The clementine, a citrus cultivar of the mandarin orange, loves hot weather. Although it’s winter hardy in North American zones 8 to 11, the plants thrive best in temperatures around 85 degrees F throughout the growing season. Cooler nighttime temperatures around 68 degrees F are required for clementines to bloom, but temperatures much below freezing will kill them. Drought-tolerant and undemanding, highly disease- and pest-resistant, these attractive fast-growing trees reach a height of only about 6 to 8 feet.
Plant your clementine tree in early spring in a sandy, well-draining location where it will receive full sun all day. While clementines love high levels of humidity, they don’t like wet feet. A bright spot with southern or southeastern exposure is ideal and will provide some winter protection for the plant.
Water regularly when rain is scarce, but allow the surface of the soil to dry out in between waterings throughout the growing season. Water sparingly during the winter, allowing the soil to dry out thoroughly before lightly watering again.
Feed your clementine monthly with a dilute liquid citrus fertilizer, beginning in mid-summer and ending mid-fall. When it comes to fertilizing, not enough is preferable to too much.
Trim the tips of the clementine’s limbs just enough to form it into a pleasing shape throughout the growing season. This will also encourage fuller foliage.
Harvest clementines from about November through June. These fragile fruits should be picked immediately as they ripen, because they don’t store more than several days following maturation on the tree. It’s best to clip the stem rather than trying to pull the fruit, to avoid damaging it.
- Purchase a young, quality clementine tree from a reputable supplier. If clementines aren't carried by garden retailers in your area, you can find them through mail order and online sources.
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