Tahitian lime trees do not require pruning to grow to a healthy size. However, you might want to prune your lime tree to help keep it to a manageable size, to promote admission of sunlight, or to increase fruit production. Although it is not essential to prune your lime tree, you might want to trim it back if it is growing into areas where you do not want tree limbs or if it is growing too dense to get proper sunlight. If you are growing your lime tree as a container plant, you might want to trim the roots as well as the top to keep it at a manageable size.
How to Prune Your Lime Tree
- Before pruning your lime tree, first pick all the fruit off it. This includes all of the dead or shriveled fruits.
- Using a sharp set of pruning shears (or a pruning saw if the limbs are large) cut away any dead, damaged or diseases limbs or twigs. Make neat cuts that are close to the main branch or trunk so that they create a smooth surface that will allow the tree to heal itself.
- Thin bushy dense center areas to allow more light into the middle of the tree.
- Cut away any suckers, as these will drain nutrients from the upper parts of the tree.
- Think of the shape of a martini glass. By trimming your tree to a similar shape, it will be able to get more light into the center branches.
- Fewer branches will encourage fewer fruit, but they are likely to grow bigger.
- When pruning back healthy branches cut them at an angle to discourage water from entering the cut.
- Never trim away more than 1/3 of the upper tree. If you are repotting, trim only ¼ inch of the roots.
Trimming Potted Lime Trees
Potted lime trees are likely to need repotted every three or four years. This is a good time to trim them, as well, especially if the tree has become rootbound. You can carefully snip off some of the outer rootlets, making it slightly smaller. This allows you to put the tree back in the same pot or a pot the same size. Clean the pot and add fresh soil before returning the tree to it.
Lime Tree Bonsai
As with most trees, you can turn the tree into a bonsai with judicious pruning, wiring, and considered applications of fertilizer and water. With that said, you still need to maintain the tree in a well-drained soil. Too much water will cause root rot.
Reasons to Trim a Lime Tree:
- To make space for other trees. If you have followed the general idea that Tahitian lime trees can be planted as close together as ten feet, you might need to shorten their branches a little.
- To allow sunlight to reach the center of the tree. If the tree has become bushy in the center, it might not produce as well because the central parts are not getting sunlight.
- To remove dead, dying or damaged branches. Be sure to check for pests if this is the reason you are trimming.
- To keep a potted tree small enough to handle.
- To coax the tree to bear a few large fruit instead of many small fruits.
After Pruning Care of Your Tahitian Lime Tree
Until the pruning cuts are healed on your tree, you will want to keep a close eye on it. Watch for pests that might take advantage of weeping sap. Make sure that the water in the container or in the garden is at the “just right” phase. Tahitian limes like a well-drained soil in any case. Too much water is almost worse than not enough. Make sure that your tree is getting enough sun. This might mean moving its container, or it might mean giving a trim to surrounding trees.
Thinking about Your Tahitian Lime Tree
With proper care, your Tahitian lime tree can give you many years of enjoyment. Not only are there the delicious fruits, but an outdoor tree can provide attractive shade for your lawn. A potted Tahitian lime makes a attractive ornamental plant that will no doubt garner much attention and comment.
Limes were the fruit of choice for the old sailing ships because they kept well and they helped make the stored water taste palatable. While few people are likely to embark upon a sailing ship, the need for a good source of vitamin C still remains. Limes can deliver that yummy citrus goodness to modern “landlubbers” just as well as they once did for the old-time exploring sailors.
Indoor citrus trees can do one other thing for those who live in areas with cold climates. They can help clean and refresh indoor air.