ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Key Lime Tree

Updated on February 10, 2013

Backyard Key Lime Tree

Key lime tree in my winter garden
Key lime tree in my winter garden | Source

How to Grow a Key Lime Tree

Key lime trees are a lovely addition to the backyard garden, best in USDA zones 9-11. In other parts of the country, it can be potted up as a container plant and brought indoors during cooler months. The Key lime fruit is small and round, and turns yellow when fully ripe. Key limes are the main ingredient in Key Lime Pie.

The "key" things to remember when planting and growing a Key lime include:

  • Key lime trees are shallow-rooted. It's important to keep this in mind when spreading mulch or fertilizer so as not to suffocate or burn the roots.
  • Key lime trees are heavy feeders. Like other citrus trees, Key limes produce best when fertilized regularly and in sufficient amounts.
  • Key limes like well-drained, slightly acidic soil. They don't produce well if their soil is soggy or too cold, and they don't do well in alkaline soil.

Planting Instructions

Before you plant, check to make sure that the place you selected is well-draining by digging a hole about two feet deep and filling it with water. If the water does not drain well, if it stands for some length of time, consider picking a different spot. If you have no choice, amend the soil well with vermiculite and peat moss, plant it on a mound, or consider planting in a pot and keeping your Key lime on the patio.

Choose an area that gets full sun all day and is protected from wind.

Step 1: Dig a hole that is about twice as wide and twice as deep as the root ball of the tree.

Step 2: Amend the soil in the planting hole with peat moss and vermiculite to aid in drainage, and amend the back-fill soil as well. If you are planting between March and September, add slow-release high nitrogen fertilizer to the soil as well as Ironite, or other iron-containing amendment.

Step 3: Open up the root ball slightly, trimming away any obviously tangled roots so that the plant does not strangle itself. Place the root ball into the planting hole

Step 4: Backfill to the same soil line on the tree as it was in its original pot, that is, don't plant the tree any deeper than it was previously, and don't plant it any higher than it was previously. Note: This is still true even if you plant the tree on a mound.

Step 5: Press the soil firmly, but don't pack it tightly. Remember to protect the roots. Build up a soil berm to create a watering ring around the tree, following the leafline, or about 3" in diameter (depending on the size of the tree.)

Step 6: Water in well.

Key Lime Fruit

Key lime fruit has a yellow skin when ripe. The fruit is smaller than a regular lime, and seedy.
Key lime fruit has a yellow skin when ripe. The fruit is smaller than a regular lime, and seedy. | Source

Key Lime Tree Care

  • Once planted, your Key lime tree will need regular high-nitrogen fertilizer and regular watering. Take care not to over water! Feed between March and September.
  • If you live in an area with alkaline water, spread used coffee grounds around the tree regularly, digging them into the top inch of soil Alternatively, amend regularly with Ironite.
  • Key lime trees seem to be prone to growing suckers, which grow straight up from the center of the tree. Prune them flush to the branch.
  • Mulch around the tree in summer months using dried leaves, cocoa mulch, peat moss, or other lightweight mulch. Note: Cocoa mulch is not recommended if you have dogs. If you use wood chips or other "green" mulch, be aware that it will take nitrogen away from the soil as it decomposes. Spread some slow release nitrogen rich fertilizer like Miracle-Gro under wood chips mulch so that the tree is not robbed of nitrogen.

Snail Care

In Southern California, Key lime trees will flower throughout most of the year. The buds in winter will be small and tight and appeal to snails. It is important to pick off the snails from the tree, as they will voraciously devore every bud in very little time.

To protect the tree from snails, try copper tape around the base of the tree. Wind the tape in a spiral - not directly across like a rubber band - to give the tree some growing room.

Key Lime Tree Flowers

Key lime tree has small white flowers with an intoxicating scent.
Key lime tree has small white flowers with an intoxicating scent. | Source

Copper Tape For Snails

Copper tape is a good snail deterrent
Copper tape is a good snail deterrent | Source
Wrap copper tape in a spiral around tree trunk.
Wrap copper tape in a spiral around tree trunk. | Source

Key Lime Tree Growing Tips

  • In colder months, Key lime trees may drop all of its leaves, or have its leaves and flowers eaten by snails. The best thing is to protect it from snails and mulch around the tree, then wait for warmer weather which will bring new growth.
  • Be patient! Key lime trees produce best and more consistently after 3-5 years.
  • If rats or other garden critters start eating your limes, try covering the fruit with used sheer nylon stockings. (Put your feet in them for a couple hours and then put around the fruit. Just wash the fruit before eating.)
  • Yellow leaves may mean a lack of iron or too much water. If you're not overwatering, try giving the tree some Ironite.
  • Remember that the fruit is fully ripe when the skin is yellow. The fruit can stay on the tree for many months, so it is best to leave it on the tree to ripen and not pick it early.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • prokidwriter profile imageAUTHOR

      KA Hanna 

      7 years ago from America's Finest City

      Thanks Dreamhowl! I do love my little garden, it's a lot of fun to see what I can get to grow!

    • Dreamhowl profile image

      Jessica Peri 

      7 years ago from United States

      I love how you have such a diverse garden, and the pictures are fantastic as well. I would never have guessed that copper tape was a snail deterrent. Voted up!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)