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The Sunburst Tangerine Tree

Easy to peel, bursting with flavor, and loaded with Vitamin C, the Sunburst Tangerine is the perfect snack for adults and kids. Sure, you can buy them at your local grocery store or produce stand.

Better yet, why not plant your own Sunburst Tangerine tree?

Intimidated? You don’t need to be! Read on to find out how to grow these juicy gems yourself.

History of the Sunburst Tangerine

The Sunburst Tangerine tree, Citrus reticulata, was developed in 1961 by crossing the Robinson Tangerine and Osceola Tangelo. Since being released for commercial sale in 1979, the Sunburst Tangerine has become a favorite in both commercial and home orchards.

In Asian countries, tangerines represent wealth, prosperity, and happiness. They are often given as gifts and placed in windows of homes and businesses to welcome a fresh start to the New Year.


Like most orange trees, the sunburst tangerine is an attractive feature for indoor and outdoor gardens.

It sports dark green foliage, puts on a display of fragrant white blooms in the spring, and bears 2-3″ slightly-flattened round fruit with a deep orange rind in November and December.

Enjoying the Sunburst Tangerine

The fact that they’re easy to peel makes tangerines a popular fruit for citrus lovers of all ages. The Sunburst is no exception!

Great for Snacking

Don’t be fooled by the relatively small size of the Sunburst Tangerine. One tangerine is packed with almost half a daily serving of Vitamin C, and 10% of your daily intake of Vitamin A.

Its sweet taste, small shape, and easy-to-peel skin make the Sunburst Tangerine a great snack for kids, or to throw in your bag when you’re on the go.


Tangerines add a nice burst of flavor to any salad. Try them in this Tangerine Tossed Salad or Holiday Ambrosia.

You can also make a tangerine marmalade and enjoy your harvest all year long.

How to Grow a Sunburst Tangerine Tree

While a sunburst tangerine tree prefers Zones 8b-11, it can be grown in a pot in a sunny location indoors. Whether indoors or out, your Sunburst Tangerine will need plenty of sunshine, well-drained soil, and a good-quality fertilizer like the one we found at Nature Hills Nursery.

Location, Location, Location

Before planting your sunburst tangerine tree, you’ll need to pick the perfect spot. Tangerines are tropical plants, so be sure you choose an area that receives 6-8 hours of sunlight a day.

Your Sunburst Tangerine tree can grow 10′-15′ tall and just as wide. You’ll want to make sure there is plenty of room around your tree so it can grow and thrive.

Now that you have picked the prime location, it’s time to call 811. They’ll send a representative out to make sure you are planting your tree in a safe location.

Finally, it’s time to dig the hole! Measure the container your Sunburst Tangerine tree came in and dig the hole twice as wide, but no deeper than your container. Be sure to gently spread the roots just a bit to give them a head start on growing outside the pot.

Place your Sunburst Tangerine tree in the center of the hole, and backfill it with loose soil. Tamp the soil down lightly to remove any air pockets.

Mandarin oranges on a tree in sunlight.

Use extra soil to create a ring around your tree that will help funnel water and fertilizer to the roots. Be sure to give your tree a good drink, and keep it moist for several weeks until it is well established.

Your newly planted tree will need some support until its roots spread out and the tree is anchored. Three stakes, some heavy-duty string, and an old piece of garden hose will help with this.

Drive the stakes into the ground in a triangle shape about 18″ from the base of the tree. Wrap the string from the stake, around the tree, and back, keeping equal tension. To help protect your tree, place an old piece of garden hose around the string where it touches the tree.

Want an even easier way to help get your Sunburst Tangerine tree established? Order this tree starter kit.

Now sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor. But, what if you live in Zones 4-7? No worries, keep reading.

Container Planting

If you live in an area where the temperature is above 40 degrees for at least part of the year, simply plant your tree in a container.

Just like planting a tree outdoors, you’ll need to find a spot in your home that receives sunlight for 6-8 hours a day.

The container should be a couple of inches larger around than the one your tree came in. Make sure it has a drainage hole, and wheels will make it easier to move your tree around. Lastly, you need good potting soil.

Now that you have your location and all your supplies gathered, it’s time to replant your Sunburst Tangerine.

A potted tangerine tree.

Remove the tree from its current container, brush off any excess soil, and gently spread the roots. Place your tree in its new home and add potting soil to the brim, gently tamping down as you go to ensure there are no air pockets. Finally, make a well in the soil around your tree and give it a good drink of water.

Sunburst Tangerines are self-pollinating. However, for indoor containers, you’ll need to manually pollinate your tree. Don’t panic, there’s a link below with all the information you need to do this.

When it’s warm enough outside, simply move your Sunburst Tangerine outside to soak up some sun and nutrients.

When to Expect Fruit

It can take anywhere from 2-4 years for your Sunburst Tangerine to start producing fruit, so you’ll have to be patient.

But once it produces fruit, it produces! You’ll give away so many that your neighbors will lock their car doors and your kids will beg for broccoli to snack on — anything but another tangerine!

Luckily we have blog posts about Making Orange Juice (with bonus ideas for what to do with the rinds) and Dehydrating Oranges to give you ideas for using your harvest.

Where to Buy a Sunburst Tangerine Tree

Mandarin tree

Sunburst Tangerines might not be the most common citrus tree to find, but they’re by no means impossible to find either!

You can check around at your local nursery, or make it easy on yourself by purchasing a Sunburst Tangerine tree on Amazon and having it delivered right to your doorstep.

Get Your Hands on a Sunburst Tangerine!

Woma holding peeled mandarin orange.

Now that you know more about how to grow a Sunburst Tangerine Tree, its fruit, and even how to preserve your harvest, check out our page on Orange Trees for more information on our favorite vitamin C-packed fruits.