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Growing Citrus Trees in Pots: What You Need to Know

Citrus Trees in Pots

Growing citrus trees in pots or containers is a great idea, as long as you know what to do. Use the information here to help you with this tricky endeavor.

You don't have to live in a warm, sunny state with a big backyard to grow citrus. If you love growing your own fruits and vegetables, you can start growing citrus trees in containers

It might seem impossible- how can a tree grow as a potted plant? But with the knowledge and necessary materials, you can do it! Here's what you need to know to grow and care for citrus trees in pots.

What Type of Tree Can You Use?

You can't just grow any type of citrus tree in a pot. You need a citrus tree of the dwarf variety. These dwarf trees actually produce the same sized fruits as bigger trees, but they produce about half as many, so they can thrive in a pot. 

What Environment Do They Need?

Citrus trees thrive when they have at least 8 hours of sunlight each day. If you live in a moderate climate with a good amount of sunlight each day, put your trees where they can get plenty of sunlight but are protected from heavy winds.

If you live somewhere with harsher winters, you'll need to take your potted trees indoors and use grow lights to keep them going.

What Type of Pot Should You Use?

Choose a nonporous container (such as plastic) instead of a ceramic pot. These are lightweight, making it easy for you to transfer between the indoors and outdoors.

Plastic potters retain moisture well, which is great for the citrus tree. Make sure the planter has five or six drainage holes.

What Soil Mix is Best?

Choosing the right soil for your citrus tree is essential for a healthy tree. Use a lightweight planting mix that is made for containers. It's best to use an inorganic mix over an organic mix when looking for soil to use.

Organic mixes will decompose a lot more quickly, which will reduce aeriation in the roots. Inorganic mixes that include ingredients like perlite will provide drainage and long-term aeriation.

How Often Should You Water Citrus Trees in Pots?

Citrus trees need to have consistent hydration, but keeping the soil wet is bad for the trees. You'll want the soil more on the dry side, but don't let it get completely dry. 

The frequency in which you water the tree depends on a number of factors, such as soil and the weather conditions. The best way to make sure your plants are properly hydrated is to monitor the soil, and water them consistently. You can keep a journal to track how often you need to water throughout the year.

Make sure the water drains through to the roots and out of the drainage holes each time you water the citrus trees.

For All Your Citrus Needs

Taking care of citrus trees in pots can be difficult, but with the proper knowledge and care, you can do it no matter where you live. 

For more helpful information about citrus trees, check out our citrus blog today!

Eight Steps to Growing Navel Oranges in Containers

How to Grow Navel Oranges in 8 Steps

Love oranges, but unable to grow them outside in your area? Or do you prefer to grow an orange tree indoors rather than in an outdoor grove? Read on to find out how you can grow your own fresh and flavorful Navel oranges in a container or pot in just 8 steps.

About Navel Oranges

Navel oranges are the absolute finest oranges to eat. They're fresh, incredibly flavorful, and can be grown in containers with ease. Here are some more details about Navel orange fruit and trees:

Navel Orange Fruit: 

  • Classic Navel oranges are unmatched in rich flavor, with fine, juicy, sweet flesh, easy-to-peel and seedless
  • Develops a bright rind color
  • The most distinctive feature of navel oranges is the presence of a navel—a small and rudimentary secondary fruit embedded in the apex of the primary fruit
  • The juice can be enjoyed if consumed immediately, but unlike Valencia, the juice can turn bitter quickly
  • The fruit can be sensitive to weather changes, and blossoms can drop

Navel Orange Trees:

  • Medium to large trees
  • A rounded tree with deep green foliage
  • Umbrella-like foliage
  • Crops mature November to February

Where Do Oranges and Citrus Grow? 

With proper citrus care, having a citrus tree such as lemon, lime, grapefruit, navel orange or orange tree will produce decades of delicious fruit. However, the growing regions in the United States where oranges and other citrus fruit can be planted into the ground are limited to regions in California, Arizona, South Texas, Louisiana and Florida.

