Citrus hystrix or Kaffir Lime is a small evergreen tree native to Indonesia. Kaffir lime trees will reach 8-10 feet (2.4-3 m) in height in containers and much larger in the landscape. The dark glossy green, phyllodate leaves will reach from 1-6 inches (2.5-15 cm) long. As with all phyllodes, their leaves are actually derived from winged petioles and thus have stem-like adaptations to xerophytism (in other words, the leaf blade which usually forms the photosynthetic area is suppressed). Trunks and branches are armed with up to 1.5 inch (4 cm) spines. The leaves and rinds of the fruit are used in Thai cooking. They are very easy to grow in containers and are hardy in the landscape in USDA zones 9-11.
Blooming: In the greenhouse, our plant will bloom all year long. Two genetically different plants are needed for the plant to set fruit and thus our plant, which is derived from a single cutting, will not produce fruit.
Culture: Citrus hystrix need full sun to light shade with a moist well drained soil mix. In the greenhouse, we use a soil mix consisting of 2 parts peat moss to 2 parts loam to 1 part coarse sand. Plants are well watered and kept moist at all times. They cannot withstand drought for very long without injury to the leaves. We fertilize them monthly with a balanced fertilizer. Since the plant flowers all year round, we continue watering them and applying fertilizer all year long. Also we prune the plants to keep them within the bounds of their container after new growth starts in the spring.
Propagation: Citrus hystrix are propagated from cuttings and from seed. If you want fruit, you need to grow plants from seed or take care to obtain both mating strains from cuttings.
Citrus hystrix was featured as Plant of the Week April 13-19, 2007.
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Cal's Plant of the Week was provided as a service by the University of Oklahoma Department of Microbiology & Plant Biology and specifically the late Cal Lemke, who used to be OU's botany greenhouse grower and an avid gardener at home as well. If the above links don't work, then try the overview site. You may also like to look at the thumbnail index. ©1998-2012 All rights reserved.