Limes are the most sour and acidic of the citrus fruits. There are a number of green, sour fruits that are called limes. Although there are differences in the limes and slight differences in culture, the basic growing techniques are similar for all varieties. By planting limes in a climate where they will grow well and giving the tree adequate water, your tree should produce fruit for many years.
Although many people view the common lime as being a single type of fruit, there are several varieties of limes that might be considered a common lime. The Tahiti lime, also called the Bearss lime or the Persian lime, grows to around 20 feet with oval fruit that can reach 2-3/4 inches long and 2-1/2 inches in diameter. Tahiti limes have a characteristic nipple-like bump on the bottom of the fruit. Mexican limes, sometimes called Key limes or West Indian limes, are grown on small, bushy trees. The limes of this tree are small, rarely growing larger than 2 inches in diameter. Giant Key limes are a variety that can reach 4 inches in diameter.
Lime trees are very sensitive to frost. They will only grow in areas, like tropical and sub-tropical areas, that do not get temperatures below freezing. Some areas in California, Florida, and Texas have winter temperatures mild enough to support limes. However, you must be prepared for a rare freeze in these areas. Heaters, plastic tents and other techniques can help to protect lime trees during unseasonably cold temperatures.
The exact soil that is best for a common lime will depend on the variety. Larger Tahiti limes do well in a variety of soils but may need to have the pH of the soil raised if grown in many sandy soils. Mexican and Key limes grow very well in sandy soils. All limes need to grow in soil that drains well and will not tolerate standing water. Plant lime trees in a mound that is taller than the surrounding area to avoid any possibility of standing water.
Lime, as a type of citrus, requires as much sun as possible. They will not do well in shade but might grow nicely with partial sun. Full sun, however, is best for your lime tree.
Limes require a lot of water, like other citrus trees. According to the University of Arizona, citrus requires about 60 inches of water per year. This means the total in gallons will vary, depending on the size of the tree. Limes should be watered more in the spring and summer, and less in the late autumn and winter.