Calamondin Orange: Sunshine in a Pot

December 9th, 2017 § 2 comments § permalink

Calamondin Orange Tree in the Kitchen

As we move closer to the shortest day of the year, and the long, dark nights of winter, sunlight begins to feel like a rare and precious commodity. During the cold, colorless months, I find myself seeking out warm hues —bright yellow, orange, lime green— and all things tropical. Something tells me I’m not the only northern gardener dreaming of a far-away paradise.

Last year, my sister and my nephew surprised me with a beautiful Calamondin Orange tree (Citrofortunella mitis), for my birthday. With its glossy-green foliage and abundant, golden fruit, this tree is a total knock-out. But the real surprise? Insect and disease resistance. Not a single battle has been waged with scale or spider mites. Of the three citrus trees growing in my home —which include an Improved Meyer Lemon and a Lime Tree— the Calamondin Orange has proven easiest and most productive, by far.

Calamondin Orange Tree in the Kitchen Today, with River Stone Mulch

If you’re new to growing citrus trees as houseplants, I highly recommend starting with an indoor-tolerant Calamondin Orange. And if you happen to be looking for the perfect gift for the gardening gourmet in your life, this tree could be it!

Small but abundant, bright-orange fruits appear at regular intervals on this cross between a Kumquat and Mandarin Orange. Calamondin oranges are quite tart and a good substitute for Persian limes in most recipes. Their tangy juice and sweet zest is delicious in many drinks, desserts, savory dishes and condiments; including salad dressings, marmalades, salsas, chutneys and pickled preserves. I love adding tart Calamondin juice to cocktails and spicing up a simple crème brulée with a bit of the sweet & tangy zest. Imagine the creative, culinary possibilities!

Freshly Harvested Calamondin Oranges

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Tips for Selection & Care of Indoor Citrus Trees

Selecting: Ready to begin growing your own crop of tiny, golden oranges? Choose a two to three-year-old specimen from a reputable nursery for the earliest showing of blossoms and fruit. Look for healthy, green foliage and a well-pruned, full framework. Avoid trees with spindly growth, curled or yellowing foliage, and suckers at the base. Online, you can find beautiful Calamondin Orange Trees at White Flower Farm and Four Winds Growers.

Potting: When potting your newly acquired citrus tree, choose a ceramic, clay or plastic pot with adequate drainage. Ensure that the selected container has several holes at the bottom, and fill the drainage dish with gravel or stone to allow good moisture release and airflow. Well-drained soil is also critical. Buy pre-mixed potting soil specifically blended for citrus, or choose a slightly acidic, loamy potting mix with a pH of 6-7.

Placement: Citrus trees need 8-12 hours of sunlight per day. During the fall and winter months, place your Calamondin in a draft-free, south-facing window with even temperatures (55-85°F is ideal). Avoid locating the tree where temperatures fluctuate radically: such as near wood stoves, ovens, radiators or exterior doors. Calamondin Orange Trees may be moved outside in late spring (after the last frost date in your area). Be sure to slowly acclimate your tree to outdoor conditions by placing it in a protected spot. Try to find a dappled nook, shielded from high wind. After a couple of weeks have passed, the pot can migrate to its summer home in full sun.

Watering: Water your tree regularly (using a meter helps tremendously), and cover the soil with decorative river stone, moss or other mulch mulch to help reduce evaporation and temperature fluctuation at the root zone. Soil should be kept on the drier side during winter months to avoid root rot and fungal infections. Like most tropical beauties, Calamondins enjoy humidifiers and/or regular misting as well.

Feeding: Citrus are heavy feeders. Fertilize your tree every three weeks using a citrus-specific fertilizer, like this one from Jobe’s Organics, throughout the spring and summer months. During the fall and winter months, fertilize once every six weeks.

Harvesting Calamondin Oranges from My Tree

Harvesting: Calamondin oranges take about one year to ripen from the time blossoms appear. However, because the tree will produce flowers and fruit at the same time, harvests can happen over a period of weeks or months. Snip bright orange fruit from branches with sharp pruners (I use Felco 8s) to avoid tearing the tender skin. You’ll know the oranges are ripe when they are just soft enough to give slightly under the pressure of your fingertips.

