Every gardener loves to add plants which are not only having ornamental value for the garden but also suit their passion and are beneficial for usage in many different ways. Key limes are the same. It is such a useful type of citrus that you will never regret adding it to your garden.
Key Lime Tree
Key lime trees, when you listen to this name your mind might get the direction of the alcohol, because of its usage. This is a unique type of citrus fruit as we all know citrus fruit family is quite a large family. It has many types, shapes, colors, and tastes. The same goes for the key lime citrus.
It is native to Southeast Asia. Due to this, these are known as a tropical plants. From there, passing through trade routes it traveled across the world. Now, this fruit is also grown in the United States and other western nations.
It can be grown easily in tropical areas of the united states. You can easily go for it in the states like Florida, Texas, and California. These trees can be grown in US hardiness zones ranging from 9 to 11.
Characteristics of Key Lime Trees
First of all, belonging to the citrus family, key lime has many medicinal benefits. It is able to provide many important nutrients and energy to the human body that itself cannot be produced. Moreover, its taste is such a thing which is liked and enjoyed most.
Key limes are hybrid plants. Actually, these are the cross of two other citrus varieties. Which has resulted in such a great fruit itself. This tree produces fruits throughout the year.
It has a strong taste as compared to normal regular limes. It has a thinner peel. The size is not so big. You will find it like a normal regular golf ball. As usual, these key limes are picked from the trees when they are green, and they turn yellow afterward.
Besides its medicinal, and eating benefits this plant is a great addition to the garden as a whole. It has bright white flowers. When there is a season of blossom it provides a very good fragrance. The leaves are fragrant as well.
These are much sweeter than the normal Persian limes which are available in the market. actually, you need to be patient if you are opting for this plant. It takes 7 to 10 years to bear fruit. Alternatively, you can try to find the two-year-old plant, which can fruit earlier and you can enjoy the key lime fruit.
How to grow Key Lime Tree
Key lime trees can be grown through a variety of methods. As we all know basically it can be grown from seeds. These types of citrus fruit family plants can also be grown from the cuttings as well. Moreover, you can go for nursery plants, which can fruit earlier than normal if two- years- old when planting.
As we are going to discuss growing from seeds, you can opt for cutting or nursery as well. The growing-from-seeds method is also done in two ways. One is simply putting the seeds into the soil and then following the rest of the procedure.
But we are going to discuss the most effective one, in which we germinate the seeds outside the soil, then transfer them into the soil which is the healthy one. It ensures the success of the plants being planted. Growing from seeds results in good taller and thorny plants, and fruits in 2 to 4 years.
How do germinate the key lime seeds on a paper towel?
First of all, you need to get a key lime fruit. You will find it in the supermarket, if not in the local market. Once you have it you have to take the seeds out of it. Try not to cut because it can damage the seeds. Peel it and section it. Carefully remove the seeds from it. Now you have the seeds of key lime trees.
Now get the paper towel. Fold it. Fold it into four layers, and then into eight layers. Make it moist and wet with the spray bottle of water. Put the key lime seeds in it. Keep a space of about 1 inch between the seeds. To make them firm in place, gently flap the towel and press it. Now you are good to go.
Keep these seeds in a paper towel in a place where there is bright but indirect light. You can choose any place of your choice. Just make sure these are not in access of kids or pets because they might spoil your entire effort of key lime seed germination.
How long does it take to grow a lime tree from seed?
It takes two to three years for a lime tree plant to grow and fruit when planted from seed. Some might take longer than that. Like it can take 7 to 10 years also. You just need to be patient and careful.
As of now, you have put the key lime seeds in the paper towel. Keep the paper towel wet. Whenever it feels dry you should make it wet with water spray. This is very important for the key lime seeds to sprout successfully.
Once you have set the seeds for germination. Now you have to wait for it. It can take a week or around three weeks to get the seeds germinated. Once germinated, and they have developed a stem and two leaves you can transplant them into the pot or the garden where you want them to plant.
If you are planting the seeds directly into the soil, then the process is the same. You will get the sprouts after 9 days to two weeks. Take good care of them. Keep them wet and hydrated. If you want to change their place do it after the plants have developed a stem and two leaves.
Growing Key lime trees in pots
You can plant lime trees in pots as well. Just get the pots that are well-drained, and also add the potting soil to them. Then you can transplant the seedlings.
You have to put the pot in a spot having plenty of light, but it should be indirect. Also, make sure light lasts for 8 to 10 hours a day. But then you will have to pollinate by yourself. Because the air will not be there in indoor settings, which usually pollinates the plants in gardens.
Taking care of the Key Lime Trees
Taking care of key lime trees is quite easy. You just need to be cautious about several things throughout the process of growing it.
The watering schedule for lime trees
Water the plant regularly to keep them moist and grow intact. If it is in the pot keep the water running until it gets out of the drainage hole. You need to check the plants if they are overwatered or underwatered.
If leaves are Turing yellow, then the plants are overwatered. If leaves are having curves and are drying, then it is a symptom of underwatering.
Temperature and sunlight requirements
These plants are tropical plants. You need to give them 8 to 10 hours of sunlight. It is important and beneficial for them to prosper well. If the plants are planted indoors move them out for the light. It is necessary for their growth.
They are good at 60 to 80 F. if the temperature increase or decreases take adequate action.
First of all, you need to add organic fertilizer to the plants while planting them. Then, add fertilizers which are in granular form to these plants 3 to 4 times a year. Try to add potash, nitrogen, zinc, and other important nutrients.
Pruning of lime trees
Prune the plant at the end of the fall. Pruning helps plants for new growth. Use sharp cutters and heavy gloves for the pruning. The thorns are very big and sharp. You need to take care of them.
Harvesting and Storing
Harvest the limes when they turn yellowish green. You can keep them and use them accordingly. In the fridge, you can keep them for 2 to 3 weeks. A half-cut lime can also last and be used for 4 to 5 days. You can freeze lime juice for 4 months as well.
Pests and Diseases of Key Lime trees
There are some pests that can vary according to the area like aphids, citricola scales, citrus mites, etc. which can cause problems for the lime trees. Whenever you find these types of pests.
There are root rots, brown fruit rots, and citrus canker-like diseases which cause problems for lime trees. You can consult with a local horticulturist if any symptoms are not normal.
In short, key lime trees are a true gift of nature. These are easy to take care of and are liked everywhere. You can opt for them, to add in easily by following the minimal process.