The citrofortunella is a very popular patio plant also known as calmondin orange. Although the oranges are edible, people tend to grow this plant for its appearance rather than its fruit. The fortunella part of the name refers to the botanical collector Robert Fortune, who introduced citrofortunellas and kumquats to Europe in 1846.
The citrofortunella has glossy green leaves and produces white blossoms followed by oranges that are about the size of small tangerines. It takes around one year for fruit to mature and fruits are abundant between November and June.
Originating in China, the citrofortunella spread to other parts of Southeast Asia, the West Indies and America. It is also cultivated widely in the Philippines. In the wild, it prefers to grow in cooler elevated areas or in sandy soils.
Citrofortunella are available all year round as they are easy to cultivate from seeds or root cuttings. They grow around 1 ft. per year and should begin bearing fruit at around two years of age.
The citrofortunella arose from a hybrid between the citrus genus and an unknown wild species. It is part of the Rue (Rutaceae) family and there are many species in this group, including oranges, lemons and limes. The C.microcarpa is a popular species of citrofortunella and it grows to around 20 ft.
Citrofortunellas grow best in bright light, with a minimum temperature of around 21°C. If temperatures drop below 10°C, growth will cease. They also require humidity and require watering with soft water (such as rainwater or filtered tap water). You should keep the leaves dust-free to prevent mite infections and in springtime, tips of branches require pinching out to keep the citrofortunella bushy.
If you are unable to move your citrofortunella outside for summer, you will need to pollinate it by hand. You can do this by moving the pollen to the stigma with a small brush. Citrofortunella are suitable for container planting and you should cut fruits off rather than pull them off.
Did You Know?
- Citrofortunella fruit is suitable for use as a natural hair conditioner.
- Citrofortunella has many medicinal uses, including as a laxative, treatment of insect bites and a cough remedy.