Eight Steps to Growing Persian Lime Trees in Containers
This citrus fruit is our specialty and the gold standard for use in cocktail drinks and cuisine! The Persian lime tree grows vigorously, producing fruit that are around 2-2.5 inches in diameter. It is also known as the Tahiti or Bearss Lime.
About the Persian Lime
Here's some detailed information about the Persian lime fruit and tree:
The Persian Lime Fruit
- A seedless and very juicy citrus fruit with an excellent tart flavor
- The Persian lime has a thin, smooth rind, and the seedless flesh is pale greenish- yellow, acidic, juicy and finely-textured
- Healthy limes the size of lemons
- Stronger resistance to cold compared to other lime trees
- The gold-standard lime for cocktail drinks and Mexican food
- Year-round fruit production, but most fruit in winter
- Limes of this variety bear fruit almost all year, and generally reach maturity in late autumn to early winter
- The Persian lime is the most versatile and popular lime in the world!
The Persian Lime Tree
- The coldest hardy tree of all limes
- Year-round harvest for a consistent supply of fruit
- handsome small tree with dark green leaves, some thorns, but less so than Mexican limes
Where Will Persian Limes Grow?
With proper citrus tree care, Persian limes will produce decades of delicious fruit. However, the growing regions in the United States where citrus can be planted into the ground are limited to California, Arizona, South Texas, Louisiana and Florida.
If you do not live in those regions, we do not recommend planting Persian limes in the ground. However, we consider this a good thing, because it's going to make your citrus growing a lot easier.
Growing Persian Limes Outside of Growing Zones
So how do you grow Persian Limes outside of these growing zones? You do so by planting your tree in a container. You can use a plastic barrel, a wooden planter, a nice decorative pot, or really any sort of container that has adequate holes on the bottom for drainage.
Another option, which we recommend, is the use of fabric smart pots. While they do not have holes, the entire container is made of a fabric mesh which allows proper drainage and aeration of the soil.
The Planting Process for Growing Persian Lime Trees in Pots
The actual planting process of growing Persian lime trees in pots is very straightforward, with standardized use of potting soil and watering and fertilizing schedules.
You can keep any citrus tree pruned back, but the Persian lime is naturally a smaller dwarf type variety which gets to be about 4 to 6 feet, but it will still produce an abundant harvest.
Step 1: Container for Persian Lime Trees
The key to an appropriate container is having sufficient drainage through the material by either being some sort of mesh cloth (SmartPots) or having a few holes on the bottom of your planter.
Secondly, the size of the pot should be at least 5 gallons, with our favorite size recommendation being 15 gallons. We find that anything above 25 gallons is quite difficult to physically move by only one person.
Step 2: Soil for Persian Lime Trees
Choosing soil for your Persian lime trees is simple. You can use any sort of potting soil. We do not recommend gardening soil or topsoil to use for container growing. This is advantageous because even if you lived in a citrus growing region, you would have to take into consideration the type of soil.
For example, US Citrus is based in the Rio Grande Valley, and we have a wonderful sandy loam type soil which drains very well. Other types of soil such as different types of clay soils especially with limestone mixed in will have a very difficult time draining and will adversely affect the root health of your tree.
With a standard potting soil for your container gardening, you do not need to worry about any of these factors. You also don't have to worry about the pH balance of the soil. We have just removed a large part of the headache of growing citrus by having all customers grow their citrus in containers and using any standard potting soil which is available at your local nursery garden center supply store.
Step 3: Watering for Persian Lime Trees
Watering is crucial, typically when citrus is planted into the ground there is a worry of proper drainage and overwatering your tree. Persian lime trees planted in the ground prefer to have their roots a bit on the dry side. We have found that if there is proper drainage in container gardening it is difficult to overwater citrus trees.
The best way to figure out how much water your citrus tree needs is to actually look at the tree. If the leaves are wilted and dry, your tree needs more water. After watering, the tree’s leaves should perk up.
Overwatering Your Potted Persian Lime Tree
Overwatering is a possibility and we find that this especially happens when the trees are indoor and there's a garden saucer used underneath the pot. When there's a garden saucer there is impeded drainage, which is helpful while you're on vacation and cannot water your tree for a week, or when you have your trees indoors to prevent water seeping onto the floors and causing damage.
However, if trees are over-watered, the plant leaves will wilt and may turn a bit yellow and look sad. Watering more will only adversely affect the plant since the conditions that caused the yellow and sad looking plant had not been remediated.
Giving your tree a break by taking it outside if possible or letting the soil drain without a garden saucer in the bathtub for a day is a good solution. Afterward, you can adjust your watering schedule appropriately. Our watering schedule also has a section for indoor planting.
