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The Guide to Tangerine Tree Care

If you’re a citrus fanatic and you love growing your own, tangerines are a fun fruit to have in your garden.

Healthy tangerines on a tree. Tangerine tree care guarantees delicious tangerines you can enjoy.

While it isn’t only for expert growers, to get the healthiest trees and most delicious tangerines there are several things to keep in mind. Knowing how to care for tangerine trees means the difference between enjoying delicious fruit and not!

Read on to learn all about tangerine tree care to reap the rewards of growing your own tangerines.

Benefits of Tangerine Tree Care

For anyone living in warmer climates, tangerines will thrive with little effort outside.

They can also be grown indoors if it gets too cold in your area, and unlike other indoor fruit trees, they can even produce fruit! There are also dwarf varieties that do well indoors and are easier to accommodate in terms of size.

Tangerine tree care is relatively easy. Starting with a tree from a nursery that’s already established will get you off to a great start, since they take about 2 to 3 years of growing to bear tangerines.

Tangerine trees

Tangerine trees typically fruit in October and November, and you’ll see beautiful and fragrant blossoms just before that.

Use your fresh tangerines to make delicious juice, infinite recipes, or to give as gifts. Everyone loves local, home-grown produce!

Basics of Tangerine Tree Care

The best thing about tangerine tree care is that it won’t be a full-time job.

Fully mature trees are usually between 10 and 15 feet tall but can grow larger on occasion, so keep that in mind as you choose a spot for your tree.

You only need to follow simple guidelines to grow tangerines and keep your trees healthy.

Sun Requirements

Tangerine trees prefer sunlight, especially in the morning. Afternoon shade is okay; they can grow in partial shade, but more sunlight will result in better growth and more fruit.

A potted tangerine tree.
A potted tangerine tree.

Watering Your Tangerine Tree

Be careful not to over or underwater tangerine trees.

Water about every two weeks in regular soil to avoid root rot and soggy soil. If you have sandier soil with better drainage, water more often and adjust as needed.

Soil and Fertilizer

The best fertilizer to give your tangerine tree the nutrients it needs is an ammonium sulfate fertilizer like the one we found on Amazon.

Scatter ammonium sulfate crystals on the ground near the tree before watering for thorough fertilization.

Determine how much fertilizer to use based on the tree’s age. For every year the tree has been alive, you’ll use one cup of ammonium sulfate split into 3-4 applications throughout the year. So for example, if your tree is 4 years old, you would use a total of 4 cups for that year.

Adding compost in the spring is also a good idea.

Opt for soil that drains well, and skip the mulch. Mulch will maintain moisture levels in the soil, which can lead to problems.

Winter Tangerine Tree Care

Caring for tangerine trees in the winter is a breeze.

This is the only time you should need to prune your tree. If you notice any cold-weather-related damage to the branches, you can remove them so the tree is only using resources on healthy branches.

If you’re expecting any frost, protect and insulate the tree by covering it with a cloth of some kind.

Indoor Tangerine Tree Care

Growing tangerine trees inside is a great way to enjoy the benefits even if you experience harsh winters.

Consider a dwarf variety if you plan to keep it inside year-round, as they won’t get as tall and are more manageable. Either way, keep the eventual height of the tree in mind to make sure you have adequate space for the life of the tree.

Make sure you have a large pot with holes in the bottom for drainage so the roots have plenty of room. Growing tangerine trees inside will still require fertilizer.

Tangerine tree care still requires sun indoors, so choose a spot near a window for as much morning sunlight as possible.

An indoor mandarin or tangerine tree.

Monitor soil moisture carefully, and only water again once the top inch or so is dry. Add water gradually until it begins to drain from the bottom of the pot. Your tree will need less watering through the winter.

Growing tangerine trees inside will also likely require some pruning right around February when they aren’t fruiting. If you notice sections of the tree aren’t getting enough sun, trim one-third of the supper branches back to allow airflow and light to reach further into the tree. If you can, move it to a sunnier spot.

You also have the option of moving your potted tangerine tree outside when the weather is warm enough. Just be sure to properly acclimate it to different conditions. Increase sun exposure in increments before bringing it outside, and move it to a shadier spot before bringing it back in.

If you’ve decided to let your tree enjoy the fresh air, just keep an eye on the weather and get it back inside before a hard freeze.

Tangerine trees will likely need to be repotted with fresh soil every 3 or 4 years.

Tangerine Tree Care Problems

Mandarins growing on a tree.

Too Much or Too Little Fertilizer

A spindly tree may be over-fertilized, whereas a tree that needs more nutrients will have pale green leaves.

Not Enough Sun

If your tree isn’t very bushy and isn’t growing as much fruit as it should, it probably needs more sun.

Tangerine trees can tolerate partial shade, but a sunny spot is preferable.

Improper Watering

Yellow leaves can be a sign of either too much or too little water.

Soggy and consistently wet soil around the roots is a sign that you need to dial it back a bit.

Pests and Diseases

A citrus leaf showing signs of citrus leaf miner damage.
Citrus leaf miner damage.

Your tree may be struggling with an infestation or illness if you notice:

  • Yellowing or browning leaves
  • Spots on the tree, leaves, and fruit
  • Failure to thrive, unusual substances on the tree
  • Damage to leaves, bark, or fruit
  • Bugs or webbing
  • Roots rotting

Inspect further to determine what you’re dealing with and how to approach treating it.

Avoid these challenges by checking your tree often and acting quickly. The best prevention is a healthy tree that can resist pest and disease damage on its own.

A Fun and Easy Tree to Care For

These trees are appealing to grow because tangerine tree care isn’t overly complicated.

Closeup of tangerines on a tree.

Whether you live in a warm area or not, tangerine trees are fun to grow and rewarding when you finally get to pick fresh tangerines. Growing a tangerine tree inside is great, too, since it means enjoying homegrown tangerines even if you don’t live in the warmest parts of the country.

If you like tangerine trees, check out our Orange Trees page for more citrus blog posts and guides!