Calamondin Care: Tips On Growing The Dwarf Calamondin Tree

To get started caring for a Calamondin we need to first learn a little about the plant.

Citrus mitis (SIT-rus MIT-iss) hails from China. It is a cross between kumquat trees and mandarin orange trees.

dwarf calamondin tree
Tihon6 | DepositPhotos

The Calamondin tree, along with another citrus (aka Meyer lemon trees), is a group of plants able to handle cooler temperatures but also move indoors and outdoors.

This evergreen, perennial citrus tree shrub is a member of the Rutaceae (roo-TAY-see-eye) family.

It is currently cultivated in the Philippines, India, Malaysia, and southern China as a source of citrus juice. The fruits are edible but are very sour.

The tree was introduced in the United States in the early 1900s and grown in Florida. The trees are shipped all over the US as large potted plants.

You may hear Citrus mitis referred to as Citrus X citrofortunella mitis. It is commonly called Calamondin or Calamansi.

If you have tried lemon tree care and with success, you will do great in caring for a Calamondin.

What Is Citrus?

Citrus is the “Orange Tree” family!

If you have less than suitable climate conditions or maybe limited space you can still enjoy citrus trees by growing them in containers.

The dividing line between growing Calamondin citrus tree outdoors or indoors is roughly a temperature of no lower than 25° degrees Fahrenheit and plants should be protected from frost.

For those of you in areas where the temperatures regularly drop below the 25° degrees Fahrenheit mark, look for a bright spot indoors.

Caring For Calamondin Trees

Size & Growth

Calamondin Orange Tree can grow to be twenty feet high in its native, tropical environment.

When kept as a container plant, it will usually top out at about four feet high.

Calamansi leaves are oval shaped, shiny and deep green.

Calamondin Citrus Trees Flowering & Fragrance

Calamondin Trees can flower and set fruit all year round. You may see both fruit and flowers on your tree simultaneously.

If you keep your Calamondin tree indoors, to produce fruit, you will need to hand pollinate the flowers.

How Do You Pollinate Calamondin?

  • To hand pollinate, you will need a small, dry artists’ paintbrush
  • Wiggle the tip of the brush in the center of each of the flowers
  • Move along like a honey bee from one flower to the next.

The white, star-shaped flowers are very attractive and fragrant.

The fruits on this mini orange plant are small, orange, and easy to peel.

If you plan to pick them to use, clip them off cleanly with sharp scissors.

Be sure to use them up promptly. They spoil within a week.

The fruits are usually too sour to eat.

They can be used like lemons or limes to garnish drinks, make beverages and marmalade or squeeze over fish or other dishes that do well with a sour zest.

Orange fruit of the dwarf Calamondin
monumentaldoom | DepositPhotos

Light & Temperature

The Calamondin tree like other citrus plants likes lots of bright light.

When kept as a houseplant, your dwarf orange tree should receive a minimum of four hours of direct sunlight daily.

Remember to turn the plant a quarter turn every week to prevent having it from growing lopsided as it reaches for the sun.

When the weather warms up, give your Calamansi an outdoor vacation.

These shrubs typically like temperatures ranging from 70°-90° degrees Fahrenheit.

They do not thrive in temperatures below 55° degrees Fahrenheit, but they can survive temperatures as low as 20° degrees Fahrenheit.

Calamondin is winter hardy in USDA hardiness zones 9b and above.

Below the 55° degree mark (Fahrenheit) the plants could begin to go dormant.

When the weather breaks and your calamondin orange tree can move outdoors into higher light intensities – do it gradually. In at night out during the day. For about a month.

Also, remember that indoors any additional light and extra humidity you can provide will be helpful.

Citrus like the orange and indoor lemon tree has been grown throughout Europe in containers for centuries.

In the US we don’t think much about citrus as indoor house plants. However, they make excellent indoor house plants.

Just know the proper Calamondin tree care and you should enjoy citrus fruits and its juices soon.

How Often Do You Water & Feed A Tree Calamondin?

Calamondin Orange is fairly drought tolerant. Water only as needed because overwatering will kill your tree. Let the top inch of soil dry out and then water thoroughly.

If you want to force your citrus shrub to bloom, withhold water until the leaves wilt and roll-up.

Water thoroughly and your plant should bloom within a couple of months.

In the springtime, feed your dwarf orange a slow release fertilizer.

Throughout the growing season, fertilize monthly using a full-strength water-soluble citrus fertilizer.

