natural temperature and rain fluctuations.

Micronutrient deficiency, especially zinc and iron, are common in umbilical orange trees. The most common sign of deficiency is the yellow coloration between the leaf veins. If trees show signs of micronutrient deficiency, check the fertilizer used to make sure it contains all of the essential micronutrients. If so, check the soil pH before applying more fertilizer. A high soil pH can inhibit the availability of micronutrients. Acidifying fertilizers can be used to lower the pH to optimal levels.


Mites are small arachnids that feed on the leaves of orange trees. There are several types of mites that feed on citrus fruits. The most common mites cause stain damage on the leaves. Heavy infestation leads to leaf fall. Mites tend to attack weak or stressed trees. Maintaining a healthy umbilical orange tree is the first line of defense against mites. If the mite population gets out of hand, use horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps to help control heavy infestations.

Citrus thrips are small yellow to orange-colored insects that feed on flowers and young tender leaves. Eating damage causes ripples and scars on the leaves and scars on young fruits. Citrus thrips feed on tender new foliage, so damage doesn't significantly affect the mature plants. Feeding damage can slow the rate of growth of young trees with an abundance of tender new flushes. Thrips are very difficult to control by spraying, so this is not recommended. For younger trees, it is a good way to protect the tree with insect screens until the new leaves are no longer tender and attractive to thrips.

Soft and armored scales found on the twigs and branches of trees. Damage usually does not come directly from the scales. Dandruff excretes excessive amounts of honeydew, which leads to soot mold. Soot mold covers the leaves, which inhibits photosynthesis and leads to leaf drop. Dandruff is usually controlled by natural enemies and parasites. If treatment is needed, weekly oil sprays are effective.

Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that feed on the sap of delicate plant tissue. They can lead to some deformation of the leaves. These also produce honeydew, which can lead to problems like soot mold. Aphids are usually controlled by natural predators; However, populations can still get out of whack and harm. Control by manually removing heavily infested leaves and hosing them off the remaining foliage with water. Horticultural oils and insecticidal soaps are also effective.

Butterfly pests include several types of moth larvae that damage the leaves. There are a few Leaf roller Species that damage the delicate growth tips. Citrus leaf miner is also a lepidopteran pest that mines tunnels on the underside of the leaves. Damage caused by Lepidoptera pests is mostly cosmetic, but can inhibit the growth of young trees. No treatment should be required on mature trees, and larvae can be removed manually on young trees. Pheromone traps can be placed on trees to disrupt mating and effectively reduce population.

Asian citrus leaf leaves is a small spotted brown insect about the size of an aphid. Psyllids inject a toxin during ingestion that can cause burning back on tender new growth. Feeding damage is not the main problem, however. They are considered to be the major pests because they carry a devastating disease called huanglongbing (HLB), or citrus green disease. Depending on your region, the presence of Asian citrus leaf leaves will require different reactions. Find out about local regulations and contact your district office if you have any questions.


Phytophthora root rot is one of the most common root diseases in citrus trees. The most common symptoms are a general deterioration in health, and the leaves turn yellow or pale green. In advanced stages, "gumming", or sap leakage, will occur from the trunk of the tree. Trunks can also have a water-soaked appearance. Phytophthora is prevented by using best irrigation practices and planting in well-drained soil. Most documents show some resistance or tolerance to the disease. Still, it is extremely important to leave at least a couple of inches of the rhizome above the soil line. Most fruiting varieties are very susceptible to Phytophthora, so leaving the graft near the ground increases the risk of infection. There are useful microbes and mycorrhizal products that can be used to boost plant health and immunity to diseases such as Phytophthora. However, good irrigation practices are sufficient for prevention.

Anthracnose and Botrytis are both leaf diseases that thrive in wet conditions. Symptoms of these two diseases are twig die-off, leaf fall, and fruit decay. Anthracnose is identified by the dark spores on the leaves and branches, while Botrytis spores are a lighter gray color. Both diseases can be treated with good cultural practices. Prune trees to allow adequate airflow to avoid excessive moisture, which encourages spore development. Removing dead or damaged branches and old fruit will prevent the disease from becoming infected the following season. The infection is usually mild, so fungicide treatments are rarely required.

Huanglongbing (HLB) is also known as citrus greening disease. This incurable disease is devastating for the umbilical orange tree. Citrus fruits with this disease can have yellow-spotted leaves, sudden death in young trees, small or deformed fruits, and discolored or green fruits. This disease is spread by the Asian citrus leaf flower. Controlling the insect prevents the disease. It can also be transmitted when grafting with infected plant material. Once an umbilical orange tree is infected, it must be removed. Make sure that all newly planted trees come from reliable nurseries that meet state regulations. For example, citrus trees grown in California should have a CDFA label showing that they come from clean nursery stock.

frequently asked Questions

Washington navel orangeWashington navel oranges produce heavy harvests. Source: 305 sea mounds

Q: How long does a navel orange tree take to produce fruit?

A: Navel orange trees take about 4 years to produce a significant amount of fruit. They will bear small amounts of fruit after just 2 years.

Q: How big does a navel orange tree get?

A: The tree size depends on the variety and rhizome combination. A dwarf tree grows 6 to 8 feet tall, a semi-dwarf tree grows 10-15 feet tall, and a standard trunk can grow up to 30 feet tall.

Q: Are umbilical orange trees self-pollinating?

A: Yes, umbilical orange trees are self-pollinating.

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