There is a wide variety of citrus fruits – lemons, limes, oranges and mandarins – to name just a few. There are also a number of hybrid citrus that were created by crossing one variety with another. One of the most widely grown and well-known of these hybrid types is the Minneola. This delicious fruit is like a giant orange and it is juicy, sweet and easy to peel like a tangerine. Although popular – or perhaps because they are so popular – it can be hard to find this fruit, and it is often an expensive ‘specialty’ item, so to best enjoy it you need to grow your own Minneola tree. Why take up room in your garden with trees that produce fruit you can buy cheaply almost anywhere? It makes a lot of sense to put your gardening work in to growing a unique plant that is either not available or always very expensive on the rare occasions it does come to a store near you.
The Minneola is hardier than a Grapefruit, so it will grow well in zones 9 to 11 without protection. In zone 8 it can be grown in a very protected location against a south-facing wall and some screening may be needed during cold spells. In colder regions it should be grown in a pot and over-wintered in a cool, brightly-lit room.
The Minneola tree grows to about 20 feet tall outdoors but of course it will be much smaller if grown in a pot. Like all citrus is grows best in a sunny location in soil that is well-drained but which does not become too dry. In dryer areas summer watering may be needed, to get the best crop. It is a tough tree and any pests or diseases will not cause serious harm beyond some marks on the skin. The best way to keep your Minneola tree healthy is to grow it in a well-drained spot – citrus trees do not like to be in wet soil. If you have a heavy soil with a lot of clay, or your garden is very damp, plant your Minneola tree on a low, wide mound that is about 6 inches above the level of the rest of your garden. That way the roots will get more air and remain healthy. One special property of the Minneola tree is that it will grow in alkaline soils where other citrus like oranges will not do well. If you live on limestone soil, the Minneola is probably the best citrus you can choose for your location.
The Minneola is a type of tangelo, which is a hybrid between a Duncan grapefruit and a Dancy tangerine. The resulting fruit is sweet like a tangerine, with an orange skin that is easily removed, but large, being almost the size of a grapefruit. It has a characteristic ‘nipple’ at the stem end of the fruit. The original tangelo was created in 1911, by W.T. Swingle, an expert on citrus who worked for the US Department of Agriculture and created several other hybrid citrus plants. The Minneola was developed later, when the same cross was repeated by the USDA in Orlando. The fruit was released in 1931. Because the top part is broader than in other tangelos, it is often called a Honeybell.
The Minneola tree is an evergreen tree with shiny, dark-green leaves and white flowers in spring. The fruits are bigger than an orange and a little smaller than a grapefruit, so one goes a long way. The skin is a beautiful deep orange color and the flesh is very juicy and sweet, with not a lot of fiber. They are very few seeds. The fruit is easily distinguished from other tangelos by the elongated bulge at the end of the fruit where the stem Is attached. Fruits ripen between October and January, so this is a perfect fruit for the Christmas holidays. Trees produce fruit when grown alone, but the crop will be heavier if you or your neighbors are growing other types of citrus trees, especially tangerines or satsumas. Pick your fruit as soon as it is ripe and store in a cool place, as leaving it on the tree for a long time after ripening can reduce the crop for the following year.
Because the Minneola is a very special tree, it must be produced the correct way. Our trees are produce by grafting pieces of named trees onto hardy roots that will protect your tree from disease and help it grow stronger. Avoid cheaper seedling trees that will only be a disappointment.
To plant your Minneola tree, choose a sheltered, sunny spot and mix some rich organic material into the soil. Water your tree once a week for the first season and then watering is only necessary when the soil becomes dry. Rich organic mulch should be applied each spring over the root zone to keep your Minneola tree growing strongly. To grow your tree in a pot, choose a large pot with drainage holes and plant the tree in a potting soil for citrus trees. Also, use a liquid fertilizer for citrus trees regularly from spring to fall. Keep your tree indoors in a cool, bright place once the temperature reaches 450F at night.
Our trees are true to the original Minneola and we are constantly receiving new stock so that our customers receive the very best product available. However this rare and unusual variety of citrus is often in short supply, so order now to avoid disappointment.