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Author Topic: Kaffir Lime tree assistance  (Read 1109 times)

tefkab

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Kaffir Lime tree assistance
« on: October 24, 2017, 05:00:24 PM »
Hi all

I've got a Kaffir Lime tree which I've had for about 4 months now and it's dropped most of it's leaves. I had one before for a few years (I'd beaten scale bugs and got it into good shape before my sister forgot to water it for 3 months when I went away so it died  :'( ) and it struggled a bit in winter but I gather this is a bit normal. I've read this thread http://tropicalfruitforum.com/index.php?topic=15424.msg199268#msg199268 especially the post by Millet, which is very helpful.

So my new tree is in the UK, I kept it in a small greenhouse over summer but it got really quite warm on a few occasions. It seemed to be doing OK but looked liked it was suffering a bit in the heat and dropped a few leaves but not many. Toward the end of summer after this we had a cold snap for a few days and I left it outside. It then, over the course of a few days, lost most of it's leaves.

I then repotted it into a larger container and used new compost (just standard compost) and brought it indoors. I've bought some red/blue grow lights and it now seems OK but there is no new leaf growth. It has flowered quite a lot since I brought it indoors and it now has about 15-20 small fruit sprouting, one of them is about the size of a table tennis ball. I feed it with a winter citrus soluble food once a forthnight and water it about twice a week. I don't water it loads, maybe 0.5 litre per go. The plant is about 2ft tall.

Apart from the leaf drop, my main question is should I prune it? Only a few branches now have leaves but only at the ends. I'm thinking maybe I should remove the fruit as they could be a drain on resource and you don't need them anyway.

I have a photo and have made it my profile pic.

Any help greatly appreciated.  :)
« Last Edit: October 24, 2017, 05:03:36 PM by tefkab »

tefkab

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Re: Kaffir Lime tree assistance
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2017, 05:56:03 AM »
Bumping in case anyone does have any advice. Thanks.

SonnyCrockett

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Re: Kaffir Lime tree assistance
« Reply #2 on: November 08, 2017, 06:36:46 AM »
I would take the fruit off, like you said.  The tree might not be getting enough light or be warm enough to start growing again.  How cold does it get at night?  I might just keep an eye on it and make sure I'm not over-watering.  Nip it back a little bit, if you like.  But I'm always afraid to trim back too much when trees drop leaves like this.  Keep an eye on the buds to see if they start swelling up.

Millet

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Re: Kaffir Lime tree assistance
« Reply #3 on: November 08, 2017, 09:56:36 AM »
Sonny is correct on the fruit.  Remove the fruit from the tree.  The tree is in no condition to share it energy trying to develop fruit.  Get a soil thermometer so you can keep track of the temperature of the medium.  Make sure the medium the tree is growing in is FREE draining this allows oxygen to enter the soil, and the CO2 given off by the roots to exit.   Make sure the tree is getting PLENTY light. Lastly, raise the medium/root zone's temperature up to 70-F (21C) and keep it there 

SonnyCrockett

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Re: Kaffir Lime tree assistance
« Reply #4 on: November 08, 2017, 10:30:31 PM »
Another thing to watch out for as winter approaches is watering with extremely cold water.  It can shock your tree and cause leaf drop, if I'm remembering correctly.

tefkab

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Re: Kaffir Lime tree assistance
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2017, 04:04:02 PM »
Hi, apologies for the delay in replying. Thank you for all the tips.

The temperature of the room it's in is about 19-20 degrees C. I'm not sure what you mean about 'free draining' though, sorry if that's daft of me. It's in a pot which is sitting on one of those plastic plate type things which stop the water from coming out the hole at the bottom of the pot and going all over the floor. Do you mean I should lift the pot up so it's not actually sitting on the plate thingy? Either way I don't water it that much so that water comes out the bottom. I give it about 0.5 litres every few days. I also spray it with water every few days.

I've now pruned it a bit, to get rid of any fruit, and it doesn't look any worse than it did a month ago so that's positive. I haven't killed it yet! I'll keep an eye on the buds and report back when anything happens. This happened once with my last tree (it also had leaf scale) and once I'd got rid of all that and put it outside again in spring in some proper sunshine and warmth and sprang back to life so fingers crossed!

Thanks again for the advice, much appreciated  :)

Millet

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Re: Kaffir Lime tree assistance
« Reply #6 on: November 19, 2017, 10:18:29 PM »
According to Dr. Manners a citrus fruit obtains all of its energy form the 3 closest leaves to the fruit.  It sounds like your tree might have been holding more fruit than it had leaves.  Therefore, removing the fruit will avail all the energy that the fruit would have used to the tree.  Under watering a tree can be almost as bad as over watering the tree. Citrus do not eat, they only drink.  Never let your tree set in the water collector tray when the try has water in it.  Empty the tray.  Also, because your tree is having problems, raise the SOIL temperature up to 70-F (21.1-C)  Because the room is at 21-C doesn't mean the containers soil is at 21-C.  Use a soil thermometer and check it.  If the tree's foliage is in a window in direct sun light, then the container needs to be in direct sun light also. Please let this forum know how your tree is progressing

tefkab

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Re: Kaffir Lime tree assistance
« Reply #7 on: March 21, 2018, 06:33:46 AM »
Hi All

I realise this thread is pretty old now but wanted to do an update and, well, things have progressed slowly!

