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Everything You Need To Know about Clementine Trees

Clementine trees bear an abundance of juicy, nearly seedless oranges with just a hint of acid.

Author Image Written by Brenda Woods Updated 05/28/2024

Clementine trees bear small, sweet oranges that ripen just in time for the winter holiday season. These Christmas oranges are virtually seedless, easy to peel, and much less acidic than other mandarin oranges. Best of all, you can grow them at home. Clementines are surprisingly cold-tolerant and compact enough to keep as a houseplant.

Whether you plan to grow your clementine indoors or outdoors, our guide covers everything you need to know about growing these cold-hardy citrus trees.

Clementine Trees at a Glance

Easy-to-peel fruit that is virtually seedless
Self-pollinating and cold hardy
Great houseplants
Can fruit in the first to third year
Fruit ripens early


Clementine trees have a rounded canopy of glossy, dark green leaves that keep their color year-round. Their tidy shape and evergreen foliage make them attractive additions to landscapes, patios, and indoor rooms.

In spring, clementine trees produce fragrant white blossoms with a sweet, citrusy aroma that attracts pollinators. These blossoms eventually give way to bright orange fruits, ready to be picked from November to January.

Clementine trees can grow up to 25 feet tall in ideal conditions, but their naturally compact growth habit makes them easily manageable. They are typically pruned to a height of 6–10 feet, especially when grown in containers.

If you notice crimped leaves or undersized green fruit on your clementine tree, it could be infected with Huanglongbing (HLB). This disease, also known as citrus greening, is a bacterial infection spread by psyllids that feed on citrus trees. Though there is no known cure, you can take steps to prolong the life of the tree and increase its yield. Landscape contractor Roger Cook demonstrates how in the video below: 

Clementine Tree Specifications

Here’s a snapshot of what to expect when growing clementine trees:


Glossy, round canopy of dark green leaves year-round. White blossoms in spring that turn into shiny orange fruits in fall.


25 feet unpruned, commonly 6–10 feet

Hardiness Zones

Zones 8–11 outside, Zones 4–11 on patio/inside

Type of tree


Sunlight requirements

Full sun to partial shade

Soil composition

Fertile, mildly acidic, sandy soil

Hardiness Zones

USDA Hardiness Zones indicate the regions where plants can grow based on minimum winter temperatures. Clementine trees can be planted outside in Zones 8–11, in the South and Southwest along the Gulf Coast and up the West Coast.

Potted clementine trees can also withstand the temperatures in Zones 4–7, as long as they are brought indoors during cold winters. This makes them suitable for nearly everywhere in the U.S. except the northernmost parts of Montana, North Dakota, Maine, and Alaska.


The best time to plant your clementine tree is spring or fall. We recommend taking these steps:

  • Start by choosing a planting site that receives plenty of sunlight—at least six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight per day.
  • Pull any weeds and clear away any debris and turfgrass.
  • Dig a hole three times wider than the container your clementine tree came in but at the same depth.
  • Tease the roots of the root ball gently with your hand or a small spade.
  • Place your clementine tree in the hole.
  • Fill it halfway with soil, then add water up to the top.
  • Once it drains away, finish filling the hole.
  • Apply a 2–3 inch layer of mulch over the roots to help conserve moisture, being careful not to let the mulch touch the trunk.

If you plant your clementine tree in a container, make sure it has drainage holes. After planting, water your tree thoroughly. Whenever you water, make sure excess water flows out of the drainage holes.

Clementine trees are hardy and low-maintenance.

Clementine trees thrive in full sun, or six hours of direct, unfiltered sunlight per day. They can also grow in partial shade, but their crop will be less abundant.

Clementine trees are adaptable to a range of soil types but flourish in slightly acidic, sandy, well-drained soils. To improve drainage, add perlite or sand to the soil.

Clementine trees need consistently moist soil—but never soggy. For the first year after planting, water every two to three days. Water whenever the top 2 inches of the soil feel dry, which typically means weekly waterings.

If your clementine tree is in a container, remember to empty the water tray regularly to ensure proper drainage.

Feed your in-ground clementine tree every other month, using a specially formulated citrus fertilizer. If your clementine tree is in a container, follow the same schedule with an additional treatment before you place it outside in summer.

In general, clementine trees do not require pruning. But if you spot any dead, diseased, or damaged limbs, you should prune them immediately.

Prune in the spring if you want to ensure that the shade beneath your tree is dappled. Be careful not to prune fruiting or flowering branches, and never prune more than a third of your tree at a time.

In general, your clementine tree will begin producing fruit within two to three years of planting, but some nurseries sell clementines that fruit the first year.

Your clementines will ripen from November to February. They will not ripen once picked, so choose your time wisely. You can tell they’re ready when their green skin turns completely orange.

You can store clementines for roughly one week in a cool, dry area. You can also refrigerate them in the crisper drawer or a mesh bag.

Our Conclusion

Clementine trees can be a delightful addition to any garden or patio. They offer sweet, easy-to-peel fruit and attractive evergreen foliage in a compact and surprisingly cold-hardy package. With proper care, you can enjoy the delicious taste of homegrown Christmas oranges for years to come.

FAQ About Clementine Trees

How big do clementine trees grow?

Clementine trees can grow to be 25 feet tall if planted in the ground and left unpruned. When planted in indoor containers, they are typically pruned to 6–10 feet.

How long does it take a clementine tree to produce fruit?

Most clementine trees produce fruit within two to three years of planting, but some bear fruit in the first year. Clementines may take up to six years to reach full production.

Are clementine trees self-pollinating?

Yes, clementine trees are self-pollinating. That means you only need one clementine tree to get an abundant crop of fruit.

Where can clementines grow?

Clementines can grow nearly anywhere in the U.S. They thrive in warm climates (USDA Zones 9–11) but can be grown in containers in cooler zones (down to USDA Zone 4) and brought indoors during winter.

How cold-hardy are clementine trees?

Clementines are one of the most cold-hardy citrus varieties, tolerating temperatures down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit for short periods.

Are clementines and mandarins the same?

Clementines are a type of mandarin orange, but not all mandarins are clementines. Clementines stand out for their seedless, easy-to-peel nature and sweet flavor.

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