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The Mandarin Tree and Mandarin Oranges

The mandarin tree is a popular citrus tree that produces small fruits similar to typical oranges that have a sweet taste. Enjoy watching beautiful flowers and fruit grow from these trees to eat as a snack or include in a meal.

Mandarin Orange Tree
Orange Mandarin Lime

This popular orange tree has been around for thousands of years and is grown all over the world. To keep your tree happy and to enjoy fruit year after year, you will want to care for your tree properly. Keep reading for more excellent information about the mandarin orange tree and how to care for the tree and its fruit.

History of the Mandarin Orange Tree

Mandarin oranges most likely come from wild oranges that were prevalent in India as far back as 3,000 years ago. From there, the trees and oranges have found their way all over the world. The mandarin orange tree first arrived in the United States around the early 1800s. 

Mandarins spent a great deal of time in China from India before spreading elsewhere. The fruit gets its name from the language spoken in China. Chinese officials during the 1800s wore orange as well, so the name stuck with the fruit and its tree when sent to other countries. 

Mandarin Orange Tree Characteristics


There are specific characteristics of the mandarin tree that make it stand out from other orange trees. The trees come in a miniature and regular size and produce small oranges yearly with the right care.  

Mandarin trees usually have thorns on the trunk and branches. Small leaves are a brilliant green that gleams when they are healthy.

The fruit is smaller than the typical orange and ranges in color from orange to a reddish-orange hue. These fruits are known for how simple they are to peel and eat for people of all ages to enjoy.

Planting Zones

The mandarin orange tree can grow in USDA zones 9 – 11. The tree favors and thrives in milder climates, which makes it a popular fruit tree to grow in the south and southwest.

Make sure to check out How To Grow The Mandarin Orange Tree to learn more about growing fruit trees in general.

Size and Spacing

Mandarin orange trees can grow as tall as 25 feet. They can be grown in the ground or in a pot. If you choose to grow a small tree in a pot, make sure the container is larger than the tree to allow the plant plenty of room to grow in.

Orange trees typically need about 6 feet of space in between to grow. If you plan on growing more than one mandarin tree, give them plenty of space to grow and spread their roots. These trees love the sun, so make sure you plant them in an area where they get at least 6 hours of sun.


Mandarin trees are self-pollinating, so you don’t need more than one tree to produce the fruit every year. This makes these orange trees ideal for those who don’t have space for many trees in their yard or those who can only have space for container plants on a patio or porch.

Since mandarins depend on bees to transfer their pollen for pollination, you may want to have other plants near your tree that attract bees. These can be other fruit and citrus trees and flowers. Once bees start appearing, you can move your other plants or keep them there to attract bees the following year.

Tree Care

Mandarin orange trees need specific care to grow and produce fruit year after year. This includes plenty of sunlight, the right amount of water, some pruning, and knowing the signs of diseases for prevention. More details about each can be read below.


Mandarin orange trees prefer full sun, so make sure to plant yours in a place in your garden that gets at least 6 hours of sun daily. Too much sun will cause sunburn on the younger parts of the tree, but they can overcome this easily. Cover your tree or trees with a cloth to prevent sunburn.


You only need to water your mandarin tree once a week or twice a week. Water your tree in the morning before it gets too hot outside. You will want to water your mandarin tree more once it starts growing fruit.

If your tree is growing in a pot, water deeply each time. Plants in containers typically dry out more, so you may need to water your tree more often if it grows in a pot.


Mandarin trees require only a little pruning. A good time of year to prune your mandarin tree is in late winter/early spring before flowers start blooming.

Prune the tree to get rid of branches with diseases or branches that are dead to keep your mandarin orange tree healthy. You will also want to cut away branches that cross each other to keep your tree looking tidy and allow the branches plenty of space to grow and bloom.

Old and diseased or damaged oranges should also be removed to keep the tree healthy. Pruning the fruit and branches will help save the tree’s energy for flowering and growth.

