If you want to spice things up in your plant family with some fruits, limes are probably the best option. And, without a doubt, a must-have for every gardener that wants to harvest its own fruits at home. Especially when they are so good-looking and easy-going!
Limes have a lot to offer. While growing and caring for Limes will take a bit more time and effort than a walk to the market, picking fresh fruit whenever you need is worth it. Besides, their fresh overall look will bring any dull space or cornerback to life in a minute!
There are several Lime species and hybrids around the world that people enjoy growing. However, the most popular specimens include Australian Limes, Key Limes, Persian Limes, Spanish Lime, Sweet Lime, and Limequat.
Keep reading to find out everything it is out there to know about our beloved Limes!
- Limes have spread worldwide via trade and migration. They come from various regions. The top producers of Limes are India, China, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, and Turkey, accounting for 65% of global production.
- Limes come along with higher amounts of acids and sugars than lemons do. The juice of limes can be squeezed from fresh fruits or purchased in bottles in both sweetened and unsweetened varieties. People use lime juice to make limeade and different cocktails.
- In cooking, many value limes for both the floral aroma of their zest and the acidity of their juice. They are a common ingredient in authentic Thai, Vietnamese, and Mexican dishes. Other uses: lime soup, guacamole recipes, marmalade, key lime pie.
- The use of dried limes (called limoo or black limes) as a flavouring is typical in Iraqi cuisine, Persian cuisine, and an Eastern Arabian cuisine spice mixture known as baharat.
- In Indian cuisine, especially in South India, lime pickles are an important ingredient. Other Indian preparations of limes are lime chutney, salted pickle, and lime pickle.
- The extracts and essential oils of limes show up very frequently in perfumes, cleaning products, room sprays, or aromatherapy. Likewise, they appear in skincare, eye care, and hair care products.
- Limes play a big role in traditional and modern medicine. The high levels of Vitamin C found in these fruits can protect us from infections and speed up the healing process of our bodies. Limes can help with inflammation, kidney stones, weight loss, digestion, respiratory disorders, or chronic illnesses.
- Limes can serve as a wonderful addition in outdoor settings, garden beds, or pots.
- Companion planting is a beneficial practice that you should consider when starting your garden, be it indoors or outdoors. Citrus trees, like all fruit trees, will benefit from being planted near flowering plants that will attract beneficial pollinators and deter unwanted guests.
- Some of the best companions for Limes are Petunias, Marigolds, and Borage, as these plants will deter certain citrus pests. Nasturtiums attract aphids, but some gardeners prefer aphids to be attracted to their Nasturtiums rather than to their citrus trees. Fennel, Dill, Yarrow, are other examples of good companions for lime trees as they attract ladybugs and lacewings which feed on aphids.
- Pansies and lemon balm attract wasps and tachinid flies which are natural predators for caterpillars. If you have a vegetable garden, you’ll be happy to learn that most veggies including asparagus, alfalfa, and peas can also make good companions to lime trees as they can replenish the soil with nitrogen with citrus trees need plenty of.
- In general, wildflowers and native flowers are all great companions, so you can safely grow poppies, daisies, lupines, black-eyed Susan, coneflowers, and bee balm next to your lime trees.
- While limes are edible and non-toxic, it’s important to be cautious if you get into contact with lime juice or lime peel and expose yourself to ultraviolet light. This may lead to phytophotodermatitis. For safety purposes, make sure you place your Limes in a spot where kids or pets cannot reach them.
Limes Features: An Overview
- As mentioned earlier, there are more species and hybrids of Limes out there. There are many different species of citrus trees that produce fruit commonly referred to as ‘lime’. Some of the most common lime trees are Citrus Aurantiifolia (Key Lime), Citrus Hystrix (Kaffir Lime or Makrut Lime), Citrus x Latifolia (Persian Lime), Citrus Glauca (Desert Lime), Citrus x Limonia Osbeck (Rangpur Lime), and the Lemon Lime tree (hybrids).
- Depending on the cultivar, limes are evergreen trees that can reach from 5 to 20 feet (1.5-6 m) in height. You can grow yours in a container and maintain its height at optimum levels with a little extra care.
- Their foliage consists of many small, glossy, dark green leaves that come packed with a pungent citronella scent when crushed.
- Lime plants usually bloom from spring through summer months. During these seasons, they produce tiny, 5-petaled, star-shaped, and white flowers.