Pest Management: Calamondins do seem to resist insects and disease, however all houseplants are vulnerable to infestations and stress increases the risk, so be sure to meet your tree’s needs as listed above. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, tiny insect pests hitch a ride on newly acquired plants or on fresh produce and flowers from the grocery store. Insects will also set up camp while potted plants are living outside during the summer months. Once the trees come inside, away from predatory insects —boom— bug explosion. Should your citrus tree become host to spider mites, scale, mealy bugs or aphids, try treating organically with insecticidal soap and horticultural oil, or neem oil for tougher pests like spider mites and scale. The key to success is repeated treatment at regularly scheduled intervals (see manufacturer’s recommendation by pest), until the infestation is under control.

With proper attention and care, a Calamondin Orange Tree will provide many golden harvests of fruit and years of beauty, inside and out.


Article & Photography copyright Michaela Harlow at The Gardener’s Eden, all rights reserved. All content on this site, (with noted exceptions), is the property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be used, reproduced or reposted elsewhere without written consent.

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For the Love of Miniature Roses . . .

February 6th, 2014 § 3 comments § permalink

Miniature_Roses_copyright_2014_michaelamedinaharlow:thegardenerseden.com Fragrant, Gold Roses on a Cold Winter’s Day (Rosa chinensis hybrid)

Although I am very fond of winter, at this time of year, I confess that my indoor garden is a great source of pleasure. There’s something undeniably delicious about waking up to the sweet scent of roses on a cold morning. Buying fresh flowers is part of my winter shopping routine, but I rarely purchase cut roses. Instead, I opt for miniature rose plants, which are usually much less expensive (less than ten dollars this week at my local florist), and when properly cared for, much longer lasting. And with Valentine’s Day just around the corner, they make a beautiful, living gift! In spring, after the last frost, these cold-hardy beauties can be moved outdoors, where they will thrive for many years (protect with a mulch mound at root zone, as you would other hardy roses, in winter).

A few simple tips for success growing miniature rose plants indoors . . .

1) Provide bright, direct sunlight (near a south or southwest facing window).

2) Ensure even indoor temps from 55-75°F/16-24°C.

3) Water regularly, but avoid soggy soil. Allow planting mixture to dry out a bit at the surface, between waterings. I like to grow roses in double pots or in gravel-line trays to keep the root-zone properly drained.

4) Fertilize monthly with a balanced product, rich in micronutrients.

5) Deadhead spent blossoms and cut plants back after the first flush of bloom is complete (usually 1-2 months after they begin blooming)

6) Repot or move outdoors as soon as possible. When transplanting, any good, well-drained garden soil or quality potting mix will suffice. In the garden, a 2″ top dressing of well-rotted manure/compost serves as both mulch and fertilizer. During the growing season, once-per-month application of Rose Tone or similar, organic product provides a steady wave of bloom.

7) Plants can be container-grown outdoors (be sure to re-pot and separate plants if necessary), however in cold climates, it’s best to overwinter pot-grown roses in a garage or cellar to provide a period of dormancy without freezing the root-zone.

8) If insect pests or spider mites become a problem, spray leaves (including undersides), with an organic, insecticidal soap containing neem oil. Repeat at 10 day intervals until the infestation has cleared. Spider mites are a common problem with roses. Prune away damaged/infested parts of the plant when possible. Because spider mites thrive in hot, dry conditions, I like to raise humidity by misting the plants or using a warm-water room humidifier.

For more houseplant tips & ideas, visit the Indoor Eden page by clicking here!

Need help selecting a miniature rose for a special Valentine? There are hundreds and hundreds of varieties of miniature roses. Visit the American Rose Society Website, here!

Minature_Roses_on_the_dressing_table_copyright_michaela_harlow_thegardenerseden.com Miniature Roses on My Dressing Table – Permission is Granted to Move Your Roses Around Daily, as Suits Your Nose!

Photography & Text ⓒ  Michaela Medina Harlow/The Gardener’s Eden. All photographs, artwork, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions), are the original, copyrighted property of Michaela Medina Harlow and/or The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Please do not take my photographs without permission. Thank you!

