Sunburst Tangerine Tree

Growing Zones in Ground: 8 - 11 / in Pots: 4 - 11


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1 Gallon 2 - 3 FT $56.95 04/04
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Sunburst Tangerine Trees both produce medium-sized, round fruits with a sunburst shape on the stem end giving it its name. The fruits have brilliant, dark-orange, easy to peel rind and flesh that bursts with sweet and juicy flavor making them pleasing not only to the eyes but also to the palate.

The Sunburst Tangerine Tree, botanical name Citrus reticulata Sunburst, is an evergreen citrus tree of the flowering family Rutaceae. It originated as a cross between two citrus hybrids, the Robinson and Osceola in 1961. It was released by C. J. Hearn of the United States Department of Agriculture in Orlando for commercial use in 1979.

This small citrus tree is moderately vigorous with an up-right, spreading growth habit. Like other tropical citrus trees, dwarf tangerine trees and standard-sized tangerine trees are best grown outdoors in USDA hardiness zones 8 to 11. It is nearly thornless and has deep-green, glossy foliage making it great for landscaping when you want to add a nice splash of greenery to a backyard or patio. What makes this tangerine tree even better is that it produces beautiful, sweet-smelling blossoms that add appeal to the tree as well as a wonderful fragrance when in bloom.
Tangerine trees can be used for hedges around the house since you can easily prune them to any shape and size you want. You can also line pathways with tangerine trees to provide shade and heavenly fragrance that you, your family and your friends can enjoy.

Sunburst Tangerine Trees both produce medium-sized, round fruits with a sunburst shape on the stem end giving it its name. The fruits have brilliant, dark-orange, easy to peel rind and flesh that bursts with sweet and juicy flavor making them pleasing not only to the eyes but also to the palate.

Citrus Tree Care

If you are planning on growing citrus trees it is best to buy citrus trees from legitimate and trustworthy nurseries who have years of experience in grafting and growing the citrus trees they sell to home growers and enthusiasts.

Seasonal Information: Tangerine trees are categorized as tropical trees and do well in hotter climates where winter temperatures are constantly warm. USDA plant hardiness zones 8 to 11 are ideal for outdoor planting where there is no danger of possible frost damage during cold months. For zones outside 8 to 11 you can still plant this citrus tree in a pot and bring it indoors when temperature outside is to drop to below 32º. Also, the optimal time to plant Sunburst Tangerine tree outdoors is in spring and fall since it is sensitive to cold temperatures.

Planting Location: Citrus trees love humidity and thrive in full sun. If you are planting your citrus trees outdoors make sure they properly spaced about 8 to 10 feet apart to give them ample space to grow. Select a location where they can get about 6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day. Make sure that the location has well draining soil since citrus trees do not do well in areas with standing water.

In Ground Planting Directions: If planting outdoors in USDA plant hardiness zones 8 to 11 see the planting directions below:

  • Dig a hole that is as deep and twice as wide as the tree’s root system.
  • Place the tree in the hole and fill with acidic, well-draining, sandy soil.
  • Lightly pat down the soil while backfilling to prevent air pockets from forming.
  • Deeply water the tree for 5 minutes right after planting. Mulch around the Sunburst tangerine tree to help insulate the roots and keep the plant warm during colder months.

Potted Planting Directions:
For zones outside 8 to 11, use a pot that is slightly bigger than the container your tree arrived in. Choose a container with lots of holes at the bottom to ensure good drainage. You can add a base with built-in casters to easily move the tree indoors during cold months, and outdoors during warmer weather.

  • Fill the pot halfway with acidic, well-draining soil. Gently remove the tree from the container it arrived in and place it in the potting soil.
  • Fill in around the tree with your potting soil without covering the grafted section of the tree. Leave an inch from the top of the soil to the rim of the pot for easy watering and to avoid water spilling.
  • Gently pack down the soil to avoid air pockets from forming. Deeply water the citrus tree immediately after planting and do not stop until water flows from the holes at the bottom of the pot.
  • Place the fruit tree near a south-facing window where it can get plenty of sunlight.

Fertilization: Sunburst Tangerine trees should be fed with a well balanced citrus fertilizer once every six weeks during spring and summer to increase root mass and ensure a healthy growth cycle. Cut back on giving your tree fertilizer for citrus trees to once every 2 to 3 months during fall and winter seasons to prevent tender flush growth that is susceptible to freeze damage.

