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How to Grow Lime Trees

By Hollan Johnson ; Updated September 21, 2017
Key limes

Lime trees are best suited to tropical and sub-tropical climates. However, even if you do not live in such a climate, growing limes is possible with a little work. Limes are hardy through zones 9 and 10, so they don’t tolerate much cold. Extreme heat can harm them as well, so be careful. In order for your lime trees to bear fruit you will need to plant two different varieties of lime so they can cross pollinate.

Choose a spot that gets full sun. If your climate is a bit cooler than limes like, plant the trees around the south side of your house to protect them from the cold.

Improve your soil. Add manure, compost and nutrient-rich top soil into your soil before planting. Work them into an area about 5 feet wide and 2 feet deep. If your soil is already rich, skip this step.

Make sure your soil is well drained. Thick, clay soil that holds onto water will kill a lime tree.

Dig a hole for your lime trees. The hole should be shallower than the root ball by a few inches so the root ball shows. Place the tree in the hole and fill with soil. Pat the soil down firmly and water. Allow the soil to soak up the water, then water again. Two or 3 inches of the root ball should be above ground.

Water your lime trees once a week for 10 minutes each watering. If the weather is hot and dry, or if the soil around the trees is dry, water more often. However, do not over water, as it can kill them.

Prune your lime trees in the summer. Cut off any dead or damaged branches at the base and trim any over reaching branches. Remove any weak branches. Trim your lime trees so the top is less full than the bottom. Allow 6 to 8 inches of room between the branches, enough so sunlight may pass through them.

Fertilize limes regularly with compost or manure, once every few weeks. Add a cup of 21-0-0 once a year in the late spring or summer to the base of the tree.

Harvest your limes when they are ripe. They will either be green or yellow, depending on the variety. Limes fall off the tree when they are ripe.


Things You Will Need

  • Shovel
  • Soil additives such as compost
  • Fertilizer


  • Pick budding fruit off of your lime trees for the first two to three years. Allowing the lime tree to focus on growing in its youth will produce better fruit.
  • Keep grass and mulch away from the trunk of the lime tree.


  • Limes are very susceptible to cold. If the temperature drops below 35 F, wrap your lime trees in clear plastic or blankets to protect them.

About the Author


Hollan Johnson is a freelance writer and contributing editor for many online publications. She has been writing professionally since 2008 and her interests are travel, gardening, sewing and Mac computers. Prior to freelance writing, Johnson taught English in Japan. She has a Bachelor of Arts in linguistics from the University of Las Vegas, Nevada.