Growing a Lime Tree Indoors
Growing a lime tree indoors can be both fun and easy. Lime trees are commonly associated with states like Arizona and Florida where citrus fruits are cultivated as a crop, but they can also be grown inside a house on an enclosed porch or patio. Sunrooms with glass ceilings allow enough sunlight for a lime tree to thrive in. Limes are versatile as a fruit for cooking, adding to drinks and as garnishes for dinner entrees. The two major varieties of limes grown in the United States are the Persian lime and the key lime. Both are easy to grow indoors in a large pot and will provide delicious fruit each year so long as they are cared for properly. Either variety of lime can be purchased as a young tree at a nursery. Dwarf lime trees are ideal as they do not have to be pruned each year to maintain an appropriate height for its indoor location.
Selecting an Indoor Pot
Make sure the pot is big enough for the tree; the rule of thumb is to use a pot that will hold the roots without crowding them. The lime tree can be repotted as it matures if necessary. The pot can be ceramic pottery. The pot should have holes in the bottom to allow for drainage. Place a dish under the pot to catch the water. Set the pot in the ideal location inside your home where the tree will receive at least 8 hours of sunlight each day. There should be at least a 10-foot space for the tree to spread out as it grows.
Preparing the Soil
Use an indoor citrus tree potting soil for lime trees. Add citrus tree fertilizer to the soil for dwarf varieties and mix in well before planting the lime tree. If you decide to plant a key lime tree, add some sand in with the soil and blend thoroughly. Set the lime tree in the pot and remove any twine or string around the root system. Fill in the rest of the pot with the soil, packing it around the base of the tree.
Caring for the Lime Tree
Once the lime tree is planted, it can be watered thoroughly. Young lime trees should be watered at least three times a week to keep the roots moist, then reduce it to one watering a week after 3 weeks. Do not overwater key lime trees. Fertilize the lime trees once in the spring and again in the fall. Apply a slow release fertilizer to encourage healthy tree and fruit growth.
Pruning Lime Trees
Dwarf varieties of lime trees do not require a lot pruning during the first year of growth. Regular varieties can be trimmed to keep the tree a manageable size. Cut off any dead branches during the second year of growth. Key lime trees can be shaped by removing sprouts from the tree. Dead leaves should be removed on a regular basis to keep the tree looking well maintained.
Limes will not grow during the first season of planting, but they will appear during the second growing season. Since indoor grown lime trees are not at risk for insects or other diseases, you can pick the ripe fruit from the tree and use them for cooking with, and adding to fancy drinks at a cocktail party. Store fresh limes in a fruit bowl at room temperature, and cut limes inside a refrigerator.