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Varieties include Japanese Seedless, Imperial and Emperor


Mandarin trees (Citrus reticulata) are relatively easy to grow. It is most important not to over-water them and to plant them in soil with excellent drainage; they are subject to root rot and fungicides that will kill them if they are too moist. Mandarin fruits are easy to peel, very sweet and have few or no seeds depending on the variety. 


Plant the mandarin tree in sandy loam with good drainage or turn over and amend the soil in about a 5-foot square. Dig a hole about twice the size of the root ball and the same depth that the tree is in the pot; leave about 1 inch of the root ball above ground level. Shovel soil around the root ball and press it down firmly to release air pockets. Spread garden soil in a ring about 1 foot from the tree trunk and about 6 inches high. Place bark mulch on top of the watering ring and press it down lightly into the soil.


Water the mandarin tree with a garden hose to fill the watering ring. Water a new transplant about twice a week; as the tree is established in a year, move the watering ring outward under the drip line of the tree and water it every week or 10 days.


Fertilize your mandarin tree in March, May and June. Use a fertilizer specifically for citrus. The package directions generally calculate how much annual fertilizer to use by the size of the trunk. Divide the annual amount by three to get the amount you need for three sessions of fertilizer. Sprinkle the fertilizer granules uniformly in the watering ring and fill the ring with water to dissolve the fertilizer.



Prune any dying limbs or leaves off the mandarin tree with pruning shears in spring after new growth emerges. Remove dead branches near the center of older trees and any limbs that touch the ground or grow from the bottom of the tree in an upright shoot.


Pinch off all fruit after the bloom has died for the first two years, allowing the tree to use all nutrients to encourage root and vegetation growth before producing fruit.


Spray a mandarin tree for pests in early spring when new leaves form. Thoroughly drench leaves and branches underneath and on top to prevent aphids, scales, whiteflies and mites from emerging. Use an insecticidal soap spray or make your own with one-half teaspoon of mild dish soap and 1 teaspoon of cooking oil in a garden sprayer; add water from a garden hose to the one-gallon mark.


Cover your mandarin tree with a sheet before frosts for the first two years. Remove the sheet the next morning after temperatures rise above freezing.

Things You Will Need

  • Garden soil
  • Rototiller (optional)
  • Shovel
  • Bark mulch
  • Garden hose
  • Citrus fertilizer
  • Pruning shears
  • Mild dish soap and cooking oil or insecticidal soap
  • Garden sprayer
  • Sheet


  • The best time to transplant a mandarin tree is in the spring to give the tree time to adjust before winter.
  • Mandarins usually do not require pruning until they are three or more years old.
  • You may grow a dwarf version of mandarin indoors in a large pot.


  • Do not prune a tree or add fertilizer after June. Each of these items produces new growth that can suffer freeze damage from an early frost.


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