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Out With The Old & In With The New: Creating A Lush & Lively Indoor Oasis …

January 3rd, 2012 § 6 comments § permalink

Bringing Nature’s Beauty Indoors: A Scene from My Wintertime Oasis. Clockwise from back: Cycas revoluta, Agave geminifolia & Kalanchoe ‘Manginii’

I kicked my Christmas tree out yesterday (p.s. Sorry Mr. Balsam, I will miss your sweet fragrance, but you were growing stale and it was time for a fresh start). Of course no sooner did I shove that big boy out the door than I began to long for something fresh and new to fill the void. Luckily, I have a growing collection of houseplants —many transitory summer residents of the balcony and terrace, seeking seasonal shelter from the cold— and they’ve been begging to move beyond their cramped corner in my studio.

This gorgeous orchid has just begun to bloom (Paphiopedilum Magic Leopard #1 x Paphiopedilum fairrieanum). Some orchids prefer dry, desert-like conditions, and others prefer tropical heat and humidity. Click back to my previous post on orchid obsession for resources and easy-care, species suggestions.

And while it’s certainly true that there’s a plant for almost every indoor situation, finding the right place for each species can be a challenge. Cacti and succulents thrive in hot, dry conditions; making them perfect winter residents for homes with wood stoves and furnaces. But other houseplants prefer cooler temperatures and high humidity. Just as you would investigate the cultural requirements of a perennial or shrub before choosing a spot for it in your garden, it’s wise to get familiar with the needs of your houseplants in order to provide them with the best microclimate within your home.

Most herbs, like this rosemary plant, prefer full sun and infrequent watering throughout the winter months. Situated beside a south-facing glass door in the kitchen, this plant provides fresh flavor to many dishes and refreshing scent beside the compost bin and dog dish (is that your bad breath, Oli?)

If you have pets or small children in your home, it’s very important to familiarize yourself with toxic plants and either avoid them entirely, or situate them within enclosed terrariums, high upon shelves, or in out-of-the-way, closed-off rooms. Revisit my post ‘Dangerous Beauty’ for helpful links, online lists and other toxic plant resources. And no matter how careful I am, inevitably some insect pest or other finds its way into my home and onto my houseplants during the winter months (even fresh cut flowers sometimes provide a ‘free ride’ to bugs!). Click back to my previous post on the subject of insect infestation for some non-toxic solutions and trouble-shooting resources.

Peperomia are wonderful, easy-care  houseplants. This particular cultivar, P.caperata ‘Raspberry Ripple’, has become one of my all-time favorites. Read more about this beauty in my previous post, ‘Hello, I Love You, Won’t You Tell Me Your Name’ by clicking here.

In addition to providing a pet-proof glass barrier for poisonous plants, terrariums also increase humidity and create endless possibilities for beautiful display of small, tender plants and objects. Learn how to make a terrarium and find more resources on my Indoor Eden page by clicking here.

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photos, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Indoor Gardening Gifts to Inspire & Delight …

December 10th, 2011 § Comments Off on Indoor Gardening Gifts to Inspire & Delight … § permalink

I own and love many of Terrain’s terrariums. And this modern take on the garden-beneath glass (above) is my current obsession: Terrain’s Glass Drop Tillandsia Kit

December 10th —what— already? Have you started your holiday shopping yet? I confess that I haven’t wrapped a single present. However, I have been doing a bit of late-night, browser-window shopping, and I’ll definitely be heading out to my local shops this weekend to pick out a few special gifts for friends and family as well. Of course there are plenty of practical gifts to give gardeners, which I recently discussed in a guest post for Blogher, “Dirty Girl Christmas: Holiday Gifts for the Gardener”. But, sometimes you want something really special; magical, beautiful and delightful.

