With the cooler weather comes the time to do things outdoors. My winter is like a northern summer. I’ve been waiting for months for the heat to go away so the days will feel more normal. It’s just like suffering through a long, frozen winter and waiting for the warmth of Spring. Except in reverse.
January has brought cool breezes, lots fewer bugs, and breathable air. It rains less, but the plants are not burning under the sun, so watering is occasional. I still check on my plants and vegetable garden. The Lime tree seemed to be in need of help, and the pot it was in needed an upgrade. I bought a couple pots at Home Depot, but then decided to use one of my larger fabric bags. The Lemon tree is doing great in a fabric pot.
The Italian Oregano plant was in need of attention and got a new home in a deeper pot. I also added some bone meal for root growth.
The Meyer Lemon has some pink flower buds, and the Persian Lime has little white buds and greenery popping out along the branches. Although freezing temperatures could hit, both my citrus trees can be brought indoors for the cold weather.
One other plant that was in need of attention was my corn plant. This one came with me down from New Hampshire. I had purchased some houseplants to decorate when my house was up for sale. The corn plant (this is what I call it, but I’m not sure what the real name is) is meant to be an indoor plant in the north, but here in Florida it does fine outside as long as it’s in the shade. The front of my house doesn’t get direct sunlight, so the corn plant is generally happy by the front door. But the pot was ugly and too small, so now it is in a bigger one. I think it is happy.
I only venture outdoors for about five minutes at a time these days because of the heat, but I do go out to get photos and check the vegetable garden.
Although the banana trees in the back corner of the yard were frozen this winter, they have come back and grown very tall. In fact, one of them recently put off a shoot of bananas!
I’ve had banana trees bear fruit before, but the bananas were never very good. Maybe we didn’t wait long enough to pick them. The only bananas I know about are the ones sitting on the grocery store end caps. So maybe it’s time to learn about those wild bunches of bananas.
How to Grow and Harvest Bananas – I Just Learned This!
All those little bumps along the stem above the bulb on the end (photo below) will become bananas! This plant is just getting started. The Dole video below mentions waiting 12-13 weeks after the bananas begin to grow before harvesting. They cut theirs while they are green.
As the bananas fill in along that stem, they will get heavy (60 plus pounds!) and some trees need propping up. I don’t think I will be able to do that. This tree, and other little ones around it, are in the bushes next to my yard and not in a “garden” area. This bunch of bananas is on a tree that must be 15 feet tall (photo above). Since I took this photo, the branch has elongated so more bananas can form along the stem.
First, I want to say that I did not plant those banana trees. The house behind mine has a big garden area and they do have banana plants in their yard. I’m guessing that the banana trees now growing on this side of their fence came from their yard. I have no idea what type of banana trees they are.
The University of Florida Gardening Solutions page says that because of sandy soil bananas need to be fertilized. No one has fertilized “my” banana trees.
Something I have learned is that once a tree produces bananas it is done. It will not produce any more. That is why bananas have off-shoots, or baby banana trees growing near the large one. The little ones will grow and do the same thing as the “mother” tree.
Growing Bananas Videos
In my search for growing bananas information I came across a couple of cool videos. The first one is nearly 30 minutes long and the grower is growing (and eating) “ice cream” bananas.
He makes a mistake by cutting of the 60 pound bunch of bananas thinking he can hold it in one hand – and drops it! Then, according to the comments below the video, he hangs the bunch the wrong way – I don’t know about that. Some viewers also left comments that cutting down the main tree is not necessary.
In the second video, which is about the Dole company and how they grow bananas, all the workers do is chop the leaves off the main plant and leave them on the ground to provide nutrients. They do not cut down the whole tree.
Dole company video – which I found to be interesting.
Potential Problems With Growing Bananas
A healthy banana tree can add interest to the yard, but when they turn brown, or begin to die and fall over, not so much.
Plant in an area where there is space for more “baby” plants to spring up. None of those banana trees in my photo were planted. They sprung up on their own.
The hurricanes – we’ve had two major ones come through within the two years I’ve lived in this house – the wind shredded the leaves of the trees to bits.
Then we had some very cold nights over the past winter which turned the trees brown.
Yet, here we are with very tall, lovely trees less than a year later, and one is growing bananas already. The trees bounce back quickly in this hot, tropical climate, but they can die way down.
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!
A few months ago I purchased a lemon tree and Persian lime tree from a local nursery. Both are blooming and beginning to bear fruit. I planted the lemon tree in the ground, but decided to keep the lime tree in the pot. I’m glad I wasn’t in a hurry to put them both in the ground, because the lemon tree is not doing as well as the lime.
The Meyer lemon began budding almost as soon as it was planted. The tree itself is very small, so I expected no fruit from it. Surprisingly, some of the lemons are now getting to a good size, but many have already fallen off. I gave it a sunny spot, but failed to realize the amount of wind the tree would receive. The lime is more sheltered from the strong wind, on the south side of the house, and also gets a lot of sun. From what I’ve read, this is more to it’s liking.
Also, the lime tree (photo above), which was never removed from it’s original pot, began to grow like mad! It has doubled in size in the past few months, and is just now blooming. Because of the size, I have some hope of picking limes in the not too distant future. Fingers crossed! I’m holding of putting it into the ground because it’s growing very well where it is.
Because I am not familiar with growing either types of fruit, I searched online for Persian Lime Tree Care and found an article at the Gardening Know How site. In fact they have many articles with growing and care information. That being said, I always get my gardening information from more than one source – especially when reading online. In fact, this article “How Long Does it Take to Grow Limes?” at the Home Guides site, gives a lot more useful information. It tells me that fruit is harvested twice a year; May-June and November-December. This is the information I wanted to find.
Online articles can be written by experts, or by people who really have no idea what they are talking about. Some people write online simply to make money and are not all that interested in truthfulness. I prefer to find information on a blog written by someone with first hand experience. In other words, someone who cares enough to share what they know to be true.
At the present time, I am not a lime growing expert, but I hope to become one by growing them myself. As time goes on I will share MY first hand experience, but for now, I must count on others for solid information.
I’ll be sure to post about eating my first home-grown lemons and limes!