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May 23, 2011 06:57 AM

Has anyone grown Kaffir lime plant/tree?

Hi -

I live in NC (Raleigh area). Has anyone grown kaffir lime for its leaves? How successful were you?


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  1. I have a kaffir lime tree growing in a pot right now. I live in Sacramento. It is beautiful little tree and currently has little blossoms and lots of fresh growth right now. I am fertilizing it every month because it is the growing season. I don't know how citrus does in NC. You should get one if it is available. Like most citrus, they require full sun.

    3 Replies
    1. re: septocaine_queen

      Dumb question: Can you define little? My homeowners association has a fit with anything over about 6 feet.

      1. re: Westy

        Haha! I've had mine for 2 years in a 12" pot. It's 18" tall. If you're lucky enough to get one to get that big in Raleigh, hide it from those people!

        1. re: Westy

          I believe the max height is 5 ft. My little guy is about 2 1/2 ft tall and I keep him pretty pruned so it looks bushy and not spindly. My pot is about 24 inches wide. Sounds like this tree will work for your HOA.

      2. I'm in Charleston and I have one in a pot too. In Raleigh you'll need to bring it inside in winter. It may or may not bear fruit, but if you just grow it for the leaves it doesn't matter.

        1. I have been quite unsuccessful so far in my foray into kaffir lime growing. I bought a little plant (maybe 8 ") about 2 years ago, and it has grown maybe 2 inches on my kitchen counter-top in that timeframe. Plus, this winter I had the window above it open when it was -30 out, and the poor thing froze and lost all its leaves. I thought it was a goner, but about 2 months later, a new branch shot up out of the pot and it is now about the same height as before, with more leaves than before.
          I'm not sure what I'm doing wrong.....houseplants never seem to do well under my care.....although being in zone 2 probably doesn't help much.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Allegra_K

            Your plant needs some sun and warm air!

          2. I've grown one for three years in east TN at an elevation of 1100' and zone 6 winters. Mine lives in a pot and in winter on our solar porch with my other citrus.
            Hints: start with a 2 gallon plant- they simply are bigger and better and more prone to survival.
            Watch for suckers from below the graft; they're easy to spot as the leaves aren't Kaffir.
            Don't be in a hurry to move to a larger pot; they may prefer to be a bit root bound.
            Use Espoma citrus food (it's the only one I could find in my part of the country.)
            Now for the real thing: grow it dry, drier than you might grow other potted plants. Too wet can lead to loss of most citrus (esp Meyer Lemons).

            2 Replies
            1. re: shallots

              One other thing to watch out for, Kaffir Lime trees have LOTS of long sharp thorns (probably a good 2" long) so if you have any pets who like to run around and tend to bump into things , you may want to put a collar around the trees base (if you planting it in the ground) or put the plant on a pedestal (indoors or outdoors in a pot) until such time as the trunk has grown tall enough to put the bottom branches above the level of your animals easily punctured sides.

              1. re: jumpingmonk

                My mother grows and sells them. She gave the kafir plant to a friend several years back and it grew to be about 4-5 ft. in the pot. We had a good laugh when she saw it a few years later full of thorns and told him he could have just clip it (yep. simple as that! according to my mother). We were all kind of used to the scratch and cuts from moving this plant in and out of the house when the season changes. If someone is looking to purchase this plant, try and find a Thai community. As they can point you to the right direction. Caution, they can be a bit pricey.

            2. They are a wonderful little tree, but definitely protect from any frost! I lost mine a few winters ago in Napa, CA. The nice thing when you grow your own is you can choose the tender young leaves for dishes where you intend to eat them, and the older tougher leaves for flavoring stock. soup, etc.