How to Grow Clementines Indoors

Clementines are a hybrid of mandarin orange (Citrus reticulata) with small, sweet, easy-to-peel fruit that has no seeds. Mature plants are 10- to 12-foot trees; there are also dwarf varieties that grow to about six feet. It is possible to grow them in large containers, kept indoors all year round or outdoors most of the year and indoors in winter. Trees must be five to seven years old to bear fruit. Citruses have glossy green leaves and fragrant white flowers. Some varieties have thorny trunks.

Things You'll Need

  • Young clementine tree from a nursery (see Tips)
  • Large container
  • Watering equipment

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Clementines, like most species of citrus, want to be in Florida, Spain or other warm climates. Give them lots of light--they like sun eight to 12 hours a day. And keep them warm, about 85 degrees Fahrenheit, through the growing season. Although they need cooler temperatures in winter to set flowers and fruit (about 68 degrees), they will die at temperatures much below freezing.

Pot clementines in a fast-draining soil mix, and water them only when the top of the soil is dry. They like humidity in the air but do not like to sit in soggy soil and like to dry out between waterings. Fertilize from midsummer to fall with a weak liquid fertilizer, keeping in mind that too little (or no) fertilizer is better than too much.

Repot the plant as it grows into a slightly larger pot. Don't overpot; all the unused soil in a too-large pot can collect water and introduce rot or disease.

Prune as needed to keep plant a comfortable size and keep it bushy.

If the plant is grown outdoors during warm weather, its flowers will be pollinated by bees. If it is indoors all year round, you can hand-pollinate by brushing pollen from one blossom to another with a small paintbrush.

Tips & Warnings

  • Growing plants from seeds you find in fruit is a fascinating project. Just know that clementine fruits don't normally have seeds. If you find some, that fruit was probably cross-pollinated by a bee with some other citrus species. The trees that grow from these seeds will be mandarin oranges and will be fun to grow, but will not be clementines. There is no guarantee what the plants will look like or what their fruit will taste like. The trunks may have thorns. If you are mainly interested in harvesting fruit, start with plants from nurseries. Then sweet-tasting fruit is guaranteed, and you won't have to wait so many years for the plant to reach fruiting age.


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