If you do not live in those regions, we do not recommend planting citrus in the ground. However, we consider this a good thing, because it's going to make your citrus growing a lot easier.

Growing Navel Oranges Outside of Growing Zones

So how do you grow Navel oranges outside of these growing zones? You do so by planting your orange 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 Navel Orange Trees in Pots

The actual planting process of Navel orange 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 Navel orange is naturally a smaller dwarf type variety which gets to be about 4 to 6 feet, but it will still produce an abundant harvest.

Here are 8 steps for growing navel orange trees in containers:

Step 1: Container for Navel Orange 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 recommend being 15 gallons. We find that anything above 25 gallons is quite difficult to physically move with only one person. so we recommend 15 gallons as the sweet spot.

Step 2: Soil for Navel Orange Trees

Choosing soil for your Navel orange trees is simple. All you need is any sort of potting soil. We do not recommend gardening soil or topsoil to use for orange tree 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 citrus by having all customers grow their citrus in containers and using any standard potting soil which is available at your local nursery garden center supply store.

Step 3: Watering for Navel Orange Trees

Watering is crucial, typically when Navel orange trees are planted into the ground there is a worry of proper drainage and overwatering your tree. Navel orange 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 citrus trees.

See our watering schedule for our citrus trees based on their size and the outside conditions.

The best way to figure out how much water your citrus 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 Navel Citrus 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 not improve the condition of the tree obviously, and you will likely notice that the soil is waterlogged at this point.

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. Our watering schedule also has a section for indoor planting.

Step 4: Fertilizer for Navel Orange Trees

Your Navel orange 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 development of the root system, the color of the leaves, appropriate photosynthesis, the growth of the trunk of the tree, proper flowering, fruiting, and taste of the fruit. 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.

Fertilizer Schedule

Ounces to use every Feb, May, and Aug

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3+

 

 

 

Miracle-Gro for Citrus, Avocado and Mango (13-7-13)

5

7

9

 Espoma Citrus (5-2-6)

10

14

18

Step 5: Sunlight for Navel Orange Trees 

Sunlight is crucial to Navel orange trees, especially because it is a tropical plant. 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.

A Navel orange tree does 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 Navel Orange Trees

We recommend that under freezing temperatures, you move your citrus tree into a warmer area such as a garage or indoors for the entire winter. 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 can die with exposure to temperatures in the teens for even up to 12 hours. 

Step 7: Where Do I Buy My Navel Orange Tree?

First of all, if you live in the states of California, Arizona, Louisiana, or Florida, you will need to purchase your citrus tree locally as citrus cannot be imported into your state because of USDA regulations.

Otherwise, order your very own micro-budded navel orange tree for sale online right here at US Citrus! It's a fast-growing citrus tree that uses our patented micro-budding technology to bear fresh and juicy citrus fruit within the first 1-2 years.

Step 8: Harvesting Your Navel Oranges

This harvest season is winter to late spring.   

Eight Steps to Growing Persian Lime Trees in Containers

Eight Steps to Growing Persian Lime Trees in Containers

This citrus fruit is our specialty and the gold standard for use in cocktail drinks and cuisine! The Persian lime tree grows vigorously, producing fruit that are around 2-2.5 inches in diameter. It is also known as the Tahiti or Bearss Lime.

About the Persian Lime

Here's some detailed information about the Persian lime fruit and tree:

The Persian Lime Fruit

  • A seedless and very juicy citrus fruit with an excellent tart flavor
  • The Persian lime has a thin, smooth rind, and the seedless flesh is pale greenish- yellow, acidic, juicy and finely-textured
  • Healthy limes the size of lemons
  • Stronger resistance to cold compared to other lime trees
  • The gold-standard lime for cocktail drinks and Mexican food
  • Year-round fruit production, but most fruit in winter
  • Limes of this variety bear fruit almost all year, and generally reach maturity in late autumn to early winter
  • The Persian lime is the most versatile and popular lime in the world!

