Clementine Tree: develop the sweetest deal with

Do you know the tiny oranges you buy in big bags in the shop? The ones you can peel in a long strip that tastes super sweet? They are called clementines and are not only available in shops. You can grow them at home by having your own clementine tree!

It sounds too good to be true, but clementine trees are great houseplants that are fairly easy to care for. If you've never grown citrus trees, this is a great starter. Clementine trees are more durable and forgiving than their relatives. They also grow almost the sweetest mandarins out there!

In this article we answer all of your questions like "What is a Clementine?" And "How should I grow a tropical fruit in the United States?" In the end, you are ready to plant, cultivate and chew.

This post is sponsored by Fast growing trees, a source of quality for clementine trees and many other species.

Get a clementine tree

Good products for growing clementines:

Brief instructions on care

Clementine treeThe clementine tree is a beautiful hybrid citrus. Source: Golf Bravo

Common Name (s) Clementine, Christmas orange, sweet tangerine
Scientific name Citrus reticulata "Clementine"
Harvest month (s) 4 months
light Full sun
Water: 1x a week, more for young trees
ground Sandy, slightly acidic and fertile
fertilizer Every other month
Pests Fruit flies, miners, soft scales
Diseases Phytophthora, cancer

Over the clementine tree

Clementines are cultivated hybrids that do not grow naturally in nature. They are believed to have their origin in Southeast Asia, where they are still widespread. These trees are well suited for the tropics, subtropics and the Mediterranean.

In the United States, you can grow these tangerines outdoors in growth zones 9-11. If you are not lucky enough to live in such a warm growth zone, you can keep the tree and put it up in summer. Clementines are often grafted, making it easy to find one with the rootstock of a dwarf tree. These grow up to 6 feet high instead of 25.

The tree itself is pretty decorative. It has a round, evergreen canopy made of light green leaves. In spring there are fragrant white flowers that turn into 3-inch baby mandarins. The fruits ripen from November to February and are called Christmas orange. They have a thin, loose shell and are typically seedless. This plant usually has thorns, but that's not a big deal breaker when you add that it is also known for its high pest resistance.

Clementine Vs. Mandarin: what's the difference?

They may look similar, but clementines and tangerines are not the same thing. Taxonomically speaking, mandarins are a type of citrus (Citrus reticulata) and clementines are a hybrid of this type (Citrus reticulata var. Clementine). The origin of this variety has long been debated and current theory says that it is a cross between mandarin and sweet orange. So all clementines are a kind of mandarin, but not all mandarins are clementines.

There are tons of other types of mandarins – mandarins, murcotts and satsumas to name a few. Clementines are the smallest of all and, in our opinion, one of the sweetest. They are characterized by their dark yellow-orange shells and their squat oval shape.

Plant clementines

Fully loaded clementine treeAn adult tree can produce a significant amount of fruit. Source: Dlebech

Plant your clementine tree in spring or autumn, whether by seed or start. If your growth zone allows you to stay outdoors, choose a place with plenty of sun and space. Think of the thorns as you probably don't want them to catch you every time you walk through the garden. Allow yourself plenty of space for easy maneuvering.

Check soil drainage and fertility and add sand and organic matter as needed. It has to drain well and be full of nutrients for the new plant. If you want to grow this tree in a container, choose one that is light enough to move or has wheels.

Planting citrus trees starts pretty easy. Take the start out of the container and dig a hole slightly larger than the root ball. Carefully loosen the roots so that they reach the new soil. Now just put it in the ground, fill the ground and give it some water. You may want to apply a thin layer of mulch on top to keep moisture out, especially if it's in the ground.

The seeds should be cleaned thoroughly before planting to avoid mold. Soak them in warm water overnight to remove any remaining pulp (this also promotes later germination). If you do not want to plant immediately, dry the seeds completely and store them in an airtight container in a cold place. Otherwise, plant them ¼ inch deep in moist potting soil, place the container in the sun, and keep the soil moist. To trap the humidity, cover it with a pierced, clear cover until the seedling shows up and says hello.

Clementine seeds germinate in 2-4 weeks, but it takes 2-3 years for them to grow into mature trees. Do not transplant your seedling until it has strong roots and is actively growing. Over time, you have to repot it every 2-3 years and completely replace the soil to ensure good nutrition.


Fruit on the treeBright orange fruits protrude between the clementine leaves. Source: boyan_d

The maintenance requirements for clementine oranges are roughly the same as for other citrus trees. If you can master this tree, just think about how many other citrus fruits you could grow!

Sun and temperature

In order to grow the best citrus fruits, these trees need full sun. Give it the brightest place you have, especially if it is indoors. If you don't have an interior that's sunny enough, you may need to add a growing light to it. Clementine fruit trees tolerate partial shade if necessary, but usually do not produce either.

This system can withstand cold temperatures of only 20 ° F, but we do not recommend testing this. Frost can interfere with fruiting or can be fatal. Keep your clementine fruit nice and warm at temperatures above 50 ° F. However, in extreme heat waves you should protect it so that it does not get sunburnt.

