Tangerines were first grown in Florida before it started spreading via the Mediterranean trade routes. It was named tangerine as it is imported through the Tangier City in Morocco. Tangerines are a type of mandarin orange tree. They are evergreens that usually grow about 10 to 15 feet in height. Some old trees manage to reach 25 feet.
Unlike other orange varieties, tangerines have loose skin bubbles around the fruit instead of tightly clinging on it. It is easier to peel than most citrus fruits. They have a less sour but sweeter and more pungent flavor than normal oranges.
Like oranges, tangerines have a juicy, flavored pulp that is rich in Vitamin C. One tangerine can provide 34% of daily Vitamin C needs. The alkaline properties of most citrus fruits, tangerine included, also encourage detoxification. Additionally, tangerines also promote a healthy heart. They have flavonoids and antioxidant compounds that help speed up blood circulation and keep arteries clean and unclogged.
Growing a Tangerine Tree
Tangerine trees thrive in tropical or subtropical regions. If you are not from those places, you can still grow a tangerine in a pot. Even if they can withstand colder temperatures better than other citrus trees, they won’t survive a frost. If temperatures drop to near zero degrees celsius, they will become damaged and die.
Not everyone can grow tangerines from seed. Saplings of tangerines need full and well-draining soil. Some places with lesser direct daylight may not support its maximum growth. In this case, it is preferred to purchase tangerine trees from nurseries. That way, the plant is already grafted onto a rootstock with at least a year of growth.
However, if you live in a place with a temperate climate and the soil is mostly clay or sand, then growing the tree will be easy. You can grow it from seed or buy a grafted one. To start planting, fill a small pot with a potting mixture that contains compost, peat, moss, and perlite. Tangerines love a neutral soil pH level. Most of the potting soils are already pH neutral. Don’t forget to check for the drainage holes, too.
Planting from Seeds
Wet the soil until it is slightly moist and plant two to three seeds in the plant. Cover the seeds with about half an inch of potting soil. Slide the pot into a plastic bag to keep the mixture warm and moist. This technique promotes successful germination. Keep the pot in warm places, preferably indoors. Don’t worry, since sunlight is not needed at this stage.
Continually check that the soil is moist. Never allow the pot to become dry. Expect that the seedlings will develop in about three weeks.
Remove the plastic when the seedlings finally emerge. Move the pot in places with indirect sunlight and a temperature of about 21 degrees celsius. When the seedlings grow a pair of real leaves, repot them to one pot size higher.
Replanting from Nurseries
Thoroughly wash off the soil from the nursery. Otherwise, the young tree will have trouble adapting to your new soil. Place your tangerine into the pot with at least 10 centimeters of free soil around the root ball. Young tangerines need plenty of water. Water the plant once or twice a week or when you notice that the soil is dry. Look for a good fertilizer as potted tangerines need to be fed with it at least twice a year.
When cold weather is coming, it is time to move your tree indoors. From the sunny place, move the plant into a partially shaded area. This helps the plant adjust to lower light levels in your home. The same is true after the frost ended. Help your plant acclimate by keeping it in a sheltered place before re-exposing it to direct sunlight.
Unlike other fruit-bearing plants, tangerines do not need a lot of pruning. Prune only when you need to remove dead or damaged branches. Under best conditions, a tangerine tree will bear fruit in its third or fourth year. However, remove any fruit that appears before the third year of growth. This is to allow the tree to concentrate its energy on developing strong root and trunk systems.
The peak season for tangerines is between December and January. To make your tangerine fruit last longer, store them in a cool, dry place or keep inside the refrigeration.