February 26, 2024

Lime tree care and growing guide

A lime tree is a beautiful addition to any garden, but it can be difficult to care for properly. 

Properly caring for a lime tree requires time and knowledge that not everyone has.

We have created an easy-to-follow guide on how to take care of your lime tree. Our guide includes tips on watering, fertilizing, pruning, and more.

How to Plant a Lime Tree

Lime trees can be planted from seed or from a cutting, and they are relatively easy to care for. In addition to their attractive foliage, lime trees also produce delicious fruit. If you’re interested in growing a lime tree, here’s what you need to know. 

Grow lime tree from seed

To grow a lime tree from seed, you will need to purchase a lime tree seed and plant it in soil. The best time to plant a lime tree seed is in the springtime.

Follow the below simple steps:

1. To grow a lime tree from seed, you will need to purchase a lime tree seed and plant it in soil. The best time to plant a lime tree seed is in the springtime.

2. Soil should be well-drained and have plenty of organic matter. Lime tree seeds should be planted about 1 inch deep and 12 inches apart.

3. Water lime tree seeds regularly, keeping the soil moist but not soaked.

4. Once lime trees reach about 6 inches tall, they can be transplanted to larger pots or into the ground.

5. Fertilize lime trees every few months with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer.

6. Prune lime trees regularly to promote new growth.

7. Harvest lime fruits when they are fully ripe and yellow in color.

Lime tree care tips

1. Watering

Water your lime tree regularly, especially during the summer months. Lime trees need about 1 inch of water per week. Lime trees only need watering about once a week. (Learn how to water your plant)

2. Mulch

Apply a layer of mulch around your lime tree to help retain moisture. What kind of mulch should be used around lime trees? It should be organic mulches, such as shredded bark, are the best type to use around lime trees.

3. Fertilize

Fertilize your lime tree every few months with a citrus fertilizer.

To prepare the fertilizer, mix 1 cup of ammonium sulfate with 1 gallon of water. Then, pour the mixture around the lime tree and water it in.

4. Prune

Lime trees should be pruned regularly to encourage new growth. Prune lime trees in the early spring, before new growth begins. Remove any dead or damaged branches, and trim back any excess branches.

5. Pest & disease

Check your lime tree regularly for pests and diseases, and treat accordingly.

With proper care, lime trees can thrive and produce an abundance of juicy fruit.

Grow lime tree from cutting

Lime can be easily propagated from cuttings taken from new growth.

1. Cut a piece of lime tree from an existing lime tree with a sharp knife. Make sure to cut the branch from underneath the branch, as opposed to cutting it from the top. This will help ensure that the lime tree will grow a strong root system.

2. Remove all of the leaves from the cutting, and then dip the end in rooting hormone.

3. Plant the lime tree cutting in a pot filled with well-draining potting soil, and place it in a location that is warm and sunny.

4. Water your lime tree regularly to keep the soil moist, but not soggy. You can also lightly fertilize the lime tree every few weeks to help it grow.

If cared for properly, a lime tree can thrive and produce delicious, ripe fruits for many years to come. With proper lime tree care, growing lime trees from cuttings is an easy and effective way to get your own lime tree started.

Growing lime trees in pots

The biggest benefit to growing lime trees in pots is that you can move them around to different locations depending on the amount of sunlight they are receiving.

Limes prefer full sun, but can tolerate a little shade. If you live in an area with cold winters, you can move your lime tree indoors when temperatures start to drop below freezing.

If you want to grow a lime tree in a pot, you will need to find a pot that is at least 18 inches deep and 18 inches wide.

You will also need to add plenty of organic matter to the potting mix, such as compost or peat moss. Be sure to keep the soil moist, but not wet.

Lime trees can grow in full sun or partial shade, and will benefit from regular fertilization throughout the growing season.

If you notice any signs of pests or disease in your lime tree, be sure to address these issues promptly. Common pests that may affect lime trees include aphids, mites, scale insects, and mealybugs. Treating these issues early can help prevent them from spreading to other parts of the plant.

Repotting lime tree

If your lime tree is growing in a pot, it will likely need to be repotted every two or three years.

When repotting, use a pot that is only slightly larger than the current pot and make sure the lime tree is planted at the same depth it was previously planted.

Use a well-draining potting mix and water the lime tree thoroughly after repotting.

Steps to repot:

1. Choose a pot that is only slightly larger than the current pot.

2. Make sure the lime tree is planted at the same depth it was previously planted.

3. Use a well-draining potting mix.

4. Water the lime tree thoroughly after repotting.

How to Prune a Lime Tree

Lime trees can be pruned at any time of year, but it is best to do so in late winter or early spring before new growth begins.

To encourage fruiting, prune lime trees to remove any dead or damaged branches and to encourage overall growth.

When pruning, make clean cuts just outside the branch collar or a slight angle away from the bud.

If your lime tree is overgrown, you may need to thin out some of its larger branches in order to allow more light and air circulation into the tree’s interior.

If you notice any signs of pests or disease, treat the lime tree immediately to prevent further damage.

Lime Tree Varieties

There are many lime tree varieties to choose from. The key is to find the lime tree that is best suited for your climate and growing conditions.

Below list lime trees that are commonly grown in the United States. (1)

1. Bearss lime (Citrus x latifolia)

Also known as Persian lime, this lime tree is the most common type grown in the United States. It is a hybrid lime that was developed in California. The Bearss lime tree is a small, evergreen tree that produces fragrant white flowers in the spring and green fruits with yellow rinds throughout the summer.

