How to Grow Kaffir Lime Trees


Kaffir Lime Trees, a popular tree used in Eastern medicine, produces leaves used to prepare foods and are a popular ingredient in Thai cooking, according to the University of Alabama Extension. Kaffir lime fruit is tiny and green with a wrinkled appearance. Despite its bitter taste, the fruit is used in some teas. Limes are among the most cold-sensitive of all citrus plants. In all but a few regions of the United States, Kaffir Lime Trees should be grown in containers.

Step 1

Select a container for your Kaffir Lime tree that is the appropriate size for the tree. One-year-old Kaffir lime trees grow well in a 9-inch diameter container, while 2- to 3-year-old varieties thrive in a 14-inch container. As the tree grows beyond 3 years of age, increase the container size to 20 inches. Do not plant a new lime tree in a container that is too large. This can lead to root rot.

Step 2

Drill extra drainage holes in the bottom of the container. Citrus trees are sensitive to root rot. Extra drainage holes will promote adequate drainage.

Step 3

Select a soil formulated for citrus trees or cactus. Avoid mixes that contain peat moss.

Step 4

Cover the drainage holes in the bottom of your container with pottery shards. Fill the container one-third of the way full of potting soil. Place the bare roots of your tree in the container and cover with potting soil. Set the root ball slightly higher in the container than it sat in its previous container to promote good drainage. Fill the potting soil to the lip of the container to ensure that it does not hold water. Lightly cover the top roots with soil.

Step 5

Place your container in a window with southern exposure. Move the container outdoors to a location that has no wind during summer months. When the container must be left indoors, supplement the sunlight it receives with a plant grow light or fluorescent bulb.

Step 6

Use a moisture meter to check the soil. Check the soil daily to ensure that it remains as damp as a wrung-out sponge. Do not water if the soil surface feels dry without checking the moisture level near the roots with the moisture meter. Citrus prefer infrequent, deep watering.

Step 7

Fertilize your tree with a nitrogen-heavy (2-1-1) liquid fertilizer mixed with the tree's water.

Step 8

Prune away sucker sprouts at the base of a tree. Citrus trees generally don't need additional pruning than this.

Things You'll Need

  • Citrus containers
  • Drill
  • ¼-inch drill bit
  • Citrus tree soil
  • Pottery shards
  • Plant grow light
  • Moisture meter
  • Liquid nitrogen fertilizer (2-1-1)
  • Pruning shears


  • Texas A&M Extension: Home Fruit Production - Citrus
  • Alabama Cooperative Extension Service: Citrus for Southern and Coastal Alabama
  • Univesity of Florida IFAS Extension: Growing 'Tahiti' Limes in the Home Landscape

Who Can Help

  • Four Winds Growers: Kaffir Lime Trees
  • Four Winds Growers: Growing Citrus in Containers
Keywords: Kaffir lime trees, Thai food ingredients, Eastern medicine kaffir

About this Author

Tracy S. Morris has been a freelance writer since 2000. She has published two novels and numerous online articles. Her work has appeared in national magazines and newspapers, including "Ferrets," "CatFancy," "Lexington Herald Leader" and "The Tulsa World."