A Gift from a Kumquat

Kumquat FlowerWe bought two kumquat trees on impulse on my husband’s birthday in April. Somehow I misplaced the tag that came with them and only noted at the time that they were kumquat in the genus Fortunella.

Each is only 2 ft tall. I planted them near the garden hose so I can water them frequently until they are more established. There is mulch around each to keep the soil moist and to reduce weeds in the area. They are on the east side of the house in full sun from 7:00 AM – 4: PM when the shadow of the house finally provides shade. I realized a few days ago that one of them had a flower, and by today there were a several flowers on the same tree. The other one has no flowers yet. The flowers are tiny, about a half an inch in diameter. Although the flowers are tiny, there is so much in my yard that is new and just getting established, that it is a relief and a joy to see the flowers.

This IFAS summary includes a description of kumquat fruit of the 4 varieties grown in Florida. Once I have fruit on the trees, I should be able to determine what variety they are based on the fruit.

Apparently kumquat have a number of disease possibilities, so I will have to watch for potential problems. This crop/pest management information should help to diagnose and to determine treatment if they develop any problems.

Added Note (5/24/10): I found the tag and notes on the kumquat trees. They are the Fortunella margarita hybrid known as the Nagami Centennial variety. They are cold hardy and will have egg-shaped bright-orange fruits. See University of California Riverside website for additional photos and details.

Birthday Orchard

Pineapple Orange BlossomMy husband’s birthday was last week, so we celebrated by selecting fruit trees to plant.

Our criteria for selecting each tree included (1) it had to be something we would actually eat; (2) it had to be appropriate for the soil type and space in the backyard; (3) it had to be within our budget; and (4) it had to fit into our car. We have short trees all under 5 ft. in height, but they are planted so each has room to grow. We chose:

  • pineapple orange tree (Citrus sinensis “pineapple” – see photo at right)
  • Persian lime (Citrus latifloria)
  • murcotte tangerine (Citrus reticulata)
  • kumquat (Fortunella sp)
  • and my husband’s favorite, a mango (Mangifera indica).

To plant each tree, we dug a hole slightly less than the depth of each tree container but twice as wide. This left the top of the root ball just above the level of the soil to allow it to settle. We did not spread out the root ball since current research says that doesn’t help the tree to adapt to the soil or to develop roots faster.

We did not amend the soil with potting soil, although I did add some slow release fertilizer to the soil before putting the soil back in the hole around the root ball. In the Master Gardening course, they said not to amend the soil at all when planting a tree, so adding the fertilizer goes against their advice. The soil is infertile however, and I will fertilize for the first year, so I added the fertilizer when planting. (It’s a hard habit to break!)

I haven’t mulched around the base of the tree yet, but I will get this done within the next 2 days. When mulching trees, the mulch should not touch the tree stem. Mulch keeps the moisture in the soil but can also stop the moisture from reaching the tree roots if the mulch is too close to the stem.

I formed a berm basin to keep water close to the tree roots. On reading Planting a Tree information on the Texas A&M website, I see that they recommend less water than I have provided. I probably need to cut back, although I have watered every other day and not every day as they suggest for the 1st week.

We know that it may take a few years before we see any fruit. The trees are in shock from the transplant and will need time to develop roots before they are likely to produce fruit. although the pineapple orange had blossoms on it when we planted it. We’re watching to see if any fruit is produced from those blossoms.

We wait patiently, but are already planning on serving mango lassies to guests. In the meantime, we enjoy taking a peek at our growing orchard each day.