If you plant a lime tree from a seed, it may take as many as 10 years for the tree to reach maturity and bear fruit. Lime trees grown from cuttings will bear fruit as soon as three years after being planted Although the preferred method for propagating limes is grafting, they can also be started from stem-tip cuttings. Lime cuttings will survive better if grown in containers. The tree is not well-adapted to grow outdoors year round in most of the United States.
Select a lime tree branch from a tree that is healthy and free of disease and pests. The tree should have a good history of bearing fruit, but the branch you select should be free of fruit or flowers.
Place your pruners along the branch at a point 3 inches from the end of the branch near where a leaf emerges from the stem (leaf node). Cut across the branch to remove it.
Strip off the leaves on the lower two-third of the branch. Dip the end of the branch in rooting hormone.
Fill a peat pot with peat moss and water until the mix is as wet as a wrung-out sponge. Insert the stem halfway into the peat moss at the center of the container.
Cover the peat pot with a plastic freezer bag and place on a sunny windowsill so that the plant is away from direct sunlight. To encourage root growth, place the pot on a heated mat that keeps the soil 70 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
Check the soil daily and water by placing the peat pot in a bowl of standing water. The water will wick up through the bottom of the container. Remove when the soil is as damp as a wrung-out sponge.
Remove the plastic bag when roots sprout from the plant. Mist the plant daily to keep it moist.
Transplant the tree into a larger container when the roots fill the peat pot. To do this, select a larger container. Fill with a peat-based potting soil. Hollow out a hole in the center of the container for your tree’s root ball. Gently remove the peat pot and place the root ball of the tree cutting into the planting pocket. Cover the root ball with soil.