Smart & Sustainable, Green Garden Design, Coaching & Seasonal Maintenance

Monday, July 20, 2009

More About Limes

I love citrus in the garden. It's evergreen, has lovely flowers that perfume the air (especially orange trees). It doesn't require much pruning...just enough to shape it. It can even be indoors (which is one reason greenhouses became so popular). If I had a big sprawling manor house in England, you can bet I'd have a conservatory with citrus. I might call it my conservatory, or I might call it my orangery...'twould all depend on my fancy at the time.
I currently have a Valencia Orange, a Meyer Lemon and a Clementine Tangerine...and as of yesterday, a Bearss Lime. Say lime and a dog named Pippi
Some tips regarding successful citrus growing:
  • Buy a dwarf citrus...these are regular fruit grown on a special root stalk. They usually range in size from 6 - 12 feet, and in containers even less. Otherwise you may become the owner of one of those 20+ feet citrus that drops grapefruit all over the sidewalk!
  • Protect from frost (the easiest, and cutest, method is a string of Christmas lights at the base)
  • Prune out shoots from below the graft...this is a knobby area below the main branches where your citrus was attached to the root stock. These shoots won't do you any good and just take away energy from your tree.
  • Fertilize with special citrus fertilizer. I've often done the "neglect experiment" with my citrus...not applying fertilizer on the correct schedule, noticing the leaves get "chlorotic" (unable to produce chlorophyll, and thus increasingly less green), baby fruits drop off, etc. Give 'em some fertilizer and Yowza! sweet green growth, blossoms...the whole "I'm healthy!" thing.
  • Remove your tree carefully from its container. Seems like the growers use a lot of sand in the potting mix and so roots don't hold a lot of their planting medium closely. They do fine, but it bothers me to take a tree out of a 5 gallon pot and have most of the potting soil stay in the container. So, I like to cut the plastic container away, slicing it to it's base and then carefully transfer it to its new home...the ground, your wine barrel or a large pot.

One more picture of my new lime...notice the large lime on the bottom right and all its wee limes!

Tomorrow I'll be posting about Mojitos, the popular Cuban drink that will make a lime lover out of anyone!


  1. I've learned the hard way that the Bearss lime is an acquired taste. It's a Persian lime, not a Mexican lime (which is the one in grocery stores). Ripens to a yellow color, and in my opinion, lacks the limey flavor of a Mexican lime. Probably best picked when green, for best flavor. Grown on Flying Dragon rootstock. The good news: Bearrs is much more cold tolerant than the Mexican limes. We have had ours for 16 years, and it has survived the Sacramento winters with no extra protection (lows usually into the mid-20's). First decent-sized crop was this year. Patience.

  2. Thats some great information! Ive been wanting a Lime tree for my side yard, a lemon one too. I just dont want to kill them! Nervous about planting citrus!

  3. Hi Fred...thanks for the info. I'm new to limes and mojitos! Four Winds calls the Bearss, "The Bartender's Lime" so I went with that. Due to my need to do, ahem, research, I've been buying lots of limes at the grocery store and wondered what they were. Anytime you want to throw your expertise this way, you're welcome!

  4. Hi Jenn...glad you were encouraged. Like Nike says, "Just Do It!" Jeannie

  5. Oh how I wish I could grow limes (and lemons, especially Meyer lemons)! Mojitos are delightful ... cheers!!!

  6. I just found your blog and its just great.
    I just ordered a dwarf Tangerine tree and should be getting it in about 2 weeks. I will primarily grow it indoors and next season possibly put it outside.
    Blogs like yours are inspirational, educational and give us newbies hope of being successful as well.


    Check out my blog as well.
    Trying bananas and figs right now...and coming soon a Tangerine Dwarf!