Aussie Finger Lime Dryback/Dieback? Help

I recently snagged a small finger lime and it was reasonably happy up until about a week ago. I was watering at least weekly but I waited a day too long and got considerable wilting but still very much alive.I then watered it but clearly I overcompensated and ended up with too wet mix. The wilting accelerated and now all leaves are dead/shriveled but still attached to stems. Many of the smaller green shoots appear clearly desiccated although still the original green color. The more lignified limbs seem somewhat alive although dwindling and with dead tips.

I scratched into some green cambium at the lower and thicker parts of the plant 2 days ago which was encouraging. Since getting drowned I’ve let the medium dry out completely and sprayed the rootball with a mix of h2o2 and h2o and only added this since anytime the mix appears to completely dry out. Past week or so

Situation seems grim- not a single leaf still alive- dead shoots etc. I know these can be finicky to grow. What should I do to try to make sure it survives? Rootprune? I’ll be patient but does anyone have experience trying to resprout these? I’ll try to put up a pic in a bit

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Hi I grow two finger limes, but in the south of France zone 9a-b. My zone is far different than yours. I think yours would do best in a small greenhouse. It is really a tropical plant. Here, since I leave them outside all winter long, they lose most of their leaves but start bouncing back in March. I have had mine for four years. Still no fruit. They take a while to bare fruit as well. Watering would be a real problem in your zone. They do not need watering every week. If the soil is damp wait until it dries out or else the roots will rot. They are so unique everyone here wants to grow them. Now we’re finding the in our supermarkets. Hope this helps.


Sorry I should clarify for the post- They are indoors in my house with ample heat. Very dry though (25-40rh) and in 1quart pot. So they seem to get very dry easily and I water when they are light as a feather- this past time I know i let them get way too dry.

I just pulled up the rootball and 95% of the roots are still strong and no signs of rot- so far so good. A lot of dead branches all around and zero leaves though. I will be patient but maybe there is something i could do?

Plant looked like this the day I got it up until about a week ago.

Taken just now- note direct downward wilting of branch- not just leafless.

Foliage looks like this, lowermost portions seem to have to most promise.

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Overwatering kills plants. I find it difficult to grow in my area and I am zones warmer than you. It is prickly in more ways than one. If the cambium is still green it has a chance. Keep it in your southern-most window and just hold back water until necessary, It looks fairly shriveled, but the stems are still green that is a good sign!


In my experience with mine it seems to be the least hardy of any citrus I’ve grown. Lots of dieback happen when pruning, wants to constantly push new growth from the graft point rather than push growth from scaffolding. As mentioned and you’re aware it’s super prickly like almost worse than flying dragon because they are grippy thorns. However I’ve only had mine for almost 2 years and it’s fruiting now, and seems to be gaining hardiness as the most recent pruning cuts seemed to have no dieback. The leaf curl doesn’t look like overwatering but when I took my citrus inside for the winter I wouldn’t water them for the entire duration inside (2-3 months) and if I absolutely had to I’d bottom water. I was also dealing with fungus gnats as they seem to be ubiquitous with indoor/outdoor plants here. I think you are definitely watering far too often, especially for a plant that isn’t wanting to push growth at this time of year. Leaf curl happens from overwatering also but I agree that looks more like dry stress however I can’t imagine that to be true. It is likely just a young plant which isn’t known to be hardy. They also handle drought really well so I’d stop watering personally. Maybe it will bounce back when it dries out some and the weather and sun intensity increases


How close is the tree to a heater vent? To me it looks like it may be desiccated by too much dry heat in motion. Can it be plced in a bright room with heater vents closed and a humidity tray to see if it will bounce back? If no tray try lightly misting it a couple of times a day.


Yeah its odd because I am confident that the original issue was drought stress, but the subsequent overcorrection is definitely what did it in. But the flat wilting and swanneck limp growth tips that first popped up clearly were under watering.

Im by no means an expert but have been starting seeds and keeping stuff alive in small pots indoors for a few years now. Every plant/medium has a learning curve but it is usually easy to tell when a pot is featherlight and dry and wilting. Clearly though I dont have the right balance for this plant.

The room it is in is very dry and warm. Bad pictures but it is not exposed to heater or moving hot air. It had spent a few days at a time under a 100watt LED board too, so slightly more transpiration/photosynthesis going on I would imagine. Since everything went wrong I have moved it to partial shade under a 50watt t5 florescent fixture in hopes it picks up some light. Misting occasionally to see what will happen.

