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Kumquat Tree Guide: How to Grow & Care For Kumquat Trees

Guide to the Kumquat Tree for everything you will ever need to know! Tips for planting, growing & caring for Kumquat Trees (Citrus japonica)
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Kumquat trees are native to eastern Asia and symbolize good luck.  You should eat this small, acid fruit should whole, the rind and all, and they are sour and then sweet.

Kumquats are small trees that make it perfect for growing in a small backyard.  The bright orange, citrus fruit is excellent for marmalades, dried, or as made into preserves.  There are very few seeds in the kumquat fruit, and the rinds are sweet, regardless of how acidic the inside is.

The Kumquat Tree

Kumquat trees, also known as kumquat plants, have no thorns and very glossy leaves.  Before bearing fruit, you will see dainty, small white flowers that can occur individually or in clusters inside the leaves.  The plants can reach heights between six feet and eight feet.

The fruit can range anywhere from yellow to bright orange and can be round or oval in shape.

There are different four types of kumquats out there, including Nagami, Meiwa, Marumi, and Hong Kong.  Nagami is the most popular and well-known; this is a small, oval fruit.

Meiwa is a hybrid of Magami and Marumi, and it is more massive and more round in nature.  Marumi is the largest of the fruits, and it is round and spicier in flavor than most.  Hong Kong is a version that is only native in mountainous or hilly regions in China.

Kumquat Trees Growing
Kumquat Trees Growing

One of the most natural things about a kumquat tree is that they are self-pollinating, so you do not need to grow multiple trees; one will be enough.  The spring is going to be the ideal time to start planting a new tree from seed, as there are higher chances of rain and lots of sunshine.  Early spring is the best time when you are transplanting a sapling as well.

Fruiting Cycle

Typically, the flowering season of the kumquat is early, but the fruit will come much later.  These flowers can last late spring into summer if the humidity and heat are right.

Typically, the harvest from this plant begins in November and goes through January.  It also can go from December to April.

You will be able to tell when the fruit is ripe because it will be soft to the touch and deep orange.  You’ll want to use scissors or pruning shears to pluck the fruit.  You can also trim along a smaller branch to get the fruit off as well.  Always be careful when plucking because kumquats do not have a long shelf life, so once you pluck, they will last most likely a week, no longer.  It is better to store these fruits in the fridge.

Caring for Your Kumquat Tree

These trees are easy to grow; however, if you are one to neglect your plants, this is not the one for you.  Below is a breakdown of exactly what you need to know whenever you are first starting your kumquat tree.  You must shower your tree with lots of attention and care for it to thrive and produce lots of delicious fruit.

When you are first purchasing your kumquat tree, finding a tree that has a healthy root system is significant.  You’ll want this before putting your attention into the fruiting.  Ensuring the root system will last before purchasing allows you more focus and time on getting the soil right and fertilizing your new plant.

Sunlight Requirements

When you are dealing with kumquat plants, you want them to have at least six to seven hours of full, direct sunlight per day, and this will help with their root development in the beginning.

As they grow, eight to ten hours is better for a healthy, happy plant.  If you are growing these trees indoors in a pot, make sure that you keep them near a window so that way they can receive maximum sunlight.

In the summer, bringing these plants outdoors will produce the best possible fruit.

If temperatures drop below 18 degrees, kumquat trees cannot survive, so make sure to bring them back in at night if it is colder.

Kumquat Trees can be grown in pots
Kumquat Trees can be grown in pots

Temperature and Humidity Needed

When looking to grow and produce incredible kumquat fruit, the humidity will be your friend.   A kumquat tree thrives in the heat and moisture and can survive in the cold, as long as it does not get below 18 degrees.

When to Water

The key to any kumquat tree is watering at the appropriate time.  The soil for this plant needs to be moist but not soaking wet.  You also want to ensure that the pot that you are growing the tree in has plenty of drainages and that the soil can drain any excess water away.

