Your Guide to Caring for Cara Cara Navel Oranges
Late November and early December is the peak time for one of the finest oranges available. The Cara Cara orange possesses the most unique flavor of any orange. Imagine cherry, berry and orange flavors, all in one incredibly convenient fruit. That’s the flavor of a Cara Cara orange.
The Cara Cara orange is also a nutritional powerhouse, with plenty of Vitamin C, Vitamin A, folate, and lycopene. These antioxidants give your heart a boost, and protect your cells from free radicals.
The Cara Cara is an easy tree to grow, so you can enjoy this healthy fruit from your own yard. Not only is it adapted to any landscape wherever citrus grows well, the Cara Cara can also grow up to 15 to 20 feet without pruning. For ideal picking and pest control, the Cara Cara Orange is best when kept pruned at 6 to 8 feet.
Pick them when they are firm, shiny, heavy and have a great smell.
Grow Cara Cara Indoors as a Patio Plant in Containers
The Cara Cara orange is also a perfect container tree, giving you a great patio specimen or an amazing accent container plant in the garden. Container growing allows the Cara Cara Orange to be grown in the more marginal citrus areas. This way, you can move your Cara Cara to a protected location or cover your plant to help protect against the occasional winter cold.
The Cara Cara may also be the best sweet orange variety for the extreme cold climates. This is where indoor to outdoor growing is required. The early ripening Cara Cara will benefit from being kept outdoors until the temperatures drop into the high to mid 30’s, and then is gradually brought indoors. That will allow the fruit to ripen as much as possible outdoors; benefiting from the extra sunlight exposure.
Pro Plant Tips for Growing Cara Cara Orange Trees
Standard Citrus care is applied to the Cara Cara orange. Find a location with both good draining soils and a full days’ worth of sun. Feeding is only required in soils deficient in primary nutrients. You can have a simple soil test done to determine the health of your soils.
For container growing, choose a potting soil that is designed for Azalea, Camelias and Rhododendrons. If available, add Pathway Bark to the mix for added porosity and large particle organic matter. Citrus likes slightly acid soil and fertilizing is required for container grown citrus plants. In the first 5 years, an organic acid fertilizer applied 4 times a year is recommended for your Cara Cara tree. Increase to every other month as your tree gets older.
Don’t Overwater Your Cara Cara
Watering is always critical, either in the ground or container. Your citrus will like to be on the dry side. Over watering your Cara Cara can result in common problems such as yellowing leaves, leaf drop and lack of vigor.
This is of particular concern for indoor to outdoor growers. The Citrus tree’s water requirements decrease dramatically once it is brought indoors. Be careful to become familiar with your winter water needs while indoors. Check before watering to determine if your plant needs water.
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