A satsuma orange is a small citrus fruit, related to--and sweeter than--the orange. The fruit is native to Japan. The fruit looks very much like a clementine, but the skin of the satsuma is slightly tighter than that of the clementine. The satsuma is also known by the names satsuma mandarin (preferred by citrus growers) and satsuma tangerine. Texas horticulturists Steve George and Jerry Parsons recommend growing satsumas in containers, because of the ease in which they can be moved during rare Texas freezes.
True soil (potting soil and topsoil) is not recommended for satsuma trees. Instead, George's article recommends a potting mix with peat moss mixed in. Sand is not recommended, as the peat moss provides enough drainage.
Most satsuma trees are packaged and shipped in 3- or 5-gallon containers. Repotting the tree as soon as possible is recommended. Containers approximately 20 gallons in size are ideal. Possible containers include large bucket-style plastic totes, large plastic bins, small trash cans or whiskey barrel planters.
Satsumas are the most cold-tolerant citrus crop, according to according George. The trees withstand frosts and are considered to tolerate temperatures of down to 15 degrees F for two to three hours. Like all citrus, satsuma prefers full sunlight exposure, with at least eight hours of sun per day. During the winter months, container-grown trees survive freezing weather in the garage or other enclosed area.
Satsuma orange trees grow and produce best when a extended-release fertilizer is used. The fertilizer is mixed into the potting mix, and provides nourishment to the tree throughout its growing seasons. The extended-release fertilizer should be reapplied every March.
Satsuma trees are extremely drought-tolerant, and grow best when they aren't watered too often. These citrus trees require water only when the top inch or two of soil is dry to the touch. During fall and winter, when rainfall is more plentiful, satsumas need little or no supplemental water. During scorching summer days when temperatures reach the 90s or 100s, satsumas need water only every three or four days. George warns, "For every satsuma that dies from drought, you'll kill 200 from overwatering."