How to Keep a Lime Tree Healthy

Having a healthy lime tree is every caring owner’s objective. However, how exactly is this achieved? Well, there are numerous things you need to consider.

Some things you can do to make sure your lime tree will be healthy include: making sure it gets enough sunlight, adding mulch below the tree, using whitewash to prevent sun damage, pruning, fertilizing and not using aggressive pesticides.

Make sure your tree gets sunlight

One of the main contributing factors for the achievement of a healthy lime tree is  sunlight . Sunlight is the lime tree’s biggest energy source. Therefore, if you’re planning on planting a lime tree make sure to plant it in area where it will receive as much sunlight as possible. If you live in a cooler climate you should also think about having the tree positioned in warm location as well.  Having it next to a warm wall that receives a lot of sunlight during the cooler part of the year may be a good place for a lime tree in that particular geographical location.

Add mulch below the tree

Mulching is an important component of growing a lime tree. It provides a lot of functions and is crucial in supporting the health of your tree. Mulch is a material that can be made up of many different substances,  most  commonly these substances include:  twigs, straw, grass clippings, wood chips and leaves.  The mulch should be spread out over the surface of the ground below the canopy of the tree. Preferably, the thickness of the mulch layer should be no more than three inches  in thickness.  If it is any thicker, then it may cut off air to the ground and prevent the roots of the tree receiving crucial oxygen.  Thick mulch may also prevent water from seeping down into the ground and to the roots of your lime tree.

Some of the benefits of mulching include protection  of the roots against both hot and  cold weather. It can also prevent nutrients from being washed away from under the tree.  Another great benefit of mulching is that it kills the existing vegetation on the surface which are competing for nutrients with your lime tree. The mulch also (when it begins to break down) can provide a lot of nutritional value for lime tree. Additionally, if you were to apply manure under your lime tree the mulch would prevent of manure from burning the roots of your tree. 

A danger of mulching  that you must consider is that it could result in stem rot if placed up against the bark and trunk of the tree.  Mulch has the ability to retain moisture so when it rubs off against the bark of the tree it could result in the bark rotting. This could in turn cause serious problems for the tree, including the inability of it to properly absorb water and nutrients. 

Therefore, it is advisable that the mulch remain at least two or three inches away from the base of the tree. 

Whitewash the tree to prevent sunburn damage

Whitewashing is the process of painting parts of your tree white so it reflects the sunshine and prevents it from burning.  There are commercial whitewashing products that are dedicated for plant sunburn prevention. Many of these products have low toxicity and won’t be particularly harmful to your tree. The whitewashing is to cover over the most important parts of your tree. This would include the main trunk of the tree and large important branches. In the northern hemisphere it will be the south side of the tree that will need the most protection. The opposite is true in the southern hemisphere. 

Give the tree the amount of water it needs

Significant watering should take place in the flowering and fruit onset phases of your lime tree. If there is limited watering of your plants during this phase then the lime tree may believe it is in a drought and begin acting accordingly. This could result in your tree conserving energy and withholding fruit production. 

Another important suggestion for healthy fruit production is to water your tree right before harvest. This helps increase the likelihood of healthy and moist fruit being produced. 

Not only is watering important for efficient and healthy fruit production, but for the overall health of the tree.  Water is needed by the tree to absorb nutrients from the ground. Fruit dropping may be a sign of your tree not receiving enough water. You can check the moisture levels of the tree’s roots by using a water meter that you stick into the ground, giving you a water moisture reading. 

Make sure not to have your tree somewhere that is waterlogged. The lime tree evolved in subtropical Mediterranean type climates so the soil it lives in should resemble this. When your tree is watered the soil should quickly dry, but not instantly. You should be able to tell by touching the mulch if there is a little moisture left, so you don’t need to over water. 

Don’t use aggressive pesticides

Harsh pesticides have the potential of doing more harm than good by killing off helpful pollinating insects that actually help your tree grow healthy.  Ways to avoid the use of certain pesticides includes removing some harmful insects off the lime tree by hand. For instance, citrus bugs can be picked off by hands and killed. 

Gall wasps can be another headache for lime tree growers. Instead of using tough chemicals and spraying the nests of the wasps, why not just prune off the twig or part of the branch that they are on. 

Overall, you should be more focused on the appearance and health of your fruit as opposed to all the critters and insects that are on your tree. Many of the insects on your tree are non harmful or there to do good. Birds can also help you by simply eating some of your pests. This can be achieved through no effort on your part. 

Remember to fertilize

During spring and summer fertilizing can be done once every 4 to 8 weeks to your tree. During fall and winter this can be spaced out to 8 to 12 weeks. When the tree is more established there is little need to fertilize during autumn/winter period. Additionally, when the tree is in this older period of existence fertilizing during the spring/summer period can be reduced to every 8 to 12 weeks. 

Don’t just heap the fertilizer onto the roots of the plants. This can actually cause the tree to produce less fruit and over stimulate it. Putting the fertilizer on mulch instead means that it takes the fertilizer a longer time for its nutrients to drip down into the roots of the tree.

Lime trees need a load of nutrients. Some include macro-nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. These macro-nutrients can be applied to the ground in the form of fertilizer product mixes that you can purchase commercially. Oftentimes this fertilizer contains micro-nutrients as well, however it could be wise to consider purchasing micro-nutrient mixes separately instead. Micro-nutrients can  get lost in the ground or mulch if they’re applied with the macro-nutrients under the tree. You could instead consider spraying these micro-nutrients on the leaves of the trees. Some of these micro-nutrient mixes include ingredients such as  magnesium, zinc and iron. All of which promote the health of your tree.

Pruning can do wonders

Finally, we come to pruning. A simple activity that you can carry out on your tree that has some major health benefits. Are there particular branches and twigs on your tree that don’t produce leaves or fruit? If so, this is probably deadwood. It would be wise to remove as much as you can. Not only will this let a bit more light into other parts of the tree, it also improves air circulation. Air circulation can in turn reduce the amount of disease and pests within your lime tree.

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