One of the smallest of the citrus varieties, the lime tree (Citrus latifolia) makes an ideal dooryard tree in frost-free areas or a container-grown tree in colder locations. It produces fragrant white flowers in late winter and early spring. Fruit begins to ripen by late summer, continuing through the winter. It will even produce fruit indoors if grown in a warm, sunny location during the winter and moved outdoors once your area is safe from frost.
Care and Cultivation
Grow your lime tree in full sun, whether planted outdoors or grown in a pot. Move a pot-grown lime indoors when temperatures fall below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. Place in a sunny, south-facing window, and keep the soil evenly moist but do not overwater. A lime tree planted outdoors may receive too much water from sprinkler systems, which can eventually kill the tree. Do not fertilize the lawn immediately surrounding your tree; if the lawn is heavily fertilized, the tree may bear a smaller crop with fruit of reduced quality.
A lime tree grown outdoors should be pruned to keep the tree 6 to 8 feet tall. This helps prevent wind damage or uprooting in severe winds, and it makes it easier to harvest your crop as well as spray for pests and diseases. You can prune to remove dead or diseased wood and to improve light penetration to the interior of canopy. Potted varieties will naturally grow slightly shorter, about 6 feet at most, and should be pruned to maintain this height, and to remove dead or diseased wood. The best time to prune is from February to April, according to the University of Arizona Extension.
Lime trees are one of the most tender of all citrus varieties. They are happiest growing at temperatures between 70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 55 degrees Fahrenheit at night. Limes are technically a broadleaf evergreen, but they go dormant when exposed to cooler temperatures. Their leaves are damaged when temperatures fall below 28 degrees Fahrenheit. and their wood is damaged below 26 degrees Fahrenheit. Even colder temperatures will lead to severe damage or death, according to the University of Florida Extension.