Fruit & Harvesting


Sunburst Tangerine trees produce fragrant, small to medium-sized (around 21/2 to 3 inches in diameter) round fruits that are slightly flattened at the stem end with a depressed navel. The rind of Sunburst tangerines is smooth and fairly thin with a brilliant dark-orange color. Since the rind is loose and thin, it is easy to peel even for kids.

The fruit has 10 to 20 seeds and is portioned into 11 to 14 segments. The flesh is deep orange, extremely juicy, and utterly sweet with mild acid flavor.

Sunburst tangerines are great as snack fruit and can be added in salads, used as a garnish for main dishes, and baked into desserts.

Aside from their awesome taste, Sunburst tangerines are also a good source of Vitamin C and A, dietary fiber, Calcium, Phosphorus, and other nutrients that are good for the body.


Sunburst Tangerines are in season from November to December and should be harvested as soon as they ripen since they do not keep well on the tree.

Look for a fruit with a good shade of orange and a slight give when squeezed. Pick the fruit with hand clippers to avoid damaging the rind. Do a taste test and check if the fruit has reached its optimal juiciness and flavor. If it has, harvest the other fruits from the tree with a hand pruner but if not leave the fruits on the tree for another week then do another taste test. Consume the freshly picked tangerines in 2 weeks or refrigerate for longer storage life. Do not place inside a plastic bag when storing, as the picked fruit in such a bag is prone to mold.


Growing Zones


  • Sunburst Tangerine Trees are somewhat self-incompatible and tend to be alternate-bearing, which means they will produce a heavy crop once per year, and then produce a lighter crop the following year. To produce maximum fruit set, this citrus tree should be planted near adequate pollinator trees like Temple, Orlando, Nova, Minneola, Robinson and Fallglo.
  • During years of heavy fruit set, thinning should be considered to increase the fruit size.
  • Tangerine trees do not require pruning unless you want to keep them at a specific height or size. If planted in a container, the tree should be repotted every 3 or 4 years in a container one size larger than the one it is currently planted in.

Pests and Diseases

  • Sunburst tangerine trees are tolerant of snow scale and scab but are susceptible to citrus mite. Citrus mites are minute insects that primarily cause fruit damage and leaf injury that results in premature leaf drop.
  • Strong healthy trees can withstand small mite infestation. However, if the infestation is bad, citrus mites can cause real damage to your fruit trees. You can use beneficial insects to control citrus mite population. For major infestation you can use a miticide spray and cover all parts of the tree to get rid of citrus mites.
  • Phytophthora Rot is a fungal infection caused by fungal pathogens, P. citrophthora and P. parasitica, that usually live in citrus soils. Winter root rot is caused by P. citrophthora, while P. parasitica is active during warm weather. Symptoms include peeling bark on crown roots and trunk at soil level. Reddish-brown resin might also be seen oozing from the infected areas and a girdling of the trunk may also be observed. This disease generally results in plant decline like branch and twig dieback, yellow chlorosis of leaf veins, fruit drop, defoliation, and in its advanced/final stage may result in plant death.
  • Applying fungicide containing Mefenoxam on soil when there are new root flushes in early spring can control infections. Follow up with 1 or 2 more application in 3 month intervals. You can also do foliar applications of fungicides with fosetyl-al to manage the infection.


How big will a Sunburst Tangerine tree get?

Sunburst Tangerine trees are considered to be on the smaller end of standard-sized citrus trees. Mature trees reach a height of 12 to 14 feet, and a width of up to 10 feet.

What other trees are good pollinators for the Sunburst Tangerine?

The recommended pollinator trees for Sunburst Tangerines include Temple, Orlando Tangelo, Nova, Robinson Tangerine, and Minneola Tangelo.

Does the Sunburst Tangerine tree require a pollinator?

Yes. The Sunburst Tangerine is only partially self-fertile and it is recommended that growers plant these trees within close proximity to a pollinator variety.

Can a Sunburst Tangerine tree survive freezing temperatures?

Yes. Although freezing temperatures will damage fruit, a Sunburst Tangerine tree can survive temperature drops to as low as 15 to 20 degrees Fahrenheit. They can be grown outdoors in USDA Zones 8 to 10.