Tangerine trees, which boom in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8b to 11, are one of the very cold-hardy citrus trees — however they do need some protection from icy conditions. Provided that they have adequate drainage, then they thrive under full sunlight in a full range of soil types and pH levels. Choosing a tree for your home orchard is only a matter of personal preference — and if you are fond of tangerines, they all taste great.
The “Dancy” (Citrus tangerina “Dancy”) is a big, almost thornless, erect tree with vigorously growing leaf. It produces glossy deep orange or red juice 2 1/2 inches in diameter which matures in early to mid-winter. When ripe, the thin, tough rind of the moderately seedy fruit makes it effortless to peel. The “Dancy” is known for producing crops that alternate between big and small, but suitable pruning will help to ensure a healthy return of fruit every year. Pay special attention to preventing the Alternaria fungus, which could result in defoliation and a diminished harvest if not controlled.
The “Murcott” (Citrus tangerina “Murcott”), also known as the “Honey Tangerine,” is a tangerine-sweet orange hybrid. Somewhat vigorously growing, it produces medium-sized fruit in clusters at the end of its willow-like divisions. The smooth-textured fruit, which changes from reddish orange to yellow, contains several seeds. The newest to adult among all tangerine varieties, the fruit is ready to select out of mid-winter to early spring. Like the “Dancy” variety, it’s susceptible to the Alternaria fungus, as well as to citrus scab.
The “Sunburst” tangerine tree (Citrus tangerina “Sunburst”), a cultivar that produces a large proportion of the tangerines located in grocery stores, can be commonly grown in home orchards. Its thornless, dark green foliage creates a spreading canopy of moderately vigorous development. It produces medium-sized fruit 2 1/2 to 3 inches in diameter that contain 10 to 20 seeds. The tangerines, which contain dark orange peels that are smooth and thin in texture, ripen from late fall to mid-winter.
The “Fallglo” tangerine tree (Citrus tangerina “Fallglo”) is a thornless hybrid with an upright habit that produces large fruit a little over 3 inches in diameter. Its light green leaf sets it apart from other citrus trees, as does its resistance to scab fungus. It is vulnerable to aphids, nevertheless. The fruit of the “Fallglo,” which is deep red to orange when ripe and contains many seeds, which is ready for harvesting from early to mid-fall.