Clementine Trees: Complete Care And Growing Guide

A clementine citrus tree that bears juicy little oranges is one of the sweeter things in life, and fairly easy to grow.

(Image credit: Tanja Ivanova / Getty Images)

There’s nothing like a juicy clementine. Many people would like to grow their own clementine citrus tree. However, clementine fruit trees require warm temperatures above 50 F (10 C), and much of the country is a bit too chilly to grow these semi-tropical fruits. But it is possible to grow an indoor clementine tree. Read on to learn how to grow a clementine fruit tree in your home.

Clementine Quick Facts

  • Botanical name: Citrus clementina
  • Height: 15-25 feet (4.5-8 m)
  • Spread: 6-12 feet (2-4 m)
  • Sun exposure: Full sun to light shade
  • Soil requirements: Sandy, neutral, well-draining
  • Hardiness zones: USDA 8-11
  • When to plant: Spring or fall

Is a Clementine a Mandarin?

The Clementine is a chance hybrid of mandarin, purportedly originating in the Algerian garden of Father Clement Rodier in 1902. The mandarin is a category of citrus that includes clementine as well as tangerine. So yes, a clementine is a mandarin.

Clementine Tree Care

All citrus trees can be a bit finicky regarding their environment and care and clementine fruit trees are no exception. They require specific light, water, temperature, humidity, soil, and fertilizer to produce their delicious fruit.


Clementines will tolerate full sun to light shade, but to get them to bear fruit they need plenty of sunshine.


None of the citrus varieties like “wet feet” or soggy soil. Like its relatives, a clementine needs well-draining yet consistently moist, not sodden, soil. In the first year, water the tree every 2-3 days. Once the tree is established after the first year, water it whenever the top 2 inches (5 cm) of soil is dry to the touch.

Temperature & Humidity

Citrus trees like warm temperatures between 60-90 F (16-32 C) and are often susceptible to cold temps below 50 F (10 C). Clementine is a bit more hardy than other citrus varieties and can tolerate temperatures down to 40 F (4 C) and frost. It does, however, require significant humidity (above 50%), and should be misted daily or placed near a humidifier when grown indoors.


Clementine citrus requires well-draining, sandy soil with a pH of 5.5-6.5. You may purchase citrus soil or make your own, incorporating plenty of organic matter as well as sand for drainage.

Problems, Pests & Diseases

Clementine trees are susceptible to some growing problems. Lack of sunlight can cause yellowing leaves, cold temperatures may result in a lack of fruit, and overwatering can lead to leaf drop or root rot.

This citrus hybrid is also prone to insects such as aphids, thrips, cutworms, weevils, leafrollers, mealybugs, scales, mites and whiteflies.

Diseases that afflict clementine trees include anthracnose, canker, greasy spot, gummosis, scab, and sooty mold.

How to Plant a Clementine Tree

Plant clementine seedlings in the spring or fall. They can be planted outside in USDA zones 8-11, inside as container plants, or outside as container plants in cooler zones, but they must be brought inside when temperatures chill.


Select an area that gets at least 6 hours of sun per day. Clear the area of any weeds or detritus.

Dig a hole that is three times larger than the pot the tree came in but the same depth. Loosen the root gently. Place the tree in the ground, fill the hole up halfway with soil, then add water to the top of the hole.

Allow the water to drain then fill the hole the rest of the way with soil. Apply 2-3 inches (5-8 cm) of mulch around the tree roots; keep the mulch away from the trunk of the tree.


Make sure to select a container that has adequate drainage holes. Remove the clementine from its current container and spread out the roots gently. Fill the pot partially with soil and set the tree on top. Fill in with additional soil. Water the newly planted tree thoroughly.


Prune clementine trees in the spring to control growth as needed. Extreme pruning stimulates excessive growth which will then need to be cut the following spring, so be judicious.

Remove any dead or diseased limbs and those that cross over each other.


Besides its juicy, sunshiny flavor, one of the great things about clementine fruit is that it has no seeds most of the time. How does the tree propagate without seeds?

Clementines are produced through grafting or budding to a rootstock. Grafting means taking a scion from a plant and joining it to the rootstock of another. Budding is a different type of grafting in which the scion joined to the rootstock consists of just one bud. Budding is the most common practice for citrus propagation. Rootstocks most commonly used in this way include rough lemon and sour orange.

Clementines are not always seedless. You may find a seed or two in your little Cutie or Halo clementine, but the seed will not grow true to the parent plant.


Bring the clementine tree inside in zones 8 or colder, in the fall before the first frost. Overwinter the tree near a bright sunny southern window and mist it daily.


Clementines do not need to be repotted each year, but usually around every 4 years. If the tree has roots growing out of the bottom or top of the container, it has run out of space and needs repotting.

Look for a pot that is about 25% larger than the current pot. Again, be sure it has adequate drainage holes. Either purchase a citrus potting mix or create your own making sure to add sand for drainage and compost for nutrients.

Remove the tree from the existing pot and prune out any roots that may be brown. Place a layer of soil in the bottom of the new pot. Set the tree atop the soil and fill in with additional soil. Water the tree in well.

Keep the newly repotted tree in light shade for a few weeks to allow the roots to acclimate and grow.

Clementine Tree Varieties

There are three types of clementine available: Seedless or common which needs to be cross-pollinated, Monreal which has seeds and can self-pollinate, and Sweetclems which are quite sweet and only have 10 sections of citrus. Cultivars available include:

  • Algerian
  • Clemenules
  • Clementine del Golfo di Taranto
  • Clementine di Calabria Fina

Those good for container growing include

  • Commune
  • Red Ruby
  • Tardivo
  • Mandared

Frequently Asked Questions

Where Is the Best Place to Plant a Clementine Tree?

Plant a clementine tree in an area with rich, well-draining soil that gets at least 6 hours of sun per day, outside in USDA zones 8-11, or inside as a container-grown tree.

How Long Does It Take a Clementine Tree to Produce Fruit?

Clementine trees produce fruit within 2-3 years of planting.

Amy Grant

Amy Grant has been gardening for 30 years and writing for 15. A professional chef and caterer, Amy's area of expertise is culinary gardening.