6 tips to growing mandarins almost all year round


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If you pick and choose your varieties carefully, you can be munching on sweet mandarins from early winter until late summer or even all year round if you plan it well, and spring is a good time to get planting.

Words Nadene Hall

The one thing citrus of any kind loves best is warm weather. Mandarins are no exception, although if you’re in colder parts of the country you can be successful with a little extra care and careful choice of variety.

Pick a sunny, warm, sheltered position, preferably one that is protected from winter frost or you’re going to need frost cloth to protect them. If you’re on clay, consider either growing in containers, or create raised beds of soil out of compost and other well-rotted organic material.

Plant in autumn or spring, in a hole that is 20-30cm bigger than the rootball – fill up with compost, but don’t add any extra fertiliser until spring, when the tree is actively growing.

It’s really important to keep mandarins (and any citrus) well watered, especially around flowering and fruit set. If you have your mandarins in pots or large beds, this is especially important. Water daily at hot times of year.

You will need to re-pot any citrus tree growing in a container every few years using fresh potting mix.

Pruning isn’t usually necessary, although a light trim of any dead or diseases branches throughout the year can be helpful – you should be able to see through a citrus tree, which ensures it is getting enough light and air.

 

A GARDEN GURU’S KEY TIP TO SUCCESSFULLY GROWING CITRUS

The root system of citrus is different to other fruit trees. Kay Baxter of the Koanga Institute says the fleshy roots of mandarins and other citrus grow close to the surface, and do best with plenty of water and nutrition from spring until autumn.

www.koanga.org.nz

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Varieties

There are so many to choose from, although it will depend on whether you want seedless and/or easy-peel mandarins. Don’t grow near lemons or cross pollination can cause seeds in seedless varieties.

 

Clementine

The most popular mandarin, considered the best all-round variety.

Fruits: July, but fruit will hold on tree for months

Climate: does well in warm and cool climates

Very sweet, medium-sized fruit, excellent flavour, small tree with compact growth, heavy cropper.

 

Encore

Highly regarded all-rounder, prone to seediness if allowed to cross-pollinate with other citrus species

Fruits: October-early April, can go through to June or even all year round if planted with a winter pollinator.

Climate: does well in warm climates, not as hardy in south

Medium-large, sweet, juicy, easy-peel mandarin, thin skinned, fruit holds well on tree.

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Burgess Scarlet

Can be grown in a container or in the garden.

Fruits: September-October, tends to be heavier cropping every second year

Climate: does well in warm climates, not as hardy in south

Known for its rich flavour, colour and aroma, can be a bit bushy due to its vigorous growth habit, good for container growing.

 

Richard’s Special

Popular due to its great fruit and because it is highly ornamental in the garden.

Fruits: September

Climate: likes a warm spot but is frost-tolerant

Large, sweet mandarin, tree has beautiful, bright green foliage.

 

Miho

Satsuma variety from Japan, popular export variety.

Fruits: April-May

Climate: cold hardy

High sugar levels with a mildly sweet taste in this easy peel mandarin, does well in a container.

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Satsuma

From Japan, very popular mandarin.

Fruits: June-July

Climate: cold hardy

Seedless, easy peel, sweet and juicy, best flavour if left until skin is completely orange, but don’t leave too long or it will go puffy and tasteless.

NZ Lifestyle Block This article first appeared in NZ Lifestyle Block Magazine.

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