If you love oranges, you’ll want to try a Tarocco blood orange. It is nearly seedless, with a vibrant red color and a sweeter taste than many other oranges. Like all oranges, the Tarocco blood orange is frost tender, so if you live in an area that receives frequent hard frosts in winter, consider growing your blood orange in a container—you can keep it outside in the summer and indoors in the winter. If you live in USDA climate zone 9 or 10 (Houston to Honolulu), this citrus will do well if you plant it in the ground.
Plant your Tarocco blood orange tree in spring, after your final frost. You can plant it either outdoors in a sunny location or in a large container with a drainage hole. When you plant in the ground, dig your planting hole larger than the rootball of your young tree. Backfill with enough soil to allow your tree to sit with its entire rootball buried after you set it in the hole and fill it with soil. When you plant in a container, mix 1 cup of Vermiculite or Perlite into each gallon of potting soil and then fill your pot to a level that will allow your tree to sit with its entire rootball buried after you fill the pot.
Water your tree well after you plant it and keep the soil moist until it shows signs of new growth. Watering every three or four days is recommended the first two weeks, and then reduce the frequency to every seven to 10 days.
Weed the area around your tree to eliminate unwanted plants that will compete with your orange tree for water and soil nutrients. If you planted it in a container, weeds will not be as much of a problem, but do watch for them.
Fertilize in-ground and container-planted trees after new growth begins. After this happens, fertilize three or four times during the first year with a high nitrogen fertilizer (for example, 21-0-0). When you use ammonium sulfate, apply ¼ cup four times a year, three months apart. The second year of the tree’s life, fertilize with a total of 2 cups and during its third year, use 3 cups, divided and applied quarterly. Follow label instructions—sprinkle the fertilizer on the ground around the tree’s trunk and then water well.
Treat leafminer insects with a citrus oil spray if they appear, causing “trails” on the leaves. Control snails and slugs with iron phosphate granules (“Sluggo”). Diseases are rare, but if you notice blemishes on the peel or smaller fruit, consult with your county Agricultural Extension.