Lemon and lime trees are great additions to any landscape, producing quality fruit and requiring no special care. You can grow lemon and lime trees indoors as well, if you live in a colder climate. These trees are surprisingly great indoor growers. With the right lighting, moisture, temperature and nutrient conditions, you can enjoy fresh limes and lemons from your own backyard, greenhouse or patio.
Grow Trees Indoors
Select the right species of lemon and lime trees. Certain citrus trees do not thrive indoors, so you’ll need to choose the appropriate lemon and lime tree varieties. The Kaffir lime tree and the Meyer lemon tree are the best varieties for indoor growing.
Plant your trees in pots with good drainage holes in the bottom. A three to four-year-old tree should be planted in a 10 to 15-gallon pot. Line the bottom of the pot with stones or gravel for drainage. Use a well-draining, all-purpose potting mix that is slightly acid and sandy. Fill in just enough soil so that the root ball is barely covered and the trunk is not below the soil line.
Position your lemon and lime trees so that they receive five to six hours of sunlight every day. Place them next to a large, southern-facing window. If you need to, supplement with 40-watt fluorescent grow lights positioned above the trees.
Water your trees every two to three days. Mist the leaves at least once a week and give the trees a shower of water occasionally.
Feed your trees during their growing season in late winter, June and August using a high-nitrogen, low-phosphorous fertilizer, such as a 20-10-10. Fertilize lightly every time you water, following the dosages given on the package.
Outdoor Growing Instructions
Select a spot to plant your lemon and lime trees that receives full sunlight. The soil should be low in acid and well-draining. Amend your soil with sand or perlite to help with drainage. Dig a hole that is not quite as deep as the length of the tree’s root structure.
Place the tree’s roots into the hole, replace all the soil, mounding dirt on the top roots, and firm the soil down. Your tree should be sitting slightly higher than the ground surface. Soak the ground around the tree with water, watering a second time after all the water is absorbed into the soil.
Spread a 2 to 3-inch layer of organic mulch around the base of the tree, leaving a space of one or two inches around the trunk. Water your lemon and lime trees generously once a week, saturating the ground well.
Fertilize your lemon and lime trees every one or two months using a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, such as a 20-10-10 (the same kind that you would use for indoor container growing).
Things You Will Need
- Lemon and lime trees
- Planter pots
- Stones or gravel
- All-purpose potting mix
- 40-Watt fluorescent grow lights (optional)
- High-nitrogen fertilizer
- Sand or perlite (optional)
- Organic mulch
- Drip tray
- Blankets (optional)
- In winter when your house is drier, place pebbles or gravel in the drip tray under the pot and fill the tray with one inch of water. This will help to create more humidity.
- Tamp or water the soil continuously as you backfill when planting the tree in the ground. This will help to eliminate any air pockets in the soil around the roots, which will kill your tree.
- Pick and discard all fruit as soon as it begins to grow on the tree for the first two years. This will help the tree to produce better-quality crop as it matures. After the tree is two years old, you can allow the fruit to set and ripen. Purchasing a tree from a nursery that is already two or three years old will eliminate this hassle, however.
- Don't attempt to grow lemon and lime trees outdoors if your climate has long periods of time when temperatures dip below 50 degrees Fahrenheit. The trees will tolerate an occasional frost if protected, but they won't tolerate extended cold or freezing periods. You're better off growing the trees in containers so you can easily bring them indoors in winter.
- Grow your trees near your house to help shelter them from colder weather. When frost or freezing temperatures threatens, wrap each tree in a blanket.