Step 4: Fertilizer for Persian Lime Trees
Your Persian lime tree will need both macro and micronutrients, just like a human. The macronutrients that all plants need are Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. You have likely seen fertilizers and soil which state three numbers together, this is the N – P – K system which shows the concentration and relative amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium respectively.
These machinations are very important for the color of the leaves, development of the root system, proper flowering, fruiting, and taste of the fruit respectively and appropriate photosynthesis and growth of the trunk of the tree in general. See our blog article on nutrition for more information.
Micronutrients are also very important - think of these as vitamins for humans. They are needed in much smaller quantities and plants can have characteristic symptoms if they have a micronutrient deficiency. We will detail out micronutrients and symptoms of deficiencies in later articles.
However, our promise to you is that we make this simple. Between regular potting soil and the fertilizer we recommend, you will have all the macronutrients and micronutrients that your tree needs and a simple fertilizing schedule for easy and effective fertilizing when you get your tree and for every February, May, and August. See our fertilizer schedule below for amounts that we recommend.
Ounces to use every Feb, May, and Aug
Miracle-Gro for Citrus, Avocado and Mango (13-7-13)
Espoma Citrus (5-2-6)
Step 5: Sunlight for Persian Lime Trees
Sunlight is crucial to Persian Lime trees, especially because it is a tropical plant. In most areas of the United States, you want to maximize sunlight with full sun exposure. If you are planting indoors, make sure that it has full sun next to the window, but we would also recommend having a grow light.
Our Grow Light Recommendation
We love SANSI 24W LED grow lights. They have a clean white light because they are full spectrum. They have all the right mix of light spectrum for growth, leaf flush, flower blossoming, and fruit set. 24 watts is a good amount of power for indoor lighting. We recommend placing the grow light anywhere from 6 to 18 inches away from your tree.
Your tree needs 12-16 hours of light a day. You can be very flexible with your light. You can keep it on for many days straight. However, all citrus trees need some dark time.
You can easily use one grow light for 1-3 trees. An easy way is to use one light on a tree for 24 hours at a time.
All grow lights get hot. We prefer SANSI because they use ceramic sinks to dissipate the heat. We have found the majority of grow lights on Amazon to have disturbing safety profiles. Use standard safety precautions, don't let babies and pets stare directly into the light or touch the heat from the grow light!
Our socket/clamp Recommendation:
We recommend the following clamp for your tree. It has a UL certified socket, electrical cord included as well. And it fits the Sansi bulb!
Persian Limes does best when it has at least six hours of sunlight a day. If the temperature is consistently above 90° especially for younger trees, there may be some wilting of the leaves. This wilting will reverse however and at this point, it would be advantageous to keep your tree by elementary and partial shade.
Step 6: Winter Protection for Persian Lime Trees
We recommend that under freezing temperatures, you move your Persian lime tree into a warmer area such as a garage or indoors for the entire winter. At this point, you can utilize grow lights for continued growth.
There is nothing more frustrating than losing years of work and future decades of fruit than losing your citrus tree to a freak cold-snap which occurred while you were vacationing out of town! Persian Limes can die with exposure to temperatures in the teens for even up to 12 hours.
Persian limes are more cold hardy than key limes or Mexican limes.
Step 7: Where Do I Buy My Persian Lime Tree?
If you live in the states of California, Arizona, Louisiana, or Florida, you will need to purchase your Persian lime tree locally as citrus cannot be imported into your state because of USDA regulations.
Step 8: Harvesting Your Persian Limes
This harvest season is year round! The fruit takes 4-6 months to become large and ripen and the fruit will become a little soft and slightly yellow.
Growing Trees is fun, and every tree we send comes with a 20-page care guide
I get little limes on my tree but they fall off what can I do?
San Lorna Texas
I live on the island of Bonaire in the Dutch Caribbean. The daily temperature is 84 degrees year round and we have pretty steady trade winds. Is there any special care for my Persian lime tree that I just planted in a 15 gallon clay pot? My tree is about two feet tall.
We lost our last lime tree . It stopped producing fruit . Had the small flowers then they just fell off. We attempted to save it by planting it in a sunny spot outside. When we removed it from the pot , we noticed it was root bound – mostly tangled roots bs. Soil .this article was very helpful! I am aware of several things I can do better / different now . Our potting container was 20 gallons in size . How can we avoid letting our tree become root bound . I did not prune the tree – is this a key ? When and how much should I prune ?
I live in Harlingen Texas where is the nearest place I can buy one of your citrus trees