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How to Plant Satsuma Trees

The satsuma mandarin tree (Citrus reticulate) is a lovely small tangerine tree that reaches 15 to 20 feet in height. It produces fragrant white flowers in March and April and the fruit ripens from late October into December. The fruit is very sweet with a thin skin that peels easily. The most well known cultivar is "Clementine."

Choose a sunny location for this tree. It will tolerate partial shade but will produce less fruit. Satsumas prefer a slightly acidic, sandy loam soil that is well drained. They will tolerate dry conditions but fruit production will suffer. Some cultivars will tolerate temperatures as low as 15 degrees but most need temperatures above 25 degrees. At below 25 degrees they will need protection.

Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball and as deep as the container. Mix some organic material (peat moss, leaf mold, manure or compost) into the soil that has been removed. The ratio should be 1/3 organic matter to 2/3 soil.

Remove the plant from its container. If the roots are a dense mass, score the root ball deeply in three places with the pruning saw. This will help prevent girdling. Prune any visibly damaged roots.

Fill in around roots with the mix. When you have filled in the hole half way, fill the planting hole with water. As it drains it will settle the planting mix around the roots. Continue filling in the hole and water again.

Water every day for the first two weeks, then weekly for the first year, as needed, while the tree is actively growing. Satsumas should receive one inch of water per week.


In areas where the winter temperatures occasionally reach the mid-20s, Satsumas can be grown as container plants and moved to an unheated garage for protection on cold nights.

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