80131Tet, on February 16, will be the Vietnamese New Year’s Day for the Year of the Dog! Any year associated with the dog must be pretty excellent. Anyway, potted and fruited kumquat trees are very traditional decorations for Tet. Although less popular than orange and lemon trees, they are the most compact of the citrus trees, so are therefore the most adaptable to compact home gardens.

They grow slowly and may never reach first floor eaves. The evergreen leaves are a bit thicker, smaller and darker green than those of Mandarin orange. Stems are mostly thornless. The compact growth is quite symmetrical, so might only occasionally need to be trimmed for a stray stem here and there. Clusters of small white flowers bloom about the time the last of the fruit gets harvested.

Kumquat has the distinction of being the ‘other’ citrus. Although the genus is alternatively known as Citrus, experts know it as Fortunella. Those with round fruit are Fortunella japonica. Those with oval fruit are Fortunella marginata. The abundant fruits are not much bigger than big grapes, and are eaten whole, with the seeds spit out. The tart pulp with the sweet skin is a tangy combination.

16 thoughts on “Kumquat

    1. They are only slightly fragrant, and not as sweetly fragrant as lemons or grapefruits (or the rare sour oranges), but they are so much more manageable. Although I do not recommend citrus for pots, I grew mine in a pot for years, and it was quite happy. Because the fruit are small, they develop will in pots. The trees take many years to get too big for pots, and can be kept proportionate to pots indefinitely with only minimal pruning. The only problems I had was that the fruit was so pretty on the trees that I did not want to pick it when it ripened.

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      1. That sounds perfect! A slight fragrance that won’t over do in tight quarters, small fruit that develops in pots, slow(ish) growing, minimal work! And not wanting to pick the fruit because it’s so pretty sounds like a problem I could deal with! Thanks for the info!

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      2. There is also calamondin and variegated calomondin. They have smaller and more profuse fruit; however, it is very sour. It is more often grown as an ornamental. I happen to like the calomondin, but most people prefer the kumquat.


    1. It is susceptible to the same diseases and insects as lemons, but is easier to manage because it is smaller. Except for the ‘Meyer’ lemon, most lemons get too big for pots. Kumquat can be kept quite proportionate to large pots. Although I do not like to recommend citrus for pots, Kumquat happens to be a good candidate for a pot. I grew mine in a pot for years.

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      1. Meyer is only a dwarf. When I grew them, it was only one of two citrus cultivars that were not grafted. They were grown on their own roots. They are shrubby and do not get very big. They are a weird hybrid between a lemon and an orange, which is why they have such rich flavor and aroma.


      2. My Pa flips for my Mother’s lemon pie made with ‘Meyer’ lemon! (He flips for any pie my Mother makes, of course.) It makes me wonder if a lemon meringue pie could be made with ‘Seville’ sour orange or ‘Rangpur’ lime (which is actually a sour Mandarin orange).

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      1. I love kumquat marmalade (haven’t tried sour oranges- not sure if we have them here)- only problem is, being so small, they’re really fiddly to slice and remove the seeds! Worth the effort though.

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      2. Seville sour oranges were the traditional oranges for English marmalade, but they are quite rare where marmalade is not traditional. Sweet oranges work too, but probably are not as good as kumquats. I think that kumquats work because they have a bit of tartness That is important.

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