I love limes, and growing my own lime trees is one of the best things ever. The situation got a little bit challenging when pruning lime trees was something I was not familiar with at first. This is why I am here to share some tips on how to prune a lime tree if you are growing one. It is going to be short and precise, so let’s get to it.
When To Prune A Lime Tree
- For maintenance pruning, you can do it on a yearly basis at any time between February to April. You should also prune your lime trees every year or two to keep them from getting too big. In case you live somewhere cooler, then the best time to maintenance prune a lime tree is late February or early March. When do you so, remove crisscrossing limbs, dead wood, and suckers from the trees.
- If you want to prune your lime trees with damaged or diseased branches, do it in early to mid-spring. The expert clearly stated that lime trees should only be pruned following cold damage. However, there are exceptional cases when the branches are severely damaged or diseased. Then you may begin the emergency pruning out of the best pruning time to save the trees.
- For emergency pruning on diseased branches, you have to remove them all the way to the trunk. When you prune your lime trees at the wrong times, cover the exposed bark with white tree paint. This is to prevent the trees from freezing, getting injuries, or sunburn. And if the disease issues are severe, then you should call an arborist to handle the jobs instead.
When To Not Prune A Lime Tree
Knowing when to prune a lime tree is not enough, you should also know when to avoid pruning it as well. You must not prune lime trees during the growing season, in late fall, or in winter at all. If you prune your lime trees during these times, there will be negative consequences that affect the trees’ health. They will need their dense canopies to protect themselves from cold and hot temperatures. If you prune them, the trees will be exposed to outdoor conditions while having wounds from the cutting or trimming.
Things To Do When Pruning A Lime Tree
- Make sure to use sharp loopers or pruners when you prune your lime trees.
- Before you start pruning, pick off the fruits from the branches that you want to cut.
- Sharpen the loppers or shears before pruning lime trees to make the process easier. More than that, a clear cut also heals faster which is more beneficial for the trees.
- Sanitize your pruning equipment with rubbing alcohol to kill any bacteria or viruses between each cut you make. Make sure to do the same when you prune diseased branches to prevent the diseases from spreading.
How To Prune A Lime Tree
One of the main purposes of trimming a lime tree is to maintain its shape and make harvest easy. If you live in a frost-free zone, you should prune your lime trees in late winter. In case you live in a frost-prone zone, then you want to wait until late spring to prune them.
- You want to maintain a certain size and shape for your limes so you should cut tall stems back for a more bushy overall appearance.
- If you grow the varieties that have plenty of leaves, trim them with hedge shears. You can clip them all around and take them back to a simple and neat shape.
- Thin out areas with crossed, tangled, or weak branches because they cannot hold the weight of the fruit well. It is best to remove those branches before they break.
- For the trees with both branches and leaves, you want to remove some of the unbalanced branches from the trees. This is to reduce it to a good height while keeping the trees looking good.
- When you notice small branches and sprouts, you can prune those using hand pruners at any time. However, avoid pruning them extensively from November through January. Since pruning stimulates growth, those winter months may damage the tree with frost.
- Make sure to use sharpened loppers or shears to remove damaged, dead, diseased, and overgrown branches from the trees. This is to allow the trees to focus their energy on developing healthy branches and fruit. Don’t forget to properly bag and dispose of those branches to prevent the diseases from spreading.
How To Prune Lime Trees In Pots
Growing lime trees in pots is also a great idea as it saves your space, and caring is also convenient. The great thing about growing lime trees in pots is that you can easily move them around. It is an ideal method when the areas you live in have different seasons. If it is hot and sunny, you can just leave the lime tree containers outside. Should the temperatures drop below 25 degrees Fahrenheit, you can easily move them to a warmer spot.
Even if growing in pots, pruning lime trees provides a lot of benefits to them. It helps to improve airflow, reduce diseases, and strengthen the limbs. At the same time, it also makes it easier for you to harvest the fruit as well. The best time to prune lime trees is in early spring, late summer, or any time prior to blooming. Potted lime trees are likely to need repotting every 3 or 4 years, and it is also a good time to trim them.
So you wonder if pruning is the same, and you want to know how to prune lime trees in pots. When it comes to lime trees in pots, pruning is rather simple since there are just a few things to do:
- Watch for any suckers and immediately prune them to the base if there are any.