Make sure to read Pruning The Mandarin Orange Tree to read more about pruning your tree properly.

Diseases & Care

Mandarin orange trees are susceptible to some diseases you will want to be aware of. These include blast, black root rot, mushroom root rot, citrus canker, yellow dragon disease, brown rot, and tristeza disease.

You also want to fertilize your mandarin tree so that it continues to grow oranges for you and your family to enjoy. Use a citrus blend fertilizer since it will have the right ratio of nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium to ensure a healthy tree.

Don’t forget to read more details on Mandarin Orange Tree Diseases and Care.

Common Uses For The Mandarin

There are many common uses for mandarin oranges. Read more about those uses below.

What Does a Mandarin Orange Taste Like?

Mandarin oranges are very sweet and juicy to eat. They are easy to peel, making them a popular treat and snack. Mandarins can also be cooked or eaten raw.


These sweet oranges make a popular side or recipe for dishes, such as with orange chicken or made into scones as a dessert. You can also add these oranges to a salad or ice cream. Use your imagination!

Eating Mandarin Orange Raw

These oranges will stay fresh at room temperature for about a week, or in the refrigerator for two weeks.

Canning / Freezing / Drying Mandarin Oranges

Mandarin oranges can be frozen to be used in smoothies, salads, or other recipes. They can also be canned to be eaten at other times throughout the year.

Mandarins that are dehydrated can be used in desserts, teas, mixed drinks, and as decorations during the holidays. For mandarin orange recipe ideas, please visit our recipe page on Minneopa Orchards.

Health Benefits of Mandarin Oranges  

There are many health benefits of the mandarin orange. Health benefits include a good source of vitamin C and vitamin A to keep you and your family healthy and strong. These vitamins will also help prevent various diseases and illnesses.

For more health benefits of the fruit, check out The Health Benefits of Mandarin Oranges

Where To Buy Mandarin Tree?

Mandarin orange trees can be found at local garden nurseries, home improvement stores, or online. Nature Hills Nursery is a great online store that sells a few varieties of these orange trees, like the Tango Mandarin and Page Mandarin trees. 

Where To Buy The Fruit

Mandarin oranges can be found at your local grocery store throughout the year. Since these oranges are a smaller variety, they are usually found in a bag grouped with others. Buy a bag to use as a healthy snack for you and your family.

Frequently Addressed Questions

Why does the fruit fall off the tree?

An orange that has fallen to the ground is a sign that the fruit is ripe and ready to be picked and eaten. This is also a sign that your tree is healthy and getting rid of fruit is one way to stay healthy.

What is the importance of the Chinese New Year and mandarins?

Mandarins are displayed during the Chinese New Year since they represent good fortune and abundance. They are used as gifts to family and friends and part of the decorations for the New Year celebration.

What holidays use mandarin oranges?

While mandarin oranges are a symbol of China and their New Year, they are also used as gifts and decorations during Christmas.

How long does a mandarin tree grow?

It takes several years to grow a mandarin tree. Most trees that are bought at nurseries are around 1 – 4 years old. A large number of oranges will not grow until the tree is about five years old.

Which country grows the most mandarin oranges?

China is the leading producer of mandarin trees and their fruit. This should come as no surprise since the term mandarin comes from China.

As of 2019, China produced 19.7 million tons of mandarins. Turkey, Morocco, Spain, and Egypt are also large producers of mandarin oranges.

Wrapping up The Mandarin Orange Tree

In conclusion, the mandarin orange tree will make a great addition to your garden, orchard, and kitchen. The tree will produce many oranges for you and your family for years with the right care. Purchase one to enjoy the many benefits of the mandarin orange tree.

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

Gemma Kabitzke

Sunday 15th of May 2022

My mandarin tree has an abundance of fruit, however quite small. Would pinching out mandarins after blooming, produce larger fruit?


Tuesday 17th of May 2022

Yes, this technique works across almost all fruit trees to increase size & quality of remaining fruit.