Citrus fruits have always occupied a special niche among indoor plants. Fragrant, with luxurious flowering, special leathery leaves and long-awaited fruits, they have become timeless and always relevant classics for a reason. Unfortunately, not all citrus fruits can boast of abundant fruiting and compactness at the same time. Calamondin is a hybrid with an amazingly dense and neat crown, literally strewn with miniature fruits. Of course, he also needs special conditions and care. But still, success with Calamondins is much easier to achieve than with its competitors.
Indoor calamondin is the most prolific citrus fruit
Description of the plant
Small leaves, small fruits, compact size with dense branching – calamondin is ideal for windowsills. In our country it is little known under its botanical name. citrofortunella (× Citrofortunella microcarpa, trade name – calamansi). This Southeast Asian visitor is a tangerine / kumquat hybrid and looks a lot like them.
Calamondins are compact citrus fruits, even in nature not exceeding 5 m. Today they can be found in the form of bonsai, and in hanging pots, and not just shaped like bushes or trees. Indoor calamondins do not exceed 2 m even without formation, and even then at a very respectable age. And at the same time they grow very quickly, they begin to bear fruit early – as soon as they grow 25 cm.
The leaves of calamondin are fragrant, smaller than those of mandarin or kumquat, oval with a slightly pointed tip. The shade of dark green is lighter than other citrus foliage and appears to be warmer, herbaceous. Shine emphasizes the density of the leathery leaf blade. Calamondin also has varieties with variegated leaves.
Calamondin is valued primarily for the abundance of both flowering and fruiting. Starting in late spring, calamondins can continue to produce new flowers throughout the summer, while fruit ripens. If flowering can last for several months, fruiting usually lasts 6 to 9 months. The fruits stay on the branches for a very long time.
White, fragrant, very graceful small flowers bloom in small bunches of up to 4 pieces or one at a time. Calamondin needs artificial pollination with a soft brush.
The fruits of calamondine are round, and the size does not exceed a walnut. They are repainted slowly, in stripes, from dark green to yellow-orange. The peel is thin and sweetish, fragrant, like the bitter-sour pulp. Calamondin surprises with a large number of seeds inside the fruit.
Growing conditions for indoor calamondin
This hybrid is hygrophilous and sun-loving, it can be grown both in indoor culture and in a winter garden, and as a garden and indoor tub. Calamondin grows well only under control of lighting, although in general it is less demanding for light than other citrus fruits.
Lighting and placement
Calamondin cannot stand the direct sun. For this citrus, it is better to find the brightest possible lighting from among the soft, diffused modes.
The ideal place for calamondin, as well as for other citrus fruits, remains window sills. The choice of east and west windows is the safest option; south orientation with a protective shield is also suitable. On the north side, Calamondin will be uncomfortable even in summer. The optimal duration of daylight hours is from 12 to 16 hours.
Calamondin, with a sharp movement, can shed leaves, therefore, when rearranging or hygienic procedures, it is worthwhile to ensure that its position in relation to the light source is maintained. In order for the crown to develop evenly, and not one-sidedly, the plant is regularly rotated, but only a few degrees – so that the crown makes a full revolution in a year. Conveniently mark the pot to track displacement.
Read also our article Homemade tangerine from a bone: from A to Z.
Temperature control and ventilation
The main advantage (and the secret of the popularity of calamondin) is the ability to bear fruit even with a relatively warm winter. Although for this citrus fruit, the ideal at the resting stage, from October to March, remains a temperature range of 12 to 15 degrees, even in a warm winter from 16 to 18 degrees calamondin tolerates well enough, laying flower buds. The main thing is that the temperature does not rise above 18 degrees in winter and the lighting and plant care are significantly adjusted.
During a period of active growth, calamondin will prefer stable temperatures without extreme heat. In the warmth of 20 to 25 degrees, the bushes grow and bloom well. Any drastic changes affect the plant, therefore, it is better to keep an eye on drafts and daily changes stricter.