Irrigation & humidity

The floor must be evenly moist, but definitely not soaked. To achieve this balance, pour when the top inch or two dries up. Depending on the location, you will probably water it weekly. If it is a very young tree, it may need to be watered every 2-3 days in the first year of growth.

To avoid over-watering, keep an eye on soil drainage and don't forget to empty the water bowl for trees from containers.

These are tropical trees that tolerate high humidity. If you grow it indoors, keep the citrus tree away from radiators that can dry it out. Use a humidifier or place the container on a tray filled with stones and some water to create evaporative moisture around the plant.


Outdoor, you need sandy, slightly acidic soil. This plant is flexible with other soils, but these requirements are important for it to really thrive. Determine if your soil is draining well by watering it and watching how it drains. It should drain fairly evenly and quickly without a puddle. If there is room for improvement, mix in some sand or pearlite.

The best way to determine pH is to use a home test kit. As already mentioned, you have to change the soil so that it is slightly acidic or at least balanced. Use a commercially available soil acid that contains sulfur and gypsum to gradually bring the soil to a slightly acidic level. Citrus fruits can also grow in neutral soils, but the fruits are often sweeter if the soil is slightly acidic!

Add a few inches of light mulch in the summer. This traps moisture, so you don't have to water as often. In addition, the soil is supplied with organic matter, which will be very popular with this tree. However, do not place the mulch directly against the trunk. Leave at least a few inches between the mulch and the tree trunk.

When it comes to houseplants, you have the best luck with special citrus floors. You can find them almost everywhere and they already contain everything these fruit trees need. It still needs to be well drained, but loamy soil is preferred for these tub plants.


Feed your clementine tangerine every two months all year round (these trees don't rest). If you prefer to use slow release fertilizer, use it at least at the beginning of spring and autumn. We strongly recommend using a citrus fertilizer as this is tailored to the needs of this tree.


Clementines from containersClementines can be grown both in containers and in the ground. Source: oddharmonic

Even if you are growing a dwarf tree, pruning should not be overlooked. Like a good haircut, trees require regular cuts to stay healthy and in shape. You can prune your clementine tangerine at any time of year, but it is preferable in spring.

First clean your scissors and then evaluate the tree. Find and cut back the following things:

  • Tree branches that block walkways
  • Dead or dying branches
  • Crossing branches in the middle of the canopy
  • Offshoot (also known as suction cups)
  • Long-legged branches

As a rule of thumb, only up to a third of the plant needs to be pruned. Also pay attention to which branches are blooming or bearing fruit so that you don't remove them all.


You may be wondering how to grow a clementine plant from seeds when the fruit is seedless? Farmers around the world are doing this thanks to a botanical phenomenon – the Parthenocarpy. Some plants, including clementines, can produce without fertilization. Since the reproductive process was not started by pollination, seeds rarely develop in the fruits.

This type of mandarin requires cross-fertilization. If the tree is isolated or only surrounded by clones, it cannot be pollinated. This allows it to produce parthenocarpically. If you keep your plant isolated during flowering, seedless fruits will also be produced.

If you come across a clementine with seeds, it means that a brave little bee has managed to pollinate each other. The plant that grows from this seed may differ from the original tree because it contains DNA from another tree. To prevent the clementine variety from being lost after several cross pollinations, these trees are reproduced asexually by grafting.

The most popular grafting method for young citrus trees is budding. In this case, a bud is taken from the shoot – in this case a clementine tree – and grafted onto the rhizome. A variety of rhizomes are compatible with this plant, but they must be citrus. When choosing, think about where you live and what properties the rootstock needs (pest resistance, soil requirements, etc.). If you are unsure, the best thing to do is to ask a local kindergarten or agricultural department what they suggest for your region.

The budding process is easier than grafting the entire sprout. There are different methods, so we will only deal with T-buds, which are also known as thyroid buds. You need the following:

  • A healthy, mature clementine tree
  • A healthy, actively growing rhizome of your choice
  • A sharp, clean knife
  • Graft tape

First select the clementine bud that you want to transplant. Choose one that is large, healthy, and preferably right next to a leaf. Cut the leaf off and leave the petiole so that you have a small grip to hold on to. Use your knife to cut the bud off the branch with an upward movement. Leave about half an inch below and above the bud and make it deep enough to hold bark and a piece of wood.

Now we're moving to the rhizome. It has to grow actively for this to work. Check this by peeling off a piece of bark. If it comes off easily, the tree grows. If not, you have to wait. Choose a healthy, mature spot on the stem and make a vertical cut that is slightly larger than the bud cut. It should be deep enough to cut through the bark, but not the wood underneath. Turn this vertical cut into a T by cutting a horizontal line at the top that's slightly wider than the bud. Gently pull back the corners of the bark and expose a pocket underneath (don't tear open the bark).