- From mid-autumn to mid-winter, Limes bear numerous fruits that are typically round with a light to dark green peel. In warmer climates, Limes can be ever-bearing and may exhibit fruits outside the main season.
- The lime fruits can measure between 1.2 and 2.4 inches (3-6 cm) in diameter. They contain acidic juice vesicles (pulp) and a few seeds each.
Even if lime trees seem a bit hard to approach, they actually have a very friendly and low-demanding nature. Limes will appreciate you and feel loved if you are paying attention to their needs. But do not worry, as these pretty trees don’t have many growth requirements! Let’s get more familiar with them and you will see for yourself!
To grow at their best and also develop their juicy fruits, limes need at least six to eight hours of bright, direct sunlight. In outdoor settings, make sure you place your limes near other plants that are not taller than them. Indoors, the ideal location for your limes would be the brightest area of your house, such as in front of a south-facing or west-facing window.
When it comes to hardiness, limes will appreciate an environment in which they can receive only temperatures that are on the warmer side. In general, these plants cannot tolerate temperatures that drop much below 50 °F (10 °C). If you want to give your Limes the time of their life, keep them in a spot with temperatures above this value. You can also bring your plants inside in autumn to protect them from winter freezing conditions.
All in all, you can harvest your Limes in late spring or early summer, when the fruits are in their best shape. But this is not a rule! The fruits can stay on the plants even after their fruit-bearing season has ended, so you can also harvest them in autumn.
The best time to plant new Limes is in either spring or early summer. Planting them in one of these seasons will give them enough time to settle in their new environment before the onset of autumn.
In terms of soil, Limes are not the type of picky plants you might encounter in your gardening journey. These plants are fairly tolerant of most soil types. But! Their growing medium must come along with very sharp drainage and lots of organic matter and nutrients. If you want to grow yours in a container, plant them only in those that feature one or more drainage holes at the bottom. Moreover, a layer of compost just above the soil will help your plants grow properly and retain moisture.
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Limes are heavy feeders that will benefit from applications once every month. Feed your plants with a slow-release or liquid fertilizer that is rich in nitrogen. Although Limes require fertilizing monthly, you should do it from early spring until midsummer.
Even if Limes are plants with lots of foliage, they do not need much pruning to remain in their best shape. You can simply cut some branches to avoid overcrowding your plant in late winter. Likewise, in case you want to maintain a certain size and shape for your Limes, it would be wise to cut tall stems back for a more bushy overall appearance.
If you are growing your Limes in containers, you will have to repot them regularly to promote healthy growth. We recommend you do this only in spring when the plants are most vigorous. Plus, you should transplant your Limes into another container only if they outgrow their current one. Always choose a pot that is one size larger.
How much water limes receive is probably the most important factor in their caring routine. As a rule, too much or too little water will affect the health of your Limes with time. For example, yellow leaves may be an indicator that your plants do not experience a proper watering routine. But we are here to teach you how to do it!
First things first, watering limes is all about the state of their soil at a certain time. We suggest you always check their growing substrate in-between waterings. When the top 3 inches (7.5 cm) of soil has dried out entirely, this is the golden moment to spoil your Limes with a generous drink.
During the summer months, Limes will experience low humidity levels overall. And they are plants that like a bit of humidity every now and then. In this season, you must mist the leaves of your Limes daily in the early morning. You can also place the potted Limes on top of a tray filled with pebbles and water to increase humidity.
If you want more limes around your house, you can obtain more specimens from the ones you already have in your collection.
Propagating Limes through Stem Cuttings
In general, propagating your Limes through stem cuttings is the easiest and most effective method out there. The only thing you will need in this process is a lot of patience while waiting for the nice results to show up.
Find healthy branches on your Lime tree that have a good history of bearing fruits. However, those branches should not have any flowers or fruits on them at this particular moment. You can do this in either super early spring or autumn for the best growth.
Once you find the perfect candidates for propagation, cut about 3 inches (7.5 cm) off them using sterilized pruners. Make sure you cut the branches right near a leaf node. After these steps, you must strip off all the leaves on the lower 2/3 of the stems. For nice growth, you should dip the cut ends of the cuttings in a rooting hormone.
