Lime trees can successfully be grown in containers if taken care of properly. Most people who grow citrus trees in containers, do so because they live in an area where they cannot grow them outdoors year round, or don’t have the room outdoors. Many dwarf citrus, including lime, have been developed for this reason and do quite well in containers.
Key lime is another lime tree that will grow well in containers and look great on the patio or balcony during the summer months. Citrus grown in containers, however, will not produce the same amount of fruit as if it were planted in the ground.
Cut a piece of screen to cover the bottom of the pot. This will prevent the soil from falling out of the drain holes when the tree is watered.
Place a layer of stones on top of the screen in the bottom of the pot. The stones will ensure proper drainage of the water from the roots of the tree.
Mixing two parts potting soil and one part compost, fill the container to the level at which the root ball will need to be planted. Make a mound in the center of the soil to set the root ball on.
Remove the lime tree from the container you purchased it in, and knock off the soil from around the roots. Gently spread the roots out and drape them over the mound you created on the soil. Adjust the placement if necessary to ensure the tree will be at the same level it was in the container you purchased it in, leaving an inch or two from the top of the soil to the lip of the container.
Fill in around the root ball with soil and water in generously every few inches. This will cause the soil to settle in around the roots and leave no air pockets that can damage or even kill the tree. Press the soil down firmly around the trunk to hold the tree in place. Do not cover the crown of the tree with soil, which will cause it to rot.
Keep the tree outdoors during the late spring, summer and early fall as much as possible. It should receive at least 8 hours of sun a day. When the tree is brought inside, place in full sun of a southern exposure or use grow lights for 6-8 hours a day.
Water the tree to keep the soil moist. It will need more water in warmer temperatures than in cooler. However, if it is indoors in central heating it will tend to dry out as well. Allow the top of the soil to dry to the touch during the winter before watering again.
Place a tray filled with pebbles and water under the container while it is indoors to ensure proper humidity, and mist daily with a spray bottle filled with water.
Fertilize with a water soluble fertilizer made for citrus plants every other month. Follow manufacturer's directions on the amount to use for your particular tree and circumstances.
Cut back branches if the tree becomes leggy and thin. If your tree starts to drop leaves from the top, it may be too large for the root system and heavy pruning may be needed from the top. Prune during the late winter and cut back fertilizer and water until it starts to show signs of growth again.