Navel orange trees are a cultivar of sweet oranges, Citrus sinensis "Navel." The orange is known for its navel-like bump on the blossom end of the fruit, which holds a miniaturized second fruit encased inside. Fruits are bright orange, sweet and easy to peel. Springtime in Florida fills the tree’s canopy with clusters of fragrant, white blossoms with oranges ready for harvesting between October and January. The tree grows throughout all regions of Florida, though is relatively maintenance-free in its growing range of USDA planting zones 9 and 10, the central and southern regions of the state.
Grow the navel orange tree in your Florida landscape in an area located in full sun for the most abundant production of fruit. The tree tolerates growing in partial sun but will produce fewer oranges.
Allow at least 15 to 20 feet between the navel orange tree and any structures or other trees or shrubs. Trees can reach over 20 feet tall at maturity and grow best and are the most problem- and disease-free with proper air circulation.
Grow the navel orange tree in native, Florida soil that is sandy and well-draining. Trees grown in soil that is prone to consistent saturation develop root rot and die.
Plant navel orange trees in frost-prone areas of the state on the southern or southwestern side of a structure to receive the most heat. Plant shrubs and other vegetation an appropriate distance away to help protect the tree during cold snaps and retain heat in the area.
Protect navel orange trees growing in areas of Florida experiencing frosts, as trees will tolerate temperatures in the 20s for only a short period without being damaged. Cover the tree with a cloth covering such as blankets, sheets or burlap or cover its foliage with holiday lights to create warmth. Foliage can be damaged and blossoms will drop in prolonged periods of frost.
Water trees weekly, if your local Florida weather conditions are not rainy. During periods of hot, dry weather in the state, trees will benefit from regular watering and produce more and larger fruits. Navel trees are relatively drought-tolerant.
Fertilize newly planted trees about three weeks after planting with 1/2 lb. of an 8-8-8 blend, repeated in six equally divided applications throughout the growing season. Do not allow the fertilizer to touch the tree’s trunk.
Fertilize two- to three-year-old trees in four or five equally divided applications throughout the year using 1 lb. of an 8-8-8 blend, springtime through early fall. Older trees require three equally divided applications throughout the growing season of 3½ lb. of an 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 blend.
Allow the navel orange tree to branch out and grow naturally, pruning only when required for best growth and fruit production. Only trim limbs that are crossing, broken, diseased or dead. Wait until spring when new growth starts before pruning frost damaged trees, as new growth can appear on what looks like a dead branch.