Eight Steps to Growing Calamondin Oranges in Containers
An ornamental tree, with heavy bearing fruit. This fun variety's fruit can be popped in one's mouth and eaten rind and all!
Features of the Calamondin fruit:
- One of the best indoor growing varieties, this citrus variety is a kumquat and mandarin hybrid.
- Seedy, thin-skinned, small, and round, with a tart flavor.
- Excellent for making marmalade.
- The fruit has an edible rind and a more sweet flesh than the tart Kumquat.
- Highly valued in the Asian community, especially as gifts for Chinese New Year.
- The fruit is bright orange-red, and often borne in clusters.
Features of the Calamondin tree:
- The tree is compact, finely textured with small leaves.
- A cold-hardy tree that also makes an excellent indoor container plant.
- Vigorous bearing variety, with year-round fruit production.
Where Will Calamondin Grow?
With proper care, a calamondin tree will produce decades of delicious fruit. However, the growing regions in the United States for citrus to be planted into the ground are limited to areas in California, Arizona, South Texas, Louisiana and Florida.
If you do not live in those regions, we do not recommend planting Calamondin in the ground. However, we consider this a good thing, because it's going to make your citrus growing a lot easier.
Growing Calamondin Outside of Growing Zones
So how do you grow Calamondin outside of these growing zones? You do so by planting your tree in a container. You can use a plastic barrel, a wooden planter, a nice decorative pot, or really any sort of container that has adequate holes on the bottom for drainage.
Another option, which we recommend, are fabric smart pots. While they do not have holes, the entire container is made of a fabric mesh which allows proper drainage and aeration of the soil.
The Planting Process for Growing Calamondin Trees in Pots
The actual planting process of our trees in pots is very straightforward, with standardized use of potting soil, watering and fertilizing schedules.
While you can keep any citrus tree pruned back, Calamondin tree is naturally a smaller dwarf type variety which gets to be about 4 to 6 feet, still producing an abundant harvest.
Step 1: Container for Calamondin trees
The keys to an appropriate container are having sufficient drainage through the material either by being some sort of mesh cloth (SmartPots) or having a few holes on the bottom of your planter.
Secondly, the size of the pot should be at least 5 gallons, with our favorite size recommendation being 15 gallons. We find that anything above 25 gallons is quite difficult to physically move by only one person.
Step 2: Soil for Calamondin trees
Choosing soil for your Calamondin trees is simple. You could use any sort of potting soil. We do not recommend gardening soil or topsoil for container growing. This is advantageous because even if you lived in a citrus growing region, you would have to take into consideration the type of soil.
For example, US Citrus is based in the Rio Grande Valley, and we have a wonderful sandy loam type soil which drains very well. Other types of soil such as different types of clay soils especially with limestone mixed in will have a very difficult time draining and this will adversely affect the root health of your tree.
With a standard potting soil for your container gardening, you do not need to worry about any of these factors. You also don't have to worry about the pH balance of the soil. We recommend growing citrus in containers and using any standard potting soil which is available at your local nursery garden center supply store.
Step 3: Watering for Calamondin trees
Watering is crucial, typically when citrus is planted into the ground there is a worry of proper drainage and overwatering your tree. Calamondin trees planted in the ground prefer to have their roots a bit on the dry side. We have found that if there is proper drainage in container gardening it is difficult to overwater citrus trees.
The best way to figure out how much water your citrus tree needs is to actually look at the tree. If the leaves are wilted and dry, your tree needs more water. After watering, the tree’s leaves should perk up.
Overwatering Your Potted Calamondin Tree
Overwatering is a possibility and we find that this especially happens when the trees are indoor and there's a garden saucer used underneath the pot. When there's a garden saucer there is impeded drainage, which is helpful while you're on vacation and cannot water your tree for a week, or when you have your trees indoors to prevent water seeping onto the floors and causing damage.
