Satsuma Mandarin (Citrus unshiu)

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About two days a year, Floridians experience a breeze with an ineffable chill—some people call this “winter.” Satsuma mandarin (Citrus unshiu) is a tree with a remarkable cold tolerance among citrus species. It is grown in cooler subtropical regions of Japan, Spain, Central China, Korea, Turkey, Russia, and South America. In slightly warmer conditions, Satsuma trees produce fruit that ripens a bit earlier, making them favorable for eager growers.

When your satsuma mandarin tree fruits, the flavor and color could vary based on your location. In humid subtropical areas of Florida, fruit could mature internally before the usual outer coloring of maturation appears, hence the name Emerald Green satsuma tangerines where these fruits are commercially sold. It’s important to be gentle when harvesting the fruits, as the rinds are prone to tearing if handled without caution.

Planting, cultural care, pruning, and harvesting are similar for all citrus plants, with a few slight variations. Generally, they are best planted in filtered sun with well-drained soil that can hold moisture and nutrients. Citrus trees a particularly high demand for nitrogen. If you’re fantasizing about long afternoons of picking fresh fruit from your personal citrus grove, keep this in mind: The key to growing citrus is setting it up for success from the start.

Plant Type: Subtropical Evergreen Fruit Tree

Harvest Season: Winter, Spring, Year-round.  Main citrus fruit production will take place in late winter through spring, but may produce throughout the year

Mature Size: 7-30 ft.  Mature size varies by citrus tree type. Overall, citrus varieties can be grown in containers and maintained at smaller sizes.

Soil & Moisture: Well-drained, high fertility and good moisture-holding capacity; High nitrogen demands. Regular watering throughout the first year and throughout flowering and fruiting season.

Light Requirements: Full Sun, Part Shade.  Overall, citrus prefers slightly shady areas and has better fruit production in part shade lighting conditions.

Self-Fertile: Yes

Growth Rate: Medium 

Zone Hardiness: Outdoors 8-11; Patio/Greenhouse 4+.  Although their fruit provides a distinctly tropical twist to any drink or dish, Citrus trees trees are actually very cold hardy fruit trees, taking temperatures down to the low 20's!

Propagation: Grafted and capable of producing fruit within 1 year.

See More: Sow Exotic offers many different unique varieties of Citrus trees. Shop the Citrus Collection!


Growing Guide for Citrus Trees: Cultivating Zesty Delights with Success

Citrus trees are not only ornamental additions to your landscape but also offer the joy of growing your own delicious and nutritious fruits. From the tangy sweetness of oranges to the zesty zing of lemons, cultivating citrus trees can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience. Whether you're a seasoned gardener or a novice, this comprehensive growing guide will provide you with the essential steps and tips to ensure your citrus trees thrive and bear abundant fruit.

1. Selecting the Right Citrus Tree Variety

Choosing the right citrus tree variety is crucial for a successful harvest. Consider your climate, available space, and taste preferences when making your selection. Common citrus varieties include:

  • Oranges: Sweet, tangy, and juicy, oranges come in numerous varieties, including Valencia, Navel, and Blood oranges.

  • Lemons: Known for their tart flavor, lemons are versatile for culinary and beverage use. Eureka and Lisbon are popular lemon varieties.

  • Limes: Limes add a burst of tanginess to dishes and drinks. Key limes and Persian limes are well-known options.

  • Grapefruits: With their slightly bitter-sweet taste, grapefruits come in pink, red, and white varieties, such as Ruby Red and Star Ruby.

  • Mandarins and Tangerines: These smaller, easy-to-peel fruits are sweet and refreshing. Clementines and Satsumas are popular mandarin varieties.

2. Planting Location and Soil Preparation

Choose a sunny location for your citrus tree that receives at least 8 hours of direct sunlight daily. Well-draining soil is essential to prevent waterlogged roots. If your soil is heavy or clay-like, consider amending it with compost to improve drainage.

3. Planting Your Citrus Tree

Plant your citrus tree in early spring or fall when the temperatures are mild. Follow these steps:

  • Dig a hole that is twice the width of the root ball and just as deep.
  • Gently remove the tree from its container and loosen the roots.
  • Place the tree in the hole at the same depth it was in the container and backfill with soil.
  • Water thoroughly to settle the soil and eliminate air pockets.

4. Watering

Proper watering is vital for healthy citrus trees. Water deeply and infrequently to encourage deep root growth. During the growing season, water every 1-2 weeks, allowing the top few inches of soil to dry out between waterings. Reduce watering frequency during winter.

5. Fertilizing

Citrus trees have specific nutritional needs. Feed your tree with a balanced citrus fertilizer or a granular fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of 2:1:1. Apply fertilizer every 6-8 weeks from spring to early fall, reducing or stopping during winter.

6. Pruning

Regular pruning maintains the shape, health, and fruit production of your citrus tree. Prune to:

  • Remove dead or diseased branches.
  • Thin out overcrowded growth.
  • Open the canopy to sunlight and air circulation.
  • Shape the tree for better aesthetics and easier harvesting.

7. Pest and Disease Management

Keep a close eye on your citrus trees for signs of pests or diseases. Common pests include aphids, scales, and mites. Monitor for citrus-specific diseases like citrus canker and huanglongbing (citrus greening). Use organic pest control methods whenever possible.

8. Frost Protection

If you live in an area prone to frost, take precautions to protect your citrus trees. Cover them with frost cloth or blankets when frost is expected, and consider moving potted citrus indoors during colder months.

9. Mulching

Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of your citrus tree to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and improve soil health. Keep the mulch away from the trunk to prevent rot.

10. Harvesting Citrus Fruits

Harvest your citrus fruits when they are fully ripe. Different varieties have varying ripening times, usually ranging from several months to a year. Fruits should be firm, fully colored, and easy to detach from the tree. Use pruning shears or a sharp knife to cut the fruit, leaving a small stem attached.

By following this comprehensive growing guide, you'll be well-equipped to nurture healthy and fruitful citrus trees that provide you with a continuous supply of delectable and nutritious citrus delights. Happy citrus tree growing!

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Why We Dig It

Sweet, tangy, juicy citrus fruit is more than just a delicious snack or an essential ingredient in your Sunday afternoon mimosas!

Citrus fruit are an amazing source of Vitamin C, an essential vitamin that helps prevent and treat the common cold/upper respiratory infections and improve heart health. Your body can’t make vitamin C on its own so you need to get it from fruits like citrus, fresh vegetables, berries, etc.

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