Kumquats: several varieties, usesDowdy lives in Brunswick, Ga. There, he doesn’t worry much aboutfrost and freeze damage. “When I was a teenager, our family had akumquat tree in our yard on Jekyll Island,” he said. “So my firstcitrus tree was a kumquat.”Good choice. Kumquats are the most cold hardy of the commonlygrown acid citrus fruits. “Kumquats have delayed growth in thespring,” Fonseca said. “This helps them avoid late freezedamage.”The kumquat is widely grown in home landscapes. It becomes anattractive, shrub-like tree with orange-like fruits about 1 inchin diameter.The fruits can be eaten fresh, peel and all, or used to makejellies, marmalade and candies. Several varieties are available.But only three are commonly propagated: Nagami, Marumi and Meiwa.”Nagami fruits are oblong to pear-shaped and have acid pulp,”Fonseca said. “The others are sweeter and rounder. Meiwa, whichproduces nearly round, sweet fruit, has become one of the mostpopular varieties for home planting.”Unfortunately, Dowdy’s kumquat plant declined and died. His nextcitrus tree has brought much more success. Experimenting with different citrus”The tangerine tree just took off and produced a lot of fruit injust a year,” he said. “I planted it by a huge oak tree, so Ithink it protects the tree from what little frost we do get.”The first year, Dowdy drove into Florida to buy citrus-fruitfertilizer.”The second year, it started looking bad, so I boughtcitrus-fruit spikes from Home Depot,” he said. “It perked upafter that and produced so much fruit that the limbs broke.”Dowdy and his neighbors often share their harvests. “On my streetalone, we have grapefruits, oranges, kumquats and tangerinesgrowing,” he said. By Sharon OmahenUniversity of GeorgiaDavid Dowdy harvested enough tangerines from his backyard tree togive a small basketful to each of his family members. That maynot impress you, except that Dowdy lives in Georgia, not Florida.University of Georgia specialists say citrus trees can grow incoastal and extreme southern Georgia with proper attention toselection and cold hardiness. South Georgia bestThey grow best south of a Columbus-to-Macon-to-Augusta line, saidMarco Fonseca, a Cooperative Extension horticulturist with theUGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences.Fonseca strongly discourages trying to grow citrus in middle tonorth Georgia or in home landscapes lower than U.S. Department ofAgriculture zone 9.”The most significant limiting factor to citrus culture in theseareas is the damage from severe winter temperature,” he said. “Georgians along the coast have had success the past few yearsdue to the mild winters.”Fonseca has seen citrus growing as far north as Cherokee Co., butonly trifoliate-oranges. “This is a thorny tree with fruit that’sso sour it’s inedible,” he said.Georgia’s unpredictable weather also lessens homeowners’ chancesof success. “It can be 75 degrees one day and below freezing thenext,” he said. “This will obviously kill new growth and bloomsor flowers that could become fruit (and) put added stress on theplant.” Not just for fruitCitrus plants can be grown as individual plants or in groups ashedges, Fonseca said. They also make excellent container plants.”In addition to providing fruits, citrus plants make attractiveornamental specimens,” he said. “And they’re self-fruitful, sothey don’t require cross-pollination.”Hybrid plants called citranges have been crossed to grow betterin Georgia conditions, he said. “I know of two varieties that aregrowing in Telfair County and Thomasville,” he said. “Theyproduce blooms, but the fruit is lemon-like.”Back in Brunswick, Dowdy’s already planning his next citrusexperiment. “My neighbors are now growing big grapefruits thatI’d put up against Florida-grown fruit,” he said. “Maybe now I’lltry to grow a pineapple.”Pineapple plants can be potted and easily brought indoors, too,Fonseca said.