The Persian Lime Tree

  • The coldest hardy tree of all limes
  • Year-round harvest for a consistent supply of fruit
  • handsome small tree with dark green leaves, some thorns, but less so than Mexican limes

Where Will Persian Limes Grow? 

With proper citrus tree care, Persian limes 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 California, Arizona, South Texas, Louisiana and Florida.

If you do not live in those regions, we do not recommend planting Persian limes in the ground. However, we consider this a good thing, because it's going to make your citrus growing a lot easier.

Growing Persian Limes Outside of Growing Zones

So how do you grow Persian Limes outside of these growing zones? You do so by planting your 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 recommend, is the use of fabric smart pots. While they do not have holes, the entire container is made of a fabric mesh which allows proper drainage and aeration of the soil.lim

The Planting Process for Growing Persian Lime Trees in Pots

The actual planting process of growing Persian lime 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 Persian lime is naturally a smaller dwarf type variety which gets to be about 4 to 6 feet, but it will still produce an abundant harvest.

Step 1: Container for Persian Lime Trees

The key to an appropriate container is having sufficient drainage through the material by 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 Persian Lime Trees

Choosing soil for your Persian lime trees is simple. You can use any sort of potting soil. We do not recommend gardening soil or topsoil to use for container growing. 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 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 citrus by having all customers grow their citrus in containers and using any standard potting soil which is available at your local nursery garden center supply store.

Step 3: Watering for Persian Lime Trees

Watering is crucial, typically when citrus is planted into the ground there is a worry of proper drainage and overwatering your tree. Persian lime 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 citrus trees.

See our watering schedule for our citrus trees based on their size and the outside conditions.

The best way to figure out how much water your citrus 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 Persian Lime 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 caused the yellow and sad looking plant had not been remediated. 

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. Our watering schedule also has a section for indoor planting.

Step 4: Fertilizer for Persian Lime Trees

Your Persian lime 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 in much 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.

Fertilizer Schedule

Ounces to use every Feb, May, and Aug

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3+

 

 

 

Miracle-Gro for Citrus, Avocado and Mango (13-7-13)

5

7

9

 Espoma Citrus (5-2-6)

10

14

18

Step 5: Sunlight for Persian Lime Trees 

Sunlight is crucial to Persian Lime trees, especially because it is a tropical plant. 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.

Persian Limes does 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 Persian Lime Trees

We recommend that under freezing temperatures, you move your Persian lime 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! Persian Limes can die with exposure to temperatures in the teens for even up to 12 hours. 

Persian limes are more cold hardy than key limes or Mexican limes. 

Step 7: Where Do I Buy My Persian Lime Tree?

First of all, if you live in the states of California, Arizona, Louisiana, or Florida, you will need to purchase your Persian lime tree locally as citrus cannot be imported into your state because of USDA regulations.

Otherwise, go to uscitrus.com and buy your tree today!

Step 8: Harvesting Your Persian Limes

This harvest season is year round! The fruit takes 4-6 months to become large and ripen and the fruit will become a little soft and slightly yellow.

Eight Steps to Growing Mandarin Oranges in Containers

How to Grow Mandarin oranges in 8 Steps

The mandarin orange tree grows well-known, delicious citrus fruits also referred and closely related to “tangerines” and “clementines”. The subvariety we use is the Satsuma, a sweet and seedless variety. There are dozens of cultivars of mandarins.

Mandarin Orange Fruit:

  • These citrus fruits are characterized by small round fruits with a loose-peeling skin
  • The fruit is usually medium in size with a thin, smooth rind that is reddish-orange at maturity and easily peeled
  • The flesh is a deep orange color, with a rich flavor
  • The mandarin orange variety is perfect for those with a sweet tooth and children
  • The subvariety we ship is the Satsuma mandarin, a seedless variety, as long as there is not another mandarin within 50 yards

Mandarin Orange Tree:

  • The slow-growing mandarin orange tree is also very cold-hardy and drought-resistant 
  • Year-round fruit production, with the peak season being autumn to spring
  • The tree is a large, vigorous, densely foliated tree
  • It has a tendency to alternate bearing with high fruit yield one year, then lower yield the next

Where Will Citrus Grow?

