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The Dwarf Tangerine Tree

So you’d like to add a citrus tree to your landscape, but you’re not sure you want to deal with a 30-foot tall orange tree, or a 20-foot tall grapefruit tree, or even a 10-foot tall lemon tree?

Potted tangerine trees, similar to the dwarf tangerine tree.

A dwarf tangerine tree, which grows just 6-8 feet tall — also making it a candidate for container cultivation — might be an answer. Read on for more information on growing and enjoying a dwarf tangerine tree and its fruit.

Characteristics of the Dwarf Tangerine Tree

Dwarf tangerine trees are like their full-sized counterparts in all respects, except they’re created by grafting part of a regular-size tree onto a smaller rootstock. And in case you’re wondering, “dwarf” doesn’t apply to the size of the fruit.

Tangerines from your dwarf tree will be the same size as those from a full-size tree. Additionally, for their size, dwarf tangerine trees can produce a larger crop than their full-size counterparts. You should know, though, that you may have to wait as long as 18 months before your tree bears fruit.

Beyond what you’ll find in this post, you should also take a look at our complete guide to Growing Orange Trees.

Closeup of tangerines on a tree.

Eating Tangerines

Just looking at the orange skins and pulps of both tangerines and oranges, it’s understandable to think that tangerines will taste pretty much like oranges.

Tangerines, however, have a more tart taste. A typical orange has 12 grams of sugar, while a typical tangerine has 9 grams of sugar, with the lower sugar content perhaps appealing to people who like their sweet citrus with a bit of an edge.

Cooking With Tangerines

Getting tangerines into your diet doesn’t have to be difficult. You can simply peel and segment a tangerine and cut the segments in half as an addition to salads, grate the peels for dressings, or add slices to yogurt.

Tangerine Recipes

If you’d like to be more adventurous, recipes available at Epicurious, with treats like tangerine crème brûlée, or a wild rice, farro and tangerine salad, or even citrus-fruit soup with dates and mint, are a good place to start.

Also, at AllRecipes, you’ll find tangerine-cranberry saucecranberry-tangerine muffins or beef with tangerine sauce.

Orange cranberry muffins.

Getting Kids to Eat Tangerines

Tangerines may naturally appeal to young eaters because their skin is thinner than an orange, making them easier to peel. Still, that may not be enough to entice your child to try one.

One thing health experts suggest is, instead of offering a single vegetable or fruit as a snack, let youngsters choose from a variety of healthy items, including tangerine slices. Alternatively, parents can simply include tangerines among regular mealtime offerings, or can pack a tangerine into a school lunch bag.

Health Benefits of Tangerines

Tangerines are packed with health benefits. A 3-ounce serving has 26% of the recommended daily value for Vitamin C in a 47-calorie, no-fat package.

That same serving has 12 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of fiber, and 0.7-gram of protein, along with 3% of the recommended daily values of Vitamin A and potassium.

In addition to potassium, which enhances brain activity, tangerines contain folic acid, a critical component for cell development.

Peeled tangerines.

Growing Your Own Dwarf Tangerine Tree

If you plan on an indoor dwarf tangerine tree, you can plant it any time. Indoor dwarf tangerine trees do best when planted in a well-draining potting mix that includes perlite, a lightweight granular mineral. To learn more about growing orange trees indoors, read our blog post on Growing Indoor Orange Trees.

If you’re planting your tree outdoors, wait until after the last frost. When planting, make sure the top of the root ball is a couple of inches higher than the surrounding soil, and apply a potting mix for citrus plants or a balanced fertilizer.

Also, create a moat around the tree, placing a layer of mulch inside. Slowly fill the moat with water, keeping some water dribbling into the moat for a half-hour after planting.

Your dwarf tangerine tree will need warm temperatures and sunshine. It’s not necessary to have full-day exposure; the tree likely will do equally well with either morning or afternoon sun.

Small oranges growing on a tree.

More information on caring for orange trees is available in our Complete Orange Tree Care Guide.


Dwarf tangerine trees face many of the same pests as other citrus trees, including aphids, thrips, and spider mites. Aphids and thrips can be handled with a firm spray of water from your garden hose or some insecticidal soap.

Spider mites can be eradicated with diatomaceous earth, a non-toxic powder that absorbs oils and fats on an insect’s exoskeleton, bringing death by dehydration.


Dwarf tangerine trees are subject to a number of diseases, including citrus canker. Citrus canker shows up as yellow spots on leaves, twigs, or fruit, and can lead to the tree’s death.

Liquid copper fungicide can be applied as a preventative measure, but once a dwarf tangerine tree is infected with citrus canker, the tree must be removed.

Another disease is greasy spot — yellowish-brown blisters on the underside of leaves. Spraying with liquid copper fungicide can bring it under control, along with getting rid of leaves that have fallen from the tree.

Sooty mold is yet another disease that could affect your dwarf tangerine tree. It blackens the tree’s leaves and is routinely found on trees infested with aphids. If you find sooty mold, it can be eliminated with liquid copper fungicide.

For a broader look at orange tree diseases, take a look at our post all about identifying, treating, and preventing Common Orange Tree Diseases.

Lemon tree leaf with signs of fungal disease.
Signs of citrus fungal disease.


Annual pruning of a dwarf tangerine tree will help shape it, make it easier for fruit to ripen, and ensure the tree’s health. But wait until your tree begins to bear fruit before pruning, so you don’t unnecessarily remove any fruit-bearing branches.

Prune branches back to near a leaf to help open the tree to light and air. As mentioned, fruit-bearing limbs should be left alone, unless they’re too weak to bear the weight of a tangerine. In those cases, simply pick the developing fruit off the tree.

As with all pruning, remove any diseased or damaged branches, which may be discolored or scarred or have no leaves and feel hollow.

For more details on pruning, check out our guide on Pruning Orange Trees.

Where to Buy Dwarf Tangerine Trees

Potted tangerine trees for sale.

Dwarf tangerine trees are widely available, with Nature Hills Nursery as one of our favorite options for online ordering. You can also check your local garden center for close-to-home availability.

Add a Dwarf Tangerine Tree to Your Home

Tangerines on a table.

We hope this post has answered your questions about the dwarf tangerine tree, from growing one in your landscape to the health benefits of tangerines.

To learn about other kinds of oranges, check out Orange Trees page for lots more blog posts.