How big do navel orange trees get

Everything You Should Know About the Washington Navel Orange Tree

The Washington navel orange tree is one of the most popular citrus trees to grow in the world, and is the most beloved orange tree for backyard growers. This tree is easy to grow and requires less care than other orange trees. Moreover, the Washington navel orange tree also outperforms most other citrus trees, so what’s not to love?

Let’s dive in and learn all about the amazing Washington navel orange tree!

History of the Washington Navel Orange Tree

When you think of an orange and picture one in your mind, you’re probably thinking of the Washington navel orange without even knowing it. Ironically, however, this beloved citrus tree isn’t originally from Washington at all. In fact, the Washington navel orange tree was first imported to the United States from the Brazilian city of Bahia in 1870. For this reason, it’s sometimes called the “Bahia.”

Most experts believe that the Washington navel orange tree came from a bud sport that was found in the early 1800s in a Selecta orange tree grown by missionaries. When the Washington orange tree arrived at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., scientists propagated it, and trees were sent to Florida and California.

The trees that went to Florida failed to flourish, but the ones that made it to a woman named Eliza Tibbets in Riverside, California thrived in the ideal climate there. 

Here’s another super cool fun fact about these legendary orange trees: the Washington navel orange tree doesn’t have seeds, so it can’t be grown from seed. Washington navel oranges have to be cultivated through grafting to seedling rootstocks or budding. Because of this, almost all of the Washington orange trees grown in California originate from the first two trees that were sent to Eliza Tibbetts.

One of the original trees of Mr. Tibbetts is still alive and that tree is an official registered historical monument in Riverside. 

Washington Navel Oranges and Tree Characteristics

Most navel orange trees aren’t extremely vigorous trees, and the Washington navel orange tree is no exception to that rule. Their canopies are round and drooping and the tree grows to a moderate size when mature.

The large round oranges this tree produces have a pebbled orange rind that peels easily. The navel, which is actually a small secondary fruit, will occasionally protrude from the fruit’s apex.

Washington navel oranges ripen in the late fall and early winter, but these oranges will hold well on the tree for up to three months after maturing with no sacrifice of their integrity or quality. They store very well, too.

The Washington navel orange tree has fragrant and sweet-smelling white flowers. The foliage on this tree is evergreen.

Planting Zones

The Washington navel orange tree grows well in USDA Hardiness Zones eight through 10, although some experts argue that it does well in zone 11 as well. However, it should be noted that this tree didn’t thrive in Florida because it’s not well adapted to semitropical hot climates. So the fruit that the Washington orange tree produces when grown in Zone 11 tends to be sub-par.

If you’re going to grow your Washington navel orange tree in a container, you can extend the available growing zones for this tree down to zone four.

Size and Spacing

A full-sized Washington navel orange tree will grow to be between seven and 15 feet tall. The width of a mature tree is between eight and 12 feet. The dwarf variety of the Washington navel orange tree reaches a height of between three and six feet tall.


The Washington navel orange tree doesn’t require a pollinator. Note that the flowers on the Washington navel orange tree lack viable pollen, so they will not serve for pollinating other citrus trees, either. Since they lack viable ovules and functional pollen, this citrus tree produces fruits that are seedless.

Tree Care

The Washington navel orange tree is delightfully easy to grow. This tree needs fertile, well-drained soil to thrive. If you grow the tree in cooler climates, you will have to move it indoors when it gets cold.


Like most orange trees, the Washington navel orange tree thrives in full sun. Your tree needs between eight and 12 hours of sunlight every day.

If you grow your Washington navel orange tree inside, place it beside a south-facing window. Moreover, the area needs to have good airflow. In darker winter months, you can also supplement your tree’s sunlight with grow lights.


If you plant your tree in a container, it will need to be watered more frequently than if you plant it outside in the ground. This tree enjoys low to moderate moisture. However, don’t allow the soil to become soggy. To test the dryness, check the top two to three inches of soil. If your soil is dry to that depth, the tree needs water. 


