Mandarin orange tree

Mandarin orange tree is just as pretty as the lemon and ten times as sweet.

This page was updated on 21st May, 2021.

The problem with much citrus is the pips and the hassle with peeling; not so this sweet fruit from China. 

It's seedless and very easy to skin; more, it is very juicy and sweet; it's known there as the honey citrus; and so it is.

Watching our two year old grandchild sitting under our Satsuma this year, working her way through one fruit after another, made me realise I'd better plant another; in fact, maybe two or three. I didn't get even one to sample.

It's known as a naartje in my homeland, from the Indian word nartei; South Africa has the largest community of Hindus outside the subcontinent. It's fairly frost resistant, and hence it grows well at our 3500 feet above sea level.

Mandarin orange tree

Mandarin orange tree is full of vitamin C and bioflavonoids; all good anti-tumour stuff.

Mandarin tree flowers smell so sweet.

Because it doesn't travel well (it's easily bruised), the Mandarin is the perfect fruit to grow in your garden. Avoid buying them at the green grocer; often you'll be disappointed.

And, like the Meyer lemon, with it's beautiful yellow fruit, the Satsuma, as it's sometimes called, makes a marvelous small decorative tree; with the added advantage that the flavour of the Honey Orange is to die for. Like most food, that which is ripened on the plant, picked and taken straight to the kitchen is so much tastier and more nutritious.

Or, simply sit under the tree like my two-year old granddaughter, and guzzle; these garden fruits have been the solution to the stubborn constipation that she was suffering from when we returned from our chiropractic sojourn in Holland.

If you are interested you can get Stones in my Clog at the bottom of the page; it is dirt cheap and a wonderful book, so my friends tell me.

Two other varieties of mandarin oranges are the Clementine and the Tangerine. All are fantastic with small variations to suit your palate.

Purchasing your mandarin orange tree from a recognised garden shop is important.

Look for a young tree, probably about 80cm high, roughly three foot, that is obviously strong and viborous. In particular make sure there are no curling leaves, and it is not turning yellow. Ask how long it has been in the shop. Is the soil moist?

And now you have to break your back if you want a decent mandarin orange tree that will fruit for years. Perhaps call your son in law, but not if he's a desk-bound lawyer or accountant. Digging the pit for a tree is not for sissies; it's hard work.

It's beats going to the gym though; you'll have something to show for your labours at the end of the day, and your biceps will bulge just as impressively.

Do not delay, in fact it's best first to dig the pit for your Mandarin Orange tree before you buy it. Make it square, the larger the better, but at least a three foot side, and as deep as you can manage.

A spade deep, about 3 foot, is considered perfect, but moving a cubic metre of earth will keep you busy. I know, I did it today and am feeling distinctly weary, though not in pain. The body glories in exercise. It's the couch that's the potato's downfall.

Always before tackling a heavy task like gardening, just lie on your back and do these simple lower back exercises; they take only one minute. (Use the site search function to find them.) It might just save you a couple visits to the chiropractor. I'm in luck, for I have a resident DC, my daughter, should things go wrong, which they do of course occasionally. I'm a chiropractic patient too.

Digging a square hole for mandarin tree.

Fill your crater with as much coarse gardening material as you can find. Straw, sticks, even a couple small rotting logs, and then with at least 6" of well rotted compost. Starting a compost pile is fundamental to the organic garden.

Compost for mandarin orange tree.

Shovel the top layer back into your hole, leaving the subsoil aside. You can either add it to the top, or use it to cover your compost pile. Better still, just spread it around between the trees in your orchard.

You want the bed to be about 4 to 6 inches above ground level; it'll subside. Now peel the bag off your mandarin orange tree, careful to keep the roots intact; actually, just shred it, as it's not worth reusing because of any disease or pests. Place the bowl of your little plant into the pit you've dug, so that the soil level will be the same as in the garden.

If you're not an organic fanatic, this is the time to spread a little general fertilizer around your mandarin orange tree, keeping it well away from the trunk.


