Tangerines grow well in areas that don’t have harsh winters and will produce an abundance of flavorful fruit every year with just a little bit of help. Tangerine is a seasonal fruit just like oranges and lemons. While a single tree can produce fruit on its own, planting more than one tangerine cultivar in an area can increase the yield of tangerines on all the trees.
Tangerines are relatively cold-tolerant, making them easier to grow than oranges, grapefruits and other types of citrus. The fruit comes in many different varieties, and anyone living Kenya should be able to find tangerine cultivars that will thrive in their area, if they get full sun. Some varieties, such as the Citrus reticulata “Dancy,” are heat-tolerant and do best when it is hot, but other types, including the Citrus reticulata “Sunburst,” do best when it’s on the cool side.
Some trees will produce large quantities of tangerines, resulting in fruit that does not develop well or possibly even broken tree branches if the weight becomes too much. While in most cases you don’t need to thin citrus fruit, sometimes tangerines require it. If a tree has set a lot of fruit, remove some of it when it is about an inch across by grabbing each fruit to be removed and gently twisting it until it breaks free of the tree, continuing the process until you have about 3 to 4 inches of space between each of the remaining tangerines. Remove all the fruits from trees that are two years old or less, allowing the trees time to become well-established before producing fruit.
Tangerines require moist, well-drained soil and will use lots of water as the fruit develops, but over-watering can 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. Be consistent when watering the tree, since fluctuating amounts of moisture will cause the tangerines to split. A drip system is ideal for watering tangerine trees. Another option is to dig a ditch around the tree, at the drip line, and fill it with water every week to 10 days, depending on your soil and climate conditions. In very dry areas, choose a drought-tolerant variety such as the Sunburst for best results.
Feeding tangerine trees is important if you want to have a healthy tree and get a good crop of fruit each year. Oxfarm Organic Ltd recommends that you apply a fertilizer designed especially for citrus trees, as the trees are heavy users of zinc, nitrogen and iron. Follow label directions to determine the correct amount for your tree, and divide the yearly dose into thirds, applying the first feeding in the spring, just before the tree blooms; the next dose two months later; and the final feeding a month after that. Don’t feed the tree in late summer, typically after July, as you may end up stimulating new growth that will be too tender to survive the winter.