Princeton,NJ/ 360prwire/ December 20/
Lime trees make a great addition to any home garden. They are evergreen and more tolerant of cool weather than most citrus trees. Lime trees can be successfully grown in your own backyard (more information), provided your area doesn’t experience extremely cold temperatures.
They are most suitable for hardiness zones 8, 9, 10 and 11. Lime trees can be a little tricky to take care of, which is typical of citrus trees.
Here are a few tips and tricks to help you grow a lush, green lime tree in your own backyard:
The climate is the most important factor for growing lime trees outdoors in the United States. They cannot tolerate frost. Ideally, the temperature shouldn’t dip below 50 degrees F for lime trees to thrive.
If you live in an area that experiences very cold temperatures, you can try protecting the lime tree from frost by insulating the trunk with cardboard or fiberglass and covering the branches with a blanket.
Plant lime trees in the spring or fall. They have a lower rate of survival if transplanted during the summer when temperatures are high.
Citrus trees typically need a lot of fertilizer. You need to use a slow-release fertilizer every two months to keep your lime tree well fed. There are special citrus ‘plant food’ fertilizers that cater specifically to the needs of citrus trees.
Lime trees need a lot of nitrogen to survive. Look for NPK fertilizers that have a ratio of 2:1:1. That’s right, the nitrogen should be double the amount of potassium and phosphorus.
Use one-third of the suggested amount of fertilizer every time you fertilize the lime tree. Mix it into the top layer of the soil and it will seep down to the roots when you water the tree.
Watering is an important part of caring for a lime tree. Lime trees need a good amount of moisture in the soil to help produce more fruit.
You should be watering your lime tree once or twice per week, depending on the climate in your area. Water deeply, ensuring that the soil is completely soaked.
If you’re not sure that the tree is ready to be watered again, you can test the soil for dryness. Stick a piece of wood into the soil to check the moisture level. If the soil is dry up to 5 inches deep, it is time to water the tree.
Make sure the lime tree doesn’t dry out on your watch. You will notice wilting and falling leaves when the tree is not getting enough water.
On the other hand, do not overwater the plant either. If your lime tree is overwatered, its leaves will turn yellow and curl up at the sides. This cannot be remedied by watering. You need to let the soil dry out completely before watering again to protect the tree.
For any fruit tree, pruning is a very important part of caring for the tree because they start growing new shoots under the graft union of the tree. These rootstock shoots are called suckers and they don’t grow the type of limes you want.
They also take up nutrients from the lime tree, hampering its growth. You need to keep an eye out for these suckers and carefully prune them back with a clean pair of gardening shears. This reduces the risk of spreading disease to the lime tree.
While you’re at it, you can also snip off the thorns from the branches. This does not cause any damage to the lime tree. You will now find it much easier to take care of the tree and you won’t get all scratched up while picking limes.
Companion planting is a useful hack to provide several benefits to your lime tree without exposing it to any potentially harmful chemicals.
Good companion plants help the lime tree by providing nutrients, driving away pests, releasing nutrients or providing structural support.
Legumes and peas make good companion plants to lime trees because they leak nitrogen into the soil. Lime trees love nitrogen, so it is a win-win situation for both plants.
You can also plant lemon balm or parsley next to your lime tree. They attract certain flies and wasps which drive away caterpillars from the lime tree. You can also use these herbs in your cooking.
When you think of lime, you always imagine a perfectly green, juicy lime. But this doesn’t mean that limes are unusable when they turn yellow!
Ripe limes are always yellow in color. They can be harvested and consumed even if they have turned yellow. If you want to harvest limes at their flavorful best, pick them just as they start to take on a yellowish tint.
Modern marketing has created an image of limes as a green fruit, so you’ll always find green limes in your supermarket. Truth is, limes can be picked and used even after they turn yellow. They just have a different flavor than what we’re used to.
Pests can be quite challenging to deal with, especially if you want to avoid using pesticides on your lime tree. Like all fruit trees, lime trees also attract a wide variety of pests. Stay on the lookout for the following pests:
- Aphids: Aphids are very common pests in home gardens. They are not very hard to deal with, even a forceful spray of water will knock them off your lime tree. Neem oil or regular insecticides are enough to eliminate them.
- Leaf Miners: Leaf miners like to attack new leaves. They are also capable of mining into the fruit and causing stunted growth.
- Citrus Miners: Citrus miners can be easily eliminated with neem oil or a good miticide, provided you catch the infestation in the early stages.
- Scale: These insects often target citrus fruits. They damage the leaves and cause them to fall off. Use alcohol or neem oil to deal with citrus scale insects.
Lime trees need a lot of care. If you choose to grow them outdoors in your backyard, you need to be very careful of their placement, the weather and take good care of all their needs.
With these tips, we’re sure you’ll be enjoying a bountiful lime harvest by this time next year.