Everything to Know About Cara Cara Orange Trees
Cara Cara oranges are delicious and easy-to-grow fruits that are perfect for snacking on or adding to recipes. These orange varieties are packed with nutrients and are also a good source of fiber.
What makes Cara Caras unique is their color. Most oranges are yellow or orange, but Cara Cara oranges are a deep red.
This makes them stand out and look different from other oranges. Their color also makes them fun and interesting to eat.
Looking to grow the Cara Cara Orange for household consumption or for commercial purposes? Here’s the ultimate Cara Cara Orange growth and care guide you’ll need.
|Botanical name||Citrus sinesis|
|Other names||Cara Cara, Power orange|
|Mature height||8ft or 96″ and up to 20ft or 240″ without pruning|
|Mature width||12ft or 144″ without pruning|
|The time it takes to fruit||3-5 years|
|Need for pruning||Yes|
|Soil moisture||Moist but not boggy|
|Water needs||Deep watering rather than frequent watering|
|Sun exposure||Full sun|
|Fertilizing||Apply fertilizers with a high amount of phosphorus and trace elements at least twice a year|
|U.S.D.A hardiness zone||8-11|
What Is a Cara Cara Orange Tree and Where Does It Come from?
Cara Cara oranges are a type of navel orange native to South America, specifically Venezuela. They are a cross between the Washington navel orange and the Brazilian Bahia navel orange.
Cara Cara oranges have a red or pink color on the outside and are very juicy. They have a sweeter flavor than most of the other orange types available.
They are also seedless, meaning you can eat the entire fruit without having to spit out some pesky seeds.
Cara Cara oranges are not as popular as some other types of oranges, but they are becoming more popular for their excellent characteristics. Cara Cara oranges are grown in most parts of the United States.
Where to Buy Cara Cara Orange Trees?
The Cara Cara orange tree is all the rage these days, so you can be sure to find it from your certified local nursery.
If you can’t find it there, you can always check online but make your purchase only after confirming the reputation and trustworthiness of the shop.
If you are buying in bulk, it’s advisable to go to physical nurseries where you can inspect the trees yourself.
How to Plant a Cara Cara Orange Tree?
Step 1: Select a place where there’s plenty of room for the tree to grow to its full size without necessarily shading your garden. You should grow your Cara Cara tree 10fts away from your house, driveway, swimming pool, or septic tank.
Step 2: Dig a hole enough to fit the entire root mass of the young tree you are about to plant. The hole should be slightly deep so that the tree sits one inch higher than the mother soil in the area.
Step 3: Place the tree into the hole and fill the space around it with the mother soil.
Step 4: Deepwater the plant and apply mulch to conserve the water.
How to Grow/Care for a Cara Cara Orange Tree?
Cara Caras are a great choice for people who want to grow an orange tree but don’t have a lot of time or attention to give it.
They are healthy, happy trees that don’t require so much attention. Even so, here are some crucial care practices for a Cara Cara Orange tree:
Cara Cara Orange trees need regular pruning to keep the growth of the tree in balance. If not pruned, the tree will grow too tall and become unbalanced. A tall unbalanced tree is more likely to break in a storm or high wind.
Any stems with no leaves or stems with just a few leaves should be pruned. It’s also recommended to remove branches from the tree that are devoid of leaves, dead and weak branches.
You can use pruning shears or clippers to prune a Cara Cara orange tree, but make sure you disinfect them with bleach before using them.
Shortly after you plant your Cara Cara orange tree, it’s best practice to cut the top of the tree to encourage horizontal growth.
In this regard, an angled cut rather than a horizontal cut is recommended as it does not leave a suitable surface for water retention and bacteria/ fungi growth.
Tip: If you grow your Cara Cara tree growth in a container, you should prune it to ensure that it’s no longer than 5ft tall. The lateral growth should be kept within the 3ft range.
Cara Cara orange trees should get deep watering every week in the dry season.
This will help them maintain their moisture and keep them healthy. In addition, you should also apply a light layer of mulch to the base of the tree.
