Mandarin orange (Citrus reticulate) is a distinct species of citrus commonly called tangerine. Easier to peel than oranges, mandarin orange skin separates easily from the fruit. It is one of the cold hardiest of all the citrus varieties. Native to southern Asia and the Philippines, mandarin oranges will grow well in the tropical and subtropical areas of the U.S. Gardeners in cooler climates will need to grow the tree in a container. Smaller than the typical orange tree, mandarin orange trees will do well in small space gardens.
Select a section of landscape that receives full sunlight to plant the mandarin orange tree. As with all citrus trees, mandarin oranges will perform best in sunny, warm conditions.
Grow container mandarin orange trees in a container that is three times larger than the root ball. Fill the container with a well-draining, fertile potting mix. Plant the tree into the new container at the same height it was growing in the original container. Place the container in the sun.
Amend the planting site with compost or cow manure before planting the tree. Work one 20-pound bag of organic material at least 1 foot into the soil. Grow the mandarin orange tree in soil that drains well and resists water retentiion. Mandarin orange trees will not tolerate soggy feet and will die.
Water the tree regularly and deeply for best foliage and blooms. In hot, dry regions, water the mandarin orange tree once or twice a week. Water container grown plants when the soil begins to feel dry. Water until water runs out of the bottom of the container. Mandarin orange trees will tolerate a little drought over soggy conditions.
Fertilize the mandarin orange tree with a high-quality citrus fertilizer. Apply the fertilizer around the entire drip line in early spring, summer and fall. Follow the manufacturer's instructions on dosage. Do not allow the fertilizer to mound up around the tree’s trunk or it can become damaged.
Rid the planting area of weeds or other vegetation at all times. Clear out a 3-foot diameter section around the tree, freeing it of all growth. Do not place mulch around the base of the mandarin orange tree or it can develop root rot and die.
Prune the mandarin orange tree only to remove dead or damaged branches, or branches that are crossing over each other. Wait until spring to trim off any wood damaged by frost. Make the pruning cut just above live growth. Trim dead wood off the tree any time of year, making the cut just above live growth. Mandarin orange trees will produce more fruit and grow better if left in their natural form.
Protect mandarin orange trees from frost by hanging lights on them or covering the tree with a blanket. Bring container-grown trees indoors. Pick mandarin oranges from the tree as soon as possible, if a frost has affected the tree. The fruits will become unusable very quickly