CITRUS x tangelo 'Minneola' ('Honeybell')
Plant Common Name
Honeybell Tangelo, Tangelo
Surprisingly sweet and tart, easy to peel and eat, tangelos are favored by citrus gourmands and often planted in backyard orchards. These large evergreen trees are either a happy accident or purposeful cross between a grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi) and tangerine (Citrus x reticulata). The hybrids were first described in both California and Florida in the late 1890s.
Tangelo trees have upright, rounded crowns covered with large, glossy, linear, pointed leaves. Flowers appear from late winter to spring and may be single or clustered. The white, fragrant blooms are highly attractive to honeybees, which produce honey. Tangelos are not self-fruitful and require a pollinating cultivar planted nearby. Trees are often alternate bearing, which means they produce a heavy crop one year and a lighter crop the next. Most are grafted on to rootstocks, which impart tolerances to soils, pests and climate conditions.
The cultivar ‘Minneola’ is often called honeybell and is a hybrid between a ‘Duncan’ grapefruit and a ‘Dancy’ tangerine. The fruits are fragrant, round and have a pronounced neck. They are covered with leathery skin that becomes bright orange to red-orange when ripe. The juicy, sweet sections have many or few seeds, depending pollination. Fruits usually ripen in mid-winter and are harvested quickly to preserve the sweet flavor. Minneola trees can be shy bearing, particularly in home orchards due to problems with pollination and maintenance, but tend to be heavy producers in commercial groves.
Cold sensitive, tangelos prefer locations with warm, dry winters, and cool summers. They require full sun and are tolerant of most soils, even poor soils, with ample drainage. Though moderately drought tolerant once established, they must have regular applications of water for good fruit production. Regular fertilization is also required as they are heavy feeders. Tangelo trees are large and need plenty of space for their crowns to grow.
Citrus trees, when grafted onto dwarfing rootstocks and pruned, make good tub or conservatory specimens where not hardy and attract the North America giant swallowtail butterfly which uses this and other citrus as larval food. Tangelos are one of the most popular varieties for eating out of hand, gift fruit and fresh fruit shipping.