Thornless or Mexican key limes are the preferred fruit used by bartenders and pie bakers around the world. Here are tips on growing a thornless key lime tree.
No matter whether you know it as the thornless key lime tree, Mexican key lime, the West Indian lime, or the key lime, this aromatic citrus is a favorite around the world.
That's especially true among bartenders and pie bakers, who value the fruit's unique, tart flavor.
If you're interested in having your own source of fresh key limes, here are four tips and important things to know about growing and enjoying a key lime tree.
1. Getting Started
When you're ready to grow your own key lime tree, an important first step is making sure that you're buying a disease-free tree from a reputable vendor.
For example, if you purchase a thornless key lime tree from our grove, it'll start off at about 18-inches tall, but with proper care, it can reach up to 13 feet.
When you plant your tree, remember to make sure it has good drainage and to use potting soil, not gardening soil. Remember, too, to water your citrus tree regularly; the exact schedule and amount can depend on things like temperature and humidity.
2. Let Your Key Lime Tree Soak Up Sun
Key lime trees thrive in the sunlight and do best in climates with warmer temperatures.
In fact, the citrus trees do best with eight to 10 hours of sunlight a day. Planting your tree near a south-facing wall is one way to help make sure your plant gets enough light.
Because thornless or Mexican lime trees require so much sunlight, cold temperatures can be very damaging. If the temperature in your location starts to fall consistently below 40 degrees, be sure to bring your key lime tree inside or into your garage to protect it.
Another important thing to consider is keeping your thornless key lime tree protected from harsh, cold winds.
3. Don't Forget to Fertilize
It's important that Mexican lime trees have the right NPK ratio, which stands for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Not every tree needs the same amount of each nutrient, so it's important to do your research.
The right fertilizer for citrus trees can encourage growth, ensure an ideal NPK ratio, and help your tree have the right balance of micronutrients.
4. How to Use Your Limes
With proper key lime tree care, after one year of growth, your tree will start bearing fruit, and you can start enjoying it.
Because the thornless key lime is aromatic, juicy, and acidic, it's highly regarded by both bartenders and pie bakers. In fact, another one of its many nicknames is the "bartender's lime."
A key lime's stronger, tarter flavor can make it the perfect addition to a cocktail or an essential part of a dessert, from classic key lime pie to something like a key lime pound cake.
From ensuring your tree has enough sunlight to remembering to give it the right fertilizer, there are several simple but important steps to growing a healthy thornless key lime tree. If you follow these tips, you'll be on your way to enjoying a delicious key lime cocktail in no time.
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