Central Florida gardeners can grow all varieties of lime trees relatively problem-free as long as they consider where they live. Those living in the northern regions of Central Florida can experience freezing temperatures, so the species of lime and planting location are important. Persian (Tahiti) limes (Citrus latifolia) are more cold tolerant than the key lime (Citrus aurantifolia), which thrives in warmer regions of the state planted in the ground. Those living in north-central Florida should consider planting varieties desiring warmer temperatures into containers for more control of cold protection.
Select an area in your landscape that is located in the warmest location, which is usually on the southern side of a building. This will give the citrus tree added warmth and protection from cold winds blowing in from the northeast. Temperatures can dip to 20 to 25 degrees Fahrenheit in northern Central Florida and lime trees require planting in the warmest area of your yard.
Plant the lime tree in a location receiving full sunlight during the day, though the tree will tolerate some partial shade throughout the day. Be sure the planting site drains well, as lime trees will not tolerate being in flooded conditions for too long and will develop root rot and eventually die. Central Florida's soil is sandy, as is the majority of the state, so drainage should not be a problem in most areas. Add sand to a poorly draining area to create drainage and build a raised bed by piling soil up approximately 1 foot.
Clear a section of at least 4 feet in diameter around the tree's trunk of any grasses or weeds than will compete with the young tree’s water supply. Keep the area weed-free by pulling or raking away weeds as they develop.
Plant the lime tree into a hole that is twice as large as the tree’s root ball, but no deeper, as you do not want to cover the bud union by the graft on the tree’s lower trunk. Plant lime trees at the same depth they are growing within their container in Central Florida as well as the other regions of the state.
Water newly planted lime trees two to three time per week for the first month, cutting back to two times per week for the second month, depending on your local Central Florida weather conditions. After the second month, water the lime tree weekly.
Fertilize lime trees in Central Florida after new growth begins to appear with a citrus special or 6-6-6 fertilizer starting in February. Continue fertilizing every other month, up to four times per year, ending your last fertilization in late September. Spread the fertilizer underneath the tree’s canopy 6 inches from the trunk.
Spray the lime tree’s foliage with a citrus nutritional spray when you fertilize, as this will ward off any health issues and diseases.
Prune off any sucker branches than begin to grow beneath the graft, as these will not produce limes but will suck unwanted energy from the plant. Usually rootstock used for grafting lime trees is from the sour orange stock. Trim off any crisscrossing branches; other than this, pruning of lime trees is not required.
Things You Will Need
- Citrus fertilizer
- Citrus nutritional spray
- Pruning shears
- Allow fruits to ripen on the tree before picking, as they will ripen no more once picked.
- Central Florida gardeners in northern areas can grow limes in large containers (three times bigger than the tree's root ball) and bring them into a protected area in the event of freezing temperatures.
- Do not place mulch against the tree's trunk as it will develop root rot or be infected with fungus.
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