In the wintertime, dilute the fertilizer to half strength and provide it every fifth week.

In the watering department, soak the rootball and root system thoroughly until water drains out the bottom.

Don’t water again until the top quarter of the soil dries out.

Also, Calamondin plants do best in a well-drained soil.

Soil & Transplanting

Small citrus shrubs do well as container plants. However, you must be vigilant about repotting because it is easy for their root system to grow and plants to become outbound.

Provide a large container with plenty of room for root growth.

Use a mixture of equal parts:

  • Potting Soil
  • Organic Compost
  • Vermiculite or Perlite

Check at the end of every winter to see if your Calamansi is becoming outbound.

Repot every two or three years in the springtime.

Citrus Fruit Rules to Remember

Use a potting soil mix designed for potted plants and not soil from of the garden. Make sure the pot has drainage holes.

We think of citrus growing in the ground. Don’t assume the same soil could be used in a pot.

Grooming & Maintenance

Calamondin Orange Trees only need light, occasional pruning to remove diseased, damaged or dead branches.

When spurs and water sprouts appear at the base of the trunk, pinch or prune them back.

Calamondin Orange Care and Information (× Citrofortunella mitis)

How To Propagate Calamondin Tree

You can grow Calamondin easily from seeds, or you can root softwood cutting in the springtime. You can also use semi-ripe cuttings during the summertime.

NOTE: Years ago I remember cuttings of Calamondin plants being rooted in large mist houses where they were grown commercially.

  • Use a very sharp, very clean razor blade or knife to take a stem cutting
  • Look for cuttings about four inches long at the end of the stem.
  • It should have two or three leaf nodes and no flowers/fruit.
  • Dip the cutting into a hormone rooting powder
  • Insert the cutting into a small pot of prepared potting mix (as described above).
  • Put the pot and cutting into a clear plastic bag or soda bottle greenhouse to retain moisture.
  • Place in bright indirect lighting
  • Your stem cutting should set roots within a couple of months.
Example of a Mini Greenhouse covering for rooting a cutting

It’s also possible to do a bud graft on sour orange rootstock.

Calamondin Tree Pests or Disease Problems

Keep the plants’ leaves clean by wiping them regularly with a damp sponge.

This will help keep dust down and prevents infestation by scale insects and mites.

IMPORTANT NOTE: If you plan on eating the Calamondin fruit be very careful what you spray on them. When possible go with a natural organic insecticide for control like Neem Oil.

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Is the Calamondin Considered Toxic or Poisonous to People, Kids, ets?

Like all citrus plants, Calamondin Orange produces three substances which are toxic to dogs:

  • Psoralens
  • Linalool
  • Limonene

These are all safe for humans, but you should keep your dog away from this tree.

Everblooming Citrus Trees and Plant Varieties:

potted-calamondin
  • CALAMONDIN LIMES are the most tender of the citrus and usually quite thorny. Difficult to grow in the ground; much better suited to containers. Protect at 32° degrees Fahrenheit; watch wind chill carefully.
  • CALAMONDINS is a beautiful, cold tolerant ornamental tree with small, sour orange fruit. Grown more for looks than fruit. Great patio plant or clipped hedge. These will probably be the easiest of all to find at your nursery. Hardy to 20° degrees Fahrenheit.
  • LEMONS are the fastest growing citrus and very easy to grow in containers. Most are frost tender and should be covered or brought inside when temperatures reach 30° degrees Fahrenheit. Varieties available here are usually ever-bearing.
  • KUMQUAT is a heavy producer of small orange fruit that can be eaten peel and all. An excellent container plant, and extremely ornamental, this tree tolerates cold better than any other citrus. Hardy to 18° degrees Fahrenheit.

These varieties will most likely set fruit indoors in the winter. Other citrus varieties will grow and flower but don’t expect much in the way of fruit.

Suggested Calamondin Tree Uses

Although Calamondin tree fruit is edible, the plant is usually grown as an ornamental houseplant.

This little orange tree also makes a nice porch or patio container plant. In warm climates, it can make an attractive and fragrant hedge.

Using The Calamansi Fruit

  • Add the juice to other juices for a bit of zing
  • Use it in any recipe calling for lemon or lime juice
  • Add it to desserts, such as cakes, marmalade, custards, chiffon pie or gelatin salads

Citrus mitis Calamondin also provides natural anti-inflammatory benefits just like any other citrus plant.

The juice also has a number of personal care and folk medicine uses. [source]

Why not give the miniature orange a try?

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