Instructions for Planting a Tangerine Seed

Tangerine Seed

Tangerines from Seeds

Tangerines (Citrus reticulata) are a widespread citrus species that people value for their juicy, easily peeled fruit and neat growth habit. They are often called mandarin oranges or satsumas. Grafting is the most effective method of propagation to maintain their beneficial traits; however, fresh seeds can also be used for growth. If you plant and maintain tangerine seeds correctly, they do not need treatment beforehand and will consistently sprout. However, the progeny trees might not resemble or produce fruit like the parent tree.

Preparing Tangerine Seeds

Harvest tangerine seeds in late winter or early spring when the fruit is ripe and in season. Clean the teardrop-shaped seeds inside each tangerine, discarding shriveled or discolored ones. Rinse the seeds in clean, cool water to remove sugar residue, and then sow them immediately to prevent drying. If you cannot plant them immediately, dry the seeds overnight and store them in a bag of moistened peat moss in the fridge until you are ready to use them.

Planting Tangerine Seeds

To sow tangerine seeds, prepare clean, sterile growing media with adequate drainage. Use a sanitizing solution of water and bleach to clean a 3-inch draining clay or plastic pot. Thoroughly rinse and dry the pot. Add moistened seed-starting media such as coir or milled peat to the pot, soaking it in water until it plumps up. Plant one tangerine seed in the center of the medium, 1/4 inch deep.

Caring for Tangerine Seeds

Tangerine seeds need warmth, moisture, and sunlight for germination. Keep the medium mildly moist, ensuring it does not dry out completely. Water when the surface feels dry, continuing until water barely trickles from the pot’s base. Place the pot near a south-facing window and use a propagation pad to warm the plant’s base. Germination typically occurs within two weeks for healthy seeds, though some may take up to two months.

Transferring Seedlings

Place tangerine seedlings in acidic potting soil in 5-inch drainage pots after they sprout. Keep the soil moist and ensure adequate light for growth. Once temperatures exceed 65 degrees Fahrenheit, transfer the seedling to a sheltered outdoor location and gradually expose it to direct sunlight. USDA Plant Hardiness Zones 8B to 11 support ground planting in spring or fall, while milder climates favor potted planting for winter indoor protection.


Tangerine fruits in stores originate from specific cultivars such as Citrus reticulata “Owari” and Citrus reticulata “Dancy,” which growers propagate asexually through cuttings or grafts to maintain their desirable traits without the risk of genetic mutations. While it’s possible to grow trees from seeds of store-bought tangerines, the resulting fruit may not achieve the same quality. Nevertheless, these trees still beautify properties with their attractive foliage, neat growth habits, and fragrant blossoms.

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