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Nagami Kumquat: growing information

Nagami Kumquat

(Fortunella margarita)

 

Nagami Kumquat Overview:

If you like sweet and sour this nugget sized citrus fruit is for you.  This is a rather cold tolerant citrus tree that just gives and gives nearly all year long.

Nagami Kumquat fruit tree

Nagami Kumquat fruit

 

Nagami Kumquat Fruit:

Nagami Kumquat Fruit Appearance:

The fruit is the size and shape of a large olive.  However, the outer color and texture is similar to an orange.  The plant is very prolific and has fruit nearly the whole year.

 

Nagami Kumquat Taste:

This plant is unusual in the citrus family because the skin is edible.  In fact the skin is the sweet part of the fruit and is sometimes the only thing eaten.  The flesh is juicy but very sour and acidic, similar to the flavor of a lemon.  The fruit is ripe when the majority of the skin is orange with perhaps a small hint of green remaining at the top.

 

Nagami Kumquat Fruit Season:

I have read that the fruit matures late in winter.  However, I don’t think my Nagami Kumquat trees have read the books because there are fruits on this amazing tree all year.

Nagami Kumquat inside

Nagami Kumquat skin cut to show the inside of the fruit

Landscaping use:

  • The Nagami kumquat is a slow growing large shrub or small tree with an overall rounded shape and dense evergreen foliage.
  • Because the Nagami kumquat is among the most cold tolerant of all citrus, it could possibly be planted in lower parts of your yard that have a tendency to collect cool air.  However, the fruit is said to be sweeter when it is grown in warmer environments.
  • Nagami Kumquat has white fragrant flowers which and are similar in appearance to other citrus flowers.  Nagami Kumquat trees almost always bloom in the summer but I have noticed that the plant has a tendency to flower periodically throughout the year.  The small orange fruit make the plant very ornamental.  The plant is very prolific. In the main fruiting season (winter) there are so many fruit on the trees that I have that the branches completely bend over.
  • The Nagami Kumquat is also used in Bonsai and the plant is definitely suitable for large pots.
  • Prune in winter.
Nagami Kumquat

Nagami Kumquat branches bent from the weight of the fruit

 

Nagami Kumquat Tree Soil:

The Nagami Kumquat does better with slightly acidic soil.  Augmenting with lots of organic material will always help your citrus.

Click here to see my 6/9/13 post on the best planting technique to avoid transplantation shock.

 

Water:

  • Water on the same cycle as other citrus; 1 to 3x/week in the summer depending on your local micro-climate.
  • Infrequent deep heavy watering is much better than frequent light watering.
  • You can cut way back on the watering in the winter after the tree is established.
  • Mulching helps to keep the soil from drying out.
  • Citrus don’t like standing water.

 

Sun:

Full

 

Nagami Kumquat Fertilization:

  • The tree is more susceptible to zinc deficiency that other citrus.  However, like all citrus it also needs other micronutrients.  I add micronutrients to the topsoil in the spring.
  • I also provide a balanced fertilizer throughout the growing season (4x/y).  In general, I have noticed that  all of my citrus appreciate an assortment of different types of fertilizers throughout the year.  Throwing in a random assortment of organic fertilizer whenever you have it is always appreciated (compost, worm castings etc).

 

Temp:

Because it goes into a dormant non-growth stage sage in the winter, the plant is one of the most cold tolerant of all citrus. I have read that the Nagami Kumquat is able to withstand temperatures as low as 14F!  But I wouldn’t recommend pushing that chilly temperature limit.

 

Pests:

Susceptible to the usual citrus pests such as the citrus leafminer.

For more information, please see my 6/20/13 post for diagnosis and treatment of the Citrus Leafminer. 

 

Food use:

  • If you like sour, you can just pop them in your mouth peal and all.  If you eat the fruit all at once it is a powerfully and intense hit to your taste buds. When I eat the Nagami Kumquat fruit this way, it almost reminds me of Gatorade gum.
  • Some people will just eat the rind because that is the sweet part and toss the sour juicy center.
  • Nagami Kumquat fruit is also used to make preserves, marmalade and candied.
  • Garnish drinks/cocktails.
  • The sour juice can be made into a lemonade like drink.
  • Cut the whole fruit into thin slices for salads.

 

About Thomas Osborne, MD

Dr. Osborne is a Harvard trained Radiologist and Neuroradiologist who loves to share his insight about medicine and gardening.

5 comments

  1. I planted a Kumquat for the first time last year. Fukuqui or something. Anyway, After doing well for a few months, it wilted and died I thought. Reading your article I guess it went dormant and perhaps it will spring back to life now that the weather is warmer in San Jose. I noticed that water drains away fast but I suspected it was because there was a Gopher hole right under the roots. The Mandarin orange right next to it, is still thriving and never lost its leaves in spite of the early cold snap we had in Dec. So I look forward to the next few weeks to see if my Kumquat comes back to life. I have already bought another Red Baron Peach to replace it if it dies. The Red Baron is to keep the JH Hale Peach company!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Sateesh
      Yea, Kumquats do slow down in the winter. As a result, they don’t tend to put out new growth in the colder months-and it is this new growth that is most sensitive to cold damage. Because of this particular growth pattern, Kumquats are more cold tolerant than other citrus.

      However, Kumquats don’t go dormant like your peach or apple trees do. In the winter, Kumquats should still have lots of leaves. In fact, my Kumquat trees are currently packed with fruit.

      Therefore, if your Kumquat is looking wilted, I fear that something is more concerning is going on. The nearby gopher hole could potentially be the sign that bad things are happening to your Kumquats roots. I have seen gophers take out an entire tree and leave an adjacent tree of similar size and make untouched. Sadly, I have lost many trees to those rodents.

      • You’re probably right Tom, but just in case, I dug up the Kumquat and planted it in a new hole with lots of mulch, top soil and fertilizer. The root ball still looked alive so there is hope yet. I replaced the Kumquat with a Red Baron peach which is right next to the JH Hale so pollination should not be a problem. I am eager to see results in the next few months. Will keep you posted. Thanks for your advice and support.

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Good job Sateesh. Your doing exactly what I would be doing.
          I would also err on the side of over watering in this critical time.
          I am sure you have already done this as well, however, I would also do a close inspection for bugs, those suckers can do more damage than many give them credit for.

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