Small, sweet citrus satisfaction awaits with every bite of a home-grown kumquat fruit!
But every gardener knows that the key to a happy kumquat harvest is a happy kumquat tree—and we’re here to help you learn how to grow kumquat trees that are the healthiest, happiest they can be.
If you’re unfamiliar with kumquats or you’ve been wondering what it’s like to grow them, keep reading and we’ll tell you all you need to know to have your own kumquat tree!
Selecting a Location
Growing kumquat trees requires much of the same common consideration that goes into all sorts of citrus tree care. This includes making sure your kumquat tree has plenty of unrestricted sunlight—for at least 6 hours a day—and is established in well-draining, moist soil with a healthy pH balance.
An added consideration when growing kumquat trees is to ensure they’re not subjected to strong winds wherever you plant them!
If you find your garden plot can’t quite meet these needs, you’re in luck…growing kumquat trees in a container is an equally good option! If you have adequate supplemental lighting, you may even want to consider growing kumquat trees indoors, should this suit your specific situation.
How to Grow Kumquat Trees From Seed
Growing kumquat trees from seed is an easy and fantastic way to get the whole family involved in gardening! Even the littlest gardeners just starting out will enjoy getting their hands in the soil and seeing a bountiful kumquat harvest.
To make the most of your kumquat trees growing season by season, it’s best to begin the seeds indoors before the final threat of frost. You can either source some packaged seeds or remove them from a kumquat fruit itself!
Clean the seeds off with just a bit of water and some very gentle rubbing with your thumb. Now, unlike other plant species which require dried seeds to propagate, you do not want to dry off your kumquat seeds! This can actually kill off the embryo, since these seeds are much more delicate—and we certainly don’t want that!
Instead, you will want to keep them moist, which can be accomplished by wrapping them in a damp paper towel and storing them in a plastic ziptop bag somewhere warm for about a week. This will start the seeds germinating! After that first week, plant them in moist potting soil in a planting pot that’s about 1 cup deep.
Use your finger to pierce a hole roughly 1 inch into the soil, then sow the seed, cover it back up, and press down lightly. At this point, it’s time to cover up the planting pot with plastic wrap to help retain the moisture, and let the seed begin to sprout!
You can remove the plastic wrap and water your seed just frequently enough so that the soil remains damp but not overly saturated. To help maintain that critical moisture balance, go ahead and poke a few holes in the bottom of your planting pot if it doesn’t have them already cut in.
After about 2 weeks to a month, you should see the very first fruits of your labor—you’ll have kumquat sprouts! Now it’s time to remove the wrap and migrate your planting pots somewhere warm, with direct sunlight. This will help your little kumquat sprouts acclimate to a climate most citruses thrive in—warm and humid.
You can also repot your kumquat sprouts now, if you intend to grow them indoors in a container. You’ll need about a 15-gallon planter for this, as kumquat trees on average reach about 5 feet in height.
How to Grow Kumquat Trees From Transplant
If you’ve purchased a kumquat sprout or young tree (like this Nagami Kumquat from Nature Hills Nursery), or if you are wanting to move your kumquat trees from an indoor pot to an outdoor location, have no fear—transplanting these little trees is relatively straightforward. You just want to ensure you get them settled in their permanent home before they’re fully matured!
Make sure you wait until the final threat of frost has passed before you kick off the transplanting process, so no creeping cold comes in and shocks your young kumquat trees! Once you’re certain all frost threat has passed and the soil is sustainably warm, gently remove the young kumquat tree from its planting pot by gathering it gently below the root ball. Then, place your kumquat tree in a hole that’s been dug to roughly 3 to 5 times the width and about the same depth as the root ball.
Make sure your kumquat tree has 5 feet or more of space so it can grow unhindered! These little trees love to spread out away from any sort of shade.
Kumquat Tree Care
Growing kumquat trees that are healthy and thriving requires an average but not excessive amount of water. You can tell if your kumquat tree needs a drink by piercing the soil near the trunk down to your second knuckle. If no moisture meets your fingertip, then you know it’s time to water!
To help your kumquat trees maintain a healthy moisture level between watering times, you can mulch to a depth of about 2 to 3 inches and about 3 inches away from the tree trunk. Any nearer and the mulch may cause too much moisture retention on the trunk itself, which can lead to decay, bark diseases, and may even attract insects and rodents to raid your kumquat trees.
Maintaining Temperature and Humidity
If you live in an appropriate climate where you’re growing kumquat trees directly in the soil outdoors, you’re in luck—nature will handle the temperature and humidity needs of your tree fairly well on its own!
However, if you live in a location where you’re growing kumquat trees in containers and moving them indoor during the winter, it’s important to be mindful of how you’re maintaining their temperature and humidity needs. Though they can survive a cold burst down to as low as 18 degrees Fahrenheit, kumquat trees prefer warm weather and humidity ranges around 50 to 60 percent.
Once you enter the cold months, if you’re living in a cooler climate, you’ll need to shift to growing kumquat trees indoors for the winter months. This location change will help with the warmth, and as for the humidity, you can run a humidifier indoors or place the container on top of a tray filled with pebbles and water. Both of these are viable options to help provide the humidity your kumquat trees need to thrive.
Fertilizing and Feeding
For the first few months after your kumquat tree is planted and established, it won’t require any fertilizer or feeding, just regular watering. However, once you’ve passed about the 3-month mark, you can begin fertilizing with a citrus-specific fertilizer. You can also feed an organic, citrus tree food every couple of weeks or as instructed on the product label.
Be sure not to fertilize your kumquat trees in the winter, as they will not require it and it can even be detrimental during the hibernation period.
How to Troubleshoot Kumquat Tree Problems
Kumquat Tree Pests
Kumquat trees do have some common pests you will want to protect them from. This includes aphids, spider mites, and scale, the latter of which may be more problematic when growing kumquat trees indoors.
To learn more about common pest affecting kumquat trees and how to address them, visit our page on Kumquat Pests: How to Spot, Treat, and Prevent Them.
Kumquat Tree Diseases
There are also a few diseases to which kumquat trees are susceptible, including root rot due to poorly drained soil or flooding conditions in the rainy season.
For information on how to treat this and other kumquat tree diseases, visit our page on How to Identify and Treat Kumquat Diseases.
Growing Kumquats is Something You Can Do!
Feeling confident about how to grow kumquat trees in your own garden? It’s not hard once you know what kumquats need in order to be healthy.
Now comes the fun part! Check out our Kumquat Trees page to learn about all the different types of kumquats, how best to enjoy them, how to care for them individually, and so much more!