How to grow lime trees in Perth

Growing lime trees in Australia

A lime tree in an Australian backyard is an awesome idea! Limes are one of the best fruit trees to grow in Perth because of our Mediterranean conditions which allow them to thrive. Having a plentiful harvest of limes in summer means you can make awesome summer treats like guacamole and margaritas – it’s time to amp up your cooking and gardening with the addition of a lime tree in your backyard!

If you have ever wondered how to lime trees in Perth then look no further. Lime trees are a simple fruit tree to grow, but there are still a few tricks to successfully growing limes in Perth, Western Australia. Get these right and you will be laughing.

When to plant a lime tree in Perth:

The best time to plant lime trees is in spring. Although in Perth you can plant most of the year in spring, summer and autumn. You just want to avoid the chance of frost in winter.

Types of lime trees in Australia:

There are a number of lime tree varieties in Perth. If you are wondering which lime tree is best? This depends on your needs and growing conditions.

  • Kaffir lime tree – The Kaffir lime is important in southern Asian cooking, and has an unusual shaped leaf. It bears small very rough and wrinkled fruit that has very little juice. Leaves predominantly used in Asian inspired menus. Kaffir lime trees are best suited for heat loving and cold sensitive this species survives well in large pots.
  • Tahitian lime tree – Breed for planting in cooler climates, the Tahitian Lime is a almost thorn less fruiting tree. Thefruit are relatively thin skinned that ultimately turn yellow if left on the tree. Usually best picked when full sized and green. The pulp is green and it rarely has seeds. The fruit has many applications in cooking and drink preparation. Harvest is around autumn to early winter. Tahitian lime trees are best suited for small gardens and are ideally suited to grow in pots.
  • West Indian lime tree – A very small round lime which has numerous seeds, and a strong flavour. Used extensively for drinks and flavourings, and makes good marmalade. Very juicy and very acidic limes. Trees require warm humid climate – can grow in most parts of the tropics and subtropics. Also known as the Key Lime in the America and the Mexican Lime. Trees are grown from seed.
  • Splitzer lime tree – A Splitzer lime tree is essentially two lime varieties grafted together. Tahitian lime on one side and Kaffir lime on the other, this plant has the best of both worlds. You get good, quality fruit and aromatic foliage for the price of one. Size is not a problem, either. The Splitzer lime trees can thrive well in a pot or in your garden.
  • Finger lime tree – The Australian Finger Lime is a large shrub to small tree that produces white flowers followed by tangy fruit in different colours. The pearls of juice are like small caviar and provide a zesty burst of flavour.

How to prune a lime tree in Australia:

Pruning a lime tree has many benefits, such as improving air flow, strengthening limbs, and reducing risk of disease.

The best time to prune lime trees is early spring or late summer prior to blooming. Prune lime trees every one to two years, will help keep them from becoming too large and encourage fruit production.

Pruning lime trees is really quiet straight forward. You want to essentially do three things when pruning a lime tree:

  1. Remove dead, damaged, and diseased branches at their base. This will allow the lime tree to put its energy toward developing healthy branches and fruit. Cut the diseased branches as close to the base to the trunk as possible. Bag and dispose of these branches to prevent the disease from spreading. Clean you lopping tools before and after to prevent spreading any disease.
  2. Thin out areas with weak, crossed, or tangled branches. Thin and weak looking branches wont be able to hold the weight of the fruit, so it’s best to remove them.Tangled branches can rub together, removing the bark and exposing the wood to diseases and pests so it is recommended to remove them at the base to reduce the risk.
  3. Trim branches that go beyond the desired size and shape of the tree. Long branches and those that stick out above the canopy can be trimmed to keep your lime tree looking neat and tidy. It’s also recommended to remove all branches lower than 1.0 m from the ground. The lower to the ground the more likely the branches are to be susceptible to diseases. Make the cuts around half a centimetre above the bud for best results. The goal is to create a well manicured an attractive, balanced looking lime tree which can support the fruit efficiently.

It’s best to avoid opening up the tree’s canopy too much. While long or unruly branches can be trimmed from the canopy, you should avoid lacing a lime tree. Let the canopy grow naturally to prevent the tree from getting sunburned.