However, if trees are over-watered, the plant leaves will wilt and may turn a bit yellow and look sad. Watering more will only adversely affect the plant as it is not changing the condition that led to the yellow and sad looking leaves.
Giving your tree a break by taking it outside if possible or letting the soil drain without a garden saucer in the bathtub for a day is a good solution. Afterward, you can adjust your watering schedule appropriately.
Step 4: Fertilizer for Calamondin trees
Your Calamondin tree will need both macro and micronutrients, just like a human. The macronutrients that all plants need are Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. You have likely seen fertilizers and soil which state three numbers together, this is the N – P – K system which shows the concentration and relative amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium respectively.
These machinations are very important for the color of the leaves, development of the root system, proper flowering, fruiting, and taste of the fruit respectively and appropriate photosynthesis, the growth of the trunk of the tree in general. See our blog article on nutrition for more information.
Micronutrients are also very important - think of these as vitamins for humans. They are needed in much smaller quantities and plants can have characteristic symptoms if they have a micronutrient deficiency. We will detail out micronutrients and symptoms of deficiencies in later articles.
Between regular potting soil and the fertilizer we recommend, you will have all the macronutrients and micronutrients that your tree needs and a simple fertilizing schedule for easy and effective fertilizing when you get your tree and for every February, May, and August. See our fertilizer schedule below for amounts that we recommend.
Ounces to use every Feb, May, and Aug
Miracle-Gro for Citrus, Avocado and Mango (13-7-13)
Espoma Citrus (5-2-6)
Step 5: Sunlight for Calamondin trees
Sunlight is crucial to calamondin trees, especially because it is a tropical plant. In most areas of the United States, you want to maximize sunlight with full sun exposure. If you are planting indoors, make sure that it has full sun next to the window, but we would also recommend having a grow light.
Our Grow Light Recommendation
We love SANSI 24W LED grow lights. They have a clean white light because they are full spectrum. They have all the right mix of light spectrum for growth, leaf flush, flower blossoming, and fruit set. 24 watts is a good amount of power for indoor lighting. We recommend placing the grow light anywhere from 6 to 18 inches away from your tree.
Your tree needs 12-16 hours of light a day. You can be very flexible with your light. You can keep it on for many days straight. However, all citrus trees need some dark time.
You can easily use one grow light for 1-3 trees. An easy way is to use one light on a tree for 24 hours at a time.
All grow lights get hot. We prefer SANSI because they use ceramic sinks to dissipate the heat. We have found the majority of grow lights on Amazon to have disturbing safety profiles. Use standard safety precautions, don't let babies and pets stare directly into the light or touch the heat from the grow light!
Our socket/clamp Recommendation:
Calamondin does best when it has at least six hours of sunlight a day. If the temperature is consistently above 90° especially for younger trees, there may be some wilting of the leaves. This wilting will reverse however and at this point, it would be advantageous to keep your tree by elementary and partial shade.
Step 6: Winter Protection for Calamondin trees
We recommend that under freezing temperatures, you move your citrus tree into a warmer area such as a garage or indoors for the entire winter. This point you can utilize a grow lights for continued growth.
There is nothing more frustrating than losing years of work and future decades of fruit than losing your citrus tree to a freak cold-snap which occurred while you were vacationing out of town! Citrus can die with exposure to temperatures in the teens for even up to 12 hours.
Step 7: Where do I buy my Calamondin tree?
First of all, if you live in the states of California, Arizona, Louisiana, or Florida, you will need to purchase your citrus tree locally as citrus cannot be imported into your state because of USDA regulations.
Step 8: Harvesting your Calamondins
When the fruit becomes larger and orange and the peel a little less firm, you are ready to harvest! It is advised to use a clipper and clip the fruit rather than pulling it from the tree. This will allow harvest of the intact fruit and longer shelf life. This tree is a heavy cropper and will produce multiple times per year.
Growing Trees is fun, and every tree we send comes with a 20-page care guide.