With proper citrus tree care, having your own citrus fruit trees such as lemon, lime, grapefruit, mandarin, mandarin or orange tree will produce decades of delicious fruit. However, the growing regions in the United States where citrus can be planted into the ground are California, Arizona, South Texas, Louisiana and Florida.

If you do not live in those regions, we do not recommend planting citrus in the ground. However, we consider this a good thing, because it's going to make your citrus growing a lot easier.

Growing Citrus Outside of Growing Zones

So how do you grow citrus outside of these growing zones? You do so by planting and growing 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 Citrus 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 Mandarin is naturally a smaller dwarf type variety which gets to be about 4 to 6 feet, but it will still produce an abundant harvest.

Step 1: Container for Mandarin 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 recommend being 15 gallons. We find that anything above 25 gallons is quite difficult to physically move with only one person. so we recommend 15 gallons as the sweet spot.

Step 2: Soil for Mandarin Trees

Choosing soil for your Mandarin trees is simple. All you need is 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 citrus by having all customers grow their citrus in containers and using any standard potting soil which is available at your local nursery garden center supply store.

Step 3: Watering for Mandarin Trees

Watering is crucial, typically when citrus is planted into the ground there is a worry of proper drainage and overwatering your tree. Citrus 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 citrus trees.

See our watering schedule for our citrus trees based on their size and the outside conditions.

The best way to figure out how much water your citrus 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 Citrus 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 not improve the condition of the tree obviously, and you will likely notice that the soil is waterlogged at this point.

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. Our watering schedule also has a section for indoor planting.

Step 4: Fertilizer for Mandarin Trees

Your Mandarin 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 development of the root system, the color of the leaves, appropriate photosynthesis, the growth of the trunk of the tree, proper flowering, fruiting, and taste of the fruit. 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.

Fertilizer Schedule

Ounces to use every Feb, May, and Aug

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3+

 

 

 

Miracle-Gro for Citrus, Avocado and Mango (13-7-13)

5

7

9

 Espoma Citrus (5-2-6)

10

14

18

Step 5: Sunlight for Mandarin Trees

Sunlight is crucial to citrus trees, especially citrus being a tropical plant. 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.

Citrus does best when it has 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 Mandarin Trees

We recommend that under freezing temperatures, you move your citrus tree into a warmer area such as a garage or indoors for the entire winter. 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 can die with exposure to temperatures in the teens for even up to 12 hours. 

Step 7: Where Do I Buy My Mandarin Tree?

First of all, if you live in the states of California, Arizona, Louisiana, or Florida, you will need to purchase your citrus tree locally as citrus cannot be imported into your state because of USDA regulations.

Otherwise, go to uscitrus.com to buy your tree today!

Step 8: Harvesting your Mandarins

This harvest is late fall to early spring for Mandarin oranges.  

Eight Steps to Growing Kumquats in Containers

How to Grow Kumquats in 8 Steps

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.

Kumquat Fruit

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.

Kumquat Tree

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.

See our watering schedule for our citrus trees based on their size and the outside conditions.

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. Our watering schedule also has a section for indoor planting.

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.

Fertilizer Schedule

Ounces to use every Feb, May, and Aug

Year 1

Year 2

Year 3+

 

 

 

Miracle-Gro for Citrus, Avocado and Mango (13-7-13)

5

7

9

 Espoma Citrus (5-2-6)

10

14

18

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.

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.

Otherwise, go to uscitrus.com and buy your tree today!

Step 8: Harvesting your Kumquats

This is a heavy cropping tree, with year-round harvesting, focused more in the summer months.