To encourage better fruit production and outward growth, the Washington orange tree needs regular pruning. To prune your tree, cut off the dead, broken, and diseased branches as they develop. 

You should also eliminate any crossing or rubbing branches. Doing this will encourage the outward growth habit that is ideal for this tree and allow the sunlight to reach every branch. Find a more detailed guide to pruning an orange tree here!

Eating the Washington Orange Tree

The Washington orange tree produces a sweet fruit that’s juicier and sweeter than many other oranges, with a definite citrus taste. 

You can use Washington oranges in any recipe that calls for oranges. Its zest is also delicious! Because these oranges are seedless and so naturally sweet, they’re perfect for eating out of hand, making fresh-squeezed juice, or adding to recipes and salads.

You can also make preserved recipes such as Orange Marmalade to bring a taste of sunshine into your breakfast all year long. Marmalade in tiny jelly jars also makes beautiful gifts.

Here are some other fun recipes that call for ranges:

  • Orange Dream Bars
  • Orange Glazed Pork Loin
  • Candied Citrus Peel

Preserving Oranges

As far as preserving these oranges, it’s nearly impossible to list all the possible ways you can go about this. If you’re blessed with a bumper harvest, you can find scores of ideas online for canning, freezing, and even drying your excess fruit.

Canning oranges has always been a particularly popular way to preserve this juicy and delicious fruit. Once your oranges are “put by,” you can use them in fruit salads or recipes all year long. They’re also beautiful in canning jars — canned either in segments or whole — and make warm holiday gifts.

One recipe I’ve found that looks amazing is Sunny Southern Preserved Oranges.

Dried orange slices are gorgeous and fragrant in potpourri. You can also use them as decoration. For enjoying this delicious concentrated flavor, put dried slices into a pitcher of iced tea or homemade lemonade. The effect will be as beautiful as it is delicious. 

Did you know that you can also pop a whole orange into the freezer? This allows you to pull one out to make freshly squeezed orange juice year-round. One of our favorite tips for freezing oranges is to juice them and freeze the juice in ice cube trays. Once your little orange juice cubes are frozen, pop the juice cubes into a large freezer bag. You can later thaw them for a glass of fresh juice or to use them in recipes.

Preserving Orange Zest

One of the most popular ways to preserve every part of the orange is to dry or freeze the zest for future use. Follow these steps for the best results:

  1. Zest your Washington oranges and place the zest in a thin layer on a baking tray. Be sure to avoid getting the white pith into your zest because it will give it a bitter taste. 
  2. Bake your zest for 30 minutes to one hour at 170 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. Store in a cool, dark place in an airtight container. 

Another option is to simply let your zest air-dry naturally. Follow all the instructions above and skip the oven part. Your zest should be dry in a couple of days. 

Your zest will stay flavorful for up to a year, and is sublime in fruit bread and quick breads. 

Health Benefits of Washington Navel Oranges

The health benefits of oranges have been well documented by numerous scientific and nutritional studies. Half of a large orange has only about 47 calories, and this nutrient-dense fruit packs a powerful nutritional punch that’s chock-full of vitamin C, folate, potassium fiber, thiamine, and rich antioxidants.

In addition to the vitamins listed, oranges also have phenolic compounds such as flavonoids, which include hesperidin and anthocyanins.

Plus, oranges get their rich color from carotenoids, and our bodies convert these to the antioxidants lycopene and beta-cryptoxanthin. 

Where To Buy Washington Navel Oranges and Trees?

You can buy Washington navel orange trees online, but be quick, before they sell out!

You can find Washington navel oranges and other varieties of navel oranges in grocery stores, organic markets, and fruit stands. These oranges are in season from autumn through spring. 

Wrapping up the Washington Navel Orange Tree

It’s nearly impossible to go wrong with the Washington navel orange tree. From its interesting history, easy maintenance, great taste, and versatility in any recipe that calls for citrus, the Washington navel orange has it all!

