Today, we will look at how to grow lime trees indoors. Growing citrus plants indoors can be challenging at first, but once you’ve seen the fruit it is well worth the time and effort. That’s not to mention that aromatic smell and aesthetic beauty that add a unique touch to any home. By the end of this article, you’ll have the confidence to go out and grow your very own lime (or another citrus) trees. If you are up to the challenge, follow the tips below, and hopefully, you will be harvesting some fresh limes for your drinks soon.
Lime Tree Varieties
There are plenty of lime tree varieties that you can choose to plant indoors. This includes the varieties of Bearss Seedless Semi-Dwarf Lime also famously known as Persian Lime, the Kaffir Thai Semi Dwarf Lime Tree, also called Tahi Lime, which is used in some Asian countries as food preparation ingredients. The Palestinian lime is also an option. This bears fruit which is of a sweeter variant and less acidic compared to others. In contrast, the Mexican lime, or West Indian Lime, variant produces highly acidic fruits. Other variants to choose from include the Australian Finger Lime Semi-Dwarf Tree and Rangpur Semi-Dwarf Lime.
For indoor growing, you’ll want to get your hands on either a dwarf or semi-dwarf variety. This is an important factor as many lime trees can grow up to 20 feet tall which is often impractical for many homes. Dwarf varieties don’t grow as large as other varieties but still produce fruit. Choose the variant ideal for your home setup and consider the effort it requires for you to move it around if you want to give your tree some outdoor time. Any of the above varieties will do fine, but feel free to branch out and find one that fits your taste and goals.
Choosing a Tree
Once you’ve decided on a variety, you’ll need to choose how you’re going to plant them. While you can certainly grow lime trees from seeds, be warned that it can take up to 4 years for them to bear fruit.
For this reason, most gardeners will start with a tree aged 2-3 years. These are still relatively young and small trees, but will only take a few years to bear fruit. Either way works, it just depends on how long you want to wait until your first harvest.
You can use any type of pot or container, but our recommendations are clay or ceramic. These are often cheap and well-draining making them great for a huge variety of plants. Clay also has an added moisture-wicking property which can help lessen the chance of overwatering.
Whichever type you choose, make sure to get one large enough for your plant. You’ll want to get a container that is at least 12” in diameter for a young tree and up to 24” as it grows larger.
You also want to ensure that your chosen container has good drainage. If it doesn’t, make sure you drill a few holes in the bottom or sides of your container. You can also fill the bottom few inches with pebbles or small rocks to promote drainage and good air circulation.
You can also opt for containers with wheels for ease of movement. Moving your pot around is much easier with containers equipped with wheels. Take it from us, a potted tree will get heavy!
Soil & Fertilizer
You want to start with a well-draining potting mix. Ideally, loam-based with slight acidity. There are lots of great options you can buy at home hardware stores, and many will offer citrus tree-specific blends.
Citrus trees need fertilizers that are high in nitrogen to help in flowering and fruit production. You’ll want to fertilize roughly every 3-4 weeks during the summer when your tree will be doing the most growing. Outside of that, you can cut back to once every other month and in some cases not at all over the dormant winter months.
Temperature and Lighting
Ideally, citrus trees should be kept in an environment of 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 Celsius) or more. Any sudden changes in temperature can be harmful, so keep them away from heating or cooling fixtures. You also want to avoid any frost or cold temperatures. Be sure to bring them indoors, and protect them from any cool drafts.
Citrus plants are also extremely light hungry and you’ll want to give them a spot that gets a lot of direct sunlight. Choose a spot facing the south for direct sunlight, and potentially move the plant throughout the day to get enough light. Shoot for a minimum of 10 hours of bright light, more is always better though.
For those growing lime trees indoors during winter, purchase a good grow light to keep your plant healthy during this season. Also, remember to factor in the relative humidity during wintertime. You can use some of our tips to help increase the humidity around the plant.
Make sure your lime tree is watered regularly. Check the top inch of soil and water when it is dry to the touch. Depending on the humidity and temperature this can be as often as once per day making this a relatively water-hungry plant.
If you notice your tree has curled leaves then it might need more watering than usual. Be careful not to water too much and keep an eye on the soil as you water. You can reduce the watering during the winter season but it will still likely be more than other plants. Despite all this water, citrus plants are not a fan of sitting in soaking soil, so always check that that soil is beginning to dry out before watering again.
The best way to keep the water levels correct is to get into the habit of checking your plant daily. This way you can respond to its needs without watering too much.
It is perfectly fine to let your plant get some outdoor time during the summer. This can help get your plant extra sunlight and also strengthen its trunk as it’s exposed to the wind. This can be beneficial for the plant and encourage fuller growth, so is recommended if you have the means.
Do take care to secure the area from animals as many may be tempted to snatch your fruits. Also, never bring your plant outside if the temperature gets lower than comfortable room temperature. Citrus plants like it warm, and even small dips in temperatures can hamper their growth. This may mean bringing it indoors at night even if the daytime temperature is adequate.
How To Grow Lime Trees Indoors
While growing lime trees indoors can be difficult it’s well worth the effort. Having fresh limes on hand is a great benefit and one that few will experience. If you’re looking for a bit of a gardening challenge try growing a citrus tree this year. If you do, let us know, we’d love to see how it goes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can Lime Trees Get Pests?
Unfortunately, lime trees do attract a variety of pests such as scale and aphids. This is usually only an issue when growing outdoors, but indoor plants can also rarely become a target. There are a variety of ways to deal with pests, look for organic or natural pest control optionsto best protect your tree.
Do Lime Trees Need To Be Pollinated?
While they do, this often isn’t a concern for growers especially if you move your tree outside during the summer days. You can always do this manually by gently brushing the flowers with a cotton swab.
Are Lime Trees Easy To Grow?
Compared to other plants, growing lime trees indoors is quite difficult. That’s not meant to dissuade you from trying but be prepared to invest some time if you want your tree to bear fruit. It is always possible to grow a beautiful-looking tree that doesn’t bear fruit, and this is a bit easier.