Kumquat Tree Bonsai

Kumquat Tree

Citrus Japonica

The Kumquat trees originated in eastern Asia and are a symbol of good luck.  The Kumquats tree is small, which makes it perfect for small gardens and pots. These small fruit-bearing trees are part of the flowering plant family Rutaceae and were previously classified as forming the removed genus Fortunella or within the Citrus family.

The olive-sized fruit is edible and resembles the orange in color and shape. The fruits are bright orange and excellent for marmalades, dried, or as made into preserves.

Kumquat trees have been hybridized a lot, causing several varieties such as:

  • The Nagami, which is the most popular type of kumquat with oval, deep orange fruit.
  • The Meiwa is larger than the Nagami variety with sweeter pulp and juice.
  • The Marumi produces spherical fruits and tends to grow well in containers.
  • The Centennial Variegated is a compact cultivar with fruits that are striped in green and yellow.

The Nagami variant is the most popular for creating Bonsai.

Table of Contents

Quick Kumquat Tree Bonsai Care Sheet

For a quick summary of the basics to care for your Kumquat Tree Bonsai, see the care sheet below.

Recommended soil

Soil mix for Citrus plants that is loamy, kept moist, and well-drained

Watering

Keep soil moist but not waterlogged or muddy

Potting season

Early Spring prior to flowering season

Shaping and pruning season

Early Spring

Light

Full sun

Fertilizing

Soil mix for Citrus trees

Propagation methods

Seed and Cuttings

Pests and diseases

Mealybug, Leaf miners, aphids, citrus scale, Anthracnose, Citrus Blast and Phytophthora root rot

Growth patterns

Dark glossy leaves, small white flowers and yellow to orange oval-shaped fruit

Recommended styles

Formal upright, Slanting or Semi-Cascade

Scientific Classification

● Kingdom:    Plantae
● Clade:           Tracheophytes
● Clade:           Angiosperms
● Clade:           Eudicots
● Clade:           Rosids
● Order:          Sapindales
● Family:        Rutaceae
● Genus:         Citrus
● Species:      C. japonica

Kumquat Tree

How to Care for a Kumquat Tree Bonsai

Growing a Kumquat Bonsai is relatively easy, but they need the right conditions to thrive and hopefully bear fruit.

Best Soil

The best soil for a Kumquat Bonsai is a mix specially designed for citrus trees. Any quality potting mix that drains well will work, and you can add a layer of gravel or small pebbles to the bottom of the container to improve drainage.

Watering

It is essential to water the Kumquat Bonsais properly as you need to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged or muddy. As soon as the soil feels dry at about a depth of 2 inches, it is time to water. Add water until you see it draining out the bottom. Ensure that the pot drains very well to prevent root rot and fungal infestations.

Young plants should be watered at least two to three times a week, and this can reduce as the tree ages. Place a thin layer of organic mulch at the base of the tree to assist in retaining moisture but keep a small circular area mulch free around the base of the tree. Constant contact with damp mulch is not ideal for this tree.

Kumquats prefer humidity levels between 50% and 60%, and you might have to take additional measures to increase these levels indoors, especially during Winter. Mist the leaves of your tree using a spray bottle filled with water. A humidity tray can also be used. This is a tray filled with pebbles and enough water that does not cover the pebbles.

Place your Bonsai on the pebbles, and as the water evaporates, the humidity around the tree increases. Another method involves clustering your plants. This involves grouping your Kumquat and other indoor plants together so they can benefit from the moisture released through the leaves of other plants. This exhale process is called transpiration.

Repotting

A Kumquat Bonsai tree requires it to be repotted every two to three years. Every tree grows at a different rate depending on the conditions it is kept under, and the best rule of thumb is to report the tree when the roots outgrow the container. When repotting, a larger container can be used to promote growth. If the Bonsai is at the desired size, it is recommended to trim the roots and reuse the pot.

To report the tree, start by gently loosening the root ball from the pot and comb out the roots a little. Trim the outer of the root ball but don’t remove more than about a quarter of the ball size.

Replant in a pot with fresh soil and work in the soil into any gaps to avoid air pockets.

The best time to repot the Kumquat Bonsai Tree is early Spring before the flowering season as the stress of repotting can influence the flower production if reporting is done later.

Shaping and Pruning

The Kumquat Bonsai tree is extremely low in maintenance where it comes to pruning. Just an occasional removal of damaged or dead branches or to cut back growth is needed. It is sometimes necessary to cut back overcrowded foliage to ensure proper airflow through the tree, which is vital for the flowering cycle.

The best time to start shaping a Kumquat Bonsai tree is before the flowering months.  Branches can be wrapped in twine before binding them.

Location and Sunlight

A Kumquat Bonsai tree prefers full sun and needs a minimum of six hours of sunlight a day for younger plants to promote root growth. More mature trees require eight to ten hours a day of full sunlight for a healthy plant. Indoor Kumquat Bonsais need a lot of natural light and full sunlight. A shortage of light can hinder growth and the flowering cycle. Fitting grows lights might even be required to keep your Bonsai healthy.

Placing your tree outside in the day during Summer is recommended for ideal flower pollination and fruit production. Although Kumquat Bonsai trees can handle a bit more cold than other fruit trees, you should aim to keep them between 55- and 85-degrees Fahrenheit.

At night it is ideal to decrease the room temperature by 5 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit to replicate nighttime temperatures. These trees do not tolerate heaters and air conditioners blowing directly on them or drafts that can cause severe temperature variances.