Excited for more orange content? Check out our orange trees page to start learning everything there is to know about your favorite citrus!

Navel Orange Trees for Sale – FastGrowingTrees.


Tasty, Seedless Oranges and Quick Growth

Why Navel Orange Trees?

Healthful and delicious, the Navel Orange is one of the most popular varieties at the grocery store. But you won't believe how much better they are when you grow them yourself: Extremely sweet, these oranges will quickly become an addictive snack. And you'll love them because they're simple to peel and they're seedless.

Plus, these Navel Orange Trees don't require much attention. They'll reward you with plenty of juicy, seedless oranges, effortlessly. Simply plant them wherever you get full sun. Another beneficial aspect of our Navel Oranges is that they have a long shelf life - longer than most other oranges. So, there's no rush to eat, bake or cook them before they go bad. You can store them for months!

Why is Better

Our Navel Orange Trees have been groomed to perfection, so when you receive your very own, it's ready to produce an abundance of fruit right away. We’ve grafted and greenhouse-grown our varieties, so you get a healthful, well-developed root system and branching once the Navel Orange Tree arrives at your door.

We’ve done the extra work at our nursery so you reap the rewards of easygoing, fast growth – and oranges of your own in just one year.

We expand our crop each year because of high demand. So why wait? Order now to ensure you receive your very own, healthy Navel Orange Tree!

Planting & Care

1. Planting: Choose a location where your tree is going to get plenty of sunlight, 6 to 8 hours per day is best. Potted plants do enjoy a daily misting for humidity but placing a tray with rocks filled with water under the plant will feed humidity to the tree as the water evaporates.

A planter with built-in casters is a good choice so it can easily be moved. Choose a pot slightly larger than what it was shipped in that has plenty of holes in the bottom to allow for drainage. Be sure to plant in well-draining potting soil, preferably recommended for acid-loving citrus plants.

2. Watering: After watering (generally, about once weekly), allow the top 2 to 3 inches of the soil to dry out completely before watering again. For potted Navel Oranges, stick your index finger into the soil down to about 2 inches.

If there is moisture present, hold off on watering until it feels drier at that depth. When ready to water, stop once you see it escaping the drainage holes at the base of the pot.

3. Fertilizing: Feed your Navel Orange Tree during the warmer spring and summer seasons with a citrus-specific fertilizer, like the one included in our Citrus Care Kit, once every six weeks. During the fall and winter season, ease back to fertilizing once every 2 to 3 months. Make sure to follow the application instructions written on the fertilizer bag.

4. Pruning: Make 45-degree angle cuts to remove dead or crossing limbs and also to thin out the tree to allow more light to flow between the branches. After the tree fruits, remove any dead wood and ventilate the center of the tree. Remove suckers as they form/grow from the base as they will steal away nutrients from the primary trunk of the tree. Pruning can be done at any time of the year for the potted Navel Oranges.

5. Pollination: Our trees are self-fertile, but you can pollinate your indoor trees by hand since most people do not keep a healthy bee population within their home. Simply take a small, dry, fine-tipped paintbrush and stick it into the center of the bloom. Swirl it around and collect the pollen on the brush. Go to the next bloom and repeat the process until every bloom has been treated. Do this once daily and don’t wash the paintbrush until after the blooms have been pollinated. The bloom will fall off naturally and the fruit will begin to form.


What is the difference between an orange and a Navel Orange?

Navel Oranges are a variety of orange, so you can expect them to be seedless, easy to peel and very juicy.

How did Navel Oranges originate?

Navel Oranges belong to the citrus family, Rutaceae, and are the result of a natural mutation discovered in the early 1800s at a monastery in Brazil. Realizing that they produced no seeds, they started to be grown for production in the 1870s in California.

How long does it take a Navel Orange Tree to produce fruit?

It all depends on the growing conditions, climate and the amount of flowers the plant produces. If you’re wanting to reap a large harvest, make sure to fertilize and keep your trees happy—the rest is just up to nature.