I love sharing the gift of nature, even with my not-so-green-thumbed friends — don’t you?  Here are some inspirational indoor garden ideas; lovely little presents to bring a bit of lush life inside throughout the long, cold, winter season …

This Copper Watering Can from Terrain is just one example of the beautiful and useful garden tools available through the company’s website

Want to introduce a favorite cook to the pleasures of homegrown herbs? This Mediterranean Trio of Herbs is an attractive and simple place to start

With proper care, Meyer lemon trees make wonderful houseplants. A lemon topiary is a beautiful & unusual holiday gift that keeps on giving. Here’s one good source: Organic Meyer Lemon Topiary from VivaTerra. Trees from this company are sent priority, in pretty clay pots. And if you hop to it, there’s still time to order before Christmas (order by 12/20 for Christmas delivery)

Whether snipping sprigs of fresh herbs or disciplining my over-eager ivy, I find my Okubo Shears get near-daily use. And with such attractive looks, it’s perfectly reasonable to leave these pruners displayed on my desktop or table.

Cerulean Blue Stoneware Planter by Vermont Artist Virginia Wyoming – Available at Etsy Here

Gardens-beneath-glass are great, low-maintenance choices for busy friends. And this apothecary-inspired Canister Terrarium by Terrain, is a real beauty

Publisher Timber Press recently released this beautiful & inspirational book: Terrarium Craft – Amy Bryant Aiello

And there’s always this modern-cloche-head classic: The New Terrarium – Tovah Martin

Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photos in this article are courtesy of linked websites. All content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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Indoor Eden: Preparing & Chilling Bulbs For a Glorious Mid-Winter Display …

November 5th, 2011 § Comments Off on Indoor Eden: Preparing & Chilling Bulbs For a Glorious Mid-Winter Display … § permalink

Last Winter’s Forced Narcissus by the Front Door in February

My friend Eve recently said that autumn always makes her think of spring. I couldn’t agree with her more, and as I squirrel away hoards of daffodil, tulip, and hyacinth bulbs, my mind drifts to the scents, sights and sounds of late April and May. Winter is a long season here in the northeast, and come late February and March —when the grey days outnumber the blue— I know I’ll be longing for soft, damp earth on my fingertips and the fragrance of fresh flowers. So while planting spring-flowering bulbs outside in the garden, I always pot up a few dozen favorites —and begin chilling them early— for forcing indoors.

Though Most of My Bulbs are Planted Outdoors in Autumn, I Always Save Some for Forcing Indoors …

Click Here for Instructions on How to Force Narcissus in Decorative Stone

Pre-chilled, fragrant bulbs make wonderful holiday gifts —and this project is particularly fun to share with children— but you’ll need to start right away. Most spring flowering bulbs need at least 6 weeks of cold (10 or more is ideal for tulips, crocus, snowdrops and hyacinth). I like to force most bulbs in lightweight, recycled plastic pots with fast-draining potting soil (some bulbs can be forced in decorative stone or glass, click here for tutorial). When planting, you can combine bulbs with similar bloom times together, or plant one kind in each container and arrange them in combinations later. Once I settle the bulbs into their pots, I moisten the soil, cover the top with black plastic (secured with rubber band) and place them in my garden shed (protect bulbs from mice with wire mesh/cages if rodents invade your shed in winter). Any cold, dark place will work —under a deck, in a garage, cellar bulkhead, etc— the key is to keep the temperature below 40 degrees fahrenheit. If you have extra space in a spare refrigerator, you can chill bulbs in there as well. In order for the bulbs to develop roots, it’s important to keep them cold, dark and moist (but not soggy). I like to check on progress every week or so. Once the chilling period has passed, I uncover a few plastic pots each month, water them well and slip them inside decorative containers or baskets. I use polished stones, dried moss, grass or other attractive mulch to hide the top of the plastic pot and conserve moisture. Then, I set the containers out in a cool, bright room to enjoy the show. I always enjoy them on the dining table and by the front entry door. It’s so lovely to watch the green leaves unfold and delicate petals open. Click here for my previous post on forcing narcissus for further instructions and ideas; including how to force bulbs in polished stone.

A Pre-Planned Prelude to Spring!

Photographs and Text ⓒ Michaela Medina/The Gardener’s Eden. All photos, articles and content on this site (with noted exceptions) are the original, copyrighted property of The Gardener’s Eden and may not be reposted, reproduced or used in any way without prior written consent. Contact information is in the left side bar. Thank you!

Do you enjoy The Gardener’s Eden? You can help support this site by shopping through affiliate links. A small percentage of each sale will be paid to this site, helping to cover web hosting and maintenance costs. Thank you so much for your support!

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