You do not have to own a garden to enjoy the sight and smell of fresh limes; lime trees thrive just as well in containers, maybe even better. While lime trees in the garden cannot survive temperatures under 50 degrees, growing them in containers placed indoors will allow you to enjoy their lively blooms and fragrance all year round.
Keep these steps in mind when growing lime trees in containers.
Step 1: Purchase Container
Purchase a 12 to 15 gallon container from your local nursery or garden supply center so it can hold the tree as it grows. While the material the container is made of depends on your personal taste and surrounding space, it is imperative that it has adequate drainage holes in the bottom. A lime tree will not survive if the roots sit in water, resulting in root rot. Drill holes yourself if your container lacks them.
Also fill the bottom of the container with broken crockery or stones to improve drainage.
Step 2: Plant the Lime Tree
Fill the container two-thirds below the rim with good quality potting soil, preferably suited for lime trees themselves. Avoid garden soil, as it tends to harden in containers, impeding drainage and reducing aeration.
Carefully remove the tree from the nursery container or burlap and place it in the middle of the container, over the potting soil. Gently spread its roots to encourage them to grow and backfill with container soil, all the while making sure the root ball remains slightly above soil level. Press the soil down with your fingers to remove any air pockets that could hinder the development of the lime tree.
Step 3: Caring for the Lime Tree
- Place the container near a southern facing window so it can get plenty of sunlight.
- Water the lime tree gently after planting, and continue watering it once a day. Do not douse it with water, but just enough with a watering can to make sure the soil is evenly moist. Also, never allow the tree to go dry between watering. Falling leaves is a sign of the lime tree being under watered.
- Apply a layer of mulch on the soil to retain moisture, keep the roots cool and improve the appearance of the container.
- Lime trees are heavy feeders and will require a phosphorous and magnesium rich fertilizer once every month from winter to spring. An alternative to this is to mix some Epsom salts with water and feed the tree.
- Avoid placing your containers near an open window, especially in the cold drafty months when the temperatures fall below 50 degrees.
Step 4: Counter Lime Tree Pests and Disease
Lime tree disease is the major cause of lime tree death. Keep a look out for infested leaves, branches or fruit, and take preventive measures such as spraying fungicide on the tree immediately. Also remove and dispose off affected tree parts or fallen leaves.
Spray the trees with soapy water or mild insecticide to deter pests such as spider mites, aphids or whitefly.