Which lime tree should I plant & why

maja127(33914)June 11, 2006


I just purchased a home in SW Florida. Not living there f/t yet. I'd like to plant a lime tree. Which variety would I be happiest with? Easy care, & good taste are my priorities.

Also, would I be able to keep this plant in a pot indoors here in NJ & then transplant into ground when I make the move?

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Maja, I bet you are so happy moving from a cold climate to a tropical paradise..There are so many types of plants you can grow that in NJ could only grow in pots or dream about.

I can't tell you which lime to plant, I guess it depends on why you want to grow a particular fruit.I mean, is it for eating, looks, etc.

I don't think it's legal bringing citrus in from other states, so I'd hold off on buying a citrus now and waiting until you move there. I'm not 100% sure on this law, but I think that's the way it goes..Hopefully someone here can offer assistance..

You are very lucky you're moving to S.Fl..sounds like the perfect place to live..Toni

    Bookmark   June 11, 2006 at 4:53PM
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While there are some unusual things that get called "limes," there are really only two that are commonly known by that name, so the choice is really between those two.

1. Key lime (Citrus aurantifolia), a.k.a. Mexican Lime, Indian Lime, West Indian Lime. This is the one that is about the size of an English walnut or even a bit smaller, has numerous seeds, is yellow when ripe, and which has the most sour juice of any citrus (or for that matter, of any known fruit), as well as a characteristic bitter aftertaste. Everything about the tree is small and compact -- small leaves, small flowers, small fruit, small (but evil) thorns, and the smallest mature tree size of all the true citrus. If you like the "real" Key Lime Pie flavor or your margaritas with a real bite, this is it.

2. 'Tahiti' (a.k.a. Persian, 'Bearss') limes, Citrus latifolia (or better, Citrus x 'Tahiti', since it is definitely a hybrid, not a species in its own right). This is the one that is shaped rather like a lemon and is nearly as large as a lemon, always sold bright green (fully mature ones do turn yellow, but the flavor changes at that point). Much larger trees, less thorny (so easier to pick), almost totally seedless, and quite sour but NOT with the bitter aftertaste. Most commercial "lime" flavored products are made with this lime. Trees are average size for citrus, much larger than Key lime trees (assuming the same root system).

Both should be quite successful for you in S. Florida.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2006 at 5:37PM
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MM, is it legal to transport citrus from other states to Fl? Toni

    Bookmark   June 11, 2006 at 5:42PM
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I don't think it is legal to bring citrus from out of state. I have been looking for the actual law, but can't seem to find it. Every online nursery states clearly it doesn't ship to Florida.

I would wait until your were actually in Florida to get yourself a nice lime tree.

Now, which Lime is the question.

The most usefull is the Bearss Lime (Bartenders Lime) - Drinks, Cooking. Great Lime flavor. These trees have a lifespan of about 15-20 years because of a genetic defect called wood pocket.

Next is the Mexican/Key lime - Small, seedy, good lime flavor but it take about four of them to get the juice qty of a Bearss.

Kaffir Lime - Drinks, Cooking, and you can even use the leaves. (Thai cooking) My Favorite lime. Very exotic.

Rangpur Lime - Drinks. Very sour.

That's my two cents

    Bookmark   June 11, 2006 at 6:28PM
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True, citrus cannot legally be brought into Florida from other states.

As for wood pocket -- it does not exist in Florida registered lime budwood, and trees in the state may ONLY be budded from registered sources, so that's not a problem here at all. Trees will live and produce for many years. Also note that 'Bearss' and 'Tahiti' are the same lime, the former name used in California, and the latter used in Florida (even though the name was given by a Californian and is the older of the two names! go figure)

    Bookmark   June 12, 2006 at 9:47AM
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Well that's a fine deal. How in the heck does Florida get the Non Wood Pocket Bearss Budwood and we in California get the genetically flawwed model?!

Interesting fact MM. VERY interesting. I think I will have some questions for UCR in about 15 years...

    Bookmark   June 12, 2006 at 10:22AM
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I've always wondered why UCR didn't clean up its source. Since the problem is genetic, it should be possible to find a tree somewhere that doesn't have it. It was cleaned up from the Florida sources back in the '70s at latest. There was a resurgence in the early '80s, with people using non-registered propagation sources, and the mutation recurred. But since then, it has pretty much disappeared, and the newer laws ('90s) forbidding propagation from any non-registered source have contributed to its demise.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2006 at 11:18AM
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I'd like to ask MM his opinion about growing lemons in South Florida. Do you know which varieties grow best? worst? Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 17, 2006 at 11:20PM
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Any lemon will do just fine in S. Florida. The most popular ones are Avon and Bearss (not to be confused with the lime with the same name from California; this is a true lemon fromm Florida, pronounced "bares" with the "s" hissed rather than voiced.) 'Meyer' also does well. Be aware that none of them will be beautiful like a Sunkist lemon -- they'll grow to be much larger, and will be rather greenish and lumpy. But the juice is of high quality. Also be aware that lemon trees grow to be quite large; bigger than most grapefruit trees, even. So give it space. Malcolm

    Bookmark   June 18, 2006 at 1:25PM
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Excellent....I've got a small Meyer plant growing on my balcony now. (And I do mean small.) I haven't seen too many Avons or Bearss around at Home Depot....mostly Meyers and Eurekas. But I'll keep an eye out. Thanks, Mal!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 10:37PM
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