BOTANICAL NAME: Citrus Japonica or Fortunella Japonica

DESCRIPTION:  A large evergreen shrub or small tree with attractive dark green leaves and masses of sweetly scented white flowers in early summer.  These develop into aromatic oval shaped fruit, 25mm to 50mm long, that turn bright orange as they ripen in winter.  The orange rind is mildly sweet, whilst the flesh is moderately acidic.  The fruit hold onto the tree for months without losing quality or flavour.

CULTURAL INFORMATION:  They grow best in a sunny position with free airflow and even light distribution.  Plant them in well drained, loamy soil with plenty of compost.  Fertilise every  3 months with 5:1:5 slow release nitrogen.  Apply a mulch of pine bark on the surface of the soil.  Check regularly for pests (aphids, thrips, scale) and spider mites.  Treat when necessary.  These are the most cold-hardy of all citrus.

GARDEN USES:  Kumquats are fantastic as potted ornamental specimen in large containers.  They’re practical as a hedge or boundary planting and useful as an edible fruit.  The fruit can be eaten whole – skin and all.  They are used for preserving, making syrup, candying and making marmalade.  They make a delicious liqueur too.  All in all, the kumquat is a most useful plant for gardens, large and small.