Many people wonder when to pick a lime from a tree. Limes stay green and this makes it difficult to tell. The fact that there are different types of limes doesn't help either. Find out more about harvesting limes in this article.
Types of Lime Trees
Limes are closely related to lemons. They even look similar to them, especially once they have fully ripened. Until reaching maturity, limes are quite sour tasting. Unlike the lemon, though, the best lime tree harvest time is just before it turns yellow. Lime tree harvest is easier when you are familiar with the different types of lime trees and what they look like.
- One of the most popular lime trees is the Key lime, or Mexican lime, (Citrus aurantifolia). This green lime grows somewhat small, only about 2 inches (5 cm.) in diameter.
- The Tahiti lime (Citrus latifolia), also known as Persian lime, is larger in appearance and more greenish yellow when ripe.
- Not considered a true lime, but worth mention is the Kaffir lime (Citrus hystrix), which puts out small dark green, bumpy-looking limes.
Lime Tree Care
When considering when limes are ripe, lime tree care should be taken into account. Lime trees are sensitive to cold, so keep them sheltered from wind and provide plenty of sunlight, especially if you want to harvest good sized fruit. Adequate drainage is also a necessity. You should see clusters of about five or six green limes forming once the blossoms have faded. In order to produce larger limes, however, you may want to thin this number down to only two or three.
Lime Tree Harvest Time
If lime tree harvest leaves you feeling a bit confused, you're not alone. Many people are unsure about when to pick a lime from a tree. Limes are harvested prior to ripening, while the lime is still green. Limes are actually yellow once fully ripe but will be bitter and not taste very good when harvested yellow. To determine whether a green lime is ripe enough for harvesting, gently twist one from the stem of the lime tree and cut it open. Harvest time is appropriate if the fruit is juicy inside, otherwise, you'll have to wait awhile longer. Also, try looking for limes that are light green as opposed to those which are darker in color and choose fruits that are smooth and slightly soft when gently squeezed. Green limes will not continue to ripen once picked, therefore, it's usually best to leave them on the tree until needed, as green limes keep longer this way, unless you choose to freeze them. The juice can also be frozen, placing in ice cube trays and used as needed, which is especially helpful if fruit has fallen ripe from lime trees. Once limes begin taking on a wrinkled appearance, they have been left on the tree too long. They will eventually fall from lime trees as they turn yellow. Lime tree harvest generally takes place during summer. Limes take about three to four months until they reach peak flavor. However, in some regions (USDA plant hardiness zones 9-10), green limes can be harvested year-round.
Gardening tips, videos, info and more delivered right to your inbox!
Sign up for the Gardening Know How newsletter today and receive a free download of our most popular eBook "How to Grow Delicious Tomatoes."
Nikki Tilley has been gardening for nearly three decades. The former Senior Editor and Archivist of Gardening Know How, Nikki has also authored six gardening books.
Growing Mushrooms On Logs: 5 Best Mushroom Varieties To Try
You’ll find growing mushrooms on logs is simple, enjoyable, safe and tasty – as long as you pick the right kinds! We reveal five of the best for an endless feast of fungi
By Janey Goulding
Snag Trees: What Are They & Why Are They Good For Wildlife?
The term snag tree may not seem appealing, but for insects, birds and other wildlife, a tree snag can provide the perfect haven.
By Bonnie L. Grant
Lime Tree Leaf Curl: What Causes Curling Leaves On Lime Trees
Your lime leaves are curling and you have no idea where to start treating them. Have no fear, there are many innocent causes of leaf curl on lime trees. Learn what to look for and how to handle common lime tree leaf curl problems in this article.
By Kristi Waterworth
Fertilizing Lime Trees – Learn How To Fertilize A Lime Tree
Got a lime tree? Wondering how to fertilize your lime tree? Lime trees, like all citrus, are heavy feeders and, therefore, need supplemental fertilizer. But the question is, when do you fertilize lime trees? Click here and find out in this article.
By Amy Grant
Sweet Lime Varieties – Sweet Lime Tree Growing And Care
There's a new citrus on the block! Okay, it isn't new, but fairly obscure in the United States. We're talking sweet limes. Yes, a lime that is less tart and more on the sweet side. Intrigued? This article contains additional information.
By Amy Grant
Are Yellow Limes Bad: What To Do With Yellow Limes
When we purchase limes, they are generally fairly firm but with a slight give and uniformly green in color. What happens if you encounter limes with yellow skin though? Are yellow limes bad? Click here to learn more.
By Amy Grant
Hand Pollinating Lime Trees: How To Hand Pollinate A Lime Tree
Is your lime tree less than stellar in the pollination department? If your yield is meager, perhaps you have wondered if you can hand pollinate limes? This article will help you with hand pollination of lime trees.
By Amy Grant
Potted Lime Trees: Caring For Container Grown Lime Trees
Growing lime trees in pots have the advantage of ease of movement and protection from cold. The information in this article will help with growing a potted lime tree. Click here to learn more.
By Amy Grant
Watering Limes: How Much Water Do Lime Trees Need In Containers
Planting limes in pots will enable you to move them around more easily and grow them in cooler climates - but watering is crucial. How much water will these lime trees need? Read this article to find out.
By Amy Grant
Mexican Key Lime Tree Information: Tips For Growing Key Limes
Almost anyone can grow Mexican key lime trees if you have the right information. Take a look at the growth and care of key lime trees in the following article and see if this lime tree variety is right for you.
By Gardening Know How