Golden orange, dwarf orange, Japanese orange, golden apple, kumquat, kinkan are all different names for the same attractive evergreen citrus plant from the subgenus Fortunella. This is the smallest representative of the citrus family in terms of fruit size and crown size of a tree or shrub. The bright and perky appearance of this bright red fruit made it a very popular gastronomic and decorative element in many countries of the Asian continent.
It is added to meat, fish and many salads. There is a huge number of cocktails based on it. But most often it is eaten raw, along with a thin skin, which gives the pulp a pleasant spicy hue. Kumquat can be eaten fresh, candied, in jam and candied fruit, and in dark chocolate sauce.
Kumquat is not only delicious but also very healthy. In some Asian countries, the peel of this fruit is laid out by the fire, believing that the smell emanating from it cures colds and coughs. Indeed, the essential oils contained in kumquat have a strong bactericidal effect. For thousands of years, the Chinese have used kumquat to treat various fungal infections. More recently, this fact has been confirmed and scientifically substantiated: it turns out that the pulp of this fruit contains a large amount of furocoumarin, which has a high antifungal activity. In addition, kumquat has a very pronounced anti-alcoholic effect.
China is considered the birthplace of the kumquat; it has been mentioned in Chinese literature since the 12th century. It was also grown in medieval Japan. For the first time in Europe, the kumquat was introduced by Robert Fortune at the London Horticultural Society in 1846. Currently, there are five of its types: Japanese, Hawaiian, Malay, Jiangsu and Meiwa.
The plant is very decorative almost all year round. At the time of flowering, the kumquat is covered with many small milky white very fragrant flowers, and during fruiting, the tree is completely covered with small bright orange fruits. Kumquat fruits resemble miniature oval oranges 3 to 5 cm long and 4 cm across.
The kumquat tree has a miniature and compact small-leaved crown, it bushes well, bears fruit abundantly. Therefore, it is becoming more and more popular with our readers and it is happily grown as an ornamental houseplant. It should come as no surprise that this type of citrus is often used to create bonsai. Indoors, the kumquat tree grows rather slowly and grows no more than 1.5 m in height.
Like most citrus fruits in room conditions, the kumquat's growing season or growth, depending on the conditions of detention, can begin from mid-March to mid-May and lasts 5-7 weeks. The second, but shorter period of growth in young plants can begin in late August - September. Adult plants are often limited to one spring growth, which averages up to 10 cm. Kumquats usually bloom in late spring or summer, sometimes flowering repeats after a couple of weeks. The fruits ripen, as a rule, in winter.
Lighting and temperature.
In the summer, the kumquat tree should be kept in diffused sunlight or light shading. In winter, on the contrary, you should create conditions for maximum natural light. It also reacts very well to regular artificial lighting in winter at night. Kumquat loves rather warm or even moderately hot summers (25-30 degrees) and relatively cool winters (10-15 degrees). In summer, the plant responds well to being kept outdoors in a garden or on a loggia. But it should be protected from excessively high or excessively low temperatures during the day and night.During the budding and flowering period of the kumquat, the optimum soil and air temperature is 15-18 degrees.
Watering and humidity.
Like all citrus fruits, i.e. inhabitants of the subtropics, the kumquat loves rather humid air and moderately moist land. When the air is very dry (especially in autumn and winter with the central heating operating), the kumquat often sheds its leaves, it is attacked by pests - spider mites and scale insects. Recommendations for increasing air humidity by regular spraying are ineffective, unless of course you have an automatic humidification system. After all, you will not be able to stand at the windows around the clock and spray, and drying drops of water leave very unattractive marks on the leaves and windows. Slightly more effective is the installation of bowls of water next to the tree. But even that may not work when you accidentally forget to add water to them. But not everything is so critical. If you have a lot of flowers in your house, then the humidity, as a rule, will be more or less in order.
