Mandarin orange trees are popular backyard specimens for good reason. Their manageable size of around 15 feet tall and easy maintenance requirements make them perfect for small areas. The attractive Citrus reticulata boasts glossy dark green foliage year round. Fragrant white blossoms from early summer to early fall produce tasty, bright orange fruit. Hardy only in USDA zones 9-11, this attractive native of the subtropics won't tolerate freezing and requires full sun every day.
Choose a well-draining location in full sun. Mandarins love loamy soils with a pH range of about 5.5 to 6.5. Dig a hole about 1½ times as wide and slightly deeper than the plant's rootball.
Set the mandarin tree in the hole and backfill it about halfway. Add about 2 inches of water and allow it to soak into the soil. Firm the remaining backfill into place, positioning the mandarin so that the rootball is covered with about an inch of soil.
Construct a watering ring around the mandarin with soil from another part of your garden. It should have a diameter of about 2 feet and be several inches thick and tall. Fill the dam with water and allow it to seep into the soil completely. Add soil to any little holes that may form as the soil settles.
Give the newly planted mandarin tree a full ring of water every few days for two weeks. Water once every seven to 10 days thereafter for about two months. By then the watering ring will have completely dissipated, and your mandarin orange tree will be well established. Continue watering only about once every couple of weeks throughout the season.
Remove sod or lawn grass from around the tree to a point about a foot beyond the canopy line. As the tree grows, extend the cleared area. Keep the mandarin well weeded. Mulch is not recommended, because it promotes incurable root rot in these plants.
Feed your mandarin orange tree citrus fertilizer following the first flush of new growth. Please follow the packaging instructions carefully.
Prune only damaged or dead limbs as they occur. Mandarins form and maintain an attractive growth habit and shape on their own with no need for pruning.