CALAMONDIN-THE MOST VERSATILE CITRUS
Calamondin, Citrus mitis, is an citrus acid fruit originating
in China, which was introduced to the U.S. as an "acid
orange" about 1900. This plant is grown more for its looks
than for its fruit edibility and performs well as a patio plant
or when trimmed as a hedge. It is hardy to 20 degrees F. and
is hardier to cold than any other true citrus specie---only
the trifoliate orange and the kumquat are more tolerant to low
temperatures. The edible fruit is small and orange, about one
inch in diameter, and resembles a small tangerine.
The calamondin fruit (with
quarters) is smaller with yellow to yellow-orange peel and has
compared to seedless satsuma mandarins with dark orange peel.
The peel is thin and smooth, yellow to yellow-orange
separable. Calamondins can be grown as a dooryard tree as an
ornamental and will do very well as a tub or container plant
regions that commonly do not grow citrus. It is moderately
Calamondin potted citrus plants prefer bright light for best
growth and fruiting. You may keep them at medium light intensities
during midwinter. The calamondin orange is the most popular
potted citrus, although Meyer lemon and Ponderosa lemon are
also satisfactory for home use. The smaller citrus types (calamondin,
limes, kumquats, lemons and limequats) are best suited to container
culture, but all will only grow for a limited time before they
become root-bound trees. Calamondin plants are not well adapted
to the house environment. They grow best outdoors in direct
sunlight or half shade. Indoors, they should be placed in a
very well lit area. During the warm months, they should be placed
outdoors. A temperature range of 70 degrees F. to 90 degrees
F. is adequate. Calamondins do not grow well at temperatures
below 55 degrees F. Water plants as needed only, excess or lack
of water will kill a tree. Allow the surface inch of soil to
become dry before watering. Fertilize sparingly during the winter
months using one-half strength water-soluble fertilizer (Miracle
Grow, Rapid Grow, Peters 20-20-20) but frequently, about every
five weeks. Add a slow-release fertilizer such as Osmocote to
the container in early spring and continue fertilizing with
full strength water-soluble fertilizer monthly during the summer
growing season. Dusty leaves usually result in mite and scale
infections, water the leaves with a sponge frequently to avoid
these problems which may cause serious problems in small tree.
There usually are four or five flushes (periods of new growth)
on a citrus tree each year. Each flush is capable of producing
flowers and setting fruit, but most citrus in Texas rarely produces
any flowers or fruit after the spring growth flush.
The bees and butterflies
cannot resist the nectar and fragrance of calamondin blooms.
The exceptions are lemons and limes which can
flower and set fruit almost year-round, as do kumquats and calamondin.
The calamondin can be
blooming and have fruit at the same time.
The calamondin, which is often trained as a bonsai,
will bloom year-round -- filling the air with the aroma of citrus
Nothing is as close to
heaven and "attending your own funeral" as enjoying
fragrance of citrus blooms. Parsons gets his just reward as
Flower and fruit often will appear at the same
time. Off-bloom (i.e., non-spring flush) fruit of oranges, tangelos,
grapefruit and others are puffy, having a very thick peel, and
sheep-nosed in shape. The calamondin fruit takes nearly a year
to ripen so it maintains its ornamental value to the landscape
longer than most citrus.
The calamondin fruit takes
nearly a year to ripen so it maintains its ornamental value
landscape longer than most citrus. Notice the satsumas in the
foreground are harvested while the calamondin tree is still
Mature fruit can be produced year round but are
most abundant from November to June and sweeter at the end of
The calamondin mature fruit
can be produced year round but are most abundant from November
and sweeter at the end of the season. This is a February picture.
One calamondin is about 12 calories, with a very
small trace of fat. It contains approximately 1.2 g fiber, 37
mg potassium, 7.3 mg vitamin C, 57.4 mg IU vitamin A, 8.4 mg
calcium, 15.5 g water and 3.1 g carbohydrates.
Calamondins are thin skinned and do not keep long once removed
from the tree. If you want to eat the fruit, choose firm, yellow
to yellow-orange fruit. Avoid fruit that is soft and over- ripe.