When the plant is young, you’ll want to water it at least two to three times a week.  As the plant matures and grows, you can slowly stop watering it so much.

To check for how wet the soil is, stick your finger in at least three to four inches into the soil. If you feel dampness, you will not need to water it.  You will want to wait until the soil is drier before watering again.  The soil should be moist but not muddy for the healthiest of plants.

What Soil Works

Professional gardeners are continually checking to make sure that the soil’s pH balance is perfect for the right plants, with kumquat trees, it will do well in pretty much any ground.

There are some things that you want to avoid when looking to plant this tree, clay-like soils that do not drain well.  You want a soil that quickly drains, and if you are growing directly in the ground, you should do a drainage test before planting.

A drainage test is where you dig a hole in the ground where you are thinking about putting the plant, at least a foot deep, and then fill the void with water.

If the water empties within 20 minutes, then you are in perfect soil conditions for a kumquat plant.  If it stays there for over an hour, you will want to seek another place to plant.

What Fertilizer to Use

As stated before, kumquat trees are straightforward to care for and need regular fertilizer.  In the spring, you’ll want to give this plant slow-release, all-purpose citrus fertilizer.

Dr. Earth Organic 9 Fruit Tree Fertilizer is Perfect

As the plant grows up, you can start to provide liquid fertilizer, like liquid kelp or fish emulsion.  An occasional basis versus a regular basis is excellent when dealing with liquid fertilizers. You will want to avoid getting it on the tree itself. Instead, you want to apply it directly to the soil alone.

When to Prune

The easy maintenance of a kumquat tree is that it does need much care in pruning — just an easy removal of the damaged or dead branches.

Shaping the tree should be done before the flowering months, and it is necessary unless you have a particular look.  If the leaves are crowding the airflow throughout the tree, an occasional prune to open up the airflow may be essential to ensure the flowering can happen.

Pests and Diseases Which can Affect Your Tree

Mealybug infestations are the highest pest for kumquat trees; they quickly get infested and should be watched.  Leaf miners, aphids, and citrus scale are also three things that can attack your kumquat tree.

If you are placing directly in the ground, you will want an excellent insecticidal soap or neem oil around it to combat the infestations.

Anthracnose is also another common disease for citrus trees such as a kumquat tree.  The telltale sign is spotting on the leaves, and horticultural oil can clear it up quickly.

Citrus blast is another common bacterial infection that can spread throughout your plant through the wind.  It causes withering leaves and can lead to the complete death of the tree.  You will want to use a copper-based fungicide to kill off the bacteria caused by citrus blast if your plant contracts it.

The last disease that could affect your plant is phytophthora root rot, while this is another fungal-based disease that is caused by overly-soggy soil, which that means that you are overwatering your trees.  If you stop overwatering, the problem should clear up.

Repotting Kumquat Trees

If you are growing your kumquat tree indoors or even just on your porch in a container, you will want to repot it every two to three years.  You’ll want a pot that is at least a few inches bigger than the previous one.  The early part of spring, before the flowering season is ideal for repotting, as it can be stressful for the plant to get resettled in a new pot.

Make sure to repot when your tree grows
Make sure to repot when your tree grows

Conclusion

Owning and caring for a kumquat tree is not hard for a beginner gardener; you need to do your research first.  Understanding the right conditions, how often to water, the correct soil, and what can happen if your plant ends up with a disease or a pest is essential.

Finding the right tree is also crucial.  Purchasing a kumquat tree that is root-bound or infested can set you back on how long it takes for your tree to start producing delicious kumquats for you.

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Hollie Carter

Hollie is a life-long gardener, having started helping her Dad work on their yard when she was just 5. Since then she has gone on to develop a passion for growing vegetables & fruit in her garden. She has an affinity with nature and loves to share her knowledge gained over a lifetime with readers online. Hollie has written for a number of publications and is now the resident garden blogger here at GardenBeast. Contact her at hollie@gardenbeast.com or follow on twitter https://twitter.com/greenholliec

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