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The Ponkan Tangerine Tree

The Ponkan Tangerine tree bears a beautiful, delicious fruit that is sweet and juicy. The fruit is believed to have originated in India, but currently, it can be found all over the world.

Keep reading to learn about the best ways to grow this tree and to enjoy the fruit you’ll get to pick from it.

Closep of fruit from a ponkan tangerine tree.

Ponkan Tangerine Tree Characteristics

The Ponkan Tangerine tree is a good choice for those with smaller gardens. On average, the tree only grows up to eight feet tall. There are some variations of this citrus tree that can get as tall as twenty feet, but those are rarities.

That the Ponkan Tangerine tree can fight for sunlight while being short speaks to its hardy seeds and makeup. The tree does grow outward, reaching a width of up to fifteen feet, so it does make its presence known.

Ponkan tangerines on a tree.

The leaves of the Ponkan Tangerine tree have a dark green color and a glossy coat. They are luscious, oval-shaped leaves that come to a point. The tree bark is typically a dark brown, a shade darker than typical citrus trees.

As for the fruit itself, it’s flat at the top and bottom, but round in the middle. It’s a vibrant orange color all the way through, while ripening fruit has a green shade. At the top, it has a short neck that sticks out from when it was attached to the tree.

The fruit grows in clusters on the branches. A ripe tangerine is packed with juice and of medium size, about the size of an orange. The peel is easy to separate from the flesh; there are about a handful of seeds in the flesh. They can be spat out or picked out before eating.

Eating Ponkan Tangerines

The Ponkan Tangerine tree bears fruit that is incredibly sweet. This is a change-up from most tangerine crops, which are known for being tart and even sour.

You can eat the fruit directly from the tree. Make sure you have a napkin or handkerchief with you because it is especially juicy. The juice can be used to make savory marinades for chicken on the grill.

You can also create fun salad dressing using the juice, which can liven up any bowl of lettuce.

A spinach salad with tangerine.

If you’re in the mood for something sweet, this orange marmalade cake was made famous in the Mitford book series!

Growing Ponkan Tangerine Trees


The Ponkan Tangerine tree does best in climates that are warm year-round. USDA zones 8-10 are optimal environments.

That being said, this variety of citrus tree is known for being especially cold hardy. It can survive temperatures below freezing, down to eighteen degrees Fahrenheit.

Ponkan tangerines on a tree.

Ideally, you want to plant the tree in an environment where it’s warm throughout the year. Just because a Ponkan Tangerine tree is cold hardy doesn’t mean its hardiness should be constantly tested. If you live in USDA zone 6 or 7, areas where you get a handful of freezing days over the winter, then your tree should be fine. For those who live far up north where freezing temperatures are common, it may be more of a challenge to get your tree to survive and bear edible fruit.

Citrus trees have a very hard time surviving freezes, so planting in a climate that stays temperate gives it the best chance of thriving.

If you do live in a colder climate, you can grow the tree indoors and then transfer to the garden once the weather warms up.

Plant trees about ten feet apart and position them in your garden so they get lots of sunlight.

When planting, use sandy soil, which can help with draining. You don’t want the roots to drown. Once the tree is grown, water weekly for the first three months to ensure proper drainage. At that point, you can branch into using citrus fertilizer to ensure it’s getting all proper nutrients.


Closeup of a single ponkan tangerine on a tree.

Like most citrus trees, the Ponkan Tangerine tree can be harvested in the winter. It ripens earlier than most of its ilk because it has a shorter growing cycle.

The best time to harvest fruit from the Ponkan Tangerine Tree is between November and January. When you go out to your garden to check on the fruit, make sure you wait until the rind is a bright orange color before picking. Picking fruit too soon stops the ripening process in its tracks.

To improve your yield, prune away dead leaves and branches during the fallow season, typically March through July. Leaves that die are usually infected with a disease or mold. Pruning them off will protect your Ponkan Tangerine tree from further infection. Branches that’ve fallen can infect the base and seep into the roots if left there.

In the summer, your Ponkan Tangerine Tree will produce white blooms before it begins to bear fruit.

Three ponkan tangerines.

When you harvest, be careful not to damage the fruit as you pick. The rind is easily peelable, and cutting it off by accident could ruin perfectly good fruit.

Where to Buy a Ponkan Tangerine to Grow

You have two options when you decide to start growing a Ponkan Tangerine Tree: you can either grow from seed or buy a sapling.

A young tangerine tree.

Growing any citrus from seed is a challenge and is best for more experienced gardeners who live in warm climates. You can purchase seeds for growing from your local nursery or online. There are several farms online that sell seeds, and they can provide additional information on their particular variant, which will give you a leg up on growing.

You can skip the seed part and buy a sapling to put directly in your garden or in a container indoors. This is the easier route. Nurseries in person or online sell Ponkan Tangerine trees. This will be the more expensive option, especially when you factor in shipping. But you will also have a higher chance of success.

You can even find Ponkan tangerine trees sold on Amazon!

Grow to Love the Ponkan Tangerine Tree

Ponkan tangerines.

If you’re looking for a citrus tree that bears scrumptious fruit, the Ponkan Tangerine tree is an excellent option. It’s a great citrus for colder climates and smaller gardens, so maybe it’s perfect for you.

To learn more about planting and growing oranges, check out the Orange Trees page on our website. You’ll find lots of blog posts about different orange varieties, plus all sorts of helpful growing and care guides.