Lime trees can fail to produce fruit for a variety of reasons, including lack of nutrients, insufficient sunlight, and unpollinated flowers. Most lime trees will not grow fruit for at least the first 2 years but there are some ways to solve this problem. To get fruit sooner, feed your lime tree with nitrogen in the first year, potassium in the next year, water regularly and do not prune growing tips.
This article will outline the top reasons why lime trees may not bear fruit and offer solutions to each problem.
Top reasons why your tree is not producing fruit
Check out the top reasons why your lime tree is not producing fruit and how to fix each one.
1. The lime tree is too young
The top reason limes are not growing fruit is because the tree is too young. Trees less than 2 years old are not established enough to grow fruit. Some lime trees can take up to 5 years to grow their first fruit but there are some ways you can get your tree of to the best start and growing lots of fruit for years to come.
When planting your lime tree make sure the soil is improved first with compost, aged cow manure and worm castings if you have them. These add valuable organic matter to the soil and will help your lime tree grow a strong, healthy root system.
Worms will come to eat the organic matter and soil bacteria attracted by the compost and will make air pockets in the soil giving the roots more room to grow. Lime trees with strong root systems will grow lots of fruit in the next few years.
2. Not enough nutrients
Lime trees need lots of nitrogen in their first year after planting to establish healthy leaf and stem growth. As your tree grows, you will then want to switch to a fertilizer that is higher in potassium to encourage flower growth and fruit.
All fertilizers will have a balance of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus but those highest in potassium are often labelled as fruit and flower promoting. Give your lime a feed of fruit fertilizer in spring before flowers grow.
3. Not enough sunlight
Lime trees that do not get enough sun will not grow lime fruit. The flowers will grow and open best when they are getting plenty of sun. The flowers will be pollinated by insects and the fruit will set.
Limes grown in sunny positions will grow more fruit and ripen quicker. Pick limes while the skin is still dark green for a true lime taste. Limes will eventually turn yellow and sweeter if left on the bush in the sun and can still be eaten.
4. Not enough water
Lime trees like regular water so if they get too dry or too wet this can stop them from fruiting. Lime trees should be given extra water in the warmer months to make sure their surface roots do not dry out. These can be easily damaged in warm weather as they grow close to the surface of the soil.
Test the soil 2 inches below the surface and give your lime tree a deep watering if the soil feels dry. Check your tree 3 times per week in warm weather and add water to the soil if it is needed.
5. Too much water
Giving lime trees too much water can cause them not to grow fruit as they do not like to have soggy roots. Test the soil with your finger 2 inches below the surface before watering. Free draining soil is best for limes to make sure their roots do not rot in too much water. This can also cause them to grow less or no fruit at all.
Lime trees that are getting too much water will have leaves with dark green veins that start to turn yellow. This is because the nutrients are being washed away from the lime tree. If this happens give the tree a liquid feed with fish emulsion, add pelleted chicken manure and test the ground before adding more water.
6. Heavy pruning
Lime trees can grow long stems which can be temping to trim off as they get too long. If you trim off all of the stem tips however you can cut off all of the stems that would produce flowers and fruit meaning three will not grow any fruit.
It is best to prune lime trees by trimming branches that are crossing over each other and rubbing together. Do not remove too many stem tips of you want lots of fruit. Wait until you have picked the fruit and you can trim the branches back into shape.
7. Poor pollination
Lime trees that are not pollinated will not grow fruit. Lime flowers need to have pollen moved from the stamen to anther to produce fruit. This is usually done by insects or the wind. Indoor lime trees will need this done manually with a small paint brush or can be placed outside for short periods of time while flowering.
Encourage more insects into your garden by putting an insect house in your yard. For more information check out my previous article on the best place to put an insect hotel.
How long before a lime tree grows fruit
Lime trees can take anywhere from 2-5 years to start growing fruit. Most lime trees bought from nurseries will be 2 years old so it will usually take until the next season for them to start growing fruit.
After the lime tree has grown flowers, it can take around 2-3 months for the fruit to grow into its full size and be ready to pick. Fruit can be ready faster if limes are planted in a sunny spot, are given regular water and given a fruit promoting fertilizer in spring.
Best fertilizer for lime trees to grow more fruit
To grow more fruit on lime trees give a fruit promoting fertilizer in early spring. The tree will be preparing to grow flowers and then fruit and a high potassium fertilizer can grow more fruit on your tree quicker.
Fertilizers with a higher potassium ratio like a 3 – 5 – 5 will encourage your tree to grow more limes.
Check out this one from Amazon below.
Best mulch for lime trees to grow more fruit
To grow more fruit on lime trees mulch under your tree with a tree mulch. Tree mulch contains a mix of green and brown materials as it is made from mulching tree trimming including the leaves, stems and branches. This mix of material will add organic matte rot your soil, encourage worms, stop weeds and keep soil moisture in.
Laying tree mulch 2 inches thick under your lime tree will keep the soil moisture regular and help your tree to put energy into growing flowers and limes.
Lime tree fruit FAQ
Are coffee grounds good for lime trees?
Coffee grounds can be added to lime tree top soil after breaking them down in your compost. Mix used coffee grounds with other compost ingredients like fall leaves, food scraps and straw and let it break down for 98 days. This will break down any chemicals and neutralize the pH making it a perfect addition to the topsoil of your lime tree.
Do not dig compost in around your tree roots as you do not want to damage them. Instead, rake back any mulch, sprinkle compost on top of the soil and cover it again with tree mulch. Nutrients and organic matter will be washed down to your lime tree roots when you water or when it rains.
Is Epsom salt good for lime trees?
Epsom salts add magnesium to your lime trees and can be dissolved in water and added around the root zone. Magnesium deficiency can be seen in lime trees where the leaves turn yellow at the top and the yellowing spreads down the leaves. The veins will stay dark green but the yellowing will spread.
How do I get my lime tree to flower?
Encourage lime trees to flower by planting them in a sunny spot, removing any overhanging branches nearby that may be blocking the sun. Give them a fruit promoting fertilizer which has a high potassium to nitrogen level will prompt your lime tree to grow flowers and then fruit.
How do you fertilize a lime tree?
Fertilize lime trees with nitrogen rich fertilizers when you first plant them out. Mix 1-2 shovels of aged cow manure in the soil and a handful of pelleted chicken manure. Water the tree in with fish emulsion to get the roots and stems established.
Once your lime tree has grown for a year, add a fruit promoting fertilizer in spring before the flowers appear. This will help the lime tree to grow more flowers and fruit.
Do all lime trees bear fruit?
All lime trees will bear fruit if they are fed with organic matter, watered well and placed in a sunny position. Makrut lime trees are grown for their leaves but their fruit zest can be used in cooking. Lime types including Tahitian, Mexican and Persian lime grow delicious large fruit and are common in the US.
No fruit on lime tree – Summary
Lime trees can take up to 5 years from seedling to growing lime fruit so if you are in a hurry for limes in your yard buy the biggest tree you can afford. Set your tree up well with good organic matter rich soil and water it regularly. A sunny spot will give you a happy tree and lots of fruit.
I am an accredited practicing dietitian, experienced gardener and a dedicated cook. I love writing and sharing my experience so you can learn from my successes and mistakes.
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