kumquats (Fortunella japonica syn. Citrus japonica), sometimes spelled Comquots, are small citrus trees native to East Asia. They reach a height of 2 to 4.5 m and have a vase-like or rounded crown. Since they are very beautiful and produce delicious fruits, many gardeners choose to grow them. Although caring for them is not difficult in the warm season, they need protection in the winter. Read on to find out how to overwinter your kumquat so you can enjoy it again in the spring.
How do you overwinter kumquats? Follow this guide for healthy trees
Using this guide, you can overwinter your kumquat and keep it healthy throughout the winter season
Is a kumquat hardy?
The interesting thing about kumquats is that they grow in climates that are too cool for other citrus plants. However, winter temperatures below -7 °C can cause damage or even death to plants if they last too long. These evergreen trees need warm and sunny weather to grow well. Depending on temperature requirements, their natural growing environment is in tropical to subtropical regions with average temperatures between 20 and 38 °C. At temperatures below 5 degrees they should be protected in order to survive.
Kumquats are not hardy and therefore require some care to survive the cold winter weather
Overwintering kumquat: Please note the following
Kumquats can survive temperatures down to -7 degrees Celsius. However, if temperatures drop below 5 degrees C, you should bring them indoors (usually around late October/early November). Although they can survive in these conditions, they do not fare as well when exposed to excessive cold. A night or two outside won’t hurt them, but still don’t wait too long.
Be sure to bring your kumquat tree indoors before the first hard frost
#Bring kumquat indoors in winter
To overwinter your kumquat tree, place it in a well-lit area, preferably in the sun but away from radiators. Note that the heat and dryness of the heater will harm it. The temperature during the winter break should be between 5 and 10 degrees so that the tree feels good.
Also remember that excessive watering as well as heat or cold can cause severe leaf drop. So don’t overdo it. In winter, just one watering is enough to keep the substrate moist. Therefore, water 1-2 times a week. In the first month of spring you can water every other day, then every day until the end of summer.
It’s a good idea to spray your tree for pests before bringing it indoors
#When to cut kumquat in winter?
You may know that citrus trees are typically pruned in the winter, but it’s important to resist the urge to prune too early. This can be difficult if your kumquat tree is in winter vegetation, but if you don’t time it right it can cause more harm than good. Kumquat plants grow relatively slowly, so pruning is not absolutely necessary. However, if you want to prune the shoots, do so in February before the flowers appear. Prune your kumquat tree carefully, being careful not to damage it. You can remove dead branches all year round.
Tip: If your leaves or branches are dead, be sure to dip your pruning shears in rubbing alcohol. You only want to cut what is necessary. For optimal growth, try not to cut more than 5 centimeters from the healthy part of your tree.
Overwintering kumquat: Do not prune your kumquat tree too early to avoid damage
#When can kumquat come out again?
Once the danger of frost has passed in your region, you can bring the specimen back outdoors. The ideal is to place it in a sunny spot on a south-facing terrace or veranda. Give it a week to get used to the outside temperatures.
Leave the tree outside for just a few hours at first and gradually increase the time. Do not expose it to direct sunlight immediately as this may cause leaf burns. After the week is up, place the kumquat tree in its permanent outdoor location where it will spend the warm seasons.
Placing the kumquat in direct sun after winter can cause shock
*Also read how to overwinter mandarin trees.
Fertilization of citrus trees should also be stopped in winter