How to Care for a Dwarf Lime Tree

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The key lime is often used in cooking.
The key lime is often used in cooking. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

A dwarf lime tree, also known as a Mexican dwarf lime or key lime, can be grown outdoors in suitable climates or indoors, as a potted plant. This tree is generally easy to care for, but it cannot tolerate cold weather. The dwarf lime tree is capable of producing blossoms and fruit all year.

Things You'll Need

  • Pruning Shears
  • Water
  • Fertilizer
  • Gloves

Choose a sheltered location in which to plant your tree. It needs to be protected from cold winds, but the location should receive plenty of sunlight in order for the tree to produce fruit. This type of tree prefers sandy, well-drained soil.

Water your tree three times per week for the first three weeks after it is planted. After that, water it once a week if the weather is dry. Do not allow the soil to become waterlogged, which can damage or kill the tree.

Remove any weeds from around your dwarf lime tree. For trees that are newly planted, all weeds should be removed before the tree is planted. If it is an established tree, pull weeds from the area on a regular basis, to allow the tree to benefit from the water and nutrients in the soil.

Prune the dwarf lime to keep its shape and to remove stray branches from the trunk. It does not need to be pruned on a regular basis, but removing excess growth helps it to remain attractive.

Fertilize only after the tree has put forth its first growth. Use ½ pound of a commercial tree fertilizer once every 6 weeks until the tree is three years old. After that, add fertilizer once or twice per year, at the same rate.

Watch for pest and disease problems. These will generally show up as discolored leaves or fruit, lack of blossoms or stunted growth. Check closely to see if you can determine what is causing the problem, and treat accordingly with either a fungicide or a pesticide. Problems can also be caused by climate, over- or under-watering and compacted soil. Many of these issues can be resolved, especially if they are caught early and treated appropriately.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can grow the dwarf lime tree in a container in any area. It can be taken outside in the summer and brought in during cold weather. The ultimate size of the tree will be determined by the size of the container. Indoor trees will produce fruit, but unless they get adequate light the fruit may not ripen.
  • Young dwarf lime trees have long, spiky thorns. Use extreme care when working with these trees, to avoid injury. If the tree is kept in a container, be very careful that good drainage is maintained or root rot will result.

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