The calamondin fruit can take up to a year to ripen into an
orange color. But the orange colored fruit is sometimes over-ripe
and not as pungent. The answer to this is to begin to harvest
the fruit when they are "half-ripe" and just beginning
to show color as described for satsumas at:
The fruit is smaller than a typical lime, have a thinner skin,
and seem best used within a week after harvest if not refrigerated.
When picking the fruit, it is best to use clippers or scissors
to get them off of the tree, rather than pulling them. This
will keep the stem end of the fruit from tearing, which promotes
The juice of the calamondin can be used like lemon or lime
to make refreshing beverages, to flavor fish, to make cakes,
marmalades, pies, preserves, sauces and to use in soups and
teas. The juice can be frozen in containers or in ice cube trays,
then storing the frozen cubes in plastic freezer bags. Use a
few cubes at a time to make calamondinade. The juice is primarily
valued for making acid beverages. It is often employed like
lime or lemon juice to make gelatin salads or desserts, custard
pie or chiffon pie. In the Philippines, the extracted juice,
with the addition of gum tragacanth as an emulsifier, is pasteurized
and bottled commercially. This product must be stored at low
temperature to keep well. The juice of the calamondin also makes
an excellent hair conditioner. Pour 1 liter of boiling water
over thinly sliced fruit. Let it steep. When water is cool,
pour through the hair as a final rinse. The fruit juice is used
in the Philippines to bleach ink stains from fabrics. It also
serves as a body deodorant. Rubbing calamondin juice on insect
bites banishes the itching and irritation. It bleaches freckles
and helps to clear up acne vulgaris and pruritus vulvae. It
is taken orally as a cough remedy and antiphlogistic. Slightly
diluted and drunk warm, it serves as a laxative. Combined with
pepper, it is prescribed in Malaya to expel phlegm. The root
enters into a treatment given at childbirth. The distilled oil
of the leaves serves as a carminative with more potency than
Calamondin halves or quarters may be served with iced tea,
seafood and meats, to be squeezed for the acid juice. Some people
boil the sliced fruits with cranberries to make a tart sauce.
Calamondins are also preserved whole in sugar syrup, or made
into sweet pickles, or marmalade. A superior marmalade is made
by using equal quantities of calamondins and kumquats. The preserved
peel is added as flavoring to other fruits stewed or preserved.
Many calamondin recipes can be found on the web.
Orange oil is derived from peel and pulp of the calamondin
while the fruit has not ripened fully and it contains the highest
concentration of acids. The calamondin fruit can take up to
a year to ripen into an orange color so to get the most orange
oil and pesticide potency from the fruit, begin to harvest the
fruit when they are "half-ripe" and just beginning
to show color. The oil can be extracted with a simple press.
For thousands of years, people have used olive presses for such
tasks. The press consists of a cooped barrel, like a whiskey
barrel, a cheese cloth filtration system (in my opinion, panty
hose would work even better) and pressed by a screw-type drive
by turning a handle. This makes the calamandin a truly all-purpose
tree--it flowers several times a year with the lovely citrus
fragrance, it produces fruit which can be used for acidic juices
or in sweet citrus drinks and it is useful as a source for orange
oil and acidic juice which can be used as an organic pesticide
and as a cleanser and deodorizer.
Calamondin trees may be easily grown from seeds or as rooted
cuttings. The flowers are self-fertile and require no cross-pollination.
A seedling tree will produce a crop of fruit at the age of two
years and will continue to bear nearly year round. Trees can
be forced to make a flush of growth and bloom by simply withholding
all water until the leaves become wilted and roll up, then thoroughly
watering the plants----the calamondins will be in full bloom
within two months. This is a similar mechanism used to induce
flowering of bougainvilleas and amaryllis---give them a dry
period followed by adequate watering.
The calamondin flowers are
self-fertile and require no cross-pollination.
Happy Customers buying Calamondins at Milbergers
The Calamondin Sales Staff at Milbergers
Two Armed-and-Dangerous Old Master Pruners at the Calamondin
Sale at Milbergers
The Calamondin Sales Booth at Milbergers
Parsons is Calamondin Proud at Milbergers
The Signage Couple with Parsons at the Calamondin Sale