A lime tree is a citrus plant that produces a sour green fruit used in a variety of foods and drinks. Limes are commercially produced in warm regions such as Florida and Texas, and are often planted in home gardens and inside homes for decoration and small fruit production.
Wild lime, according to the University of Florida Extension, is a small tree native to Florida and the Caribbean Basin. The leaves smell like limes when crushed. The stems of the tree have sharp spines that are painful when touched. The fruit of the wild lime is round, unlike the oval shape of commercial limes.
Regular lime trees produce a small, oval fruit that tastes sour. The lime tree comes in many varieties: Mexican, Tahiti, giant key, Rangpur, Palestine sweet and limequat. The fruits vary from tree to tree. Mexican lime trees produce the limes we are most familiar with. Giant key lime trees produce a fruit that is two to three times the size of the fruit of the Mexican lime tree. Rangpur lime is more acidic than Mexican lime. Palestine sweet lime is a hybrid whose rootstock is used for its durability.
Lime trees survive in a variety of soils but need good internal and surface drainage. Limes do not tolerate flooding conditions and grow poorly in heavy clay soils. Lime trees do well when planted on the south side of a house, reducing exposure to cold winds, but require full sun.
Many lime varieties do not propagate from the seed produced in the fruit and require grafting to grow the same fruit. T-budding, in which a bud from a scion branch is applied under the bark of another tree and attached with grafting tape until it heals into the tree, is the most effective method of propagation.
Mature lime trees require irregular watering, once every few weeks when planted in a loamy soil. Sandy soils may require more regular watering, says Texas A&M University. Lime trees require 6 cups of 21-0-0 fertilizer per year for the best growth. Pruning is only necessary when branches and fruit are frost damaged. Because of their minimal watering requirements, lime trees need no mulch.