A visit to Delhi …was when I discovered this beautiful plant laden with bright tiny oranges. A few years later, when I myself moved to Gurgaon is when I got my first Chinese orange plant. You can never miss them…they fruit so prolifically .The site of a potted plant so laden with fruits is …well very tempting. In a limited space…urban set up …I’d call it my fruit garden.
The Chinese orange is also called the ‘Calamondin’… or the miniature orange. I tried to read up about its origins and what I discovered was that it is believed by some that the Calamondin could be a hybrid of lime and mandarin, or lime and kumquat, or kumquat and mandarin.
It is a citrus fruit plant…and like all in its family it is as an outdoor plant. And prefers a sunny spot. Growing a Calamondin or the Chinese orange is not difficult…it is quite a no fuss plant. You need to let the top soil dry out before you water it again…but definitely don’t let the leaves wilt. Yes, it is expressive too …
The Chinese orange has beautiful white blossoms and they are as fragrant as other citrus blooms. The fruit is deep green in color when young and turns a bright orange as it ripens. The flowering and fruiting process goes on all year round. The new blooms stop a little before all the fruits start to change color.
A ripe Chinese orange is a very acidic and tart…with tiny seeds inside.
I love harvesting my ‘little garden’…it is almost ritualistic…it is best to snip the fruit with a pair of scissors…rather then to try and snap them off the branches. This way the plant it not disturbed …and if you pull by hand it does not always snap away complete…so you may end up with some split oranges…reducing their table life. The fruit can be used to make an amazingly tasty marmalade...and you have to believe me ...because I have made many new friends with just a bottle of the marmalade,sent across...(If you'd like the recipe...do e-mail me...I can send it over...while I still am working to put it up as a post)…its peel can be used as a fragrant rind in baking or cooking.You can just put them in a bowl…they look beautiful all by themselves.
Caring for your Chinese orange
In warm Indian climate, the Chinese orange thrives well …but for a few points to look out. Over watering…will make its leaves turn yellow. It will be healthy being fed regularly…though not too often.Approximately... once in 2 weeks.Being a citrus plant it needs soil rich incalcium …your local nursery can guide you about a feed for the citrus plants.
(P.S - Do check out the Chinese orange marmalade recipe ... in the recipe section.. .posted Feb.16th,2009)