Did you know that kumquat trees are probably the most overlooked of all citrus varieties. Kumquat (also known as ‘cumquat’) trees produce small fruits with intense flavour that should be used widely in cooking, but they are not. Forget limes, kumquats are a better choice. You can use the peel, zest or the entire fruit in making everything from cheesecakes to liqueurs.
Kumquat trees make very good container plants for small gardens or courtyards, with their handsome, compact foliage and lovely fragrant flowers. They belong to the genus Fortunella, although they were once classified with their close relatives, the Citrus. There are three varieties, the Nagami, the Marumi (also known as the Calamondin) adn the Meiwa.
Nagami Kumquat Tree
The ‘Nagami’ kumquat is the best one for eating straight off the bush, as it is the sweetest. It is the most commonly grown kumquat and produces a high volume of small, bright orange oval fruit. The whole fruit, including the skin, can be eaten fresh, or made into marmalade or used for kumquat liquor and can be preserved as candy. It makes an excellent container or pot plant. A containerized tree will grow to a height of around four feet, but outdoor trees can grow to 13 feet or more.
Marumi Kumquat Tree
The ‘Marumi’ (also known as ‘Calamondin’) kumquat produces fruit that are flattened, like mini mandarins. Marumi trees fruit several times a year, with the main crop in winter. The bushes are dense and they are the best looking of all citrus in containers. A beautiful variety with variegated leaves also is available. Marumi trees are not quite as pretty in the ground, where they reach 3-4 m. This is the variety used for Chinese New Year celebrations.
Meiwa Kumquat Tree
‘Meiwa’ kumquat trees are more cold resistant than other varietals with larger, sweeter fruit—about the size of a small tomato. They are grown in China and Japan, but are rarely seen elsewhere.
For information on which kumquat tree would be best for your location check our Best Kumquat Tree for Your Location blog.
Kumquat Tree Care
• Full sun
• Before planting, dig in plenty of chicken, cow or horse manure into the ground.
• Keep citrus trees well watered when young fruit is forming in spring and early summer.
• Grass and citrus don’t mix. Keep the area beneath your citrus free of grass and weeds.
• Cover with a mulch such as lucerne, composted leaf litter or compost, but keep the mulch away from the tree trunk to avoid collar rot.
Kumquat Trees in Containers or Pots
• Trimmed and rounded citrus trees in pots are one of the main components of the fashionable Mediterranean or Tuscan garden. They have the added advantage of being able to be moved from place to place to enjoy the sunshine.
• Ensure that citrus in pots are well watered – once or twice a week in warmer months.
• Fertilise every six to eight weeks in spring and early summer.
You will find full details about kumquat trees and other citrus trees and great advice and photos on recognising and correcting nutrient deficiencies, pests, diseases and problems in Grow Citrus: The Insiders Secrets to Growing Great Citrus
Image credit: Wikimedia Commons images © Bugs 86, http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fortunella_01.jpg