Recognized for its superior qualities in China since the 3rd century AD, the era of the Mandarin tree began in China thousands of years ago, but the tree first came to the U.S. in the 1840s when an Italian consul brought one to New Orleans! From there, the exotic Citrus tree spread through the southern states and California. The fruit is very popular today for its easy peeling and general lack of seeds! Mandarins have a distinct flavor all their own; it is a Mandarin flavor, which is not an orange.
Marketing has played a huge role in bringing to the forefront one of the most wonderful categories of fruit, the Mandarin. With the introduction of bagged Clementine Mandarins under various brands beginning in the mid-2000s, the Mandarin has quickly become recognized for what it is: the world’s finest fruit!
In the late 1800s, Mandarin names like the ‘Willow Leaf’, the ‘King’, and the ‘Oneco’ were introduced into the U.S. Then the #1 variety of Mandarin for the next 100 years was the Owari Satsuma and still going strong! Owari arrived around 1876, but in the last 20 years, many new Mandarin varieties have been introduced or have been rediscovered. These newer selections have tremendous qualities that make them standouts as superior fruits, aside from just being Mandarins.
With mature, ready-to-produce root systems, hardiness, and improved disease resistance, the Era of the Mandarin is going strong!
Mandarin trees produce fragrant blooms, broad-leaved evergreen foliage, and small, sweet Citrus fruits similar to Oranges. The fruit produced by the tree is generally easy to peel and has few to no seeds. The fruit is typically ripe over the winter months.
The Mandarin is sometimes mistakenly called a Tangerine (which is actually just a marketing name for one Mandarin variety).
In many varieties, the acidity of the Mandarin is masked by the intense sweetness of the fruit mixed with the rich Mandarin flavor. It almost seems like a sub-acid fruit.
Treasured for centuries as a refreshing treat, juicy dessert, used in preserves and canned, while also a healthy snack that kids young and old love! The sections can be eaten fresh or added to salads and other dishes.
Typically with more Vitamin A than Oranges but are higher in calories due to the increased sugar content, Mandarin Oranges are good sources of Vitamin C, high in folate, potassium, and thiamin, and are considered a healthy dietary option.
Check out Mandarin Tree information, their care, and the wide variety of Mandarin Oranges available at NatureHills.com!
The Owari Mandarin has been proven as the most adaptable of all Mandarin varieties and remains that today! It is the most cold-hardy too; tolerating brief dips in temperatures as the mid-to-low-20s. It was immediately identified as being more resistant to disease problems common to other Citrus varieties. Ripening in December, you get a juicy treat just in time for the holidays!
Today, Owari remains the most popular variety of Mandarin planted in the home garden. Even if you don’t have a garden, these are fantastic patio-sized container plants!
Seedless, easy to peel, and most often the first to ripen, the Owari is hard to beat when you add its cold hardiness, and let’s not forget the great flavor! Owari Satsumas are also the standard canned Mandarin Orange sold in the grocery store and are the most popular and easily recognizable in flavor.
The Clementine Mandarin is a stand-out as the primary variety used for the popular bagged Mandarins introduced in the early 2000s. There are many varieties of Clementine's that ripen at different times allowing commercial growers the opportunity to harvest over a longer period.
For the home garden, the Algerian Clementine is seedless, easy to peel, and harvests between October and January. Right off the tree, the Clementine is a very fine flavorful fruit!
The California Honey Mandarin is sweet-scented from top to bottom and has sweet spiced honey flavorful fruit. It consistently ranks as the best-tasting and smelling of all the Mandarin and Tangerine trees available! The fragrant white flowers emerge in late spring and produce delicious fruit which ripens from November through April.
Prolific in flower and fruit, these are bushier trees that serve double duty in the landscape as privacy hedgerows and specimen plantings and are also easy to grow in the container garden.
The Pixie Mandarin Orange is a fantastic and easy-to-care-for smaller tree with seedless fruit, and the flavor of Pixie Mandarin cannot be overstated! The Pixie is a delight for children, since it's both kid-sized and easy to peel, making it a snack they can easily serve themselves. From the fragrant blooms to the dark, leathery green leaves and upright growth of this exquisite Mandarin variety gives Pixie a rainforest vibe that many growers and passersby appreciate.
Also great for the home orchard and container garden! Pixie ripens in the winter (about early to mid-January) and has a very long hang-time, giving you a longer window to harvest the fruit. One may find themselves picking wonderful flavored Pixie Mandarins into June!
The #5 favorite spot of Mandarins at Nature Hills is the Tango Mandarin Orange! This seedless and easy-to-peel variety ripens in January and is considered to have the largest Mandarin fruit. Sweet-tart, tangy, and juicy, this vigorous grower also has a long hang time (eat off the tree until April!) and fragrant blooms. Developed for its easy-to-grow nature and deep orange rind, this Citrus tree is great for home orchards, container gardeners, and edible landscaping anywhere in the sun.
Here are more of the next generation of the Mandarin Era! These other newer selections are fast becoming popular based only on their exceptional flavor. Varieties such as:
Murcott Mandarin Tree, also known as Afourer, is one of the oldest Florida varieties and highly resistant to chill. The fragrant blooms lead to seedless, thin-rinded, bronze-speckled orange fruit that is juicy and easy to peel! Ripe in the autumn and precocious fruiting machines are flavorful container and landscape additions!
