Gardening and growing things here in Florida is an ongoing learning process for me. Last November I bought a Persian lime tree and a Meyer lemon tree to put in my yard. I knew nothing about growing either type of tree but I hoped to pick fresh fruit one day.
That day has arrived! So here’s what I have learned from growing a lime tree. And it’s good news for anyone considering growing a lime tree in a pot. (The lemon tree isn’t doing so well, but I’ll get to that later.)
Flowers to Fruit Timeline
Buds and flowers begin showing up in December and continue to flower and set fruit into February.
There are buds, flowers and little limes on the tree at the same time. I even have one lone big lime still hanging on from the previous Fall.
By October the limes should be ready to eat. They will last for a couple of months, and I pick them as needed so they are nice and fresh – and delicious!
Once the fruit is gone, the buds begin again. So the tree is always doing something.
A few days ago I picked my first lime! I sliced it and put it into my glass of water… and boy was it good! I love limes… what awesome flavor. I had really been hoping for lemons, but I think I like limes more. It reminded me of the Mojitos I’ve had – but without the booze. The lime I picked was small, but juicy. I won’t go nuts picking all the fruit, but I will definitely be using the larger limes.
I had wondered when to pick my limes and I simply waited for them to be the size of the ones I see at the grocery store. The time from flowering to picking was about 6 months. It is so worth the wait!
Benefits of Growing Limes in a Pot
I kept the lime tree in it’s pot and set it on the corner of the patio in my backyard. I have read that these smaller citrus trees can be grown in pots. In fact they can be purchased through Amazon. This is something I never knew, and the buyers leave very good reviews. They won’t ship to some areas – like the places that can grow and sell their own trees, it seems. Florida is one.
One of the big advantages of growing in pots is the ability to move the plant / tree. Over winter it did get very cold one or two nights and I brought the tree inside. The Persian Lime tree is hardy to zone 10 and I am in zone 9b – a little too far north. When the temps get at, or below, freezing it needs to be covered or moved inside.
Besides the fact that a lime tree can do well and bear fruit while still in it’s original pot, I’ve learned that being in a pot means the fruit-laden branches won’t hit the ground.
This is the trouble I am having with the lemon tree. Once the heavy fruit began to grow, the branches drooped considerably. As you can see in my photo, many limes are growing in a cluster at the end of this branch which weighs it down.
If this tree was in the ground, this branch would be rubbing along the dirt – and in danger of being hit by the mower or weed-eater.
The Lemon Tree is Not Very Pretty
Shortly after I planted the lemon tree in the ground, I realized that my dream of having a row of citrus trees along the front of the house was unrealistic. The north wind blows from that direction and it can get very windy some days. I’m not saying it’s cold, I am in Florida, but the constant wind on the Lemon tree has been detrimental to it’s growth. Between that and being hit by my son’s weed-eating job, the poor lemon tree is having a hard time. I also think something may be eating the branches. I may not have any edible lemons.
*Update, I recently dug up the lemon tree and it’s now growing in a pot out back near the lime.
How to Care for Citrus Trees
Both trees receive citrus fertilizer every few months, except in winter. Fertilizing stops in November and begins again in March. This is according to the pamphlet I got at the plant nursery.
Here in Florida, if it doesn’t rain, everything needs to be watered daily in summer. I usually water the Lime tree twice a day. Being in a pot, out in the sun, means it will dry out faster. This changes in winter, when it needs less water. The leaves began to turn yellow and fall off because I watered it too much. Watering every few days in winter (Florida) is fine.
I did have to set the potted tree inside a larger plastic pot and weigh it down with leftover bricks from building our patio. I had to do this because once the fruit began to grow the tree was top heavy and would blow over whenever the soil dried out.
In a Nutshell
I bought my Persian Lime tree in November 2016 from a local nursery for $12.99. It immediately began to grow longer stems and more leaves. Maybe it was the direct sunlight compared to the nursery conditions, but the tree doubled in size!
A few months later it began to flower profusely and set many limes. Lots of those fell off, leaving the larger ones to continue to grow. Don’t worry if lots of the small limes fall from the tree. The tree seems to know just how many limes it can handle! Many will stay and continue to grow.
I picked one lime, and there are 28 limes left on the branches (I just went out and counted them). I see a few very tiny limes growing also, but they may fall off. Not a bad first harvest!