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Finger Lime - Citrus australasica - Care Guide

Finger Limes! A native citrus species, Finger Lime Trees produce long, finger-shaped fruit filled with zesty pearls that resemble caviar. A hardy citrus species, they're able to grow in a range of climates depending on your region. They’re beautiful in pots on inner-city balconies, or perfect for the suburban backyards.


Used by First Nations People for thousands of years, it has now become one of the most renowned bush food items served in restaurants around the world. 



Quick Care

Botanical Name Citrus australasica
Plant Type: Large - Grafted | Small - Cutting grown
Frost Tolerance: No, keep protected in cooler regions.
Drought Tolerance: Tolerant once established.
Soil Type: Clay or loamy soil.
Sun: Full-sun.
Adult Size:  2m Thorny Shrub.
Pots: Does well in pots.
Feeding: Feed a high-quality native plant food every 6 months.




Ground Planting:

For ideal growth, plant your Finger Lime Tree in well draining, light-type soil (pH 6-8). Dig a hole 2 to 3 times the size of the pot. Break up the soil in the base of the planting hole. Being crowded by other trees or plants hinders their growth. So make sure they have enough space. 


Mix in some compost and slow releasing fertiliser. If you have heavy soil (like clay), add a few handfuls of gypsum. 


Do not disturb the roots unnecessarily. Slit both sides of the bag before carefully lowering the tree into the planting hole, then slip the bag out from underneath.


Ensure the soil level of the plant is slightly higher than the ground to allow for sinkage. 


Water well with liquid compost or seaweed.


Pot Planting:

Use premium, high-quality, well draining potting mix. Water the pot before you transfer the plant.


PRO TIP: Don’t break the soil around the roots.


Once planted, water with liquid compost, seaweeds, or other planting conditioner.

It is desirable to incorporate slow releasing fertiliser into the potting mixture. Potted Australian finger lime cannot extract the nutrients they need from the ground so fertilisation is important. Triple-check that the bottom of the pot has a hole drilled in.


Frost tolerance


Grafted Finger Limes are superior to seed-grown as they have a tolerance of up to -10 degrees celcius, making them a great plant in cooler regions. However, it is recommended to protect trees from prevailing winds as the fruit can be damaged by the plant’s thorns. 




Finger Lime loves full-sun or part-shade, however full-sun is required to bear fruit. 





Finger Limes don't have the same pruning requirements as other citrus species. Pruning is aimed at keeping the plant neatly shaped. Foliage can be allowed to remain down to the bottom of the trunk. When pruning finger lime trees, beware of thorns. We advise to wear gloves to protect your hands.Remove any dead branches or limbs of the tree as they can cause it harm and hinder its growth. Clear away all the other inner brush that might be blocking sunlight from getting in through your leaves so more light gets into these lovely fruits. 




The best way to water Finger Limes is to wet the pot completely, and allow the soil area to completely dry. This ensures fungi and microbes in the soil which might attack you plant will be kept under control. You plants need a dry spell before watering, each and every time, that includes during summer. Brown/yellowing tips is an indication of overwatering. 


In the summer, you'll need to water your plants every day. In winter watering can be reduced. Use a high-quality, slow-releasing, citrus fertiliser once every 4-6 months. Over fertilisation can damage or even kill your tree.




We recommend waiting at least two to three years before harvesting any fruits from young trees. Instead, pluck small fruit from the tree for the first two years to promote plant growth (this will mean a heavy bounty in the following years). The time it takes for a tree to start bearing fruit varies, but on average you can expect fruit to grow immediately, although picking young fruit is suggested as above. Citrus finger lime grown from seed takes much longer to bear flowers and fruits. (6-10 years). They also most likely won't produce the same fruit as the mother plant as Finger Limes don't grow true to seed. Fruit produced from these trees may not grow up with the expected taste or shape due to cross pollinating other citrus plants that produce seeds in their fruit, like tangelos or oranges for example.