So my tree is coming back to life and has been improving for a while now, I just wanted to describe what I did for anyone else who might have the same problem. It's now coming up to Spring in the UK and the tree will be in a good enough state to start putting outside once it warms up a bit more.

1. I pruned the tree quite heavily and took all the fruit off.

2. I bought some red/blue LED growlights and keep them on as much as I can during the day. When I first got them I kept forgetting to turn them on and it's since I got into the habit of using them that I've seen the tree grow more. I'm not sure if that's coincidence but the other two plants being covered by the lights also saw an improvement in health.

3. I've watered the plant about once a week on average with a bit less than a litre of warmish water each time (i.e. not cold straight from the tap). I've also used a winter citrus food probably once every fortnight.

4. I've sprayed the leaves with water occasionally using a mist spray.

That's about it really and things are so much better. It was looking pretty sorry for itself about 6 months ago and now it's got loads of new growth and seems much happier. Thanks for all the advice, it's really helped!  :)

laidbackdood

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Re: Kaffir Lime tree assistance
« Reply #8 on: March 21, 2018, 01:16:41 PM »
it needs a good feed now....i know the stuff you are using.......switch to the summer formula now and continue your feeding pattern and the tree should really go for it !.............when you have plenty of leaves......use them in your cooking.......very popular with Thai people in curries and soups......smell divine if the tree is healthy.

tefkab

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Re: Kaffir Lime tree assistance
« Reply #9 on: March 21, 2018, 01:20:57 PM »
Oh yes, that's why I've got it. I've still got of leaves in the freezer from last year for Panang Curry!

laidbackdood

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Re: Kaffir Lime tree assistance
« Reply #10 on: March 21, 2018, 01:26:32 PM »
That food you got is good stuff.......i bought some of that when i was in nz and it was shipped over from the uk.......the summer formula is more high nitrogen to encourage leaves and fruit growth ....the winter formula is higher in potassium to help with ripening fruit........it worked well when i was in nz.......In fact a bought a citrus book(hardback /orange colour) from the same people and that was a good read with lots of pretty colour photos and infos about the different breeds of citrus @!

brian

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Re: Kaffir Lime tree assistance
« Reply #11 on: March 21, 2018, 07:14:25 PM »
When I was out in my greenhouse foraging for limes, I couldn't remember which trees were lemons and which were limes.  I crushed a leaf of one (it was a Bearss/Persian lime) and it had a very strong lime scent.  It made me wonder... is there a significant feature of Kaffir lime for cooking?  Or would any lime do?   I don't have a Kaffir to compare to, but I've eaten Thai food and I couldn't much tell the difference betwen Kaffir and plain lime leaf.

simon_grow

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Re: Kaffir Lime tree assistance
« Reply #12 on: March 24, 2018, 12:15:54 AM »
I use young Key lime leaves for cooking, it has a strong lime flavor and in the young stage, the leaves are tender, more tender than Kaffir lime leaves.

Simon

lebmung

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Re: Kaffir Lime tree assistance
« Reply #13 on: March 24, 2018, 03:16:18 PM »
Kaffir limes are very cold resistant, down to -2C.
Now it depends on the plant origin. A grafted plant will not survive less then 5C. A rooted clone under 10C has problems with root rot. Most of the trees from nurseries are clones.
I tested many types so far perhaps 50 trees so far, including I brought a kaffir lime from Thailand, which eventually died. The problem with them it's a virus, once it's infected it won't survive longer than 10 years vs 100 years from a seed.
An indication is spots on the leaves, and the color of them a lighter green. But don't confuse it with chlorosis.
The best to start a kaffir lime is from seeds, they will be so strong and virus free. They withstand 40C and -2 C. Very drought resistant. However due to gene diversity perhaps 40% of the seeds germinated are wrong trees.  Also germinating the seeds is a challenge.

brian

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Re: Kaffir Lime tree assistance
« Reply #14 on: March 24, 2018, 09:21:04 PM »
Tonight I made some Thai curries and used persian/bearss lime leaves as I have no kaffir.  It worked great.  I think this is a great approach as the fruit is excellent already, and the leaves work the same for cooking
« Last Edit: March 24, 2018, 09:26:02 PM by brian »

Seanny

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Re: Kaffir Lime tree assistance
« Reply #15 on: March 25, 2018, 12:07:19 AM »
Kaffir leaf has more citronella oil so it smells stronger, repel mosquito better.
I use Bearss leaves for grilled chicken since the Kaffir branch on my Bearss tree is tiny.

brian

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Re: Kaffir Lime tree assistance
« Reply #16 on: March 25, 2018, 11:44:41 AM »
I'll have to buy some Kaffir leaves to compare them side by side, I'm curious now.

lebmung

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Re: Kaffir Lime tree assistance
« Reply #17 on: March 25, 2018, 01:37:33 PM »
They have different smell and taste. I have both key and persian limes, they are not even closer to the scent of kaffir leaves, especially the young ones. If you touch the leaves the aroma sticks to your fingers.
Unfortunately in Thailand where they are the most used, they use a lot of pesticide and the imported leaves are not usually tested. In Europe is not allowed to import fresh kaffir leaves, only dried or frozen because of the virus. Most of the trees have tristeza virus carried on by aphids.

 

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