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Citrus reticulata 


Fruit: The bright orange fruits of the mandarin are well known and loved. They're juicy and sweet, and have an advantage over most other citrus fruits in that they're very easy to peel.

Growth Habit: The mandarin is an attractive, sub-tropical evergreen tree.  It's naturally a small tree growing to 3-4m in height and width, making it an ideal fruit tree in backyards that have limited space.

Foliage/Flowers: The leaves are a dark, glossy, green, and the flowers are white with a beautiful aroma.  They're self-fertile, and have good fruit set, so you only need to plant one tree to get a good crop of fruit.


Adaptation: Mandarins are hardy and easy to grow.  As with most fruit trees they prefer a sheltered area but will tolerate an exposed windy site.  Plant in full sun for maximum fruit production. They will fruit in a partially shaded area, but not as much as in full sun. 

Soils Citrus prefer fertile, free draining soils that are well-mulched, though will grow in other soil types such as sandy soils and even heavy clay. It's best to plant them in mounded soil to ensure adequate drainage, as they don't tolerate waterlogging of the roots. Citrus trees are hungry feeders with high requirements for trace elements. A regular spray with a seaweed foliar fertiliser will supply trace elements. Fertilise citrus trees in spring and autumn with worm-castings and compost.

Irrigation : Mandarins are hardy and will grow and fruit without additional watering in the sub-tropical climate of Wollongong. However, for bountiful harvests, it's best to make sure they are getting a regular watering when young, and when fruit is forming.

Pruning It is not necessary to prune mandarins to produce fruit, however aim to have mature trees no more than 2.5 to 3 m high and cut off any dead or diseased wood.

Propagation Propagation is usually by grafting onto a disease resistant root stock. 

Pests and diseases Scale, leaf miners and aphids are common pests with citrus but rarely cause major damage. Stink bugs suck sap from the tree and are best removed. Keeping the tree well nourished with compost and liquid seaweed applications is the best preventative measure for problems.

Harvest: Grafted mandarin trees will start to produce fruit within 1-3 years after planting. Trees flowering in their first couple of years should have their flowers pinched off, so the young tree can put more energy into growing rather than fruiting.  Mandarins are ready to harvest when the skin turns a deep orange.  Good fruit should keep for a few weeks at room temperature.  Harvesting can occur throughout most of the year, depending on variety grown. 

Varieties: Nearly all mandarin cultivars should do well in Wollonong and are worth trialling. Growing a range of varities that fruit at different times of the year, will give an extended harvest.  At Happyearth we have three mandarin varities planted - Ellendale , Imperial and one unkown (It was here when we moved in).