Limes are delicious, nutritious, and even good for cleaning things. There are several types of lime, but the one that is the most hardy and easy to grow is the Tahitian lime. It is sometimes called the Persian lime.
The Tahitian lime is slightly larger than Key limes or even Mexican limes, and is less acidic and slightly less flavorful. That doesn’t mean that it can’t be made into tasty concoctions. In fact, it is nearly perfect for limeade because it doesn’t have the acid bite that its little cousins deliver.
If you want to use a Tahitian lime in a pie or other baked good that calls for Key lime, simply squeeze an extra lime or two and use the lime juice to replace other liquids that might be used in the recipe.
All Kinds of Limes
Limes of all kinds are generally healthful. They, like all citrus fruits, are high in vitamin C and antioxidants. This means that they are considered to be one of the foods that can help fight cancer or the free radicals that can cause cancer. Add them to tea just before drinking it to help ward off colds and flu. They can also help with kidney stones because the acid helps dissolve the crystals that clump together to create the problem.
They aren’t for everyone. Some people have citrus allergies, while others have sensitive tummies that have a hard time digesting acid fruits. If you have a citrus allergy, then limes are not for you.
Cleaning with Limes
That acid can have other uses besides being food. Like lemons, limes have a mild antibacterial action when used with a little water as part of a cleaning solution. They, again like lemons, also leave a delightful citrus scent behind, unlike the heavy chemical odors that emanate from some kinds of cleaning products.
Lime Trees in Your Backyard
Imagine, if you live in Florida, California or Australia, having a beautiful lime tree in your backyard. Tahitian limes are not quite as vigorous as Mexican limes, so you can plant them a little closer together. They do not require another tree for pollination to bear fruit, but can be hand pollinated if you want seeds.
Most Tahitian Limes are seedless, as is frequently the case with hybrids. They are also nearly without thorns, which is a real plus if you want one growing nearby or if you are harvesting them. While you can grow a tree from a seed found in a Tahitian lime, there is no guarantee that it will breed true.
As a rule, these lovely trees are grown by grafting them onto hardy citrus root stock, or by air layering. This gives the added advantage of very young trees producing fruit. You can even pick limes from a potted lime tree if it has optimal growing conditions, such as a warm greenhouse with a good south-facing area or nicely positioned grow-lamps. They do need at least eight hours of direct sunlight per day.
Potted Lime Trees
If you decide to grow a potted Tahitian lime tree, plan for a large container, such as a terra cotta pot or a wooden tub. You might need a dolly to move your tree about. In many cases, your potted lime tree will benefit from being outside in direct sunlight when weather conditions permit.
Like all potted plants, a lime tree grown in a container is completely dependent upon you for water, soil mix and nutrients. They like a well-drained soil that is kept moderately moist. You want to be careful not to get your tree too wet, because lime trees are susceptible to root rot. Also suspend the container above a drip pan so that the roots are not sucking up salty water from the bottom of the container or the drip tray. They are highly susceptible to salt damage.
Feed using a fertilizer with a balanced NPK. However, if possible, obtain a citrus fertilizer since it will have added micronutrients that will help support your little tree’s growth.
Worth the Effort
Citrus trees of all kinds are delicate to grow in containers, but not impossible. They need a little babying, and some extra TLC, such as spraying off their leaves occasionally and keeping a close eye out for trouble signs such as yellowing leaves. But just imagine the wonder of picking fresh limes off your very own tree and using them to make drinks or desserts.
It makes your mouth water, just to think about it.