The benefits of deep watering a Cara Cara tree include:
- It helps keep the moisture in the soil and prevents the roots from drying out
- It makes the tree more resistant to water stress
- It enhances root growth that in turn keeps the plant stable
- It gives the plant better access to nutrients
With proper deep watering (around 36″ deep into the soil), you only need to water the tree once a week.
Attention: Never overwater your Cara Cara orange tree or leave it standing in water. This is detrimental to the tree’s productivity.
Cara Cara orange trees require fertilization at least twice a year, preferably one before flowering and the other after harvesting all your oranges. You can go for up to 4 fertilization rounds a year if you need to accelerate the growth of your trees.
A good fertilizer for Cara Cara oranges should have a high amount of phosphorus to aid in the fruiting process and trace elements such as Manganese, Copper, Iron, Zinc, Magnesium, and Boron that are essential for the overall growth of the tree.
You must not buy these components singly as most commercial fertilizers contain them.
To know the type of fertilizer to add to your soil, have the soil around the tree tested every year. It’s good practice to adjust; accordingly, the fertilizer you apply to your tree once you identify the deficient nutrients in the soil.
Below is the pest that affects the Cara Cara orange trees along with the measures you should take to control them:
Insects such as aphids, mealybugs, spider mites, citrus thrips, and whiteflies can be a nuisance to your Cara Cara orange trees.
Remedy: Use insecticides specific to the insect you’re dealing with and as advised by your local gardener officer.
Cara Cara trees provide a convenient place for ants to nest and build their colonies. The bark of the tree is a good place to hide, and the branches offer plenty of space for the ants to move around.
Remedy: Use a horticultural oil or insecticidal soap in the cracks and crevices of your Cara Cara tree to deal with the ant problem.
If the conditions around your Cara Cara orange tree are cool and damp at all times, you’re likely to have a snail problem.
Remedy: One way to deal with snails is to put a copper band around the trunk of the tree.
The copper reacts with their slime and creates an electric current that shocks them. You can also spray the leaves and branches of the tree with snail bait, which will kill the slugs and snails.
Leaf miners are small, white, legless insects that live and feed inside leaves. They cause extensive damage to leaves, making them turn yellow, brown, or black. They can also distort the shape of your Cara Cara orange tree leaves.
Remedy: The primary solution for leaf miners in insecticides. Alternatively, you can cover your orange trees with a fine mesh to prevent the insects from getting to the leaves.
Pests are not the only problem for the Cara Cara orange trees. There’re some diseases affecting the tree as discussed below:
Sooty mold is a fungus that occurs as a black, powdery substance that grows on the leaves and fruits of your orange tree. The fungus can cause the leaves to yellow and fall off.
Remedy: Sooty mold can be prevented by keeping your trees healthy and free of pests. You can also treat an infected tree with a fungicide.
Scales are a common problem with orange trees. They can be a real nuisance because they can stunt the tree’s growth and reduce the yield of fruit. In severe cases, the tree may die.
Remedy: One way to deal with this problem is to use pesticide spray. You can also apply horticultural oil to the leaves of the tree. This will smother the scales and kill them.
If you are seeing honeydew, it means that your Cara Cara is in distress. The problem with honeydew is that it can easily attract fruit flies to your oranges.
Remedy: To deal with the honeydew problem, identify the elements stressing your Cara Cara plant and address them.
Too much water can create a perfect environment for fungus gnats to eat at the root system of your Cara Cara tree. This can cause the tree to become weak and susceptible to disease, and in severe cases, it can even lead to the tree’s death.
Remedy: Check the soil moisture levels before watering your Cara Cara tree. If the soil is wet, don’t water it again until it has dried out.
Lastly, you should ensure that no weeds disturb your Cara Cara tree. Impressively, weed control by hand will work perfectly for your Cara Cara orange tree.
Please note: The first year of growth is the most important for the Cara Cara tree as it’s the period that the tree develops its root system.
During this period, ensure that the tree is properly watered and that there’re no pests, diseases, or weeds disturbing the tree.