Fertilizing

Kumquat trees prefer a high-quality slow-release fertilizer formulated for citrus trees to remain healthy, flowering, and fruit-bearing. The best time to start fertilizing is early Spring.

Mature Kumquat Bonsai trees prefer a liquid fertilizer or fish emulsion on occasion. Apply this fertilizer directly to the soil and avoid contact with the tree.

Propagation Methods

Kumquat Bonsai trees can be started in two ways, seed, and cuttings. The Kumquat tree is self-pollinating, but it is better to have the tree exposed to others for cross-pollination over time. Spring is the best time to plant seeds that must be kept moist and exposed to a lot of sunlight.

Growing a Kumquat from a cutting requires a cutting of about 4 inches with three or more nodes. Cut with a sharp pruning knife at an angle that prevents the tree from getting any diseases.

Soak the ends of the cuttings in rooting hormone for around five days or dip it in powder rooting hormone. Plant cuttings in damp soil at about 1,5 inches deep. Cuttings should be harvested and planted in Spring. Keep the soil moist but not muddy.

Pests and Diseases

Kumquat Bonsai trees are prone to mealybug infestations. Leaf miners, aphids, and citrus scale are also known to attack the Kumquat. These pests can be combated with insecticidal soap or neem oil directly on the soil around the tree.

Anthracnose is another disease that likes citrus trees, of which the kumquat tree is one. You can tell by the spotting on the leaves when your Kumquat has been invaded by Anthracnose. Use horticultural oil to clear it up.

Another bacterial infection that is carried on the wind is Citrus Blast. This infection quickly spreads through the tree and causes withering leaves and the death of your Bonsai. Use a copper-based fungicide to kill off the citrus blast.

The last on the list of diseases that infects the Kumquat is Phytophthora root rot. This is a fungal-based disease commonly caused by waterlogged soil.

Growth Patterns

Kumquat trees grow slowly and are evergreen with dense branches that sometimes have small thorns. The tree has dark glossy leaves and white flowers in the late Spring to early summer. Young trees might only flower after about two years.

They produce hundreds of small orange fruits that are more sour tasting than oranges and oval in shape. Fruit varies by species, and some are yellow or even green with yellow stripes.

Recommended Styles

There are three styles commonly used for the Kumquat Bonsai tree.

Formal Upright or Chokkan Style – The formal upright style is the easiest style to start with and offers classic proportions that are the basis of all Bonsai. The tree trunk rises from the ground in a fairly straight line without forks. The branches need to be balanced, and the first branch should be positioned roughly a third of the way up the trunk.

An oval or rectangular container is recommended, and the ideal placement of the tree is about a third of the distance from one end.

Slanting or Shakan Style – The goal is to create a tree forced by the wind and gravity to lean over. The trunk has an acute angle, and the treetop is bent slightly toward the front. The trick is to balance the movement of the trunk with the placement of the branches to prevent the tree from looking lopsided. This style looks best planted in a round or square container with the tree in the middle.

Semi-cascade or Han-Kengai Style  – The tree trunk grows straight for a certain distance and then curves downwards to above the bottom of the container but below the level of the soil. Any shape of a container works, but the container needs to be slightly deeper than its length.

Kumquat Tree

Considerations for Growing an Indoor Kumquat Tree

Kumquat trees are well suited to growing indoors but will not reach their full height. As long as they receive enough bright light or a supplemental grow light, they still have the potential to produce fruits. The soil of the tree needs to be kept moist but not waterlogged or muddy. Drainage is key to the health of your Kumquat.

Avoid areas where the air conditioner, heater, or a draft is directly on the tree, as this will dry out the leaves and soil quickly. Kumquat trees prefer humid conditions, and additional steps to raise the humidity might have to be taken. These steps could include a humidity tray or misting the leaves.

Even though indoor plants are more protected from insects and pests, you will need to regularly inspect your tree for common household pests, including mealybugs and aphids.

Common Issues When Caring for a Kumquat Tree Bonsai

Fungal diseases are common causes for the death of a Kumquat Bonsai. To prevent fungal diseases from infecting your Bonsai, ensure that the pot and soil offer proper drainage for water. Remove all dead branches and foliage to ensure that air can circulate throughout your Bonsai.

Sunlight is essential for the Kumquat tree, and it will now grow well without enough exposure to it.

Interesting Facts About Kumquat Tree Bonsai

The Kumquat tree has been cultivated for a very long time. Some of the interesting facts about this tree include:

  • Kumquat tree is native to China
  • A reference to kumquats appears in Imperial literature from the 12th century
  • Kumquats have been cultivated in other parts of East Asia (Japan and Taiwan), South Asia (India), and Southeast Asia (especially the Philippines) for a very long time
  • Kumquat trees came to Europe only in 1846 by Robert Fortune, a collector for the London Horticultural Society
  • These trees were taken to North America after their introduction to Europe

FAQs about Kumquat Tree Bonsai

Here are some common questions asked about the Kumquat Tree Bonsai.

Kumquat trees grow easily in gardens and pots as long as they receive enough water, has soil that drains well, receives a lot of sunlight and is protected from extreme weather conditions.

Citrus trees are commonly used for Bonsai, and the only downside is that once they bear fruit. The fruit is standard size and takes away from the minimized look you try to achieve with Bonsai.

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Linda Blignaut

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