How to Plant a Key Lime Tree


The key lime tree (Citrus Aurantifolia), a specific variety of lime tree, rarely exceeds 12 feet in height. The tree's branches sport numerous spines. A few varieties are thornless, but the fruit tends to lack abundant flavor. The evergreen tree has small, pale-green leaves. The fruit appears greenish-yellow in color. Commercial production of the key lime centers on growing the fruit solely for juice concentrate. The oil that remains after the juice is extracted for concentrate is used as an additive in flavorings and cosmetics. Many home gardeners enjoy planting the small, easy-to-grow tree.

Step 1

Wash 1 inch of packing, soilless medium off of the key lime tree's root system, using a stream of water. Remove a small amount of the soilless medium from the tree's root system to allow the outer roots to come into contact with the soil, and for the tree to absorb water and nutrients to establish itself.

Step 2

Dig a hole with a shovel that is twice as large as the tree's rootball. Place the key lime tree into the hole so the bud union is at least 1 to 2 inches above the soil. Firm the soil around the tree's root system to remove air pockets.

Step 3

Soak the key lime tree with water upon planting. Repeat every three to five days for the first two weeks and then every seven to 10 days for the first six months of the tree's life. Keep the soil moist after the tree is established.

Step 4

Remove all weeds around the base of the key lime tree.

Step 5

Fertilize the key lime tree when it shows new growth. Apply 1 cup of ammonium sulfate around the base of the tree and water it in. Reapply 1 cup every three months for the first year of the tree's life.

Things You'll Need

  • Ammonium sulfate
  • Shovel


  • Texas A&M University: Home Fruit Production Limes
  • Keylime: Yes Virginia, There is a Key Lime
  • Purdue University: Mexican Lime
  • Desert Tropicals: Key Lime, Mexican Lime

Who Can Help

  • Gardening Eu: Citrus aurantifolia Lime
Keywords: key lime trees, planting lime trees, lime tree care

About this Author

Kimberly Sharpe is a freelance writer with a diverse background. She has worked as a Web writer for the past four years. She writes extensively for Associated Content where she is both a featured home improvement contributor (with special emphasis on gardening) and a parenting contributor. She also writes for Helium. She has worked professionally in the animal care and gardening fields.