I am often asked on the blog about purchasing Finger Lime plants and seeds.
The two main questions I am asked are:
Should I buy seeds or plants?
Where can I purchase plants and seeds?
So firstly, Plants or seeds.
Why would I buy a plant?
If purchased from a nursery, hardware shop or online, from a reputable supplier, the plants will be grafted. This means that a piece of the Finger Lime variety on the label has been joined to the root-stock of a hardy citrus or citrus relative which gives it superior growing qualities.
• The tree will bear flowers and fruit at an early age- will often be at a fruit bearing age when purchased.
• The plant will be True to Type – which means it will be exactly the same as its parent plant and will usually be the variety of Finger Lime represented on the label. There are many colours/varieties available in Finger Limes so it is important to know exactly which one you are purchasing.
• Grafted plants are more likely to grow successfully (if looked after) due to the hardiness of the root stock. Root stocks are usually selected for their superior growing qualities, suitability to the local soil conditions and resistance to phytophthora, a soil borne disease that can kill citrus seedlings.
However, the price of grafted plants is quite high due to fact that the grafting process is labour intensive and trees are older than normal stock before they are ready for sale.
Why would I buy seed?
Seed is very cheap and easy to transport over long distance but there are a few issues with growing Finger Limes from seed. They are:
• It can take up to 10-15 years for them to bear fruit as they are a slow growing plant.
• They will not come True to Type- that is they may not look or taste the same as their parent plant.
• Some expertise in propagation is needed to produce plants from seed-you have to have the right propagation mix, know the correct germination temperature and then nurture them through their first few years of growth.
• The root system that develops from a seedling can be unreliable in some areas – all citrus are susceptible to phytophthora, a soil borne disease, plus the root system may struggle if you have a different soil type to the Finger Limes native habitat.
So if you wish to purchase plants:
For blog followers in Australia it is easy.
Most nurseries and hardware stores will have them in stock or they will order them in for you, otherwise plants can be ordered on line from the web sites listed here.
For blog followers in other countries it is much harder, bio-security laws in most countries prevent people from importing plants or plant material and there are usually stringent quarantine requirements that need to be followed for this to happen. As with most things there are associated costs and no guarantee that the plants or plant material will survive the quarantine process.
So if you are still keen to try and establish a Finger Lime tree in your country there are two things you can do.
Try and source a plant from a local grower who has either satisfied all the government bio security regulations or had success growing from seed and has established plants in your country.Or
Purchase a Finger Lime and hope it contains seed and start the long process of bringing it to life and growing it onto maturity.
Hope this information helps all of you keen Finger Lime enthusiasts and gets you on the way to growing your own fabulous plants.