Japanese mandarin

Question: Chinese Mandarin

Hi there before winter I bought a Chinese mandarinetto the first 2 months it was very good it made lots of fruit then it started to curl the leaves when the cold and the snow arrived ... I also covered it with a cloth and changed the earth that old that had but nothing is getting worse has lost almost all the leaves I do not understand if it was the cold to ruin it or a product that gave me to put what is called ONE and maybe it burned because too strong ... how do I get him to resume ... which is on the balcony very sunny and in large vase because it is still small.
I hope you can help me because I really care about it.

Answer: Chinese mandarin

Dear Stefania,
the kumquats, or Chinese or Japanese mandarins (a plant of the Fortunella genus) is a quite particular citrus fruit, with slightly different needs than the others.
Consider that in China it is cultivated in tea growing areas, so it likes climatic conditions not entirely unlike those of the camellia; that is, it does not fear frost, and can withstand up to -10 ° C, because its development is purely spring and summer, and during the winter it goes into vegetative rest.
For this reason, during the cold months, it needs less watering, and the fertilizations are supplied starting from spring, when the first new shoots are seen, until the autumn, but not during the very cold months, during which the plant not vegetative.
In addition to this, it prefers slightly acid soils, and does not particularly like the excessive presence of limestone in the soil.
therefore these small saplings are grown outdoors, on a terrace or in the garden, possibly in a sunny area, very bright, and not affected by strong winds; if in the area where you live in the winter it should be very cold, you can cover the plant with tissue, avoiding the plastic sheets, which do not allow the plant to breathe, and which are often covered with condensation inside, and which they do not allow the weather water to reach the pot of your plant.
Watering must be regular, from March to April until September, then you can thin them, watering only sporadically. Also the fertilizations will be supplied in the same period.
The reason for the curl of the foliage can be a lack of environmental humidity, or an excess of water in the vase (or even a lack); citrus fruits generally prefer a cool and moist, but not soaked soil, so they should be watered whenever the soil is dry; they endure short periods of drought, but they do not like water stagnation.
The leaves also curl up when they are hit by insects, such as aphids, cochineal or mites; so if you notice small insects below the leaf page, do an insecticide treatment on your sapling, or dissolve a systemic insecticide in the water of the next watering.
In principle I think that the fertilizations should not have disturbed the plant, even if in vegetative rest; for safety, avoid fertilizing for a couple of months, until the leaves have recovered.

Kumquat, particularly Fortunella Margarita, is one of the most cold-resistant citrus fruits. The plant does not suffer damage up to -10 ° C, even if the fruits fail already when they touch -5 ° C. It is therefore possible to grow it outside in most of Italy, perhaps, in the colder regions, covering the aerial part with non-woven fabric and mulching the soil well.It must however be noted that its ideal climate is however warmer, with temperatures that never drop below 0 ° C. More rigid winters, in fact, induce the plant to go into dormancy, from which it will not recover until the days have been really warm. This causes slower growth, as well as more scarce blooms and fruiting. For this reason in the North it is good to seriously consider pot cultivation in order to be able to repair the specimens in a warm greenhouse or at home.Ground

Like all citrus fruits, Fortunella requires a rich substrate that is always able to remain slightly moist, but also with an excellent draining capacity, to avoid the onset of root rot and collar.
On the market you can find products designed specifically and it is advisable to use them if you are growing in pots. However we can personally make a good mix by combining 50% of universal soil, 30% of garden soil, 10% of sand and 10% of organic material (compost or mature manure). To make the whole area more airy and draining we can also add a few handfuls of perlite, pozzolana or pumice stone. A little conifer bark will help keep the pH slightly acid. Substrates with an alkaline reaction and limestone should be absolutely avoided.

Planting and repotting

The best time for planting and repotting (every 3 years) is late spring.
In the garden we take care to create a hole at least twice as big as the earth's bread and prepare a thick draining layer based on expanded clay or gravel.
Even in pots it is obligatory to take particular care of the gutter of the waters.
In any case, we take care to leave at least 3 cm between the ground level and the grafting point: in this way we will avoid the onset of dangerous pathologies.


April May
repotting April May
Flowering June August
Collection November to May
Pruning June July


Watering must be frequent because the Chinese mandarin always loves having fresh roots. In hot weather, especially in pots, it may be necessary to intervene every day; however, avoid using saucers, because the water must be able to escape at its best.
We also monitor carefully the specimens in the open ground and, in the absence of rain we intervene with a certain frequency, especially in the South.
If our water is very calcareous we preferably use the rain water or, in extreme cases, let it settle for at least one night. In this way we will avoid excessive accumulation of calcium in the soil.


To obtain the fastest possible growth and good fruiting it is important to fertilize assiduously. In autumn it is good to spread and incorporate a good quantity of mature manure and / or ground lupins. However, for excellent results, soil improvers must be assisted with a slow release granular fertilizer, specific for citrus fruits. Usually the administration, starting from the spring, must be repeated every 3 months. Alternatively, liquid products are also excellent (to be distributed more frequently). Let us remember that, given the frequent watering, the leaching of the nutrients is very high and the administrations must never be lacking.


Pruning is not strictly necessary for kumquats. Given the rather slow growth we can avoid making this processing. If we want to intervene the best time is the end of spring or possibly immediately after repotting, with the sole purpose of rebalancing the foliage and eliminating any dead or damaged branches during the winter.

Crop care

Apart from the frequent irrigations and fertilizations it is an autonomous plant.
Everywhere it can be useful to prepare a thick mulch based on conifers and bark. In this way the land will be kept cool for longer and the irrigation works will be delayed.
A medium with alkaline pH can sometimes cause iron deficiency resulting in leaf chlorosis. We distribute iron sulphate dissolved in water from time to time. In more serious cases we use chelated iron.

During the winter

In the North and in the mountain areas, even if the plant is rustic, it is advisable to move the pots inside or in a warm greenhouse. If this is not possible we cover the crown with a double layer of fabric and we also insulate the earthen bread. In this way we will be able to preserve the fruits and the spring recovery will be faster.

Pests and diseases

The most frequent parasite is undoubtedly the cochineal. We always monitor specimens carefully. Few insects can be removed manually, with alcohol and cotton buds. In the event of more serious attacks we recommend using mineral oil.


Kumquat can be multiplied by seed, cuttings and grafting. However, the first two techniques are not recommended because the plant struggles to grow on its roots.
Almost all the specimens found for sale are grafted onto Poncirus trifoliata: consequently they better tolerate a slightly clayey or calcareous soil and the rusticity is also improved.

Japanese mandarin: Collection and conservation

The harvest of small fruits is almost continuous, even if the period of greatest abundance goes from November to May. They are ready when the skin is colored with a bright orange and they are soft to the touch. The fruit is eaten whole, with the skin, very thin. They are kept in a cool environment for at least a month. They can possibly be frozen or used for making jams.
  • Chinese Mandarin

    Chinese mandarin is a plant that requires a constant water intake as much as possible. For the cultivation of a sol

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Other characteristics
Round kumquat or Fortunella japonica Round orange-yellow fruits. Acidic pulp and fairly sweet skin Thorny shrub.
There are variegated leaf cultivars such as Sun Stripe
Elongated kumquat or Fortunella margarita Elongated fruits, oval in shape, with a light orange thin skin Acid pulp, skin less pleasant than the others. Shrub without thorns, rustic and more vigorous than Japonica.
The "Centennial variegated" is a spontaneous mutation with leaves and streaked fruits in the cream
Kumquat 'Fukushu' or Fortunella obovata Peripheral fruits, dark orange Acid pulp and sweet peel Acid pulp and sweet peel.