Category Archives: Plant Care

limes on the branch

What I’ve Learned From Growing a Lime Tree

lime tree growing in a pot
My Persian Lime Tree – August 2017

Gardening and growing things is an ongoing learning process for me. Last November I bought a lime tree and a 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.)

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 lime 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.

So it’s still in it’s pot, but pots constrict roots, and I’ve always believed that most plants do best in the ground. The lemon and lime have proven me wrong. Although I do realize that my Persian Lime tree may need to be repotted at some point – or put into the ground.  For now it is flourishing right where it is.

sliced lime
My first lime!

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

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.

limes on the branch
Cluster of Limes

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.

The Lime tree has none of those problems.  It is on the south side of the house and protected from the wind.  I can’t move the lemon tree now, I only hope it will recover and adjust to it’s spot.

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.

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!  I don’t remember exactly when the lime tree began flowering, but it was later than the lemon tree – and I don’t have any edible lemons yet.  I’m guessing at around 6 months time to grow these limes.

fresh limes in water
Refreshing…. Limes from the yard in my water glass!
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pink desert rose flower

How to Care For a Desert Rose Plant

desert rose pink flowers
Desert Rose in Garden

When I was given this flowering plant as a gift I was told it was a Plumeria. After seeing this same plant at the local Home Depot store, I discovered it was a Desert Rose. But before I knew what it was, I had taken it out of the original pot and put it into a sunny location in the backyard.

Sun is exactly what this flowering plant craves. The only problem was that it doesn’t need a lot of water. In fact, the less water the better – like a succulent, because that is really what it is.

At the time I planted it, we were have a long dry spell here in Florida. The Desert Rose did well. I avoided watering it when I watered the hibiscus next to it, and the plant even sent out new buds, which you can see blooming at the bottom of the stalk.

But, Florida is a tropical place, and I knew the rains would be coming. The Desert Rose also can’t handle cold temperatures (below 40 degrees F), and it does get cold in central Florida in winter.

pink desert rose in orange pot
Dug up and potted

I finally decided the Desert Rose needed to be in a pot. That way I could leave it outside for the sun, but bring it in during rainstorms and for the cold winter nights.  When I potted it, I had to give it water, but I haven’t watered it since.

It seems to be a very hardy plant, as I’ve dug it up and put it back into a pot. I think the key here is to NOT GIVE IT WATER. And I haven’t.

I’ve killed some really nice succulents by over-watering.  It can be tough to not water something when in general plants need plenty of water.  And, it seems to me that the Desert Rose (adenium) is not native to Florida.  Florida has no deserts.   This one will have to stay a houseplant if I hope for it to survive.

These plants develop a very thick “stem” or caudex (see them in the photo below).  This is the part that holds in the water to keep the plant thriving in drought conditions.  It is a succulent shrub and can grow quite large outdoors.

thick caudex stem of desert rose
The thick “stems” of the Desert Rose plant (photo credit: Pixabay)

The Desert Rose can be called by other names.   It is similar in appearance to the plumeria / frangipani tree and Oleander.  The plant is often easy to recognize because of it’s extremely thick stem.

Be aware that this plant contains poisonous sap.   It may not be a good choice as a houseplant for families with young kids for this reason.

I found a lot of articles about this plant at the TipsPlants.com site.  I will reference these articles if I ever get seed pods and maybe I will try to propagate it.

plumeria plant

The Plumeria Plant Gift, Or Is It Something Else?

plumeria plant
A Special Gift

Some friends stopped by the other day and they had been to the Farmer’s Market at the Volusia County Fairgrounds. They opened the trunk of the car to show us the wonderful plants they had purchased. They had boxes of little succulents, a bushy croton, tiny African violets, and bags of organic dirt. In the back I noticed three tall stalks in pots with one or two flowers at the top. When I asked what the plant was, our friend pulled one out and handed it to me. “It’s a Plumeria” she said, “Here take it, it’s for you”.

I tried to give it back, and said I was only curious, but she insisted I keep it. She said they were only $3.00 and she had more.  The guy who sold them to her told her they were Plumerias.

Now, I have never seen a plumeria plant. I am familiar with the beautiful flowers of the Hawaiian plumeria (frangipani), and know that they are often used to make Hawaiian leis in the islands. I use plumeria (or frangipani) images to create wedding and event stationery for my Sandpiper Wedding store. But I have never had a plant like this. And honestly the flower reminded me more of an Oleander, but the plant itself was like nothing I had seen.

I figured I’d call it a plumeria until I discovered differently. I had already looked up How to grow plumerias, but I’ve had my doubts as to what this plant really is. I’ve never seen plumerias growing in Florida, and I used to have all the favorite local plants planted in my yard when I lived here in the 80’s and 90’s. It doesn’t mean they don’t grow here, but they need a more tropical climate than what we have here in central Florida.

Plumerias need tropical conditions to grow well, and where I live it does get cold.

**** Then, I went shopping at the local Home Depot, and came across plants that look just like my “plumeria” but they were called “Desert Rose”.  Aha, I did not have a plumeria.  But I had no idea what to do with a desert rose.

My Desert Rose plant

I looked up how to care for it.

The Desert Rose is a flowering succulent, which means it won’t need a lot of water.  The stem can be very thick, and holds water to be used in times of drought.  It does not like cold temperatures, which means I should keep it indoors over the Florida winter.  I’ll have to dig it up.  It is slow growing, compared to plumerias, which grow fast and turn into small trees.

IMG_1459
The one flower that opened on my plant

Right now our temperatures are very warm with daytime readings in the 80’s and overnight in the 60’s and some 50’s. I regret planting it outdoors and will have to spend some money on a decent pot and bring it inside eventually. I’m not sure it will like all the summer rain we’ll be getting soon.  It’s meant to be an ornamental indoor plant, from what I gather.

Here are more pictures of the Desert Rose, found at the free images site, Pixabay.

pink desert rose flowers
Beautiful Desert Rose Flowers (photo credit: Pixabay)

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Learning From Experience – Which Hydrangeas Are Best?

white hydrangea flower
The “Blushing Bride” Flower

I am still learning about the hydrangeas I planted this spring. They have all surprised me by blooming very nicely. The only one that doesn’t have many flowers is the Pee Gee.

What I’ve learned:

New hydrangea shrubs will flatten easily in a big rainstorm. After they bloom, it’s even worse as the flowers get wet and heavy.

The flowers which are elongated (Pinky Winky and Limelight) fare better. They droop when the flowers are wet, but not to the ground like the others. Maybe because their petals are smaller and the flowers are more open. Their stems are sturdier too.

The overall appearance of these types of shrub seems to be hardy and carefree. I have to constantly water the Endless Summer (blue-flowering) shrub as well as the Blushing Bride – both are mophead varieties. They wilt terribly in the sun, even though they get mostly morning sun.  It has been hot.

I’ve cut some of the blue ones because they were laying on the ground.  They are now hanging to dry on my drying rack.

They are all beautiful and I don’t think I have a favorite yet.  I may decide by the time summer is over.