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If you have a prolific compost heap then add a few more shovels of compost. For the tiny garden, this compost tumbler may suit and if you have a vast old garden like mine, then rotting logs and sticks make perfect compost, but you will have to wait longer for well rotted compost of course.

Mandarin orange tree just planted.

Composting from old sticks and logs and a Compact Compost Tumbler both make excellent humus.

The rough compost from old logs and sticks is perfect for the deep holes you'll need to dig for trees.

Notice my mandarin orange tree's shadow! Mad dogs and South Africans go out in the midday sun! With a hat on.

Mandarin orange stem in the ground.

Shape a small hollow for the water you may need for irrigation in dry periods. Start by some deep watering of your new mandarin orange tree.

Now all you and I need is a little patience. Pick off any flowers in the first season so the energy goes into the tree.

Young mandarin orange tree flourishing.

Two years later

Two years later this is what our young mandarin orange fruit tree looks like. I've just picked the last two fruit for our breakfast; it's going to be a long wait to next season.

Mandarin orange tree sans fruit.

We now provide liquid manure from our worm farm for the fruit trees and the vegetables, of course.

A worm farm requires very little attention; just the vegetable refuse from your kitchen. Today the creepy crawlies got a rotten butternut and they love fruit such as fallen plums; in fact they'll demolish almost any food that's past its sell-by date, unless it's highly refined; they won't touch pizza dough for example.

The wonder of worm farms has brought a whole different slant to our garden; they are everywhere now, and the hens love scratching for them too.

Mandarin first fruits

Savour the mandarin first fruits, but soon there'll be hundreds.

Green mandarin orange fruit.

The profusion of fruit

Update: Our old mandarin orange fruit tree started to go into decline last year, overtaken and shadowed by a large azalea bush. Since we have many of the latter, this one came out. Just look at the profusion since giving the plant more light.

In addition the two new trees are starting to bear, so it's like Christmas!

I find it interesting they start to bear just before winter when we need vitamin C most to fight off colds and flu.

Likely you I too have troubles with sap-sucking pests. This white oil manufacturers mix is so easy to make yourself.

Mandarin orange tree laden with fruit.

If you use worm wee to fertilise your mandarin orange tree, then expect to thin the fruit, otherwise you'll have branches breaking.

What is a worm farm is a question you may be asking; a small factory that produces vermi-leachate that will make any plant flower profusely.

Worm wee flowering.

There are far too many to eat, so we squeeze them. Notice the reamer has no strainer; enjoy the pulp too. That's where half the nutrients are. In season, early winter, they are an important part of our "viral guard"; a mixed drink from our citrus fruit list.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C is an absolutely vital part of the growth and wellness of normal tissues. Have you heard of scurvy? Even your gums require adequate levels; mandarin orange trees and of course lemons and limes are part of the solution.

Tissues cannot heal without a regular supply of vitamin C. Because it's water soluble you have to consume it daily. Get it from your food, not from a pill.

Citrus and the pepper family are the two richest sources. Plant a few sweet peppers, and a couple jalapeno plants in your front garden; they are so pretty when they change to their deep colours, loaded with life giving phytosterols, and vitamin C.

I love to make this green chili sauce recipe through the summer, and especially when the citrus is nearly over for our vitamin C.

Just look at this prolific fruit from one of our mandarin orange tree; we have two.

Mandarin orange halves before juicing.

What are phytosterols?

What are phytosterols is a fundamentally important question; in days of yore when we ate plenty of unprocessed food you did not need to understand it; now it is quite different and tumours and painful joints are thriving because we do not pay attention. Your mandarin orange tree is loaded with them.

It's interesting that farmers are adding phytosterols, including citrus peel to chicken and pig food. They are finding that the animals are stronger, and perhaps more important from their point of view, is that the conversion rate, overall gain: feed ratio improves. They grow faster.

What's good for chickens and pigs is surely good for humans too! Eat more phytosterols, in basically all fruit and veg, and especially citrus.

