The kumquat tree, which is said to have originated in China, is actually not a tree at all but is a shrub. It is a member of the citrus family and can reach heights of up to15 feet. The shrubs have white flowers that bloom in early spring with dark green, pointed leaves. Kumquats resemble small oranges and are very fragrant with three to six segments.
Place your kumquat plant in an area that will receive full sun for most of the day. The kumquat plant does well in the hot Southern climates and is grown mainly in the state of California. The plant has the ability to survive cooler temperatures but will produce a larger, sweeter, healthier fruit when grown in warmer temperatures.
Apply a 6-inch layer of non-organic mulch--such as rocks, pebbles or shredded rubber from used tires--around the base your plants. This will keep the water in and the weeds out. Organic mulch is not good for citrus plants because it can encourage foot rot disease. Foot rot occurs when there is a high level of fungus in the soil which occurs from the breakdown of the organic materials.
Water the soil several times per week in order to keep the soil moist. Do not allow the soil to dry out or it will damage the plants. Fruit trees have shallow root systems and do not retain water as well as other trees. Even established trees will need to be watered weekly.
Fertilize your kumquat with a slow release citrus formula fertilizer, following the directions on the container. Citrus should be fertilized three to four times per year.
Prune the tree when you see long shoots growing from at the base of the tree. These will resemble new trees that are growing up from the soil but they actually are coming from the same root system. These are simply wild shoots. Thin out additional limbs if they start to become very dense. This will improve circulation and exposure to light.
Harvest your kumquat when the fruit is a bright yellow in color and firm. Mature kumquats will be approximately 1 to 1 1/2 inches long and will grow together in clusters. Clip the clusters and leave two or three leaves on each cluster for use as decoration.
Store the fruit in a bag in your refrigerator for up to two weeks. Kumquats are best eaten raw when they are fresh.