5 Reasons Why Kaffir Lime Tree Losing Leaves [Treatment]

Every gardener desire to plant at least one lime tree in their garden. Especially if you are an Asian surely you would love to add some kaffir lime flavor to the dish to make it more delicious. But if you own this plant in your garden then you must be bothered wondering why your kaffir lime tree losing leaves!

Well, since you are here in search of the answer, let us guide you.

Generally, a dry climate offers warm air which is good for the thriving of kaffir lime plants. But, water issue like both insufficient and sufficient watering causes the kaffir lime to lose leaves. Some other reasons include improper nutrients, disease attacks, temperature fluctuation, insufficient sunlight, and so on.

So, read the entire article thoroughly and help your kaffir tree to grow with lush foliage without losing.

Kaffir Tree is Losing Leaves -Causes and Solution

leaves of Kaffir Tree

1. Water Supply

Watering kaffir lime plants requires some tricks. If you water the plant excessively then there are high chances that the plant will lose leaves. Again, if the lime plant does not get enough water, then it will affect the same way as well. So, both have the same consequences and stress out the lime plant.

Soil that does not have proper drainage capability creates waterlogged conditions around the kaffir lime. Hence, the water remains there for a longer period and develops root rot and mold. They slowly kill the plant by dropping all leaves.


For Overwatering

  • Stagnant condition on the ground around the plant
  • Growing of mold
  • Decaying of root
  • Collapsed soil
  • Yellowing of leaves

For Underwatering

  • Drying of leaves
  • Wilting of leaves

Control Measure

  • First of all, find a great medium for your kaffir lime to plant.
  • Make sure there is a good drainage system. If there is not any then create one.
  • Use a moisture meter to determine the moisture content of soil and then water accordingly (Our pick: SONKIR Soil pH Meter, MS02 3-in-1 Soil Moisture/Light/pH Tester).
  • Or, you can also apply the two-finger test to inspect the dryness of the soil.
  • If the soil is completely collapsed then you might have to think of changing the soil with more porous and well-drained soil.
  • Again, if the kaffir lime tree is planted in a pot, then repotting it would be better with fresh potting soil. Or else, you can plant the potted tree in the garden directly.
  • Water the kaffir lime plant at least once a week if there is no rain and the ground is dry.
  • Make sure the soil is wet 2 feet down after watering.

So, you can see that watering kaffir plants and the moisture content of soil are related to each other. However, you can moisten the soil and improve its drainage system by applying mulch to it. Mulch with compost of 2-inched over the top of the soil for each one to two months.

Nonetheless, remember that excessive mulching can act in the opposite way. So, be careful!

2. Improper Fertilizing and Nutrient Supply

Yes, both excess nutrients and lack of nutrients cause your kaffir lime trees to lose leaves. Over-fertilizing your lime trees is the main reason for causing excess nutrient supply. You can see the symptoms by the appearance of the kaffir lime tree.

If the tree seems full-blown with lush foliage and a bunch of fruits then the tree barely needs to be fertilized. But if there is a lack of nutrients and fertilizer in the soil, your kaffir lime will certainly start to lose leaves.

Lack of manganese and nitrogen causes yellowing and dropping of leaves. Again, many gardeners out there use fast-release fertilizers. These fertilizers cause over-fertilization.

Moreover, soil with too much drainage causes the leaching of nutrients. Hence, the essential nutrients go out of reach of the kaffir lime tree roots. So, stressing the plant the situation affects adversely.  


Due to Excess Nutrients

  • Yellow Leaves
  • Improper growth
  • Not growing fruits

Due to the Lack of Nutrients

  • Pale or yellow leaves due to lack of nitrogen
  • Dark green to black veins in leaf due to lack of iron
  • Smeared or mottled leaves due to lack of manganese
  • Yellow blotches due to lack of zinc

Control Measure

  • Use compost to make your soil more fertile and to have quality nutrients available for the kaffir lime trees.
  • If the plant is growing superb and giving fruits then do not fertilize it further.
  • Apply fertilizer only one or two times every year to the soil.
  • Or, you can apply a small amount of fertilizer every month.

However, there are many commercial fertilizers available in the market for lime trees (our pick: Miracle-Gro Shake ‘N Feed Citrus). Please follow the instructions before applying them. However, we suggest composting the soil. It enriches the soil with quality nutrients and improves water retention.

Moreover, always remember that the amount to be used for kaffir lime trees depends on the soil quality, climatic condition, and the condition of the tree itself.

3. Kaffir Lime in the Wrong Environment

Lack of sunlight falls in the wrong environment where kaffir lime cannot grow and loses leaves. Kaffir tree requires direct sunlight for at least eight to twelve hours each day. 5 to 6 hours would also do. This amount of sunlight is important for the mechanism of photosynthesis.

Otherwise, the plant will be unable to produce sugar. Consequently, the leaves will turn yellow and fall or die.