As for watering, it should be regular, but not excessive. Again, this depends on the age and size of the crown, ambient temperature and, accordingly, the rate of evaporation of moisture from the plant, the size and material of the pot and its location in relation to the sun, etc. The main recommendations are as follows - at sufficiently low and moderate temperatures, watering should be relatively rare, once every few days, and at temperatures above + 22-23 ° C, plants should be watered more often, in proportion to the increase in air temperature and inversely proportional to the size of the pot.
In the cold season, you should at least sometimes control the temperature on the windowsill, since it can often differ significantly from the temperature in the room and from the large difference in these values in kumquat (and in many other plants) leaves can turn yellow and fall off. For watering, you must use settled water at room temperature. If you have it very hard, then you can significantly reduce its hardness by adding a quarter or a fifth of a teaspoon of oxalic acid to an 8 liter plastic bucket. It is possible to water plants with such water only after about a day, when a reaction occurs and excess magnesium and calcium salts settle to the bottom and walls of the container with water.
Top dressing and transplanting.
The amount and timing of fertilization, the ratio of the content of the main elements - nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium depend on the size of the container, on the composition of the soil, on the age and condition of the plant, and most importantly - on the season. In this situation, it is easier for a novice grower to use so-called prolonged-release stick fertilizers. During the dormant period (from mid-October to February), the plants are watered very moderately and not fed. From March to the end of September, kumquats are fed 2-3 times a month, in spring and in the first half of summer more often, slightly increasing the nitrogen content, at the end of the growing season - less often, while reducing the percentage of nitrogen. It is highly desirable that mineral fertilizers do not contain chlorine. All citrus fruits respond very well to periodic organic feeding. Therefore, organic and mineral feeding can and should be alternated.
Young plants are transplanted (transplanted) more often, as needed, when the size of the pot begins to noticeably inferior to the size of the crown. Adult and especially fruiting plants are transplanted at the end of the dormant period, i.e. in late February - early March and no more often than in 2-3 years. Washed expanded clay or gravel can be used as drainage. The latter is heavier, which makes the plant pot more resistant to tipping over. At the same time, they also try to replace the top layer of the soil without damaging the earthen lump.The transplanted tree is watered abundantly enough and placed in a moderately warm place for two weeks, but away from direct sun and other sources of heat. During this period, it will also be useful to periodically spray the crown of the tree with warm water.
Most plants, and especially citrus fruits, do not like sharp turns in relation to the sun. Therefore, to form a uniform crown, the plants must be rotated about their axis gradually, by about 10 degrees every 10-11 days. The simplest calculations show that your plant will make one revolution around its axis per year. When transplanting, you should also monitor the location of the crown of the transplanted plant in relation to the usual source of daylight for it. Failure to comply with this rule can lead to a sharp drop in most of the leaves of the plant. The rest of the recommendations are traditional - diffused daylight (or even shading from the scorching sun) on summer and clear winter days and moderate supplementary illumination with daylight lamps in early spring and in the autumn-winter period.
As a first approximation, for growing kumquat, you can take a special earthy mixture for citrus plants. More advanced gardeners prepare mixtures themselves, consisting of sod land, fertile garden soil, well-rotted manure or leaf humus and coarse sand or vermiculite in a ratio (2: 1: 1: 1). Younger plants require a lighter potting mix, while mature, fruiting trees require a slightly heavier potting mix. It is easily regulated by the amount of sod and garden soil, as well as the amount of additives that loosens the substrate - sand and vermiculite.
Kumquat is propagated, like all fruit plants, by seeds, layering, grafting and cuttings. With seed reproduction of fruits, you will have to wait a long time, most likely more than 7-8 years. And it is not a fact that the offspring will retain all the varietal traits of your plant that you like, since this may lead to their genetic splitting into maternal and paternal traits.
The kumquat has numerous hybrids - calamondin (mandarin x kumquat), limequat (lime x kumquat), oranjevat (orange x kumquat) and many, many others with more complex names. But most of them do not have such tasty fruits as kumquats, and are not always decorative as well.