Key Lime Tree Not Blooming

AMajiAugust 26, 2011


I have a Key Lime Tree that was in a pot for about 4 years and then in the ground for about 3 years now. It bloomed and bore fruit the first two years in the pot but since I have it the ground it has not bloomed or borne any fruits. I am in the New Orleans area, Zone 9. After reading older posts here, I started to fertilize the tree but still no avail. What kind of fertilizer and what time should it be applied to coax a fairly mature (at least 7 to 8 years old) Key Lime tree to bear fruit?

Thank you for your help.

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This question comes up every now and then. Key Limes are also known as Mexican Limes, which is partly because of the large quantity of these limes grown in the country Mexico. The name Key lime, the fruit's more romantic name, is also given due to the its very successful cultivation throughout Southern Florida and down through the Florida Keys. Of all citrus varieties, Key Limes require a higher amount of heat units to produce a crop of fruit. Louisiana, including much of the rest of the Southeastern United States does not produce enough heat unites to successfully grow Key Limes. For this reason, Key limes are not seen growing commercially anywhere in the South, except for far southern Florida, and down through the Florida Keys. New Orleans, though a warm location, is not warm enough for the tree to consistently produce fruit. In consistently hot years, your tree could produce fruit, but there will be many years that fruit cannot be expected. In areas like New Orleans, better success can be achieved if the tree is placed in an area protected from wind, and is receiving additional heat unites by being planted close to a heat absorbing wall with a southern exposure, and perhaps enclosed near by with plenty of concrete to also absorb the sun's heat.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2011 at 1:47PM
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"New Orleans, though a warm location, is not warm enough for the tree to consistently produce fruit."

You are wrong on this one. It is also one of the fastest fruit producers from seed of any citrus. Key lime will produce anywhere on the Gulf Coast if protected from freezes. Post some pictures. Most likely it is not enough fertilizer or sun.

Here is a link that might be useful: mrtexas

    Bookmark   August 29, 2011 at 9:39AM
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I am did some research and I made a mistake. It is a Persian Lime tree and not a Key Lime tree. A big oopppssss!!! Sorry for the confusion.

I have seen Key Limes fruiting here in the New Orleans area. However, I did not pay attention if they were near walls etc. so I cannot comment on that.

My revised question is still how do I make that Persian Lime Tree fruit. It was filled with fruits when we bought it and I thinned out almost all but a couple of fruits that we enjoyed.

Thank you for your help.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2011 at 11:37AM
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Mr. Texas,
Thank you for your reply. The plant is in full sun.

What is your recommendations for fertilizing in terms of type, dosage and timings?

Thank you.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2011 at 11:39AM
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See the link. Same goes for key or persian limes.

Here is a link that might be useful: planting instructions

    Bookmark   August 29, 2011 at 12:48PM
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I see this post is actually no longer about Key Limes after all, but I hope AMaji will permit me one one last post on Key Limes. Mr. Texas, thank you for your response, as it helps the discussion. Actually I am not wrong, as with many posting, this one does not have a right or wrong answer. Key limes not producing flowers and fruit in the Southeast US has come up on this and other citrus forums many times. I will concede your point that it is possible for a Key lime to flower along the gulf. However, their are many growers that are disappointed on years with no fruit, and the reason is that their just is not enough heat unites. This is the exact reason that Key limes are not grown commercially anywhere along the gulf. How many commercial Key limes groves have you seen along the gulf coast? My guess is zero, and the reason is that they just are not reliable outside of southern Florida and the Keys. Actually, much of my answer was based on an answer given by Doctor Manners, when this same question was asked in the past, and I must say I certainly agree with him. Of course it is possible to get a Key lime bloom in Louisiana, just as a person can get one to bloom in Canada, but it also correct that many growers also have problems with the tree. The length of time that it takes for a Key lime seed to reach maturity, really has nothing to do with the tree's ability to bloom on a consistent basis in the south. As AMaji's post is now about Persian limes, this will be my last post concerning the Key Lime. The exact reason why Amaji's Persian lime does not bloom, might be fertilizer, but it also might be a dozen other just as valid reasons. No one can know for sure, unless they had the presence of the tree. If the key lime tree is presently not showing any deficiency symptoms, then I doubt that it is fertilizer. But?????

    Bookmark   August 29, 2011 at 7:04PM
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hoosierquilt USDA 10A Sunset 23 Vista CA(10b Sunset 23)

Definitely something about the heat with Key limes, as it is really interestingly apparent here where I live, which is a stone's throw to Mexico (well, maybe more like an hour drive, but you get my meaning). I'm kind of right on the line so to speak, for Key (Mexican) limes. I'm about 6 miles from the ocean, and we get get just barely enough heat for them to do well here. They do better further inland in S. California, but we do have an old Key lime grove that is not being well tended right near me along the water authority road, and the trees are just crammed full of lovely little Key limes. We walk up there several times a week in the evening, and pluck off bags of Key limes for our margaritas, limeade, cooking, etc. But, when I was planning on planting citrus here, I opted to plant a Bearss lime (Persian lime) because frankly, they do better here. All limes need heat, some more than others. Plus, Bearss have a lot more juice, although they aren't quite as "limey" as the Key lime is. So, it is heat, heat and more heat for limes. And even my Bearss lime is one of the least vigorous of all my citrus here on my property. It's coming along, but a little more slowly than some of the other better suited citrus. Interestingly, we never refer to them as Persian limes here, just as Bearss limes :-) AMaji, how much sunshine and heat is your little lime tree getting?? Is it in a protected area? How frequently are your fertilizing it, now? At this point, you'll want to stop fertilizing (probably stop in July for your area), so you don't end up with tender new flush being at risk for freezing. I would start fertilizing next spring after danger of frost is over, and make sure it's getting full sun all day long in a nice, protected area. It should eventually flower for you. Love Bearss limes for all their juice.

Patty S.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2011 at 9:41PM
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Thank you everyone for your replies. This forum is filled with knowledgeable people willing to share and that is what makes this fun :)

the tree is in full sun and had been subjected to two light snowfalls in the past four/five years. The temperatures here in South Louisiana are brutal in the summer.

I really did not follow a fixed regimen of fertilizing, but did it on and off. Probably, I will change that habit from now. I read in the LSU AgCenter website, that a typical citrus tree of this age will need about 5 lbs of fertilizer in early Feb. Kind of too much, I feel, but that is what it needs from other readings too.

Thanks for your help.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2011 at 11:16PM
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"How many commercial Key limes groves have you seen along the gulf coast? My guess is zero, and the reason is that they just are not reliable outside of southern Florida and the Keys."

The reason is that key lime trees and bearss lime trees are tropical and can't take a freeze.

My key lime trees bloom and produce fruit every year, even the thornless key limes that aren't as productive. I have loaded thornless key lime and giant key lime trees. They are planted in pots BTW as we get freezes every year here in SE Texas.

    Bookmark   August 29, 2011 at 11:34PM
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