By Jackie Carroll
Kumquat (Fortunella japonica syn. Citrus japonica), sometimes spelled cumquat or comquot, is a small citrus fruit that grows in climates too cool for other citrus plants. The fruit is sweet and tart at the same time and is eaten without removing the peel. If you are interested in trying your hand at growing kumquat trees, you should gather as much kumquat tree info as possible to avoid any kumquat tree problems later down the road.
Kumquat Tree Info
Kumquats grow on evergreen trees and are native to China. They reach heights of 8 to 15 feet and have a vase-like or rounded canopy. In spring you’ll be treated to showy, fragrant white flowers. The trees are self-fertile, so you’ll only need one to produce fruit.
Growing kumquat trees is easy. They need full sun and tolerate any pH and most soil types as long as the soil is well-drained. They also tolerate seaside conditions. Kumquat trees are suitable to U.S. Department of Agriculture hardiness zones 9 and 10, and withstand winter temperatures as low as 18 degrees Fahrenheit.
Kumquat Tree Care
As part of your kumquat tree care, you should keep the soil moist around young trees, but not wet or soggy. Once the tree is established, water during dry spells.
Withhold fertilizer for the first two or three months. Use a fertilizer designed for citrus trees thereafter, following the label instructions.
Use a layer of mulch over the root zone to help the soil hold moisture and inhibit weeds that compete with the tree for moisture and nutrients. Pull the mulch back several inches from the trunk of the tree.
Kumquat trees don’t require pruning except to remove suckers that drain the tree’s resources. If you want to prune to shape the tree, do so after you harvest the fruit but before the flowers bloom in spring.
How to Care for Kumquat Trees in Containers
Kumquat trees don’t tolerate being root bound, so you will need a very large pot. Drill extra large drainage holes in the bottom of the pot, and cover the holes with window screen to keep the soil from falling through. Raise the pot off the ground to improve the drainage and air circulation.
Kumquat trees in containers need extra protection during freezing weather because of the exposed roots. Cover them with a blanket when frost threatens.
Kumquat Tree Problems
Kumquat trees are susceptible to root rot diseases. Avoid excess moisture and make sure the soil is well-drained before planting. Avoid piling mulch around the base of the tree.
Aphids and scale insects sometimes attack the tree. Natural predators usually keep these insects from becoming a serious problem. You can use insecticidal soaps as a contact insecticide and horticultural oils early in the season. Follow the insecticide labels exactly, and store unused portions in their original container and out of the reach of children.