By Amy Grant
Calamondin citrus trees are cold hardy citrus (hardy to 20 degrees F.) that are a cross between a mandarin orange (Citrus reticulata, tangerine or Satsuma) and a kumquat (Fortunella margarita) that was introduced from China to the U.S. around 1900.
Used in the United States primarily for ornamental purposes as a container plant, hedge and often as a bonsai specimen, it is cultivated throughout southern Asia and Malaysia, India and the Philippines for its citrus juice. Since the 1960’s potted calamondin citrus trees have been shipped from southern Florida to other areas of North America for use as houseplants; Israel does much the same things for the European market.
About Growing Calamondin Trees
Growing calamondin trees are small, bushy evergreens that can attain heights of 10-2- feet high but are usually much shorter in stature. Small spines are apparent on the branches of growing calamondin trees, which bear fabulous orange scented blossoms that become small orange fruit (one inch in diameter) resembling a tangerine. The segmented fruit is seedless and extremely acidic.
Amongst calamondin growing tips lays the information that this tree is hardy in USDA zones 8-11, one of the hardiest citrus varieties. Blooming in the spring months, the fruit of calamondin citrus trees persist through winter and can be used in drinks just as lemons or limes are used and also make wonderful marmalade.
How to Grow Calamondin
This hardy ornamental evergreen citrus sounds like a great addition to the home garden, and I bet you are wondering just how to grow a calamondin. If you live in zone 8b or colder, this is one of the few citrus trees that you can grow outside.
Additionally, calamondin growing tips enlighten us as to the true hardiness of this variety of citrus. Calamondin trees are shade tolerant, although they are most productive when grown in full sun. They are also drought tolerant, although to avoid stressing the plant, they should be deeply watered during extended dry periods.
Calamondins can be propagated via seedings, or by rooting softwood cuttings in the spring or semi-ripe cuttings in the summer. They may also be bud grafted onto sour orange rootstock. The flowers require no cross pollination and will produce fruit at two years of age, continuing to bear almost all year around. The trees can be forced into blooming by withholding water until the foliage wilts and then watering thoroughly.
Calamondin Tree Care
Although calamondin trees can be grown indoors, they are better suited for outdoor cultivation in half shade or direct sun. Calamondin tree care indicates temperatures between 70-90 degrees F. are most suitable and any temp less than 55 degrees F. will adversely affect its growth.
Do not overwater calamondin. Allow the soil to dry to the depth of one inch before watering.
Fertilize during the winter using one half strength water soluble fertilizer every five weeks or so. Then in the early spring, add a slow release fertilize (i.e. Osmocote) and continue to fertilize with full strength water soluble fertilizer every month during the growing season.
Harvest the fruit with clippers or scissors to avoid damaging the stem. Fruit is best eaten soon after harvest or should be refrigerated immediately.