Combining Research and Education: “Calamondin” Introduced to the Naturalist Community

It may take a little time to get used to this little citrus shrub, but once you do you will be missing out. This plant is native to Australia and used in the ancient Mayan food preparation. The Valencia citrus is very similar to the U-M-adapted calamondin orange, but is far less susceptible to citrus disease. Calamondin comes in bright yellow, white, pink and red colors.

Calamondin is very easy to grow and will not turn into big, fussy plants, so you can keep them in small containers. Indoor-grown specimens from glass vases are best for this subtropical tropical fruit. When the leaf forms a small “beard” in the fall, this is a good time to transplant the plant into a larger glass container or greenhouse.

“You really don’t have to apply any water at all once it’s established,” says Larrabee. “As a general rule, it should be watered at least once a week.

The best way to fertilize is to apply any balanced fertilizer right before or after planting the citrus. Outdoor citrus is best fumigated, while indoor citrus needs fertilizer right away, often weeks after planting. Calamondin does do quite well on average without fertilizer.

It is normal for oranges to produce large oranges with little leaves, but once this plant begins to produce smaller, narrower leaves its season will be short. When caring for calamondin this way, roots will continue to thrive, and citrus will not wilt, mold or cause a severe blossom end rot injury.

“Any rose, fern or houseplant plants can take some of this habit,” says Larrabee. “Calamondin really isn’t a plant you need to be afraid of, especially if you bring it indoors.”

The official Citrus Kiss Kiss Sanitation System (IS-NYS), intended to aid in tree leaf/stem destruction during the spring brings a high level of fragility and maintenance to citrus plants. This popular system uses special brushes to spray water onto the stem when frost is imminent to protect roots. It will also be available with soap to prime the plant for the big bright lights of the greenhouse in the spring.

By the way, Larrabee agrees with moving a calamondin in the fall, but now that the plants are mature enough for transplant in winter, he suggests positioning them under some windows, and avoid the deck or table.

To learn more about citrus care, log on to www.indomaglenaturalist.com.

This story was provided by the University of Michigan Ag District Office for Medical Education Programs.

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