The navel orange is best known for its juicy, seedless fruit and the feature it was named after--the little circle on its peel that looks a bit like a belly button. Because it is easy to peel and divide into sections, the navel orange is a popular choice for take-along snacks and school lunches.
In tropical or sub-tropical climates, navel orange trees make an attractive and useful landscape planting. Growing a navel orange tree is actually fairly easy if you keep in mind some of its basic needs.
How to Make Navel Orange Trees Grow
Give it sun. Like all citrus fruits, navel oranges want sun and plenty of it. If they don't get enough sun, they won't produce as much fruit. If you are planting a new orange tree, pick a spot that won't be shaded by the house or nearby trees. If you already have a tree and you suspect it's not getting the light it needs, it may be time to transplant it to a sunnier site or trim surrounding trees.
Let it drain. Navel oranges also need soil with good drainage. Poor drainage can lead to poor growth and disease. Before planting, amend compacted soil with large amounts of organic matter. If you already have a navel orange tree in a poorly drained site, relocate it before it grows too large to move.
Give it water. Water a newly planted navel orange tree every few days until it is well established and growing. Water your mature orange tree every week or two if there is no regular rainfall. You may need to water more frequently if it's growing in sandy soil. Watering deeply and thoroughly is better than frequent light watering. Deep watering encourages deeper root development and better drought resistance.
Fertilize. A soil test will help you determine what type of nutrients to add and in what quantities. Soil tests can be obtained through your local extension agency. It's best to wait to fertilize until a newly planted tree is actively growing. Then apply organic fertilizer or a commercial nitrogen fertilizer two to three times per year.
Protect it from frost. Oranges are more cold tolerant than lemons, limes and other citrus, but freezing temperatures can harm your navel orange tree. When cold weather threatens, use a large tarp or blanket to cover the tree. Secure the edges to the ground to form a tent all the way to the soil. This will help conserve ground heat.