Anyone who’s had an apple tree knows that it won’t produce (or “set”) fruit unless there’s another apple tree somewhere in close by to help it pollinate. And that’s the nice thing about planting a tangerine tree or other citrus tree – lots of citrus trees are self-pollinating!
What is Pollination, and How Are Fruit Trees Pollinated?
Nearly all fruit trees require pollination in order to set fruit. When pollination occurs, the tree’s flower is fertilized and the fruiting process starts. The process of transferring pollen to a flower can occur a number of different ways:
- By pollinators (like birds, bees and other insects)
- By the weather (wind and rain)
- Intentionally by human beings (using a dry paintbrush to transfer pollen from one blossom to the stigma of another blossom)
The Difference Between Cross-Pollination and Self-Pollination
Cross-pollination occurs when pollen from one tree is transferred to a flower on another tree. Self-pollination occurs when pollen from one tree is transferred to a flower on the same tree.
Most fruit trees (including all apple tree varieties) can only cross-pollinate, which requires at least one tree of a different variety located within 50 feet. This helps to ensure genetic diversity in the trees.
Many citrus varieties (like tangerine trees), however, can self-pollinate as well as cross-pollinate. An opportunity for cross-pollinating can help result in a greater yield of fruit, but home gardeners with limited space can still enjoy a good harvest with only one, self-pollinating tree. If you live in a climate where citrus trees thrive, you might consider adding a tangerine tree to your garden. If you live in a cooler climate, you might even consider getting a potted tangerine tree!
How to Grow Tangerine Trees
Growing tangerine trees can be very rewarding. Here are some facts about tangerines, and tips for growing tangerines at home:
- Where are tangerines from? Tangerine trees are native to Southeast Asia and produce fruit that look like small oranges.
- When Do Tangerine Trees Bloom? You may be wondering how takes for a tangerine tree to produce fruit. As far as blooming goes, tangerine citrus trees produce flowers in the spring, while the fruit itself ripens in the winter. Harvest generally begins starting in November and can last through March.
- Are tangerines self-pollinating? While tangerine trees can benefit from cross-pollinating, indoor potted trees can self-pollinate with a bit of help. A dry paintbrush is perfect for the job – just lightly dab the brush on the center from flower to flower, simulating how bees do it.
- Do tangerines trees need to be pruned? Unlike some other fruits, tangerine trees need no pruning. As it grows, your tree will need to be repotted about every three to four years. Like other houseplants, one size up in pot size should be enough. It will also take three to four years for your tangerine to bear fruit.
- Do tangerine trees need a lot of watering? Tangerines require moist, well-drained soil and will use lots of water as the fruit develops, but over-watering can actually kill the tree by drowning the roots or promoting rot. Gently soak the soil around the tree, then allow it to become partly dry before soaking it again.
- Do tangerine trees need to be fertilized? Feeding tangerine trees is important if you want to have a healthy tree and get a good crop of fruit each year. You should apply a fertilizer designed especially for citrus trees (check out Citrus.com’s All-in-One Kits for feeding and caring for your tree).
Tangerine Tree Varieties
Tangerines are a variety of mandarin. Citrus.com offers several varieties of mandarin trees for sale, include the Sunburst tangerine tree, the Ponkan and Page mandarin trees, and the Owari, Brown Select, Miho, and Seto Satsuma trees, among others. The Brown Select and Owari also are available in dwarf varieties, which can be grown in containers. These are great trees for small gardens, growing no taller than 10 to 20 feet. You can keep the trees even shorter by regular pruning, or by keeping them in containers indoors.