Fill a pot with peat moss and water until the mixture is slightly wet. Plant the Lime cuttings halfway into the substrate, then cover the pot with a plastic bag. Place the container in a spot where the cuttings can receive lots of bright, indirect light. To encourage root growth, it is best to place the pot on a heated mat that can provide the soil with temperatures from 70 to 75 °F (21-24 °C).
The lime cuttings usually require lots of moisture to develop roots. You should check the peat moss mix daily and get into action whenever it seems dry. The ideal method to provide the cuttings with moisture is by placing the pot in a bowl of standing water until the soil is as damp as a wrung-out sponge.
When roots sprout from the cuttings, you can remove the plastic bag permanently. Mist the Limes daily to keep them constantly moist. You should transplant the plants to their permanent location when the roots fill the peat pot.
Propagating Limes from Seeds
Another great way to make more Limes for you, a friend, or a family member is from seeds. However, this method is much slower than the one mentioned above. The seeds will germinate in a few months or so, but the fruits of new plants may take up to 10 years to appear. But if you prefer things slow, you should do it!
All you have to do is collect the seeds from the lime fruits. Clean the seeds with plain water, then place them on a paper towel to let them dry out a bit. After a few days, you can get the seeds and sow them in a pot filled with fresh seed-starting mix. Do not cover the seeds with soil, as they need light to germinate properly. Water the mix until it is moist, then place the pot in a warm, well-lit area. Make sure you provide the seeds with water once the top layer of soil feels dry to the touch. When germination occurs, you can transplant the seedlings in their individual spots.
Common Problems in Lime Trees
Limes do not usually have serious problems regarding pest infestations. Still, some nasty intruders like aphids and scale insects might find the leaves of your plants very attractive sometimes. If you notice them on your Limes, you can control de infestation by washing the insects off and by using some special products. While insecticidal soaps are excellent for aphids, the scale insects will respond better to horticultural oils.
Serious aphid infestations can cause sooty mould, which is a very unpleasant issue to deal with. Black sooty mould is a fungal infection that manifests itself as a dark-coloured powdery substance that covers the foliage and the stems of the tree. The mould can affect the leaves, the stems, and also fruits. To control this disease, you need to remove all the aphids and remove all the infected parts. Neem oil is an effective solution when it comes to aphids and black sooty mould.
Lime trees are sometimes attacked by leaf miners, which can cause a lot of damage to new growth and developing foliage. If you notice trails on the leaves, damaged, or distorted foliage, and stunted growth, leaf miners might be the culprit. Read our full guide on leaf miners to find out more about these intruders.
Another common pest that affects lime trees and other types of citrus trees are citrus mites. Phyllocoptruta oleivora or Panonychus citri, commonly referred to as citrus mites, are more common in humid environments and can infest all parts of the citrus tree. While they are not very damaging in small numbers, a serious infestation can wreak havoc on your tree. The first signs of a citrus mites infestation are brown or black spots on the leaves and fruits, fruit distortion and stunted growth. The best way to stop a citrus mite infestation is by using neem oil or a miticidal spray. The important thing is to use organic solutions and to avoid chemicals.
Young lime trees are quite susceptible to sunburns or sunscald, so it is important to protect them from excessive sun exposure, especially during the summer. You can protect your young lime trees by using commercial tree wraps or by painting the exposed branches with citrus paint.
Yellowing leaves is another common issue that lime growers have to deal with and the causes are quite diverse. Discoloured leaves will usually indicate a nutrient deficiency, most commonly a lack of magnesium. Leaf loss and leaf curling are also common issues, and usually indicate that the tree is not happy with its current environment. Poor drainage and cold temperatures can cause leaf deformation.
Not enough fruit
If your lime tree doesn’t produce a lot of fruit, although it did over the previous year, there is no need to worry. Producing big, juicy crops requires a lot of energy and your tree might need to rest for a while. It is quite common for citrus trees to produce a lot of fruit once every two years. You can avoid this issue by thinning the crop and by ensuring that your tree is in a warm sunny location.
What can be more exciting than growing your own delicious lime fruits? Besides providing you with fresh fruit, lime trees are stunning ornamentals and need little to no care to thrive. As long as you give them lots of direct sunlight, warm temperatures, proper soils and fertilizers, and a suitable water routine, these plants will be by your side for longer than you could imagine. Just give them a try!
Are you growing lime trees? Share your experience in the comment section!