Eight Steps to Growing Kumquats in Containers
The kumquat holds great sentimental value, especially in Asian communities, symbolizing good luck.
Find out how you can grow your own kumquat trees in containers or pots by following the 8 steps below.
Features of the Kumquat:
- Kumquats are small acidic fruits that are commonly consumed whole (rind and all) when ripe producing a sour then sweet flavor on the palate.
- This orange-like citrus fruit is perfect for marmalades, preserves and as dried fruits.
- The light-orange flesh contains a few seeds and also provides a nice sweet, acidic taste to complement the even sweeter peel.
- The distinguishing characteristic in kumquats is that the rind is sweet regardless of how the inside tastes.
Features of the Kumquat tree:
- The kumquat tree is typically small to medium-sized and, over time, becomes densely loaded with fruit.
- This variety is very cold hardy, flowering in summer and maturing in late winter.
- A powerful citrus fragrance around mid-summer.
- The most cold-hardy citrus variety with the most bountiful fruit harvest.
Where Will Kumquats Grow?
With proper citrus care, a kumquat tree will produce decades of delicious fruit. However, the growing regions in the United States where citrus can 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 kumquats in the ground. However, we consider this a good thing, because it's going to make your Kumquat growing a lot easier.
Growing Kumquat Outside of Growing Zones
So how do you grow Kumquat outside of these growing zones? You do so by planting your citrus 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 enjoy, are fabric smart pots which do not have holes, however, the entire container is made of a fabric mesh which allows proper drainage and aeration of the soil.
The Planting Process for Growing Kumquat Trees in Pots
The actual planting process of our trees in pots is very straightforward, with standardized use of potting soil and watering and fertilizing schedules.
You can keep any citrus tree pruned back, but the Kumquat is naturally a smaller dwarf type variety which gets to be about 4 to 6 feet, While still producing an abundant harvest.
Step 1: Container for Kumquat Trees
The keys to an appropriate container are having sufficient drainage through the material either 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 Kumquat Trees
Choosing soil for your Kumquat trees is simple. You can use any sort of potting soil. We do not recommend gardening soil or topsoil to use for container gardening. 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 have just removed a large part of the headache of growing kumquats by having all customers grow their plants in containers and using any standard potting soil which is available at your local nursery garden center supply store.
Step 3: Watering for Kumquat Trees
Watering is crucial, typically when Kumquats are planted into the ground there is a worry of proper drainage and overwatering your tree. Kumquat 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 Kumquat trees.
The best way to figure out how much water your kumquat 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 Kumquat 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 since the conditions that resulted in the plant being sad and yellow had not been remedied.
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 Kumquat Trees
Your Kumquat 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 and 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 much in 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.
However, our promise to you is that we make this simple. 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 Kumquat Trees
Sunlight is crucial to Kumquat trees, especially Because they are tropical plants. 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:
Kumquats do 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 Kumquat Trees
We recommend that under freezing temperatures, you move your kumquat tree into a warmer area such as a garage or indoors for the entire winter. At this point, you can utilize 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, in general, can die with exposure to temperatures in the teens for even up to 12 hours. However, Kumquats are the most cold-hardy of all citrus trees and are more tolerant to cold temperatures. Nevertheless, it is recommended to take care of them by bringing them indoors in the event of freezing temperatures.
Step 7: Where Do I Buy My Kumquat Tree?
First of all, if you live in the states of California, Arizona, Louisiana, or Florida, you will need to purchase your kumquat tree locally as they cannot be imported into your state because of USDA regulations.
Step 8: Harvesting your Kumquats
This is a heavy cropping tree, with year-round harvesting, focused more in the summer months.
Growing Trees is fun, and every tree we send comes with a 20-page care guide.