How big does a Navel Orange Tree get?

In their native zones outdoors, Naval Oranges can grow to 30 feet, but most will stay much smaller at around 8-10 feet due to pruning or container growing. Expect the canopy to stay a relative size of about 8-12 feet wide and prune to fit your space.

Do Navel Orange Trees need full sun?

Navel Orange Trees need around 6-8 hours of sun per day, or full to partial sun.

Shipping Details

Estimated Shipping Time: Most orders ship immediately. As noted on the website, some items are seasonal, and may only ship in spring or fall. Once your order is shipped, you'll receive an email with a tracking number.

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Less than $149 $19.95

Navel orange trees are all clones of each other

Sherilyn_Boyd | Chief Editor | Email

Today I discovered that empty orange trees are all perfect clones of each other and they all come from the same tree in Brazil.

In 1820, a mutation occurred in a group of sweet orange trees growing on the grounds of a monastery in Bahia, Brazil. The mutation created a seedless orange that was much sweeter than the original citrus fruit. In addition, the new species had an underdeveloped twin orange growing in the same skin of each fully developed orange. From the outside, this growth was similar to a human umbilical cord, which resulted in the name of a newborn variety of citrus fruits: navel oranges.

Because navel oranges are seedless, farmers cannot simply grow another tree from seed to get more fruit. The only way to grow more pudding oranges is to amputate a flowering bud from an existing navel orange tree and combine it with another connective tree or the root of another compatible fruit tree. This process is called transplantation and is only successful if the grafted fruit trees are compatible with each other. Because navel oranges are the same species as grapefruits, lemons, and limes, they can be grafted with any of these.

Two years after the discovery of the purple orange tree, Brazil sent a dozen navel orange seedlings to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in Washington DC. Five years later, a woman named Eliza Tibbets planted one of these seedlings in her home in Riverside, California, and it began to produce fruit. Mrs. Tibbets was successful in growing this fruit, and other California orange growers decided to take buds from their tree and grow, as the climate in California proved to be ideal for navel oranges. This variety of navel orange became known as Riverside Orange, but its name was later changed to Washington Navel Orange and is the most popular type of navel orange in the world.

Bonus Facts:

