Satsuma Tree

An Introduction To The Satsuma Tree; A Mandarin Surpassed By No Other


The satsuma tree is a mandarin fruit tree, not to be confused with the plum tree of the same name. Originally from Japan, it is most prevalent in California.  Unlike many citrus trees, it has ventured out of California and temperate zones.   Since it is cold tolerant, it can thrive in colder regions of the US, down to 26 degrees. This is quite groundbreaking for a citrus of any kind.

The Satsuma is well known, and expanding its reach in Texas -- across the entire state.  The big plains of Texas have never before been amenable to citrus trees because of colder temperatures in many areas, but this hybrid mandarin has made it possible for Texans to grow their own mandarin trees.

If you live in regions of Texas or elsewhere that get colder than 26 degrees, you should grow your satsuma tree in a container.  When temperatures fall into the 20s, place it in the house or garage to protect from frost damage. It needs full sun as many days per year as possible.  Do not move to shade or partial shade, even on the hottest days of summer.

The satsuma tree is an immensely popular citrus, the variety used for canned mandarins, and popular with children; It is mild tasting and not very acidic.  Additionally it has almost no seeds, the skin is lose and easy to peel, and the segments come apart easily.  Its mild flavor virtually melts in your mouth.

The cultivars of highest quality of Satsuma mandarins include miyagawa, large and juicy, okitsu, which is sweet and a more vigorous grower, and miho, known for being the most cold tolerant.

You will find this fruit tree at the nursery, usually in a five gallon black plastic container.  Repot it into a container of at least 20-gallon capacity soon after purchase.  Select a lightweight plastic container so you can easily move it in on frost days.  

Plant in loose peat moss.  Don’t add sand or soil.  Feed it a slow release fertilizer designed for citrus grown in pots. Do not over water. If you test the dirt and it is dry six inches from the top, water it.  In hot summers, watering should increase.  The most common cause of the demise of a satsuma tree is overwatering.  In the wet season, it may be ok to go two or three weeks without being watered.

The blooms in early spring have a heavenly fragrance, and fruit becomes ripe in October.  The tree is evergreen; with attractive shiny leaves all year.

The fruit should be harvested after it has been on the tree for a week after becoming ripe.  Ripeness is indicated when the skins of the fruit turn to their darkest shade of orange.

Grown in a sufficiently large container you should have fruit for several years; mandarins about the size of a tennis ball. The tree grows four to six feet tall at the most.



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