Potted Key Lime Trees will not bloom

Sunrise Vineyards(6 (Western NY))March 31, 2013

Hello Garden Web friends,

I received a small key lime tree in a rectangular box as a gift about 5 years ago. When it was removed from the box for transplanting, it turned out to be three trees which were separated and planted into separate pots. Two of the trees survived, and now I have two beautiful key lime trees in separate 10" pots.

The trees are about 14" high and bushy with the trunks approximately 1" across.

Despite the trees being healthy, they have never bloomed for me. except once when one of the trees was placed in a dark room temporarily and brought out.

At least twice during the winter season, I have to trim off excess growth because of limited space in my window.

I live in zone 6 - outside Buffalo NY. They stay outside during the summer and are brought inside during the cold weather. While inside, they are in an east facing window.

Can anyone can help me with my blooming issues?


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are you using artificial lighting? short summers and long winters are probably the biggest problem. key limes are tropical, zone 10+, does not tolerate cold conditions.

    Bookmark   March 31, 2013 at 4:47PM
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"At least twice during the winter season, I have to trim off excess growth because of limited space in my window."

If they're seed grown trees, they'll never flower if you keep doing this. Citrus decide when to flower/fruit by node count, essentially the further the bud is from the original node, the more likely it is to flower. If you keep cutting it back to keep it small, it'll never grow adult wood.

If you want a small tree, you're better off letting these grow out a bit, and take some cuttings of the wood furthest from the base, and rooting that.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 11:42AM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA

Joppa is correct - along with allowing your tree to reach mature node count, which then stimulates the tree to blossom, citrus produce fruit at the tips of their branches. You're pruning off your future flowers, Kevin. Stop pruning, provide plenty of light, fertilize frequently, and bring your tree outside as soon as temps permit for more light. It will bloom then produce for you.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2013 at 3:57PM
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Sunrise Vineyards(6 (Western NY))

Thank You houstontexas123, JoppaRich and hoosierquilt,

I very much appreciate your input. Thank you for taking the time to respond to my question!

I have been trying to keep the trees "small" and have been pruning them to fit better in my bay window during the winter months.
Both trees have newer growth on them now and they have bushed out a bit. I will leave them ""bushy" without pruning them this time. I will put them outside as soon as the weather permits.
I will follow your advice and see if I cant get them to bloom this year.

Thanks again,


    Bookmark   April 3, 2013 at 10:19PM
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Steve, Micro (6B ground, 5B roof)

Would you have any pictures. It sounds like these tree are grafted by the fact that your tree is 1" across for such a short tree. A seed grown tree usually reaches for the sky, tall and lanky.
so I am going to guess that it is to heavily trimmed for the tree to put on flower buds in any number. This is what a seed grown tree looks like after 13 months.

Side view. Meiwa kumquat tree at 18 in with two 6 inch limbs.

Top angle view, Meiwa tree with limbs.

I believe that citrus flowers on the tips of twigs. less pruning and added light might be an answer.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2013 at 10:26PM
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I agree pruning your tree is halting blooms and fruit.

If space is an issue, pruning the outer stems will thin out a wide tree.
Center stems will grow taller, most likely produce fruit.

Unless height is the problem?

Is your Key Lime on a stand?

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 3:34PM
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Steve, Micro (6B ground, 5B roof)

Speaking of stands my fig tree is too tall for its east facing window so I prop it up at a 60 angle so that the leaves are in the window and get a head blast of sunlight as the sun rises in the morning. I then shift it to a south facing window around noon to catch the south sun. through a south Window. That way the fig tree shares the light with the much small kumquat trees in the window sill. This might be an option for you.. As of this writing though all of my plant are out side all day but I still have to bring them in at night to keep the roots at a good growing temperature.

Good luck

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 6:06PM
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Sunrise Vineyards(6 (Western NY))

Here is a picture of my Key Lime trees. Both trees are about 14" tall. There are multiple branches with terminal ends on both trees from this winter's growth.
I will be putting both trees outside as soon as the weather permits here in Western New York.

If all goes right, does anyone know when I would begin to see any blossoms?


This post was edited by kevin-m on Fri, Apr 5, 13 at 20:12

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 8:07PM
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Steve, Micro (6B ground, 5B roof)

I am going to say you need a larger pot 1.) because the soil seems to be low and 2.) I think the pot is too small any way. Don't put any soil in the current pot to compensate as the trunk to roots area needs to be at the soils surface. That is very important. I would like you to wait for other people's opinions as I have only been researching citrus tree needs for a little over a year. Your trees look great.

Good luck from Cincinnati

    Bookmark   April 5, 2013 at 10:34PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

The trees look excellent, and since one has fruited you can be sure that it is "mature." I agree that you are probably removing the fruiting tips when you prune (Mother Nature froze the fruiting tips off my Moro and Pink Lemon the past two years, but having the trees indoors this Winter allowed fruit-set). I also agree that these trees could be potted larger. I recommend a fast-draining mix so that you can water thoroughly even during the gloomy Winter months.


    Bookmark   April 8, 2013 at 11:03AM
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