Not still on a Black and White food, I hope. They went out with B&W TV.


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Lemon tree, very pretty

There was a time when every teenager was humming lemon tree, very pretty.

Now think about growing lemon trees.

Our grandkids, not unlike most I suspect, are not crazy about their greens; but today you should have seen them asking for more of our green bean salad. Lightly steamed, and then plunged hot into a mixture of olive oil, lemon juice and finely chopped garlic. We have it almost daily through the summer season. Growing and cooking green beans is high on our agenda.


Citrus is not just about vitamin C; just as important are the little known bioflavonoids. These are the vital substances that give fruit and veg their vibrant colours; they are known as functional foods because they both prevent disease and promote wellness.

Read more about orange juice bioflavonoids; for the record, they are much less in OJ. You have to eat whole oranges, or squeeze your own to get the pulp; the fresher the better. Where possible grow your own mandarin orange trees, lemons and limes. 

Just one is the B vitamin choline; the average Western food has less than half the recommended daily amount. It is vitally important in preventing birth defects like spina bifida and boosting the brain of the growing child. One tidbit of interest; the offspring of pregnant rats NEVER get senile dementia if their mothers were fed large amounts of choline during the pregnancy.

Choline food sources is an important subject for every one of us; it's a large part of the reason why we've started rearing hens for free range cage free eggs.

There's a wonderful synergy of green living, I've discovered quite by accident. For example, we start keeping pasture fed hens for their choline rich eggs, and for the first time in several years we can grow green beans again; they've devoured the Mexican bean beetle larvae that overwinters in the soil and under the mulch. The infestation was so bad, and I refuse to spray with toxic pesticides, that we had to stop growing one of our favourite and important vegetables.

Blood glucose

One last thought about your mandarin orange tree; what effect will the fruit have on your blood glucose? We live in a world that is becoming more insulin resistant by the day, not because of enjoying whole citrus, but refined carbohydrate like that in OJ in a carton. It's fattening junk food.

I'm prediabetic myself; orange juice taken as a snack causes my blood glucose to soar; that means inflammation and pain. There are two options; take a short ten minute stroll after your drink, or have it in the context of a whole meal.

Take this seriously, especially if you are significantly overweight; then you need to limit even the good the starch from your food, and eliminate all refined carbohydrate. We do anyway. 

Spinal manipulation

A DC can adjust and set your joints in motion, but only good nutrition, which must include vitamin C can provide the elements required for healing of cartilage; a mandarin orange tree is part of that process.

Vitamin C is one of the four that prevent senility syndrome; well, you do need to walk or swim regularly too.

Why all this about citrus on this website you may be thinking; regularly we are faced with folk who ache all over. They have plantar myofasciitis, and an aching hip, and midback pain, and a sore shoulder and so on. Generalised inflammation in the body is caused amongst other things by a lack of the anti inflammatory substances that we should be enjoying every day from our food. This mandarin orange tree is loaded with them.

Good for you, bad for the doctor, right? Actually it is bad for him too. Patients with these generalised aches because of poor food one can never cure; they never refer you their friends and neighbours and their aching backs drain one's energy.

Interesting new research shows that both nerve tissue and tendons are highly sensitive to raised blood glucose; getting onto food that is very low in glycemic carbohydrate is important. Avoid OJ from a carton; no question of it, it is bad for you.

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Bernard Preston

Bernard Preston - that's me! - is a semi retired DC with an intense interest in natural living and choice foods straight from the garden; we have a mandarin orange tree or two. The reddish colour means it's significantly richer in an important vitamin called betaine. 

Freshness is everything; once air gets into your food, oxidation begins and its value is reduced. Luckily many foods, like pecan nuts and the fruit of the mandarin orange tree come wrapped in a protective layer against the air.

Lettuce though has no such protection and where possible you should grow it yourself. Just a few plants tucked in amongst the flowers with provide fresh leaves for months, if you nourish and water them.

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56 Groenekloof Rd,

Hilton, KZN

South Africa