Position – Full sun (or, if absolutely necessary, partial shade) with about 4 metres to allow space for growth. If you’re planting it in a pot, a minimum pot size of 75 litres is required.
Size – Cara Cara trees can grow to be 6 metres high and about 3.5 to 4 metres wide. They usually fruit 5 years after planting the seed and bear fruit for 3 to 5 months of the year. If properly cared for, they may bear fruit for more than 50 years. Trees planted in the garden will be more productive and outlive those in pots.
Soil Type – Cara Cara orange trees are not particularly sensitive to different types of soil, but do need soil with good drainage. If your soil is particularly deficient in primary nutrients, consider adding manure or compost to it to boost it. Do not add nitrogen prior to planting. It should only be added to the soil of well-established Cara Cara trees, if and when necessary.
Mulch – These sweet orange trees thrive with some mulch, but be sure not to apply it too close to the trunk of the tree and its main roots. Whether your tree is young or well-established, it will benefit from 2 to 5 centimetres of mulch in the form of wood chips, pine needles, leaves or straw. This mulch protects the roots from UV damage and drying out, retains moisture, and maintains an optimal pH.
Watering – Water your outdoor Cara Cara tree twice a week for the first month or so. Then, reduce that to about 5 centimetres of water once a week, particularly during the hottest times of the year. Avoid over-watering your plant. Indoor plants need less watering than those in your garden.
Fertilising – The Cara Cara trees will thrive with a light fertiliser (preferably one particularly for citrus plants) applied once a month during spring and summer. In autumn and winter, this can be stretched to one application per season.
Pruning – While these trees don’t require pruning until they are between 4.5 and 6 metres high, they tend to do best (in terms of producing fruits) when they are kept at about 2 to 2.5 metres high.
Harvesting – The navel oranges will begin as sweet-smelling flowers. These are pollinated by bees and then produce the fruit. This fruit may turn the beautiful yellow-orange colour long before it is ready to be plucked from the branch. Try to leave it for a few weeks, even months. Take a sample of one fruit. When it is sweet and juicy, the rest that look the same are ready to be picked and enjoyed.