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How to Grow Satsumas From Seeds

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With their leathery leaves and sweet fruit, satsumas (Citrus reticulata) serve a dual role in landscaping as both an edible crop and ornamental shrub or tree. They are sensitive to hard frost and will only grow outdoors within U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8B to 12, where they work equally well in pots or in the garden. Satsumas grow effortlessly from seed, which germinate quickly under warm conditions. The seeds don’t require stratification or special pretreatment to successfully sprout, although they must be sown while very fresh because they rapidly lose viability once they dry out.

Collect seed from a ripe, unblemished satsuma by removing the peel and splitting the fruit in half. Pick out the pointed, pale brown seeds from the pithy white center of the fruit. Avoid seeds with black discolorations or other signs of damage.

Wrap the satsuma seeds in a moist paper towel while preparing containers. Fill 6-inch plastic pots with commercially prepared citrus potting mix or a homemade mixture of equal parts milled peat, sterile loam and medium-grit sand.

Add water to the growing mixture before sowing the satsuma seeds. Water to a 3-inch depth. Poke a 1/4-inch-deep hole in the center of the potting mix. Place the seed inside and cover it with soil. Gently firm the soil.

Place the pots indoors near a south-facing window with very bright, indirect light. Arrange the pots on a germination mat. Set the temperature to between 70 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit. Cover the pots with a sheet of plastic wrap or with a propagation dome.

Check the moisture level in the potting mix every day. Water to a 2-inch depth if the soil feels barely moist just beneath the surface. Add the water slowly to avoid dislodging or disrupting the satsuma seed.

Watch for germination in 30 to 60 days. Turn off the germination mat once the seeds sprout. Remove the plastic wrap or propagation dome when the seedlings are almost tall enough to touch it.

Move the satsuma seedlings into an insulated, lightly shaded cold frame. Open the cold frame for an increasing length of time each day to acclimate the seedlings to normal outdoor temperatures and humidity.

Move the satsumas to a sheltered area outdoors where they will receive morning and late afternoon sun, and midday shade. Provide an inch of water every five to seven days, or whenever the potting mix dries out in the top inch.

Transplant the satsumas into a permanent pot or bed in autumn as they enter dormancy. Grow them in full sun with acidic, fast-draining soil. Choose a sheltered site if growing them in an area where spring frosts are common.

How to Grow Satsumas From Seeds. With their leathery leaves and sweet fruit, satsumas (Citrus reticulata) serve a dual role in landscaping as both an edible crop and ornamental shrub or tree. They are sensitive to hard frost and will only grow outdoors within U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8B to …

Satsuma seed

1. Q. What do you know about the citrus called “satsuma”? Will it freeze in this area?

A. Texas plant lovers, even those living in apartments and condominiums, now can grow their own edible citrus. The trick is to select the right plant and use the right techniques.

The satsuma mandarin (Citrus reticulata) has shown the highest quality and most cold tolerance in field research by the Texas Cooperative Extension, according to Extension horticulturist Dr. Steve George of Dallas.

“The satsuma represents a breakthrough in home citrus production,” George said. “It’s the first citrus ever recommended virtually statewide by the Extension Service.”

First introduced from Japan in 1878, satsumas produce fragrant white blossoms in March and April. These trees are also green the year round. The fruit turns bright orange as it ripens in late October. “The colorful orange fruit against the dark green, glossy foliage truly makes a striking display,” George said.

“Satsumas’s cold tolerance extends to the mid-20s. When temperatures of 26 degrees or colder are forecast, you must bring in the plant. By growing satsumas in containers that can be brought inside, as needed, — an unheated garage will do — they can be grown successfully even in northern areas. In the Dallas area, field-tested satsumas were grown outdoors in full sun over 350 days of the year.

Citrus thrives in full sun. This plant needs eight to ten hours each day, even during the summer months. It tolerates some shade, but less sun means less fruit. In warm areas along the coast, satsumas may be grown in the ground against the sunny, southern wall of a home, if they are covered and heated during severe freezes.

“The fruit is juicy and very sweet, low in acid, and almost seedless, with an average of only 1.5 seeds per orange,” said George. “Contrast this to the 30 seeds of Changsha tangerine, satsuma’s closest competitor. Children often prefer satsumas because of the milder flavor. For maximum sweetness at harvest, leave fruit on the tree for about one week after it has completely assumed its orange color.”

The fruit from a young tree averages 1.8 inches in diameter, approximately three-quarters the size of a tennis ball. With its smooth, thin, lightly attached skin, satsumas have become known as the “kid-glove or zipper-skin citrus” due to the ease with which the skin can be removed and internal segments separated.

Satsumas grow and produce fruit for many years but may remain at a height of only 4 to 6 feet even after several years in a container. Young satsuma trees are sold primarily in 5-gallon containers. If they are to be grown as container plants, they should be shifted to a container of at least 20-gallon capacity soon after purchase. Black plastic containers are relatively inexpensive and easiest to move when you have to protect plants during a cold snap. Use a loose, open potting mix featuring sphagnum peat moss. Soil or sand is not recommended. Add a quality slow-release fertilizer formulated for container use. Follow label directions and repeat as needed for deep green foliage.

Satsumas are easy to grow if they aren’t watered too often. Water only when the mix is dry an inch below the surface. During a hot, dry summer, you may need to water every three or four days. In a wet winter, the plant may go weeks between waterings. George cautioned, “For every satsuma that dies from drought, you’ll kill 200 from overwatering.”

For a showy patio display, George suggests planting one satsuma in the middle of the 20-gallon container, then lining the container rim with transplants of trailing lantana or annuals like pansies and petunias.

Satsuma seed 1. Q. What do you know about the citrus called “satsuma”? Will it freeze in this area? A. Texas plant lovers, even those living in apartments and condominiums, now can grow