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Tangerine Tree Care – How To Grow Tangerines

Tangerine Tree Care – How To Grow Tangerines


Tangerine trees (Citrus tangerina) are a type of mandarin orange (Citrus reticulata). Their loose skin, easily pulled away from the fruit, and the sweet segments within make them a delicious treat. In the United States, the ‘Clementine’ is the most familiar of the species and is readily available in grocery stores. This article is for those gardeners with an interest in how to grow tangerines or how to care for a tangerine tree you already have.

Planting Tangerine a Tree

Unless you live in a tropical or sub-tropical region, you’ll be growing tangerines in a pot. While they withstand cold temperatures better than most citrus, they still can’t survive a hard freeze. Even in warmer climates, it’s best to choose a sheltered place for planting. Tangerine tree growth is dependent on lots of sun, so choose a sunny spot as well.

You might be tempted to try growing tangerines from seed, but in all likelihood, the tangerine trees that result from your efforts won’t bear the fruit you’re expecting. It’s much better to purchase your tangerine trees from a reputable nursery. The plant will be grafted onto a rootstock and already have a year or two of growth.

To know how to grow tangerines best, you’ll need to gather a few things before you unwrap your tree. First, you’ll need a container that leaves plenty of room for growth. While potted citrus trees don’t mind being a little pot bound, you want to give your growing tangerine’s roots plenty of room to expand. Don’t go overboard. Just make sure there are a few inches (7.5 to 10 cm.) of free soil around the root ball than there was in the container it came in.

Which brings us to the second item before planting. Tangerine trees like a neutral soil pH, so it’s a good idea to wash off as much of the peat around the root ball as you can. Most good potting soils are already neutral and the addition of peat can drive the pH into the acid range.

Place your tree into the pot and fill the area around the roots with soil. Set the tree at the same level as it came from the nursery and tamp the soil down well. Young tangerine trees need plenty of water until they’re settled in their new home. Keep the soil moist, but not wet, for at least a week or two and the water regularly.

How to Care for a Tangerine Tree

Now that you’re finished potting, it’s time to talk about how to care for a tangerine tree. Tangerine trees grown in a pot need to be fertilized at least twice a year and as soon as you see new growth, it’s time to begin. Set your pot in a sunny place and let nature take its course.

When the weather is consistently above forty F. (4 C.), it’s safe to move your tree outdoors – although, like most houseplants, gradually moving your tangerine to its new microclimate will prevent shock and the loss of leaves. Follow the same process in the fall when temperatures begin to drop.

When your tangerine tree is indoors, it will need to be watered when just the top of the soil is dry to the touch. During the time your potted tangerine tree is outdoors, it will need to be watered daily.

When talking about how to care for a tangerine tree, we would be remiss not to mention the future. Unlike some other fruits, tangerine trees need no pruning.

As it grows, your tree will need to be repotted about every three to four years. Like other houseplants, one size up in pot size should be enough.

It will also take three to four years for your tangerine to bear fruit. So be patient and enjoy its beauty in the meantime. And when you taste the first fruits of your labor, you’ll be glad you learned how to grow tangerines.


How to Grow Tangerine Beauty Crossvine

Tangerine Beauty crossvine (Bignonia capreolata "Tangerine Beauty") earned its name with its vibrant, orange-pink flowers, which feature a brilliant yellow throat. It adapts readily to a variety of growing conditions, making it a versatile and low-maintenance addition to native plant landscaping. Growing Tangerine Beauty crossvine takes little effort but yields great rewards. However, its growing needs must be met to bring out its full potential.


How to Grow Tangerine Trees in Arizona

The tangerine (Citrus x tangerina) is a smaller and sweeter variety of the Mandarin orange. Although they grow well in Arizona, extra care must be taken to protect them from the sun. If you are searching for varieties, consider Ponkan and Dancy, as they are self-fruitful and won’t require cross pollination, according to horticulturists at the University of Arizona.

Apply a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch around the base of the tangerine tree, 8 inches from the trunk. Mulch helps to keep the soil moist and the roots cool in the heat of the Arizona summer.

Water the tangerine tree to a depth of 3 feet and out to the drip line. Allow the top 2 inches of soil to dry out prior to watering. In Arizona, plan on watering every week to 10 days in the summer, every two weeks in the spring and fall and once a month n the winter, according to Linda Drew, Master Gardener with the University of Arizona.

  • The tangerine (Citrus x tangerina) is a smaller and sweeter variety of the Mandarin orange.
  • If you are searching for varieties, consider Ponkan and Dancy, as they are self-fruitful and won’t require cross pollination, according to horticulturists at the University of Arizona.

Fertilize the tangerine tree with a 10-10-10 formula, according to the rate suggested on the fertilizer package. Use three applications, one each in spring, summer and fall, but no later than the end of September.

Prune the tangerine tree from February to April, by first cutting off any suckers, or small sprouts, down low on the trunk. Remove all dead branches and those that cross over others. If it is excessively shady in the interior portion of the tree, remove any large branches that are causing the shade. After pruning, paint all exposed wood with white latex or other tree paint to protect it from the hot Arizona sun.

Inspect the tangerine tree periodically for signs of disease. Psorosis is common on Arizona tangerine trees and can be recognized by peeling bark, typically on mature trees. There is no control for psorosis bark peeling virus disease. If there is a black fungus beneath the peeled bark it could be sooty canker. Take a sample of the diseased part of the tree to the county University of Arizona Cooperative Extension office for diagnosis and treatment suggestions.


How to Grow a Tangerine Tree

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The tangerine tree (Citrus reticulata) is a variety of mandarin that produces small, thin-skinned fruit similar to an orange. Tangerines are evergreen and grow about 10 to 15 feet tall, although old trees can reach 25 feet. The trees need full sun and well-draining soil. A southern exposure is best for planting to allow maximum sunlight for fruit production and warmer temperatures to protect from frost. Grow tangerine trees in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 9 through 11.