  • The color orange was actually named after the orange fruit, not the other way around, as you might expect. To learn more about it, go here: "The color orange" was named after fruit
  • Orange is the world's third favorite flavor (numbers one and two are chocolate and vanilla).
  • The navel orange tree can grow up to 30 feet tall and live for over 100 years (the exact number is not yet known as the variety is relatively young and for example one of the ancient navel orange trees Eliza Tibbet is still growing and producing fruit today).
  • There is an orange tree in Europe called Constable which is estimated to be almost 500 years old.
  • Orange trees will not produce quality fruit until the third growing season.
  • Most people peel an orange to get the juicy fruit from the inside out. However, although orange peel lacks the sweet juiciness of a real orange, it is edible and nutritious. Peeling is mostly consumed in resource-limited environments and requires minimal waste, which can be generated, for example, in submarines. The peel is also a source of nutritional value, especially containing vitamin C and fiber. Word to the wise: If you plan to eat orange peel, stick to organically grown or processed oranges that have not been treated with chemical pesticides and herbicides.
  • If you choose not to eat orange peel, there are many other uses for it, including repelling irritating pests and garden pests, producing orange oil for the purpose of adding flavor to food and drink, and adding fragrance to perfumes, and aromatherapy.
  • When choosing an orange of sufficient maturity, there is a skin color is not a good indicator. Make sure the orange is heavy for its size and has a good fresh smell and is neither too bubbly nor too hard.
  • In 1848, thousands of people rushed to California after discovering gold. This time is known as the California Gold Rush. The "other" California gold rush occurred in 1882 when there were over 500,000 growing citrus trees in California. It was during this time that California helped create the citrus industry.
  • The sweet orange is the most commonly grown fruit tree in the world and accounts for about 70% of the world's citrus production.
  • Brazil leads the world in orange growth and production. Because of their ideal climates, Florida and California are the top orange producers in the United States, and both states sell the majority of their oranges in the US.
  • Eighty-five percent of the world's orange juice is produced between Brazil and Florida. While the whole world benefits from Brazil's production, as they export 99% of their product, Florida mostly fulfills domestic demand in the United States. To reduce storage and transportation costs and reduce the volume used, orange juice is traded internationally as a frozen concentrate.
  • Ripe oranges may change from orange to green during re-greening. Although it may seem strange, re-greening does not affect the quality or taste of food. This only affects the outer color of the orange.
  • More orange trees are killed each year by lighting than any disease.
  • There is more than one English word that rhymes with orange. There are, however, half rhymes like "hing", "syringe", "sporange", etc. There are also proper nouns that come very close to being a perfect rhyme with it, like "Blorenge" which is a mountain in Wales, and "Gorringe", which is the surname of the United States Naval Command, which discovered and named Gorringe Range in 1875.
  • More than 25 billion oranges grow in the United States each year. With this many oranges, every American can eat about 83 oranges every year.
  • Oranges should ripen while they are on the trees. No artificial process to date can artificially ripen oranges, so they must ripen at harvest time.
  • Everyone knows that oranges are, well, orange. When a consumer sees a green orange, their first and possibly only one, they think the orange is not ripe. However, some oranges, even after ripening, retain yellow or green spots. These colored spots do not indicate unripe fruit, but they are still unappealing to consumers looking for their perfect orange. As a result, oranges that develop yellow or green colors as they ripen go through a process called definition, which turns the outer skin of the orange into its perfect orange color for consumers to purchase.
  • Like navel oranges, Cavendish bananas (what you find in most grocery stores today) are also perfect clones of each other. You can read more about it here: Commercial banana plants are all perfect clones of one another. In fact, it was relatively unknown to the masses, and even after the 1960s, the former world's most popular banana, the Gros Michel or "Big Mike", was tended to be enjoyed by businessmen and consumers alike. Gros Michel was preferred by businesses due to being easier to ship and keeping longer than spoiled than the Cavendish. Consumers also liked them better for the increased shelf life as well as the fact that they are bigger and sweeter and are generally considered the best. The latter is one of the reasons why it was the most popular banana in the world. Unfortunately, the world was forced to switch bananas in the middle of the 20th century. So what happened to this switch? What happened was a banana apocalypse on a global scale. You see, the downside is that in every variety of bananas almost all bananas are clones of each other, what will kill or damage one banana plant will do the same to all other banana plants of the same variety. Enter the Panama disease that caused the near extinction of the Gros Michel Banana within a few years. Panama disease is a type of fungus that lives in the soil and is not affected by fungicides, which is why it is such a threat. There are many strains of this fungus, one of which has wiped out Gros Michel Banana as a commercial product.
  • Since all navel oranges are clones of each other, they are very susceptible to everything that has been destroyed globally by various diseases, similar to what happened to the Gross-Michael banana.
  • Unfortunately, a new strain of Panama disease, that the Cavendish banana is not resistant, emerged in 1992 and is once again threatening the most popular banana in the world. This time, however, no similar banana substitute has yet been found among the other 1,000 or so varieties. Most varieties of bananas contain giant, hard seeds throughout the soft, fleshy interior and usually have nothing to do with the bananas we are used to eating. The second banana apocalypse, if it happens before the new variety can be genetically engineered or carefully bred, will likely see the end of the fruit as a popular commercial product. Since this new strain of Panama disease emerged, it has already destroyed plantations in Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia and Taiwan and is currently spreading through Southeast Asia. It is also believed that it is only a matter of time before it spreads through Africa and Latin America, which would be the end of death for the Cavendish as a commercial product.
  • Bananas are naturally radioactive, read more about it here: Radioactive Banana
  • Bananas do not grow on trees. Rather, they grow from a root structure that produces an aerial stem. The plant is specifically classified as a perennial herbaceous (arboreal) herb; in fact it is the largest herbaceous flowering plant.
  • As interesting as the banana plant, which is an herb, is that the banana itself is a berry.
  • The round dark center at one end of Cavendish bananas is not a seed, but rather a remnant of what would be the fruit's reproductive nucleus, if there were one.
  • Although Gros Michel is no longer viable for mass cultivation, it is still growing in some areas of the world, unaffected by the particular strain of Panama disease that wiped it out as a commercial product. For similar reasons, the Cavendish is unlikely to ever be completely destroyed, although it is thought that it will eventually follow Gros Michel's path and eventually no longer be commercially available.

