Orlando TangeloCitrus x tangelo ‘Orlando’
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Citrus x tangelo ‘Orlando’
Outdoor Growing zone
The Orlando Tangelo is a unique citrus fruit that is half tangerine and half-grapefruit. It looks like an orange and has a unique flavor that is both sweet and zesty, as well as an abundant flow of juice. The fruits can be harvested between November and February, bringing lots of citrus goodness to your table through those cold winter months. If you don’t live in an area where it can grow outdoors year-round, plant it in a pot and keep it indoors for the coldest months. The beautiful white blossoms are fragrant with the classic ‘orange-blossom’ perfume.
The Orlando Tangelo should be planted in full sun and in any well-drained soil. Plant on a mound if your soil is often wet. Potted trees should be grown in large pots with drainage holes, in a specially-blended citrus soil or in a mixture of one part houseplant soil and three parts cactus soil. Any pests can be controlled safely with Neem Oil, and no special pruning or growing techniques are needed. For more details on growing in pots, see how here.
For many people citrus fruits begin and end with oranges and lemons – and maybe the occasional tangerine or grapefruit. The world is much bigger than that, and there are many unique citrus fruits with distinctive flavors. When choosing fruit to grow at home there is a lot to be said for avoiding ordinary things that can be picked up at any store. Why grow oranges when you can buy them by the bag for very little? With more unique and unusual fruits you get something special that you aren’t going to find on sale the next time you shop. The tangelo is a fruit like that – unique, special and very different. A perhaps unlikely cross between a tangerine and grapefruit, the result is a fruit as big as an orange, with a unique flavor that is both zesty and sweet, a strong orange color in both the skin and flesh, and an abundant flow of tasty juice. Ripe between November and February it’s a great winter treat and for those who need to know it doesn’t have the interactions with cholesterol-reducing statin drugs that bans grapefruit to many people.
The Orlando Tangelo grows rapidly into a moderately-vigorous evergreen tree that can be 15 feet or more tall and 8 to 10 feet wide. It has similar cold-resistance to a tangerine – that is, more than an orange. The leaves are oval, glossy and dark-green, 3 to 5 inches long, with a cupped shape characteristic of this particular tree. It flowers in spring, with clusters of white blossoms. These have thick petals and a beautiful ‘orange blossom’ scent. This variety of citrus is not as good a self-pollinator as most other varieties, and gives the biggest crop when grown near different types of tangerines, such as the Dancy Tangerine – add one to your citrus collection if you don’t already have one, it’s a wonderful fruit.
The fruits develop slowly over summer, growing to about 3 inches across – the size of an orange – with a very strong skin color. Most tangelos have a fat neck, a little like a gourd, but this variety doesn’t, just a slight grapefruit-like mounding of the top half. The skin is thin and clings to the flesh, making juicing very easy. The flesh is fragrant, tasty, and combining sweet and zesty elements in a perfect balance. It produces a heavy flow of juice so your morning pick-up will be ready in seconds. There are usually quite a few seeds in this fruit. Your first tangelos will be ripe in November and continue ripening and holding on the tree throughout January and often up to the middle of February too. This long season means no waste and even a heavy crop will all be used by the end of the season.
The Orlando Tangelo is a great tree to grow on a lawn or around your home. It throws year-round shade, which is just what you want in hot parts of the country. In cooler areas it can be grown in a pot or tub, and placed on a terrace or patio for the summer months. It should be brought indoors into a bright but cool place once night temperatures dip to 40 degrees, and put out again when they are between 40 and 50. The ideal indoor environment is cool – 40 to 50 degrees is plenty – rather than a hot living room.
Hardier than an orange, the Orlando Tangelo will grow in warmer parts of zone 8, in areas such as southern Texas and Georgia, and all through zones 9 and 10. Outside the ‘citrus belt’ it can be grown in a container.
Citrus trees all need plenty of sun, and the Orlando Tangelo is no exception. It will grow in almost any well-drained soil, and in wetter soils it can be planted on a low mound. For pots use a well-drained mixture. Special citrus blends are often available, or combine one part regular houseplant soil with three parts of cactus soil. Trees indoors often fail to set fruit because they are not pollinated by insects. When flowers appear cross-pollinate them with a tangerine – for details on how to do this, check out the simple methods in this blog.
Like other citrus, the Orlando Tangelo can have occasional pests like scale insects or mealy bugs. These are rarely serious problems, and we recommend Neem Oil Spray as the best and safest control. Little or no pruning is needed, and avoid cutting back hard because this will disrupt the flowering cycle. Pot-grown plants should be fed regularly with a suitable citrus-tree fertilizer.
There are several distinct species or natural hybrids of citrus, including the tangerine or mandarin, Citrus reticulata and the grapefruit, Citrus x paradisi. That fruit is itself a hybrid between the orange and the pomelo (Citrus maxima), found in Jamaica in the 18th century. Walter Tennyson Swingle was an agricultural botanist, and an early expert on citrus fruits, writing a 5-volume book on them. He worked in Florida for the US Department of Agriculture, and in 1897, while stationed in Eustice, he crossed together a Dancy tangerine and a Duncan grapefruit, considered at the time to be a type of pomelo. This gave us the first tangelo, which was originally named ‘Lake’ but later changed to ‘Orlando’.
A garden of unusual and more exotic fruits is so much more interesting than just growing the ‘same old, same old’ that you can pick up anywhere. Start your citrus collection with the Orlando Tangelo, adding a Dancy or a Sunburst Tangerine, and perhaps a delicious Washington Navel Orange and a Rio Red Grapefruit too. You will be all set for winter fruit, but order now because our citrus collection always sells well, and our stock never lasts long.