Again, the soil is also an element of the environment. Along with well-drained fertile soil, kaffir lime also require soil with a pH between 6 to 7. So, the plants require slightly acidic soil. This pH is considered ideal since it can dissolve the nutrients in the soil easily.

Nonetheless, if the soil is more acidic then it is also a problem for the kaffir. You have to amend the highly acidic soil as well.

Again, to talk about the weather, like other lime trees kaffir also like warm weather. So, fluctuation in temperature can also cause the dropping of leaves.


  • Drying and dropping of leaves
  • Tree not growing well
  • Not giving fruits

Control Measure

  • Always try to plant your lime tree near the facing to the south direction or wall to get sufficient sunlight.
  • If your house is situated in the southern hemisphere then plant the kaffir trees facing the north direction.
  • Again, if your lime tree gets overstory then prune it for the proper distribution of sunlight. This way, the light will reach the lower branches as well.
  • Pruning and trimming of kaffir trees also help in proper aeration.
  • However, to amend the alkaline soil add some acidic components like peat moss, coffee grounds, or sand.
  • Then again, to amend highly acidic soil add charcoal, lime, wood ash, or other alkaline materials.
  • If the weather in your region remains warm most of the time only then think of planting kaffir lime in your garden.

Furthermore, if you want to ensure a better environment for your potted kaffir lime then make sure that you have planted the tree in a 5-gallon pot. It is important since they need space for the proper spreading of the roots.

4. Disease Attack

Kaffir lime trees are quite resistant to diseases yet they can be affected to some extreme extent. Diseases including sooty mold, crown or foot rot, or Alternaria cause losing of foliage in kaffir trees.

However, these diseases are curable but you have to identify them as early as possible. Otherwise, once the diseases go to a severe stage, you might never be able to bring the tree back to life.


For Foot Rot

  • Pale and small leaves
  • Stunted growth
  • Browned and wilted leaves
  • Dieback of branch

For Sooty Mold and Alternaria

  • Powdery deposit
  • Growth of thick sheet
  • Dry conditions

Control Measure

  • Collect the affected parts and destroy them.
  • Plant-resistant varieties.
  • Do not wet the leaves of your kaffir lime while watering.
  • Also, skip overhead watering.
  • To save your plant from Alternaria fungal disease ensure proper spacing of the tree.
  • Again, to save your tree from fungal attack use a beneficial fungicide (Our Pick: Bonide 811 Copper 4E Fungicide)

Again, maintain the right time and method while applying fungicide while applying to your tree.

5. Pest Attack

Scale Bugs On Kaffir Tree

There are several pests that attack lime trees. However, aphids, white flies, and scale insects are common among them.

Aphids take place in almost all garden plants. Your kaffir limes are also not spared. Aphids attack is a common occurrence. They suck the plant sap and nutrients and weaken the lime tree. They mostly live in clusters underneath plant leaves.

Like aphids, whiteflies also remain in clusters and are quite destructive to foliage. They feed on foliage and secret honeydew. This substance brings fungal diseases to the kaffir lime trees. If the whiteflies attack gets severe then it will disrupt the process of photosynthesis.


  • Yellowing and dropping of leaves.
  • Wilted and damaged leaves.
  • New fungal attack.
  • Growth disruption

Control Measure

  • Hose the pests with water from the kaffir lime or apply a jet of water.
  • Spray soapy water solution over the pests.
  • Let environment-friendly insects like ladybugs and others deal with the situation.
  • Also, apply neem oil over the pests.
  • If the situation gets uncontrolled then apply pesticides (Our Pick: Natria 706250A Neem Oil Spray for Plants)

Related Resources- 


Do Lime Trees Lose Their Leaves?

Losing or dropping leaves is the most common problem in most lime or lemon trees out there. There are many reasons for it. However, extreme fluctuation in temperature is a great cause of losing leaves.

Why Are My Kaffir Lime Leaves Curling?

Curling of lime leaves can cause many reasons including excess hot or cold weather or transplant shock. It also occurs because of insect damage.

Will My Lime Tree Leaves Grow Back?

When the foliage of lime trees drops due to several stresses and shocks, it can still grow back when the situations get normal. A bit of care and fertilizing will induce growth.

Final Words

Even being a hardy tree kaffir lime yet might be found losing leaves. This is common for all citrus or lime trees that are prone to drop foliage. However, a little bit of care and consciousness can reduce the severity of this problem.

Hopefully, our guidelines will help you out with this very problem. If it really does then let us know your feelings by throwing feedback. You can also shoot any questions regarding the article.

James Rivenburg
James Rivenburg
James Rivenburg

James Rivenburg is the founder of plantandpest.com, a passionate gardener with valuable experience and knowledge gained through trial and error. The website has a large community of followers who trust his tips and techniques and have succeeded with his advice. He is always Committed to helping others create a beautiful and healthy garden.

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