Take your bud cut and gently push it into your pocket. Close the bark so that only the bud and petiole protrude. Use grafting tape or the like to wrap the graft. Now you leave the bud alone to heal. If it is firmly attached to the trunk, remove the tape (unless it was biodegradable). Chop off the rhizome just above the bud so that the tree directs its energy into the growth of the bud.

Harvest and store clementines

Clementines Clementines are easy to peel and smooth skin. Source: Paul and Jill

You planted your tree, fertilized it and cared for it like a child. Now the tree is ready to give something back!


Your clementine trees are ready for harvest from early to mid-winter. The tangerines do not ripen after harvesting, so you must get them in time. When the skin is ripe, it turns completely orange with no green left. It will be a little heavy and will give way slightly when pressed. Choose it by hand or with a hair clipper.

These mandarins are not easily overripe and last for months on the tree. However, we recommend picking them before winter to avoid rotting.


A fresh clementine orange will last about a week Pantry. Store it in an open container in a dry, cool place for best results. For a longer life refrigerate Your tangerines in an open plastic bag, a mesh bag or simply in the sharper drawer. With increasing age, the tangerines shrink and lose their taste. Remove any overripe tangerines before they spoil the others.

Mandarins can also be dehydrated for use as delicious, healthy snacks. Place each wedge on a drying bowl and dry it at 125 ° F for 10-12 hours. Store the dried goodies in a vacuum sealed bag.

To properly store clementines in the freezerSeparate your fruits into wedges and place the wedges on a metal pan. Once the wedges are completely frozen, you can take them out of the pan and put them in a freezer bag with a zipper. To thaw them again, place your mandarins in a bowl or container in the refrigerator to gradually thaw them.

It is very common to keep tangerines as juice or jam. Juice should be frozen. Preserves can be preserved as jam or jelly. However, be sure to use tested and food-safe canned recipes.


Another clementine treeThe glossy, dark leaves of the clementine make the fruit very visible. Source: Jared Klett

Fortunately for us gardeners, clementine trees have no serious problems. However, you still need to be vigilant to watch out for symptoms.

Growing problems

Yellowed leaves are a common, yet solvable problem. The usual culprit is a lack of sunlight, which is remedied by moving the tree location. If the leaves only turn yellow in the middle of the canopy, you need to thin them out so the sun can reach each leaf.

If your trees are rarely exposed to cold temperatures, they can do so no fruit. Prevent this by getting them inside in time. If you don't think temperature is the problem, make sure your fruit trees have enough sunlight.

In the case of indoor trees, under or over-watering can lead to this Leaf drops. Check that the floor drains well and pour more carefully. It can be helpful to create an irrigation schedule to keep you up to date.


Fruit flies are the pests you are most likely to encounter. These annoying beetles not only laze around in the kitchen, but also lay their eggs on fruit – on or next to the tree. The best way to prevent this is to keep the tree clean, remove dead material or fallen fruit, and harvest in time. Horticultural oil can keep some species at bay. If you put a yellow sticky trap in the tree, you can easily tell if you have an outbreak.

A pretty interesting insect that Citrus leaf miner Mines literally tunnel through young leaves. The winding tracks are visible from the outside of the sheet and eventually lead to a curl. This is very harmful to young trees, but has no effect on the yield of mature trees. However, the damage can lead to bacteria and infections. If only a few leaves are affected, remove them from the tree and burn them. Large populations can be prevented by regularly spraying new growth with neem oil.

Soft scale feeds on plant sap and can cause significant damage over time. They leave honeydew, a sticky substance that invites sooty mold and ants. These pests also cause wilting and leaf drops. To get rid of them, apply horticultural oil, neem oil, or insecticidal soap to the trees. Like most pests, populations are much easier to control if caught early.


Citrus gum, also known as Phytophthora, is a disease that attacks the bark. The sap seeps from the trees, the bark falls off and the leaves lose their color. You will also see nasty looking lesions on the tree. This disease is promoted by damp, cool environments. Prevent this by using only well-drained soil and not over-watering it. To treat it, remove infected bark and add copper fungicide to the rest.

If you see clusters of brown, raised lesions on the leaves, branches, and the clementine tangerine, you are most likely doing it Citrus cancer. When the lesions first appear, the skin around them turns yellow. Over time it turns brown and collapses. Prevent cancer by keeping the trees clean and dry. Use a copper fungicide to remove existing lesions.

frequently asked Questions

Q: Can you grow a clementine tree indoors?

A: Yes! As long as you have a sunny window, these trees are great as house plants. You can even find dwarf varieties that are good for growing indoors.

Q: How long does a clementine tree take to produce fruit?

A: They usually start producing at 2-3 years old.

Q: Are mandarins growing in the United States?

A: Yes, a variety of mandarins are grown in the southern growing areas.

The green thumbs behind this article:
Rachel Garcia
Juicy fanatic
Lorin Nielsen
Lifetime gardener

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