What Else Does Cara Cara Orange Tree Need to Thrive?
Cara Cara orange trees do best in full sunlight. Although 12 hours of sunlight are ideal for Cara Cara orange trees, the trees can still thrive with 6 hours of sunlight, but their productivity won’t be as high.
If you’re growing your Cara Cara trees indoors, you can invest in a grow lamp to extend the hours the plant accesses light.
These trees are resistant to cold weather, making them a great choice for gardeners in colder climates.
The Cara Cara orange tree is a subtropical fruit tree that can tolerate a wide range of soil types, but it does best in well-drained loam soil. The soil should also be at least 4 ft. deep.
For optimal growth, the Cara Cara orange tree should be grown in soil with a pH of 6.0 to 7.5.
The tree cannot tolerate wet soils and will not produce fruit if the soil is waterlogged for an extended period. To maintain the nutrients at the required levels, fertilization should be done at least twice a year.
If your soil is poorly drained, you can try to fix it by using organic matter. However, if your site has poorly drained soil that can’t be remedied, you should avoid it as the tree won’t thrive in that environment.
For container planting, the Cara Cara tree needs well-drained soil that is high in organic matter. You can make your own soil mix by combining potting soil, vermiculite, perlite, compost, sphagnum moss, and coconut fiber.
Note: Soil from your garden will have insufficient nutrients, so it’s inappropriate to use in your Cara Cara Orange container.
How Do You Know When Cara Cara Oranges are Ripe?
One interesting thing about ripe Cara Cara oranges is that they can turn yellow then green again.
This can make it hard to know when a Cara Cara orange is ripe. But one thing stands out with ripe Cara Cara oranges– they’re heavy and have a delicious juice when eaten.
How to Harvest and Store Cara Cara Oranges?
A typical Cara Cara tree will have the fruits ready for harvest between December to March.
When harvesting Cara Cara oranges, choose fruits that are firm and heavy. Avoid fruits that are green and light or have soft spots. Use a sharp knife to cut the fruit from the tree, leaving as much stem attached as possible.
If you are not going to eat the Cara Caras right away, you can store them in your refrigerator.
The fruits will keep for about two weeks in a refrigerator set at 35-40 degrees Fahrenheit. If you want to store them for a longer period, you can freeze them.
One great characteristic of Cara Cara oranges is that they have a long shelf life.
In What Season Should You Plant and Harvest Cara Cara Oranges?
If you live in an area that receives perennial warmth, you can plant your Cara Cara orange tree anytime. In colder areas, plant the orange tree 6-8 weeks following the last frost.
With proper growth care, the Cara should have fruits ready to harvest in the winter season. Some outliers may clock their harvest time during fall.
Does Cara Cara Orange Tree Have Seeds?
The Cara Cara orange does not have seeds like all other navel orange varieties. This, in addition to its low acidity and sweet taste, makes Cara Cara one of the best orange varieties to eat.
Since Cara Cara Oranges Don’t Have Seeds, How Does the Plant Reproduce?
The Cara Cara tree is reproduced by grafting a branch of an existing Cara Cara tree onto another. Grafting is the process of attaching a piece of one plant to another so that they grow together.
You can take cuttings with at least one leaf node from an existing tree and plant them in the soil if you need to plant an entirely new tree. When their roots grow, the cuttings can then be transplanted as new Cara Cara trees.
Can You Grow a Cara Cara Orange Tree in a Container?
The Cara Cara Orange tree can be grown in a container, and it will flourish as you watch it. It’ll look great on the porch, patio, and inside your home.
The best thing about the Cara Cara tree is that it’s easy to grow and maintain, so it won’t take most of your time, even if you grow it in a container.
Can you use Epsom Salt for Cara Cara Orange Trees?
The magnesium in Epsom salts can help improve the flavor of your Cara Cara oranges.
Magnesium is an essential nutrient that is often lacking in citrus fruits. Adding Epsom salts to your soil can provide this micronutrient and improve the flavor of your fruit.
