What are Kumquats?
Kumquats are slow-growing evergreen citrus trees or shrubs. Gardeners often plant kumquats not just for their fruit, but also because they make an attractive addition to their landscape or a lovely potted décor to their home. Classified as a Citrus japonica, they were once classified as a part of the Fortunella genus. The Kumquat fruit has a sweet, edible skin with a slightly sour flesh inside (although some kumquat varieties skin cannot be eaten unless processed).
The kumquat tree leaves are simple, long, and alternate, finely toothed from the apex to the middle, dark-green, glossy above, lighter beneath.
Kumquats are self-pollinating, which means you only need one to develop fruits which makes it ideal for growing kumquat trees with limited garden space and as a potted plant.
Types of Kumquat
There are various kumquats; they are distinguished as botanical species rather than as cultivars. There are four main species – most utilized for food – the Marumi, Meiwa, Nagami, and the ornamental Centennial Variegated Kumquat. Aside from these types, there are many more unique species of kumquat hybrids.
- Marumi – The Marumui tree size can reach up to 9 ft (2.75m) and is slightly similar to the Nagami but slightly thorny and has smaller leaves.
- Meiwa – Sometimes called round kumquat or sweet kumquat because of its taste and fruit shape. The tree is generally a dwarf which makes it a good candidate as a potted tree. The mature Meiwa tree size is about 4 – 8 ft.
- Nagami – The Nagami Kumquat is the most common species of kumquat. It is also called the oval kumquat because of its oblong-shaped fruits. Also, generally, a dwarf kumquat tree reaches around 6 to 10 ft when planted on the ground.
- Centennial Variegated Kumquat – The Centennial Variegated Kumquat is larger and sweeter than most kumquats. Some believe it’s a cross between a Nagami Kumquat and a mandarin.
When are Kumquats in Season
The Kumquat season is from October to June, but they are better from December to April. Kumquats are most often available during the Christmas season. They are often sold and gifted attached to the branch for that yuletide look. You can find them being sold online or at specialty or Asian markets.
Growing Your Own Kumquat Tree
Kumquats are hardy, and depending on the variety, are very cold tolerant. Now, because Kumquat trees are generally dwarfed, they offer great versatility to gardens and homes especially if you have limited space. Oh, did we mention you only need one to bear fruit since kumquat trees are self-pollinating? Great, right? Growing kumquat tree from seed is possible but can be difficult because young kumquat plants are often weak from seed. Instead of growing from seeds, you may want to buy kumquats for sale that are ready for planting from citrus gardens or farms and nurseries.
Kumquat Tree Care
Kumquats cultivation has been around throughout Asia for centuries and they are very well suited to container culture. Kumquats do well in USDA hardy zones 9 and 10 and can survive in temperatures as low as 18 degrees F (-7 degrees C). If temperatures drop lower, bring them inside.
The Kumquat tree can thrive in most soil types except for sticky clay or soil that doesn’t drain well. Ensure your soil easily drains away water.
Kumquat trees love the sun. Make sure they get 6-7 hours of sunlight daily. When growing them indoors, make sure to put them where they can get an ample amount of required sunlight or use grow lights.
While still young, kumquats need regular watering, watering 2-3 times a week for the first year. For Potted dwarf kumquats, the soil needs to be moist but not wet. Drainage is the key; make sure that your container drains well.