2. Key lime (Citrus aurantifolia)

Also known as Mexican lime or West Indian lime, this lime tree is commonly grown in Florida. The Key lime tree is a small, thorny tree that produces fragrant white flowers and small, green fruits with thin yellow rinds.

3. Eureka lime (Citrus x limon)

Also known as the Limetta lime, this lime tree is typically grown in California and Arizona. The Eureka lime tree is an evergreen tree that produces white flowers and small, green fruits with thick, bumpy rinds.

4. Tahitian lime (Citrus x latifolia)

Also known as the seedless lime or Bearss lime, this lime tree is a hybrid of the Key lime and lemon. The Tahitian lime tree is a small, evergreen tree that produces fragrant white flowers in the spring and yellow fruits with thick rinds throughout the summer.

Lime tree companion plants

Companion plants are plants that grow well together and help each other out. Some good lime tree companion plants include:

1. Basil

Basil repels pests that can harm lime trees, and the leaves make a delicious addition to many recipes.

2. Marigolds

Marigolds are a great choice for companion plants because they deter many harmful insects that can harm lime trees.

3. Mint

Mint makes a great companion plant for lime trees, as it not only helps keep pests away but also provides an aromatic scent that is pleasant for gardeners and pollinators alike.

4. Rosemary

The fragrant leaves of rosemary make it an excellent choice for a lime tree companion plant. The herb also deters many common pests that can harm lime trees.

5. Thyme

Like rosemary, thyme has a strong fragrance that helps keep pests away from lime trees. It is also a delicious addition to many recipes.

When choosing companion plants for lime trees, it is important to select plants that will not only benefit the lime tree, but that also thrive in your growing conditions and complement the flavor of the lime fruit.

Why is your lime tree dropping leaves

One potential reason your lime tree is dropping leaves is due to improper watering.

1. Soil moisture condition

Make sure to water your lime tree regularly, ensuring the soil is moist but not wet.

2. Pest or disease

Another reason your lime tree may be dropping leaves is due to pests or diseases. Inspect the leaves and branches of your lime tree for any signs of pests or diseases, and take action to treat these issues as needed.

3. Environmental stress

Environmental stress can also cause lime trees to drop leaves. Be sure to provide your lime tree with the proper amount of sunlight and protect it from harsh winds.

4. Nutrient deficiency

If your lime tree is not getting the nutrients it needs, it may drop leaves as a way to conserve energy. Be sure to regularly fertilize your lime tree, and consult a specialist if you are unsure of what type of fertilizer to use.

If your lime tree is dropping leaves, it is important to take action right away in order to prevent any further damage or health issues.

Lime tree pests

The most common lime tree pests are aphids, mealybugs and scale insects. These pests can be controlled with a combination of horticultural oil, insecticidal soap and/or miticide.

1. Aphids

Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that cluster on the new growth of lime trees. They suck the sap from the leaves, causing them to curl and distort. Aphids can also transmit viral diseases from one plant to another. (2)

How to deal with it:

If you notice aphids on your lime tree, you can control them with a combination of horticultural oil, insecticidal soap and/or miticide.

Horticultural oil is a non-toxic, natural product that smothers the aphids. Insecticidal soap is a soap-based product that kills aphids by dissolving their protective outer coating.

Miticide works by disrupting the metabolism of the pests, resulting in their eventual death.

2. Mealybugs

Mealybugs are small, white, fuzzy insects that feed on the sap of lime trees. They secrete a sticky substance called honeydew that attracts sooty mold, which can damage lime trees and reduce their ability to absorb light and nutrients.

How to deal with it:

If you notice mealybugs on your lime tree, you can treat them with a horticultural oil or insecticidal soap.

Horticultural oils are made from plant-based oils and work by smothering the insects.

Insecticidal soaps are made from vegetable-based oils and detergent, and they work by dissolving the outer layer of the mealybugs’ bodies.

3. Scale insects

Like mealybugs, scale insects feed on lime tree sap, leaving behind a sticky residue called honeydew. Unlike mealybugs, however, scale insects do not have legs or wings and are difficult to control without the help of a professional.

How to deal with it:

If you notice that your lime tree has been infested with scale insects, there are a few things you can do to get rid of them.

First, you can try spraying the tree with a strong jet of water to dislodge the insects. You can also try using an insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.

Lime tree diseases

The most common lime tree diseases are powdery mildew, anthracnose and quick decline syndrome. These diseases can be controlled with a combination of fungicide, horticultural oil and/or neem oil.

1. Powdery mildew

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that affects lime trees. It appears as a white, powdery growth on the leaves and stems of the tree. Powdery mildew can weaken lime trees and make them more susceptible to other diseases.

2. Anthracnose

Anthracnose is a fungal disease that causes lime trees to develop brown, sunken lesions on their leaves and stems. Anthracnose can weaken lime trees and reduce their fruit production.

3. Quick decline syndrome

Quick decline syndrome is a serious tree disease that affects lime trees. It causes the leaves of lime trees to wilt and drop off the tree, and the tree to eventually die. Quick decline syndrome is often caused by a combination of stressors, including drought, pests and diseases.

How to harvest limes

Limes can be harvested at any time, but they are typically harvested when they are green. To ensure the lime is ripe and ready for harvesting, look for fruits that feel heavy for their size.

To harvest limes from a lime tree, simply use a sharp knife to cut the lime off the tree. Be careful not to damage the lime or the tree while harvesting.

Final Thoughts

Lime trees are a beautiful addition to any garden and with a little bit of care, they will thrive for years. Follow our guide for lime tree care and to growing your own lime tree, you can enjoy the sweet fruit it produces.