- When pruning, thin the branches to around 4 to 6 inches apart for fewer yet larger fruit sets.
- Prune the shape of the trees to make sure that the growth is compact while promoting better fruit production.
- If you prune your lime trees when you repot them, you also want to snip off some outer rootlets. This is to make the root slightly smaller, allowing you to put them back in pots a size larger. At the same time, you may trim the shape of the entire trees to give them a fresh look. All these are best when done in spring when the plants are most vigorous.
Suitable Lime Tree Varieties To Grow In Pots
You can’t just plant any lime trees in pots, different varieties require different care and attention. This is why there are some certain lime tree varieties that you should have in mind. Usually, dwarf varieties are the best because they don’t overgrow, and they are also easy to care for in containers. When picking a lime variety, you have to think about your space and cooking needs. Some of the best ones include:
Australian Finger Lime
Probably very new to many, Australia finger lime looks nothing like a lime at all. Resembles caviar, the juice beads inside the lime are very neat and tiny to look at. Once you taste the tangy flavor when you put it in your mouth, then you will agree that is actually a lime. Finger limes are the most well-known of Australia’s 6 species of native citrus.
Finger limes are hardy shrubs or small trees that usually grow to around 6 to 16 foot. You can prune them to a manageable height so that they allow for easy harvest and look good. The fruit of finger limes is from 2 to 4 inches long, and they come in a range of different colors. Those include black, green, pink, red, and yellow.
This variety has aromatic leaves that are very common in Asian cuisine. In fact, kaffir lime leaves are known to be the most aromatic of all herbs. They add a distinctive and unique flavor to many different dishes in Cambodia, Laos, and Thai. The fruits have a unique bumpy pattern on the skin that resembles the folds of the brain. While most limes are used for cooking purposes, kaffir limes serve a different direction. Kaffir lime juice is popular among many aromatic, body, and cleaning products. You can even use kaffir lime juice to prevent hair loss.
It is a bushy variety that can grow up to 15 feet tall, giving 2-inch strongly acidic fruit. The trees of this lime variety are moderately-sized and bushy, almost shrub-like. Similar to kaffir limes, their leaves are distinctively aromatic when crushed. As for the fruits, they are rather small with the size of one or one-half inches in diameter. The fruits are almost round, and they have a thin, smooth, and greenish-yellow rind at maturity. The flesh of the fruit is greenish-yellow, highly acidic, and seedy, with a fine texture.
Also goes by the name of Indian Sweet Lime, this variety offers a sweet round and milder fruit that makes great limeade. The unique thing about Palestinian lime is that the tree has an irregular spreading form. It has small fruits that are round to slightly oblong with a smooth and thin rind with prominent oil glands. The flesh of this lime variety is pale yellow, and it is juicy and tender with some seeds.
Persian Lime / Tahitian Lime
It is a common variety that grows up to 20 feet tall in a pot. This type of lime has seedless fruit that also has the nickname “seedless lime”. While being among the best lime varieties to grow in pots, it is also the most widely cultivated lime species commercially. Mainly, because they are hardy, large, seedless, and thornless. Even better, they have a longer fruit shelf life which is a total plus. You often see this species a lot when shopping in the markets. The fruits turn yellow as it ripens, but they are universally sold while still green.
After Pruning Care
Pruning alone is not enough, you still have to keep a close eye on your lime trees after pruning.
- Watch for pests that might take advantage of the weeping sap and get rid of them immediately.
- For lime trees both in containers and gardens, make sure that the water is at the right phase. So if you plant them in a pot, make sure that the pot has drainage holes to ensure well-drained soil.
- Make sure that the trees are getting enough sunlight, and that is beneficial for lime trees in pots. You should move the containers to a spot where your lime trees can receive sufficient sunlight.
As you can see in the tips for pruning lime trees above, it is super easy and simple to do. Lime trees are the must-have for every gardener out there since limes are so beneficial to grow. You can use them in beverages, food, and pretty much many other activities around the house. Proper care means healthy growth, and this is exactly what you want your lime trees to have. The tips above will surely be useful for your lime tree care, I hope you like them.