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How to Plant, Size and Space Lime Trees

By Barbara Fahs ; Updated September 21, 2017

Citrus trees are a must-grow item for gardeners in temperate climates, with limes topping the list for their tart, tangy juiciness that you can turn into wonderful dishes like Key lime pie. Whether you choose the classic Key lime, the seedless Bearss, the exotic kaffir, or the tropical calamondin, the basics for growing all limes are the same. Make certain that your planting area has very good drainage. You might need to build a raised bed into which you place plenty of compost and other organic materials.

Visit your neighborhood nursery to learn which lime trees they have for sale. Purchase a bare root tree that your nursery recommends for your climate zone.

Determine how large your lime tree will grow so you can plan where to plant it. For example, the calamondin lime grows quite tall, to 15 or 20 feet. If there are plants nearby that you don’t want to grow in its shade, consider planting your lime tree farther away. The Bearss lime tree and some other varieties can spread to 10 feet or more, so be sure to plan for your tree’s mature size when you are planning your planting area.

Allow 10 to 15 feet between all types of lime trees and other trees and buildings. If you are planting multiple trees in an orchard setting, use this spacing and also plant your rows to sit 20 to 25 feet apart.

Dig a one-gallon bucket of compost and/or other organic matter, such as fallen leaves, into your planting area. Lime trees need sun all day and soil that has good drainage. Then dig a hole that is a little wider and deeper than the root system of your tree.

Set your tree into the hole and fill it up with the soil you dug out. Firm the soil with your foot and then water the area well.


Things You Will Need

  • Young lime tree
  • Sunny area with good drainage
  • Compost
  • Shovel


  • You can start some types of limes, for instance the calamondin, from seed, but you will harvest fruit much sooner if you purchase a bare root tree.
  • If you live in the northern states, you might be able to mail-order a lime tree from an online plant catalog and grow it in a container outside in the summer and indoors in the winter.


  • Limes are typically sensitive to frost, so if your area receives more than light winter frosts, be sure to protect your tree with a frost frame, clear plastic or a tarp. Arrange your protective cover so it does not touch the tree, if possible.

About the Author


Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens" and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to "Big Island Weekly," "Ke Ola" magazine and various websites. She earned her Bachelor of Arts at University of California, Santa Barbara and her Master of Arts from San Jose State University.