How to Keep a Mandarin Tree Healthy


Growing up, mandarins (alongside apples) were my favorite fruit. Not only is the fruit tasty, but a beautiful looking mandarin tree can be a wonderful addition to your backyard or garden. Having a mandarin tree at optimal health is key to having it look its best.

If you want a healthy mandarin tree, some factors you need to be aware of include: mulching, pruning, sunlight, sunburn prevention, watering and fertilizing.

Mulching

Mulching is an important component of growing a mandarin tree. It provides a lot of functions and is crucial in supporting the health of your tree. Mulch is a material that can be made up of many different substances,  most  commonly these substances include:  twigs, straw, grass clippings, wood chips and leaves.  The mulch should be spread out over the surface of the ground below the canopy of the tree. Preferably, the thickness of the mulch layer should be no more than three inches  in thickness.  If it is any thicker than that, then air may be cut off air to the ground and the roots of the tree may be prevented from receiving crucial oxygen.  Thick mulch may also prevent water from seeping down into the ground and to the roots of your mandarin tree.

Some of the benefits of mulching include the protection of the roots against both hot and  cold weather. It can also prevent nutrients from being washed away from under the tree.  Another great benefit of mulching is that it kills the existing vegetation on the surface which are competing for nutrients with your mandarin tree. The mulch also, when it begins to break down, can provide a lot of nutritional value for mandarin tree. Additionally, if you were to apply manure under your mandarin tree the mulch would prevent the manure from burning the roots of your tree. 

A danger of mulching  that you must consider is that it could result in stem rot if placed up against the bark and trunk of the tree.  Mulch has the ability to retain moisture so when it rubs up against the bark of the tree it could result in bark rotting. This could in turn cause serious problems for the tree, including the inability of it  to properly absorb water and nutrients. 

Therefore, it is advisable that the mulch remain at least two or three inches away from the base of the tree . 

Sunlight

One of the main contributing factors for the achievement of a healthy mandarin tree is  sunlight . Sunlight is the mandarin tree’s biggest energy source. Make sure to plant your tree in an area where it will receive as much sunlight as possible. If you live in a cooler climate you should also think about having the tree positioned in warm location as well.  If you are in a climate that isn’t as hot as a subtropical zone then having your tree next to a warm wall that receives a lot of sunlight during the cooler part of the year may be a good place for it.

Pruning

A little bit of pruning can go a long way when trying to optimize the health of your mandarin tree. Are there particular branches and twigs on your tree that don’t produce leaves or fruit? Then this could be deadwood. It would be wise to remove them. Not only will this let a bit more light into other parts of the tree, but it also improves air circulation. Air circulation can in turn reduce the amount of disease and pests within your mandarin tree.

Sunburn Prevention

As stated earlier mandarin trees love sunlight, however too much sunlight can have some negative effects on the health of the tree. Exposed bark that isn’t shaded by branches may be susceptible to severe sunburn in extremely hot climates. Therefore, if you are worried about tree sunburn or if you have already had some burning issues and you want to prevent it in the future, then there is a quick fix that can be a solution to your problem. 

Whitewashing is the process of painting parts of your tree white so it reflects the sunshine and prevents it from burning.  There are commercial white washing products that are dedicated for plant sunburn prevention. These products oftentimes have low toxicity and won’t be particularly harmful to your tree. The most important parts of the trees should be whitewashed. This would include the main trunk of the tree and large important branches.

Whitewashing is a simple procedure to carry out and makes a lot of sense logically. Just think about the amount of people in hot climates that wear white or light colored clothes because it cools them down. The same science is behind the whitewashing of trees.

There are some multi-purpose whitewashing products that contain properties that prevents disease and pests from infecting your tree. Hence, these specific  whitewashing products in question can be applied on particularly vulnerable parts of your  tree, including areas that have been cut, and also open tree wounds.

Fertilizing

Citrus trees need a lot of nutrients. It is due to the mineral rich locations that they evolved in. Fertilizing can be done once every 4 to 8 weeks during spring and summer. When fall and winter come along, fertilizing can be spaced out to 8 to 12 weeks. When the tree is more established there is little need to fertilize during autumn/winter period. Additionally, when the tree is in this older period of existence fertilizing during the spring/summer period can be reduced to every 8 to 12 weeks. 

Some macro-nutrients that mandarin trees need include nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. These macro-nutrients can be applied to the ground in the form of commercial fertilizer product mixes. Oftentimes, these fertilizers contain micro-nutrients as well. It could be wise however to consider purchasing micro nutrient-mixes separately instead. Micro-nutrients can  get lost in the ground or mulch when applied under the tree. You could instead consider spraying micro-nutrients on the leaves of the trees. Some of these micro-nutrient mixes include ingredients such as magnesium, zinc and iron. All of which promote the health of your tree.

Watering

If there is limited watering of your tree during the flowering and fruit onset phases then the mandarin tree may believe it is in a drought and begin acting accordingly. This could result in your tree conserving energy and withholding fruit production. Watering should hence be generously carried out during this time.

Another important suggestion for healthy fruit production is to water your tree right before harvest. This will result in the increased likelihood of healthy and moist fruit being produced. 

Not only is watering important for efficient and healthy fruit production, but for the overall health of the tree.  Water is needed by the tree to absorb nutrients from the ground. Fruit dropping may be a sign of your tree not receiving enough water. You can check the moisture levels of the tree’s roots by using a water meter that you stick into the ground, giving you a water moisture reading. 

Make sure not to have your tree somewhere that is waterlogged. Citrus trees evolved in subtropical Mediterranean type climates so the soil that a mandarin tree lives in should resemble this. When your tree is watered the soil should quickly dry but not instantly. You should be able to tell by touching the mulch if there is a little moisture left, so you won’t need to over water. 

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