Mandarin orange plant growing in the snow
How to grow the Mandarin orange from seed

Check out any decent book on citrus plants and you will be surprised at just how many cultivars there are available bearing in mind there are little over 20 species across the entire globe. This is because they can hybridise easily and have been done so in Asia for many thousands of years! In fact according to molecular studies, hybridization between mandarin, citron, pomelo, and the papeda are responsible for most other commercial citrus varieties,

The mandarin orange - Citrus reticulata, is one of those true species and as such will grow true from seed, and luckily enough is relatively easy to germinate. To begin with you will need to obtain fresh viable seed. This can be achieved by collecting your own seed from shop bought fruit or purchase your own from a reputable online seed retailer.

Self-collected fruit will need to be cleaned so that any pulp has been removed and will be ready for immediate planting without any further preparation. Purchased seeds are likely to have dried off a little and as such will need to be soaked for 12-24 hours in tepid water.

How to grow the Mandarin orange from seed

Using modular seed tray or small terracotta pots (approximately 7-9 cm in diameter) filled with a good quality soil-based compost such as John Innes 'Seed and Cutting', sow in seed per pot or module approximately 1 cm deep. Gently water in and move to the warmest, brightest part of the house but without direct sunlight and keeping the soil moist but not waterlogged at all times. Watering can be reduced by placing the trays or pots under a covering plated of Perspex or glass or keep them inside a clear, sealed polythene bag. This will also help to maintain high humidity. Germination times are directly affected by soil temperature and that can be improved by placing the pots or tray inside a heated propagator at a temperature at approximately 18-22 degrees Celsius. You can expect germination to occur from 14 days onwards, however germination will be erratic. That being said, viability of mandarin seeds is high so don't throw un-germinated seeds away until they gave been allowed a month or two to emerge.

Germinated seeds can be removed from the heated seed tray or sealed bag and placed in a cooler position. If used, any germinated plants under the covering plate will also need to be removed

Once the seeds have reached 3-4 inches high they can be potted on in to a larger pot with slightly acidic, richer soil-based compost.

In regions prone to freezing conditions your mandarin plants can be grown as a houseplant or as a container plant outside once they have been acclimatised for a week or so before being left in sunny conditions. Be aware that Mandarins will need to be brought back under protection once overnight temperatures reach 6-7 degrees Celsius. Do not re-acclimatise in the spring until the threat of late frosts have passed.

Keep the compost moist and feed with a liquid soluble citrus fertiliser ever couple of weeks during the growing season.

Main image credit - SuperJew

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