Do you want to grow mandarin oranges, but your area is a little too chilly for these tropical fruit trees to survive the winter? Consider growing mandarin oranges indoors! Citrus trees can be planted in pots and grown indoors with the right conditions. Even better, try growing them outdoors for most of the year and bringing them indoors when temperatures drop. In this article I will offer tips to help you successfully grow mandarin oranges indoors.
Mandarin Orange Tree Care
This is a biggie. Growing mandarin oranges indoors is not possible without sunlight, real or artificial. Mandarin orange trees, like the Owari Satsuma, require full sunlight. So indoors they should be near a southern or south-western window or glass door for the best results. Otherwise pick the brightest spot in your house and supplement with a plant light. Plant lights replicate sunlight and can be quite effective if used properly. If your plant light is providing all the “sunlight” for your mandarin orange tree, it should be on for 8 to 10 hours per day.
All citrus trees are drought tolerant. I point this out, because this is crucial for growing mandarin oranges indoors. You are more likely to over-water than under-water your mandarin orange tree. The pot and potting mix should drain well. Citrus plants do not like wet roots. This can lead to root rot and the death of your mandarin orange tree. Allow the soil to dry out before watering your fruit tree.
This is probably the most important and least known tip for growing mandarin oranges indoors (or any citrus tree, for that matter). While they prefer their soil on the drier side, citrus trees thrive in humidity. The foliage especially enjoys a humid environment. Low humidity can cause leaf drop and a failure to thrive. The main time of year this is a problem for plants is in winter when our heat is running and the air is dry. Mist the leaves of your mandarin orange tree daily or add a humidifier. You can also fill a saucer with rocks and water and place the plant’s container on top. This is a simple way to add humidity to the air. Just be sure the rocks are sticking out of the water so your mandarin orange plant is not sitting in water.
Citrus plants like to eat and potted citrus plants tend to need more food than plants in the ground. Feed your mandarin orange tree about 3 times per year with slow release fertilizer or use Espoma Citrus-Tone and follow the directions for potted plants.
Mandarin Orange Tree as a Patio Plant
While it is possible to grow citrus trees indoors all year long, you will work a lot harder than if you grow them as a patio plant. What this means is that you keep your mandarin orange tree outdoors until the temperatures start to drop below about 40 degrees. Your tree will enjoy a natural environment for most of the year and it is likely to perform better for you because of it. Just take it easy when you move it back outside. Hold off until temperatures are closer to 50 degrees and don’t put it in direct sunlight right away.
Now you can tackle growing mandarin oranges indoors (at least part of the year). Happy planting!