Clementines are the smallest variety of mandarin orange; they are a cross between mandarins and tangerines. Clementine trees -- native to Spain, Morocco and other parts of Northern Africa -- bear a sweet, nearly seedless fruit. Though farmers and companies that grow clementine trees on a commercial scale typically grow clementines from grafted tree buds, it is still possible to grow clementines from seeds.
Though clementines -- sometimes called "Algerian tangerines" -- are said to have existed for centuries, the fruits were not grown commercially on a large scale until 1925, when a Spanish orchard began selling clementines. Clementines were first brought to the United States in 1914, and were first imported commercially in 1982. Since then, demand for these fruits, which have a smooth and glossy peel, has increased. Clementines are especially popular with kids, since they have few seeds.
Citrus-growing farmers -- those who specialise in oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit, to name a few -- typically grow their citrus trees from "rootstock." Rootstock means that a farmer grows one nice citrus tree from a seed, and then grows the rest of his crop from branch buds grafted from that first tree. This occurs a year after the tree begins growing. Grafting a bud from the tree will ensure that the resulting crop of trees has the same characteristics as the first tree. Citrus trees grown from grafted buds take three to four years to start growing fruit.
Planting with Seeds
While it's not common for commercial or large-scale clementine farms to plant their trees from seed, it's also not unheard of. Many private gardeners growing clementines in their backyards or indoors will plant their trees using seeds. Make sure to use fresh seeds when you attempt to grow clementines. The seeds will grow best in a mixture of half peat moss and half perlite or sand. If you grow your clementine tree indoors, keep the plant in direct sunlight, and a temperature of 21.1 degrees Celsius is ideal. The plants will have to be transferred to a larger container -- or into the ground -- once the seeds begin to sprout.
When you plant clementines from seed, the resulting clementine trees will not be just like the tree your clementine seeds came from. The new tree may be bigger or smaller, and the resulting fruit may have a different sweetness or flavour than the original clementine. Seed-planted clementine trees do not bear fruit as quickly as bud-grafted seeds. It can take an extra year or two for your seed-grown clementine tree to produce fruit.