Today I discovered that empty orange trees are all perfect clones of each other and they all come from the same tree in Brazil. In 1820, a mutation occurred in a group of sweet orange trees growing on the grounds of a monastery in Bahia, Brazil. The mutation created a seedless orange that was much sweeter than the original citrus fruit.


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Why is there a small orange inside an orange?

It seems to me that all children ask themselves: how do oranges actually reproduce? In large oranges, inside, from the side of the former flower, a strange inclusion very often comes across - like a small orange with randomly arranged peel folds, and sometimes with real tiny slices. Many in childhood thought (and I too) that this is how oranges reproduce. But really, what is this thing?

The idea about the reproduction of oranges with the help of these "cubs" is beautiful, but, alas, erroneous. And to deal with the main question - "what is this thing?" - you will have to make an excursion into botany.

Orange is a member of the rue family, which, in turn, belongs to flowering (angiosperms) plants. The main characteristic features of this group, as is clear from its two names, are the presence of flowers and fruits (it is the fruits that “cover” the seeds of angiosperms). Flowers and fruits are organs that make it easier for plants to reproduce with the help of seeds. Pollination takes place in the flower (in the case of the orange, with the help of insects), the fruit contributes to the dispersal of seeds (in the orange and other fruits, the seeds are dispersed by animals that eat the fruits).

This is exactly what happens in the case of varieties of oranges that have seeds (for sure, you have met with such oranges). But oranges with "babies" inside, which are often called "navelins" (from the English navel - "navel", that is, "oranges with a navel"), usually do not have seeds! It is very convenient for food, but such plants have to be propagated in other ways - most often by grafting (grafting the stem of the plant we need to the stem and root system of another plant) or using cell culture (growing a whole plant from its cell in the laboratory). .

Orange is a cultivated plant with a long and complicated history: it is now known that the first oranges arose more than 2000 years ago as a result of crossing tangerines and pomelo. It happened in the wild or in culture - we do not know, but the first mention of the orange dates back to the 4th century BC. Over the centuries of cultivation in culture, the fruits of oranges have changed a lot: they have become larger, juicier, sweeter, with fewer seeds, a long shelf life, an easily peeled peel ... All these changes are the results of random mutations that turned out to be beneficial to humans and therefore fixed by artificial selection . But mutations are not only useful - and the "navel" of navelin oranges is also the result of a mutation (it is believed that it originated in the first half of the 19th century in Brazil), only completely useless.

So what is this mysterious "navel" and where did it come from? Let's look at the flower of a "normal" orange. The fruit is formed from a round ovary located at the base of the pistil. The ovary consists of several parts - carpels - these are the very future orange slices. All other parts of the flower, including other parts of the pistil (they are called style and stigma), dry up and fall off after flowering.

The unusualness of the naveline flower is that in the upper part of the ovary (let's call it the primary ovary), at the place where it passes into the column, another (secondary) small ovary is formed with its carpel lobules. No other parts of the flower are formed, only this lone secondary ovary, which sinks into the primary. Depending on the variety (and over 200 years there have been many varieties of navelins!) its size and visibility can be different, but most often it is almost completely hidden under the skin, and only in the place where the column was located, there is a more or less deep "navel".

Learn more