The Orlando Tangelo Tree is a cold tolerant citrus created by crossing a grapefruit with a tangerine.
The Orlando Tangelo Tree is a cold-tolerant citrus created by crossing a grapefruit with a tangerine. The result is a tree that produces medium-sized fruit that are sweet and easy to peel like tangerines, but lager and juicier than a traditional mandarin. These trees can withstand brief temperature drops to as low as 20 degrees F. Orlando Tangelo Trees can be grown in the ground in USDA zones 8 to 10, and in a pot in colder climates where overwintering indoors is necessary.
Citrus Tree Care
Although the Orlando Tangelo Tree is considered to be cold hardy for a citrus tree, it is still wise to protect the tree from the coldest weather as much as possible. Even in USDA climate zones of 8-10, if you are growing your tree in the ground, select a location that is sheltered from north winds. You can do this by planting to the south of a shed, house, or an established hedge. If temperatures are forecasted to fall below freezing, you can cover small trees with tarps or sheets to protect them from frost. Younger trees are more vulnerable to severe cold, and as the trees mature, they become more resistant to cold damage.
Like all citrus, Orlando Tangelo Trees must have soil that is well-drained. Standing water, or even prolonged saturated or soggy ground, can cause the roots of a citrus tree to rot. Even a small amount of root rot is an invitation to pests and fungi that can cause tree damage and even death. The first defense against root rot is to choose a location that is not prone to standing water. If the soil has a high amount of clay or is compacted, loosen by digging a hole that is at least 3 times the root ball size when planting. When back-filling the tree at planting time, you can add perlite, composted leaves, and sand to help drainage. Water once a week when trees are in their first year, but only if the soil is dry down to two inches from the surface.
Fruit & Harvesting
The Orlando Tangelo tree blooms in spring and the fruit will mature and be ready to eat from November through January. Orlando Tangelos are easy to peel, and most fruits are about three to four inches in diameter, making them a great size for both eating out of hand or juicing. The juice of the Orlando Tangelo is sweet, and is often mixed with juices from other citrus such as navels or tangerines to make a flavorful and refreshing drink.
Begin harvesting once the fruit has turned a bright orange in late fall or early winter. To know if the fruit is ready do a taste test on a uniformly colored, orange fruit that is slightly yielding to the touch (not hard, but somewhat soft when squeezed). The fruit should be juicy and sweet with a slightly tart flavor. If it is dry, or sour, allow it to mature for a few more days and try another taste test.
The Orlando Tangelo tree grows to about 14 feet tall, and 10 feet wide. Be sure that a newly planted tree has enough room to expand with time. Space new trees at least 12 feet apart and well away from other trees or structures. Trees grown in containers or small gardens, can be kept smaller by pruning.
Always prune and remove dead or dying branches and twigs. Do not allow fallen or pruned branches to remain under your growing citrus trees. This can encourage pests and fungi that can pose threats to the overall health of the tree. Also, it is recommended to trim low-hanging branches to keep them from touching the ground. Splashing dirt and excessive moisture caused by falling rain can damage foliage that is too close to the ground. Clean leaves and branches, and good airflow are essential for healthy trees and a vibrant citrus crop.
What is the difference between a Tangerine and an Orlando Tangelo Orange Tree?
A Tangerine is a small citrus also called a Mandarin, and many varieties of this easy to peel fruit go by many other names. An Orlando Tangelo is actually a hybrid variety created as a cross between a Tangerine and a Grapefruit. This makes a fruit that is slightly larger than other Mandarins, sweet like an orange, and easy to peel like a Tangerine.
Does my Orlando Tangelo Tree need a pollinator tree?
Orlando Tangelo Trees are known to be semi self-fertile, so they will produce fruit on a single tree in your garden. However, the yields can be dramatically increased with the addition of a second tree. The best option is to grow two Orlando Tangelos spaced at 12 feet apart in a protected well-drained area that gets plenty of direct sunlight.
How big will an Orlando Tangelo Tree get?
Mature Orlando Tangelo Trees reach a height of about fourteen feet and a width of ten to eleven feet. It is a common mistake to plant young trees too close together, or too close to a wall or other plants. When planting a new Orlando Tangelo Tree, be sure that there is at least twelve feet of free space on all sides to allow the tree to grow into its new home.
When do you pick the fruit from an Orlando Tangelo Tree?
Orlando Tangelos are ready when they are bright orange, juicy, and have a sweet, tart taste. Fruit that sets after the spring bloom will usually be mature between November and January. Since the fruit is easy to peel, use hand clippers to harvest each Tangelo, and do a taste test to be sure the ones that look ready on your tree are truly mature.