How Limes Are Grown

Overview

Limes are often grown in home landscapes in warm parts of the world. In the United States, they can often grow in southern Florida and Texas. Limes are also grown in Hawaii, with a few parts of California able to support the fruit. Limes are sometimes grown as ornamental trees but often produce edible fruit.

History

Limes originated in the East Indies, but their cultivation has spread to many tropical and subtropical parts of the world. As the lime spread, hybrids and local varieties were encouraged, resulting in limes like the Mexican lime, Persian lime, and Kaffir lime, among others. Whatever the subvariety, limes are among the most acid of the citrus fruit, giving them their signature sourness.

Temperature

One of the most important aspects of lime cultivation is climate. Limes are the least tolerant of freezes of any citrus. True limes must be grown in areas where winter temperatures will not drop below 32 degrees F. If a freeze is expected, protect the trees with plastic. Commercial lime orchards may also resort to propane heaters to help protect the trees during unseasonably cold temperatures.

Sun

Lime, like most other fruit trees and all other citrus, does best in full sun where there is protection from drying winds. If full sun isn't available, the tree may grow in partial sun but won't produce as well as a tree planted in full sun.

Spacing

Limes are usually planted in rows 22 to 25 feet apart when growing in orchards. Plant home lime trees 18 to 20 feet from nearby trees to help ensure good sun and ensure that nearby trees don't transmit bugs or other problems to the lime trees.

Soils

Limes generally prefer soils that have very good surface drainage and good internal drainage. Limes don't do well with heavy clay soils that retain water. Limes generally grow in soils that are deep, allowing the roots to go deep and wide for maximum water and nutrient absorption. Soils that support limes have a pH of between 6 and 8.

Fertilization

Lime trees, like other citrus, benefit from regular fertilization. For best growth, lime trees like an 8 to 13 percent nitrogen fertilizer. Feed trees 1 cup the first year, 2 cups the second year and 3 cups the third year to help establish a productive tree.

Keywords: growing citrus, lime cultivation, growing limes

About this Author

Although he grew up in Latin America, Mr. Ma is a writer based in Denver. He has been writing since 1987 and has written for NPR, AP, Boeing, Ford New Holland, Microsoft, RAHCO International, Umax Data Systems and other manufacturers in Taiwan. He studied creative writing at Mankato State University in Minnesota. He speaks fluent Mandarin Chinese, English and reads Spanish.