How to Grow Kaffir Lime

Growing Kaffir lime trees at home can add an exotic touch to your garden, providing you with aromatic leaves and juicy fruits that enhance your culinary experience.

How to Grow Kaffir Lime
Growing Kaffir Lime - Photo by Katja Schulz (CC BY 2.0)

These citrus trees, also known as makrut limes or Citrus hystrix, reach up to 35 feet tall in optimal conditions, although dwarf varieties can be grown indoors and reach up to 5 feet tall.

To successfully grow Kaffir lime trees, it's essential to provide the right conditions, including appropriate light, water, soil, and temperature.

In this article, you will learn how to effectively propagate, plant, and care for your Kaffir lime tree to ensure it thrives and produces a bountiful harvest.

About Kaffir Lime Plant

Kaffir lime, also known as Citrus hystrix, makrut lime, Thai lime, or Mauritius papeda, is a well-loved plant native to Southeast Asia.

The distinctive fruit is bumpy and green, while the fragrant leaves are widely used in traditional Asian cuisine and herbal medicine.

This dwarf citrus tree typically reaches up to 35 feet tall in optimal conditions, and its ability to adapt to various environments makes it a popular choice among gardeners.

When growing kaffir lime, be mindful of its cold sensitivity, ensuring it's protected from frost and receives adequate humidity levels when brought indoors during winter.

Growing Kaffir Lime

When planting a kaffir lime tree, begin by choosing a suitable container with drainage holes to ensure that excess water can escape, preventing root rot.

Fill the pot with a well-draining potting mix, combining it with sand and well-rotted compost to create an optimal environment for the tree's growth.

If planting outdoors, loosen the soil and add two buckets of compost or well-rotted manure.

Position the kaffir lime tree in the hole at the same depth as in its previous container, then cover the root ball with average garden soil.

Whether planting indoors or outdoors, select a sunny location, as these trees need plenty of sunlight to thrive.

Caring For Kaffir Lime Tree

Sun and Temperature

Kaffir lime trees thrive in full sun and require at least 6-8 hours of direct sunlight daily.

Place your tree near a sunny window or outdoors in a bright spot. Bring it indoors when temperatures drop below 50°F in the fall, as kaffir limes cannot tolerate frost.

Water and Humidity

Keep the soil consistently moist but not soggy. Provide adequate drainage, as kaffir limes dislike sitting in wet soil.

Maintain high humidity levels by misting the leaves regularly or placing a tray of water nearby, as these plants thrive in humid environments.

Soil and Fertilizing

Kaffir limes prefer well-draining soil rich in organic matter.

You can create a suitable mix by combining garden soil, sand, and well-rotted compost.

Fertilize your tree with a balanced citrus fertilizer or homemade compost every 6-8 weeks during the growing season to encourage healthy growth.

Pruning and Propagation

Pruning is essential for maintaining a manageable size, especially for dwarf trees. Remove dead or damaged branches and shape the tree as needed.

To propagate kaffir limes, take cuttings from healthy branches and root them in a well-draining, moist potting mix.

Troubleshooting Kaffir Lime Plant Problems

Keep an eye out for common pests like aphids and scale insects. Treat infestations promptly with insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Yellowing leaves may indicate waterlogged soil, while a lack of fruit production may be due to insufficient sunlight or inadequate pollination.


Growing and caring for a kaffir lime tree may require some attention, but the rewards of fragrant leaves and tangy fruit are well worth the effort.

You can enjoy a beautiful and productive tree in your home or garden by providing the right conditions and timely care.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the ideal growing conditions for Kaffir lime trees?

Kaffir lime trees thrive in warm, humid climates with well-draining soil. Ensure your tree receives plenty of sunlight, requiring full sun exposure for optimal growth.

Which growing zones are suitable for Kaffir lime trees?

Kaffir lime trees grow best in USDA zones 9-11. If you live in colder regions, consider growing them in containers and bringing them indoors during winter.

How to take care of a Kaffir lime tree?

Regularly water your Kaffir lime tree while allowing the soil to dry slightly between waterings. Fertilize your tree every 4-6 weeks during the growing season and prune it to maintain a manageable size and shape.

Why might a Kaffir lime tree not produce fruit?

Inadequate sunlight, poor soil, or insufficient water can result in a Kaffir lime tree not producing fruit. Also, trees can take up to three years to bear fruit, so patience is sometimes necessary.

How large does a Kaffir lime tree grow?

A Kaffir lime tree can grow anywhere from 6 to 35 feet tall, depending on the growing conditions. However, container-grown trees usually stay smaller, making them suitable for indoor growing.