In the summer, Calamondin can be taken out into the fresh air by placing it in sheltered, semi-shaded areas and taking measures to protect it from overheating.
Caring for calamondin at home
The most difficult moment in growing calamondine is associated with its moisture-loving nature. Poorly tolerating the extremes with watering, calamondin requires regular maintenance and reacts very harshly to mistakes.
Watering and air humidity
During the period of active growth, calamondin loves abundant watering. But it is dangerous to overdo it with them even in the middle of summer, because even a little dampness leads to decay of the roots. To exclude waterlogging, it is worth fulfilling only two conditions:
- drain water from the pallets immediately or no later than after 5 minutes;
- check how the soil dries up between waterings (ideally, 3-5 cm from the top).
But drought should also be avoided: complete drying of the substrate leads to yellowing and leaf fall. The water should be soft and lukewarm.
For the dormant period, watering is reduced, focusing on the conditions and reducing the humidity by about half.
This citrus fruit develops normally and blooms only at a humidity of about 70%, suffers in a dry environment, especially in heat. Spraying leaves is the most preferable way to increase air humidity, but if these indicators in the room deviate greatly from the average, you will have to resort to other measures – installing a humidifier or a pallet with wet expanded clay. The water should be soft, several degrees warmer than the substrate.
Top dressing and composition of fertilizers
Calamondins need additional feeding only during the period of active growth. The plant is very sensitive to iron deficiency. For calamondine, it is better to choose special fertilizers for citrus or vegetable and fruit crops, but in extreme cases, you can use organic and complex mineral fertilizers, alternating them during the summer and additionally adding iron chelate 1-2 times (or other monofertilizers with iron).
Fertilizers for calamondin are applied every 2 weeks at the standard dosage indicated by the manufacturer. It is better to stop feeding gradually.
Trimming and shaping calamondin
Traditionally, the plant is formed once a year, before transplanting or the beginning of active growth, in early spring. Calamondin can be shaped at will, keeping it compact or more rigorous. Do not prune more than 2/3 of the branches. Any damage and dried shoots should be trimmed as soon as these problems appear.
Read also our article Growing a lemon tree at home.
Transplant, containers and substrate
Only young, non-fertile plants need annual transplants. Adult bushes are transplanted as the roots of the substrate develop, every 2 or 3 years, necessarily changing the top layer of the substrate in early spring.
For calamondins, classic containers with a depth exceeding the width and large drainage holes are used. If calamondin is grown as a bonsai, the more traditional varieties should also be preferred. The preferred container material is ceramic.
A high drainage layer is a prerequisite for the health of calamondin. Expanded clay or other materials are poured onto the bottom in a layer from 5 cm to ⅓ of the height of the pot. The substrate is suitable for any of the number of nutritious, loose soil mixtures. A special substrate for citrus, fruit or tub is ideal, but you can also mix leafy, turfy soil and coarse sand in a 3: 1: 1 ratio or add loosening additives to the universal substrate. A slightly acidic and neutral soil reaction is acceptable.
It is not worth destroying an earthen lump, calamondin is carefully rolled over, maintaining the same level of deepening.
Diseases, pests and growing problems
For any signs of rapid drying or blackening of the shoots, an emergency pruning of the affected parts of the plant is needed and an assessment of the condition of the roots with their removal from the pot. If they are not affected, you can try to save the plant by adjusting the conditions of the plant. In addition to rot, calamondins are quite susceptible to rust, requiring a quick start with systemic fungicides.
This hybrid cannot be called pest resistant either. Mealybugs cause a lot of trouble and require repeated treatments with insecticides. In unfavorable conditions, scale insects or spider mites, preferring dry air, can settle on calamondins.
Reproduction of calamondin
This citrus fruit shows amazing flexibility not only in formation, but also in the possibilities of obtaining offspring. Calamondins are propagated mainly vegetatively, but, in addition to the usual rooting of apical cuttings with 3 to 4 leaves under a hood, you can get new bushes and graft on much more affordable oranges.