Compact ornamental size is perfect for growing in containers, Kishu Seedless orange's diminutive fruit size suits indoor trees! The fruit ripens early in the season (November) and is bite-sized, peels with ease, and has a wonderfully sweet, juicy flavor that will keep you eating them like candy!
The Gold Nugget variety leads the pack in flavor, and extended harvest! In many taste tests, it has proven to be one of the highest-rated of all the Mandarin varieties. Coming ripe in mid-February, it is not uncommon to be picking these sweet, bumpy nuggets as late as September. Upright in growth habit makes it a great choice for containers, tight plantings, and Espaliers.
A flavorful, sweet explosion, the Super Nova is a blazing orange fruit that is now poised to rival some other well-known Mandarins, like Cuties and Halos! Completely seedless, these mid-sized Citrus are fantastic in the landscape for shade and specimen trees at 12-15 feet in height and width.
A topknot variety with a cute button at the top of each round orange orb, the Shiranui Mandarin is intensely sweet and one of the larger-sized trees available at 12-18 feet. You can of course prune this variety smaller to suit your landscape's needs, or try your hand at creating an Espalier specimen tree! Especially tolerant of extreme heat and retaining the family's easy-to-peel and segment fruit, these are internet-famous ‘foodie’ favorites. The semi-seedless fruit themselves match the tree size and one is large enough to share!
Need a small dwarf-sized Mandarin tree? Then the Dwarf Brown Select Satsuma is your patio tree! Even a bright sunny window year-round will be perfect for this diminutive Citrus! It’s a Mandarin Orange variety with sugary-sweet juicy fruit that's mostly seedless for easy eating.
The Sudachi Mandarin is a lime-like Citrus similar to the Yuzu Citron but smaller, juicier and has fewer seeds. Actually a cross between a Mandarin and a Lime, these are primarily used for their sweet-tart juice that has a distinct spicy aroma when used in cooking - like a combination of lime, pepper, dill, and cumin all in one! Especially when harvested and juiced while still green.
Last but not least, although technically a Tangelo, the Page Mandarin is a Minneola Tangelo crossed with a Clementine Mandarin. The Page needs a mention because of its outstandingly rich flavor! Ripening in December the Page has dependable crops of medium size and has an easy-to-peel, deep orange fruit. If the Mandarin has a flavor unique to Citrus, then the Page Mandarin is quite possibly the most unique of all!
Relatively easy to grow, Mandarin trees need full sun (at least 6 hours of direct sunlight a day) and enriched soil with excellent drainage. Preferring soil that is slightly acidic and has regular fertility.
Citrus trees do need regular water, but in lower amounts and prefer to dry out slightly between waterings. Soggy soil and poor drainage that rots their roots is the fastest way to kill a Citrus tree. Use a loose, fast-draining soil in containers and ensure the pots have a place for water to drain out of.
Mandarins are popular in tropical and subtropical areas, especially in USDA planting zones 8 to 11 because in general, they are tender trees that can be damaged by cold weather. Container gardeners should pot their trees in containers with good drainage and fast-draining soil, then bring their Mandarin trees indoors for the winter or protect them from exposure to frost or prolonged cold.
Many people in more northern regions (Growers in USDA hardiness zones 4 to 8) grow citrus trees in pots, making it easier to take advantage of warm summers and then transition indoors when temps plummet. Once you situate your tree, expect a bit of leaf-drop since Citrus don’t like being moved; this is why acclimating your tree gradually indoors each fall, and gradually outdoors each spring is vital!
Move your container-grown plant to a more shaded location outdoors for a few weeks before it needs to move indoors. This will acclimate it to a lower light situation and help to reduce the leaf drop after coming inside. Because they typically grow in more humid climates, they do appreciate higher air humidity and despise drafts.
If they don’t spend time outdoors where the bees and beneficial insects can help pollinate your tree, then you need to take a soft paint brush and dab at each bloom to spread pollen.
Mandarin trees have dense foliage, making them a good option for privacy, and property division hedges. The evergreen foliage is glossy and ornamental year-round and the branching and space-saving size of these trees makes them perfect for smaller home landscapes.
The white, sometimes pinkish-tinged flowers, are - incredibly - heavenly - divinely - fragrant! Mandarin tree blooms attract pollinators and make a scented focal point for any garden.
When mature, the brightly colored fruits of these trees offer gorgeous contrast against the glossy green leaves. Anywhere in the sun in a protected location from frost and wind will be perfect for a Mandarin tree!
Use as edible landscaping specimens, porch and patio container garden additions, deck, and terrace shade plants, and even fantastic gift plants!
There it is! All the Mandarin varieties to think about when planning to install a Mandarin Citrus tree in your home garden! Mandarin trees can nourish your family and your landscape!
Don’t miss out on another crop of delightful Mandarins to enjoy in your garden! Delivered to your doorstep with mature root systems and ready to produce fruit within a few years, from the expert growers at Nature Hills Nursery.