Looking to add some bright colors to your front or back yard? If the answer is “yes,” then I have the perfect ornamental tree that will turn your yard/ garden into the talk of the town.
The Hong Kong kumquat is not only popular because of its bright red-orange fruits and captivating white flowers, but it also exudes a heavenly lemon pine scent that creates a peaceful ambiance that your whole family will enjoy.
In this post, I’ll share with you the history behind this ancient plant and why it’ll make for a great addition to your garden.
History of the Hong Kong Kumquat
Origins of the Hong Kong Kumquat
The Hong Kong kumquat is the only kumquat that still grows wild in southern China. It was introduced to Europe for the first time by botanist Robert Fortune during the Daoguang period of the Qing Dynasty.
Depictions of the kumquat first showed up in Chinese literature in 1178 A.D. when Han Yen- Chih quoted an earlier writer in his work who spoke of this glorious plant. Indicating that the Hong Kong kumquat, also known as the golden bean or mountain golden mandarin, has been around far before 1178 A.D.
It’s believed to be one of, if not the original, kumquat.
Due to the size, short juvenility, and characteristics of the Hong Kong kumquat, scientists today use it as a model material for citrus gene function research.
Use of the Hong Kong Kumquat in Festivals
We all could use a little more luck in our lives, right? Well, the Hong Kong kumquat is especially popular during Chinese New Year because it symbolizes a wish for both wealth and good luck.
Their symbology comes from their Cantonese name, kam kwat, which means “golden orange.”
The kumquat is also used as an offering in the Chinese diaspora. It’s placed on family alters and shrines as a sign of wealth and sweetness for those who have passed.
You might be wondering what bonsai is. Bonsai is a Japanese art form that’s based on growing and training miniature potted trees. It originated from the Chinese art form of penjing.
The Hong Kong kumquat bonsai tree is believed to benefit both spirit and body.
Since they are living trees, they will help purify the air.
Bonsai is also known to lower stress due to the personal interaction between you and nature.
Science has also shown that spending time in and around nature helps your mental health.
The art of bonsai is believed to encourage personal growth. This is because it cultivates patience, as they grow slower than most other potted home plants. It also takes planning when growing your bonsai, meaning you think about the future while living in the present.
Bonsai also helps nurture self-confidence, as this art form implements the practices of planning ahead, problem-solving, and learning new techniques.
Growing the Hong Kong Kumquat
The Hong Kong kumquat does best in high humidity, but they are hardy plants that can survive in lower temperatures. However, if you know the temperature is going to drop below 45 degrees, it’s best to bring it inside.
Note, due to their small size, these make for great potted plants, as they are easy to shape, making them a great option for bonsai and home décor.
Characteristics of the Hong Kong Kumquat
These beautiful little fruits these plants produce are the smallest of the kumquat family. They grow no more than half an inch and contain several large seeds, which makes them almost completely inedible (to read up on edible kumquats, read about the Nagami kumquat). However, they make for great ornamental plants to add to your gardens.
Imagine a vivid green tree, no more than 3 meters tall but so full of life that it’s hard to miss. With the heavenly smell of the bright white flowers that grow along the foliage and fiery orange fruits that shine like the sun, there is no way you can go wrong with adding the Hong Kong kumquat to your home.
What makes kumquats a favorite among plant enthusiasts is the fact that they are self-pollinating and self-fertilizing, meaning that you’ll only need one tree and that one tree will continue to flower and produce those tiny orange-red fruits that make this plant such a beautiful addition.
Size and Spacing
When fully mature, the Hong Kong kumquat tree will be no larger than 3 meters; this is if you choose to leave it as is instead of shaping it.
Your kumquat tree will need to be placed in an area where it can get direct sunlight; the Hong Kong kumquat loves the heat and sun.
So, if you’re using this for bonsai or as a potted house plant, it’s best to keep it near a window or give it a few hours outside in direct sunlight daily.
Hong Kong kumquat trees will grow best in acidic to neutral soil pH. It’s important to note that the soil must have ample drainage.
When it comes to watering, you’ll want to make sure that you never allow the soil to become completely dry, and it’s best to water it before the soil even appears to be.
During the springtime, you’ll want to use all-purpose, slow-releasing citrus fertilizer. As your tree continues to grow, diluted liquid fertilizer will work best.
Quick side note, you’ll want to ensure that when you fertilize, you’re not getting any on the tree itself, just the soil.
Pests and Diseases
Like all plants, your Hong Kong kumquat tree is susceptible to certain pests and diseases, so you’ll want to be on the lookout for common pests such as aphids, thrips, spider mites, and mealybugs.
You’ll also want to keep an eye out for diseases such as scab, fruit rot, and stem-end rot.
Kumquat trees do not need to be pruned; however, if you want a shrub or to use it as bonsai, you’ll want to prune and shape your tree as it grows.
Where to Buy the Hong Kong Kumquat
Finding the seeds of the Hong Kong kumquat can be difficult. Occasionally you may be able to find an independent seller online through places such as Etsy or eBay.
You also might be lucky enough to find some at your local nursery, so make sure to ask the next time you’re there.
The Hong Kong kumquat plant will be easier to find. Some local nurseries might have them, but you can also find them online in places like Oscar Tintori.
Flora Taskana is another online seller who also has them available for sale.
They are also sold on some bonsai websites, such as the New England Bonsai Gardens.
Add a Hong Kong Kumquat to Your Garden!
At Minneopa Orchards, we know how a beautiful plant can cultivate peace and tranquility in our overly hectic lives. We all could use a place to escape to once in a while. What better way to do that than surrounded by plants that produce a heavenly fragrance and captivate with their bright colors that can be grown as a house plant or in your garden?
The Hong Kong kumquat may be small, but that just means you’ll have more room to add multiple trees if you so choose. You won’t regret adding the Hong Kong kumquat to your home.
Excited for more kumquat content? Check out our kumquat trees page to learn more about this funky little citrus!