This should, of course, come after you sufficiently fertilize your Cara Cara oranges with nitrogen fertilizers that the trees love.
Do Cara Cara Orange Trees Self-pollinate?
The Cara Cara trees are self-pollinating and will not require a second tree nearby to produce fruit.
This is in contrast to other types of citrus trees, such as mandarins and lemons, which require cross-pollination from another citrus tree to produce fruit.
However, to increase the productivity of your Cara Cara tree, you can brush the pollen of one flower and set them on another flower of the same plant.
Is a Cara Cara Orange Tree Tolerant to Cold?
The Cara Cara is a cold-hardy navel orange that is excellent for growing in USDA hardiness zones 8-11. In zone 7, the tree will still thrive if you plant it indoors where you can control the conditions.
That said, it’s worth noting that the tree goes dormant during winter or when the temperatures fall below 35 degrees Fahrenheit.
When do Cara Cara Orange Trees Bear Fruits?
The Cara Cara trees are slow-growing and typically do not start bearing fruit until they are 3-5 years old.
In some rare cases, the tree may fruit in the first year of planting.
When the tree is ready to bear fruit, it’ll begin flowering in April of that year and have the fruits ready for harvest from November.
How Many Times a Year Does a Cara Cara Orange Tree Fruit?
The Cara Cara orange tree bears fruits only once a year, but the period can last for 3-5 months. With the right care and provision of nutrients, the tree can produce fruits for up to 50 years.
Is There a Difference Between a Cara Cara Orange Tree and a Navel Orange Tree?
Cara Cara oranges are a type of navel oranges. They are a deep red color on the outside, and their flesh is a pinkish-orange. They are similar in size and outer appearance to regular navel oranges.
Comparing the interiors of the two fruits reveals the differences.
The Cara Cara navel orange has a red-pink color that resembles a grapefruit, while the typical navel orange has a yellow-orange color. If you love grapefruits, you might as well want to taste Cara Cara oranges.
The flesh of the Cara Cara navel orange is also sweeter and less acidic than the typical yellow-orange flesh of a navel orange.
What are the Benefits of Cara Cara Oranges?
The trees enhance the ambiance of your home
Cara Cara oranges trees are a beautiful addition to any yard or garden. Not only do they produce a delicious citrus fruit, but the trees also release a sweet and refreshing fragrance that will naturally sweeten and freshen the air around your home.
During the flowering period, the tree produces white flowers that perfectly contrast with the green lush of the tree, creating an ethereal look.
Cara Cara oranges boast a wealth of nutritional benefits
Cara Caras are high in Vitamin C and antioxidants. They contain almost twice the amount of Vitamin C as other oranges.
They are also a good source of dietary fiber, potassium, lycopene, carotene, and Zeaxanthin. What’s more, scientists have discovered that children love Cara Cara oranges juice as it’s less likely to form the bitter taste that other orange juices are fond of forming.
Are Cara Cara Oranges the same as Blood Oranges?
Although Cara Cara oranges and Blood oranges belong to the same species, there’re some key differences between these fruits.
Cara Cara oranges are a type of navel orange. They are typically a deep red color on the inside and have a sweet, slightly tart taste.
Blood oranges are a type of citrus fruit, typically orange or red in color. They have a sweet and tart flavor and are often used in juices, cocktails, and baking.
Is the Cara Cara Orange Tree the Easiest Orange to Grow?
Other orange varieties, such as the Dwarf Washington Navel, may be easier to grow, but the Cara Cara orange tree is undoubtedly on the list of the easiest orange trees to grow.
The tree just requires deep watering a few times a month, proper fertilizing with nitrogenous fertilizers, and hassle-free pests, diseases, and weed control to thrive.
Are the Cara Cara Oranges the Sweetest?
Navel oranges are the sweetest oranges available. Cara Cara being a type of navel orange is undoubtedly one of the sweetest and most delicious oranges you can have.
They’re less acidic than other types of oranges, and they have a pink-tinged flesh that’s extra juicy.