Native citrus success

By Ralph Cartwright

The following article by Ralph Cartwright appeared in the APS Sutherland Group April 2019 newsletter. Ralph brought in several finger limes to give away at a meeting and we asked him for the secrets to citrus success.

Finger lime cut, image Ralph Cartwright

Citrus australasica, finger lime, seems to me to be pretty easy to grow.

I THINK mine is now about 5 years old, and has been flowering and bearing fruit for the last three years. I would guess that it is a grafted specimen, although it doesn’t say that on the label.

I still have the label, and I think it is from the Sydney Wildflower Nursery at Heathcote and cost me $29.95. It was a 6 inch pot from memory.

My variety is ‘Crystal’: Green skin, green ‘caviar’ – very fresh, very juicy. The grower is Gourmetlimes.com.au

Finger limes on plant

I have it planted under a large mango tree, north facing, but due to shade from other plants around it, it probably only gets half sun at best. Being a rainforest plant, it is probably a good spot for it.

Finger limes on tree, image Ralph Cartwright

I don’t feed it and only water it when I remember, usually when I notice the small flowers on it in spring and think I should help it to set fruit!

I don’t know what pollinates it, and can’t find much about that on Google either. I’ll have to keep an eye on it next spring.

In summer, I sometimes see stink bugs which cause dieback of some new growth, but not as many as I get on my orange tree nearby.

While researching this, I read that I should be pruning lightly in autumn after harvesting the fruit.

I generally only prune to keep it in control and at about chest high. It is VERY prickly and I always wear gloves when working nearby.

Finger limes, image Ralph Cartwright

Collection of finger limes – This season, I got about 30 fruit off it and have been having them on my breakfast cereal and puddings daily. They are also good on fish and in salads.

For those who also have this plant, the fruit are ripe when they just come off the plant easily when you pull lightly and I read that they do not ripen off the tree. You can freeze them if you have a huge crop.

Photos: Ralph Cartwright