How often to water lime trees:

Lime trees need to be watered deeply once or twice a week, rather than frequent shallow watering. When the soil is dry for the top 10cm or so, water the lime tree. Do not let the lime tree dry out, since the leaves will wilt and start to drop.

How big does a lime tree grow:

Most lime trees will grow around the 4m mark in the right conditions, however they can grow up to 6m. Dwarf lime trees can grow up to 2.5m tall.

How to grow a lime tree in the backyard:

Growing a lime tree in the backyard is really quiet simple.

  1. Choose a sunny spot with well drained soil. Mix some Dynamic Lifter Plant Fertiliser into the bottom of the planting hole.
  2. Dig a hole for planting twice as wide and to the same depth as the root-ball. Remove the lime shrub from the container, gently tease the roots and cut away any tangled roots.
  3. Position the lime tree in hole and backfill, gently firming down the topsoil. Form a raised ring of soil around the tree, creating a well so that water will go to the base of the lime tree. Water in well after planting.
  4. Mulch around the base with pea straw, keeping it away from the trunk to avoid the risk of any diseases.
  5. Keep your new lime tree well-watered for several months as it settles into its new home and continue to keep the soil moist during the following spring and summer, as the root system is still developing.
  6. Feed your citrus with a quality soil improver three times a year, in early spring, summer and again in autumn.
  7. When the tree starts to produce limes (usually in its 3rd year), feed weekly with a citrus liquid plant food to help improve the quality of the fruit.

How to grow a lime tree in a pot:

Growing a dwarf lime tree in a pot is a great idea. There are plenty of dwarf lime tree varieties which means you can grow your own lime tree in almost any size garden or balcony.

  1. Choose a pot at least 60cm wide. Position in full sun and fill with quality potting mix.
  2. Remove the lime shrub from the pot it comes in from the nursery, gently tease the roots and cutting away any tangled roots.
  3. Position the lime shrub in 60cm wide pot and backfill, gently firming down. Water in well.
  4. Water deeply, 2-3 times during the week, depending on weather conditions.
  5. Keep your new lime tree well-watered for the first 3-4 months as it settles into its new pot and continue to keep the soil moist during the following spring and summer, as the root system is still developing. Potted lime trees tend to dry out much faster than in-ground, so it’s important to monitor moisture levels in the potting mix regularly.
  6. Feed your lime tree with a dynamic Lifter and plant fertiliser three times a year, in early spring, summer and again in autumn.
  7. When the tree starts to produce limes (typically in its 3rd year), feed weekly with a citrus liquid plant food to improve the quality of your fruit.

When to fertilise lime trees:

Feed lime trees in spring, summer and autumn. Apply a fertiliser around the base of the tree and water in well. This will not only help feed the tree but also nourish the soil. It’s best to avoid fertilising when the tree is in flower as it can cause the flowers to fall from the tree.

Lime tree diseases:

Lime trees are susceptible to disease and pest infestation. You will need to keep a watchful eye out for:

  • Leaf curl – Curling citrus leaves is a common problem among limes. It can be caused by a lot of factors, with drought stress as the easiest to remedy. If watering your plant well does not fix the issue try spraying with neem oil as this can help stop your lime leaves from curling.
  • Yellowing leaves – This is usually a sign that your lime tree needs nutrients and warmth. Increase your plant’s health by fertilising it with citrus food, sulphur and iron chelates.
  • Pests – There are a number of critters that like lime trees such as citrus leaf miners, sooty mould, aphids, and scale insects. These pests can cause your lime tree to weaken. Spraying with insecticide is a good way to keep them off of your plant.

Why is my lime tree losing leaves?

If you are wondering why is my lime tree dropping leaves? The first thing to check is the watering of the roots. Limes hate having wet feet. A Lack of oxygen around the root system will cause limes to drop their leaves. Check to see that there are sufficient drainage holes for pot plant limes and ensure they are not blocked. Too much fertiliser can also cause them to drop leaves. Dialling back the amount of fertiliser should help in this instance.

Check out our other how to grow in Perth guides:

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