Plant looks pretty bad now. No foliage that isnt dry and crispy as far as I can tell. Not even sure cambium still scratches green anymore either. Dont really have a choice but I will let it rest for awhile and hope it resprouts from somewhere. Ill try to be patient and update if anything happens.

Thanks everyone for the suggestions.

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I lost my own finger lime in a similar way a few years back. Come to think of it, I had similar die back a previous time, that in time regrew, but the second time was the kiss of death for it.

It was over 5 feet tall and had been giving me fruit for years when I lost it. I’ve debated replacing it, but as of yet have not.

The first time I repotted and replaced the soil with some having better drainage and gave it time… Maybe yours will respond to the same.


finger limes are difficult to grow. i’ve had one in the ground since last spring and it got sooty mold and i can’t clean it all off because of the thorns. it barely gave me 1 fingerlime. also a much older tree than yours. it was also the only citrus that got most affected by a deep freeze and i think only the trunk is alive. it can take a lot of watering but i have sandy soil here. i’ve never grown citrus indoors but they need lots of sunlight to thrive.


I’m not a citrus expert by any means… But the things you are describing are similar to my experience trying to root cuttings and having fungus gnats ruin my plans…

Also it appears that tree might be a bit big for the size pot it’s in?

Additionally maybe try a well draining mix if you do up-pot it? Diatomaceous earth (optisorb, the blue and yellow bag with coarse grain) and an acidic mix (peat, pine etc) should help?


Where did you grow it? Indoors? Or Outdoors?

Citrus, in my experience, loves water. If it doesn’t have enough, it will shed leaves. Sometimes, if you wait, it may begin to send out shoots again from the stem. On warm days, there is nothing that can replace sunlight for citrus it loves that as much as water. That being said, it’s important to note that sun can not be replaced even by the best multispectrum growlight. I misted my citrus with a water spray bottle. Hopefully you get a second chance with this tree.


Fungus gnats are by far my most hated pest. They have caused many a cutting to fail and nothing seems to do much more than slow them down briefly. Well nothing that I’ve tried and now I’ve just accepted that I have to deal with them ruining some cuttings and the occasional seedling. However they thrive in my potted citrus seemingly only in the winter and none seem to suffer any ill effects.

Also @clarkinks I agree it seems hard to overwater a potted citrus in the summer, for me that applies to anything potted in the summer. However during the winter it’s the opposite for me, I much prefer to let a tree show some drought stress (although it has almost never happened) in order for me to know I need to water than put them on a watering schedule. With them in the greenhouse I water when they get really light, which has been about monthly, however they never dried out when I was taking them inside in years past. Also the humidity here is never below like 60% indoors so I’m sure that plays a role


I’m in Michigan (a similar climate to your RI one due to a fortunate location near a large body of water). It was outdoors during the summer and inside under lights during the rest of the year.

I miss some of the RI food specialties… I’ve almost perfected spinach pies, but getting the dough for strip pizza is still eluding me.

Oh man bummer to hear that this plant is so consistently finicky for so many. I have a thornless key lime in 1G that is doing fine indoors over winter right next to it. All of my citrus plants are destined to live outdoors between last and first frosts- provided theyre alive come springtime lol.

Sad because I was just getting the space and lights ready in my closet for the finger lime to live. Only had it for around 4 weeks. Luckily i only paid 26$ including shipping but it would suck to lose the plant more than the money. Briteleaf has 15$ rooted cuttings so maybe ill give it another shot in the future if all fails/.

Checked the roots yesterday and they seemed healthy, good color and spongy. Did not appear to be rotting or pull apart when tugged gently. We will see.

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Chills, left RI five years ago! I miss lobster. Moved to the south of France! I can grow finger limes here!

I remember…

I’m jealous and love the pictures you share from France… Growing lemons in that beautiful stone/stucco courtyard (?)

(being in Michigan) I miss good lobster, strip pizza, periwinkles and Del’s…

I’m in a group that says finger limes are rooted easily. Have you tried rooting any?

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Thanks Chills, I have not tried rooting, as i am still waiting for going on four years for them to produce one fruit! Hopefully this is the summer. I have great heat but my terrace is in the shade until 2pm during the growing season. That is why my fruits don’t fry!!!

That’s wild that it hasn’t produced. Mine has fruit now and it’s a tiny little second year tree. Is yours not grafted perhaps? Also I’m sure they root easily, all citrus in my experience has rooted really easily.

I know, mine is grafted on grapefruit. Hopefully it will set fruit this spring.

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