Dig or till 2 to 4 inches of compost into the soil before planting, especially if the soil is mostly clay or sand.

Dig a hole twice as wide and the same depth as the root ball. Set the tree in the center of the hole and loosen any compacted roots from the ball. Back-fill the hole until the top inch of the roots is above the soil surface. Water the tree and fill in any air pockets as the soil settles. Space multiple trees at least 10 feet apart.

Water enough to keep soil moist but not wet for the first two years. In the summer, this may be twice a week. Water young trees about 12 inches deep near the trunk and over the root zone. Reduce watering as the tree matures, allowing the top 2 inches of soil to dry before watering older trees to a depth of 2 to 3 feet.

Fertilize trees beginning the first spring after planting. Use a citrus fertilizer, applied according to the manufacturer's suggested rates. Divide the suggested yearly application into thirds, making the one-third applications in March, May and June. Apply the fertilizer over the root zone rather than at the base of the trunk.

Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of compost mulch starting 12 inches from the trunk and ending about 12 inches past the drip zone. Re-apply the mulch each spring.

Prune only as needed to remove dead, damaged or diseases branches, suckers, water sprouts and branches that cross over other branches. Prune in early spring after the last frost but before new growth appears. Make cuts with a pruning saw just outside the branch collar to remove whole limbs. Cut 6 inches into healthy wood to remove partial limbs. Make the cuts at a 45-degree angle 1/4-inch outside a bud, leaf node or lateral branch.

Remove any fruit that appears before the third year of growth to allow the tree to concentrate its energy on developing a strong root system and canopy. Thin heavy crops of tangerines to keep the heavy fruit from snapping branches if it appears that there is more fruit than the tree can bear.


Tangerine Tree Care

Size & Growth

Tangerines are evergreen perennial citrus species with an average height of about 10’ to 15’ feet, but rarely reaching 25’ feet tall.

Several dwarf varieties of tangerine plants are also available, which will grow as houseplants in small spaces and even containers.

Featuring small deep green leaves and fragrant flowers, tangerine trees form attractive foliage.

However, they are cultivated and prized for their citrus fruits.

Flowering and Fragrance

Tangerine trees produce small white flowers in early spring.

Sometimes, however, they may undergo another blooming period during the fruiting season.

The flower has five petals and a beautiful fragrance. Flowering is followed by the production of delicious tangerine fruit.

The tender and juicy fruits are similar to oranges, but are generally sweeter and have thinner rinds.

Fruits typically start appearing in October or November.

However, some varieties start producing fruits as early as August while a few may not bear fruits until December.

New tangerine plants take about 2 to 3 years to start producing fruits.

Light & Temperature

Tangerine trees are best suited from warm tropical and sub-tropical climates.

They need full sun to grow, but can tolerate partial shade. However, sunlight is critical to the production of fruits.

If a tangerine tree doesn’t get adequate sunlight, it won’t be able to produce many fruits.

When grown indoors, make sure to keep the plant in front of a sun facing window.

Although tangerine trees have more winter tolerance than most citrus species, they do not generally survive through freezing cold weather.

Hence, they will need protection during the winter months. In the United States, they are hardy to USDA hardiness zones 9 to 11.

Watering and Feeding

Young tangerine plants need plenty of water to establish.

Water them regularly and adequately for the first two years – about twice a week.

But, be careful to not overwater as they cannot tolerate soggy or water-logged soils.

Reduce watering when the plant reaches maturity and let the top 2” inches of the soil to dry out between waterings.

Feed the newly planted c. tangerina trees with citrus fertilizer in the first spring.

Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to feed the young plants, but divide the suggested yearly quantity into three.

Apply each of the one-third amounts on the root area (and not at the base of the trunk) in March, May, and June.

Also, apply a 2” to 3” inches thick layer of compost, every spring.

Soil & Transplanting

Tangerine plants will grow in most potting soil mixes. But, they need well-draining soil with a neutral pH.

Tangerines grown in containers need to be repotted every 3 to 4 years.

When transplanting, make sure to leave a space of about 2” inches around the root ball, so the roots have room to expand.

Also, make sure to remove the peat from around the roots when moving to another pot or location.

This is to prevent soil pH disturbance – the addition of peat to a potting soil (which have neutral pH) will make the soil pH to turn acidic.

Add soil around the roots and keep the newly transplanted plants in a sunny location.

Keep the soil consistently moist for at least about two weeks and return to normal plant care.

Grooming and Maintenance

Tangerine trees aren’t high-maintenance. However, you may need to prune them to remove the dead and damaged leaves, branches, or suckers.

When needed, prune the trees in early spring, before the new growth starts to emerge.

Are Tangelos and Tangerines The Same?

Tangerines and Tangelos are not the same. Tangelos are fruits resulting from crossing the grapefruit and tangerine. The old name for – grapefruit – was pomelo, hence the name “Tangelo.”

They grow the same as oranges, requiring identical care, and produce delicious, tangy fruits in winter. Several varieties are on the market which have fruiting periods from November till early summer.


Tangerine trees are grown for their delicious fruits, which are widely consumed in different parts of the world in both raw form and for making different food products.

Over the years, several varieties of these fruit trees have also been developed, including some seedless varieties.

Some of the popular ones include:

  • Clementine
  • Pixie
  • Encore
  • Kara (a cross between King Tagor and Owari satsuma)
  • Florida Murcott Honey
  • Dancy tangerines – The fruit is available from December through February, the zipper skin peels easily and is loosely segmented.


Watch the video: How to plant a Dwarf Mandarin tree?