One of our first fruit trees we bought when we moved to our house was a Tahitian lime. There was awhile when we first started gardening here, we struggled with growing a lot of things and we thought this Tahitian lime tree was going to die, you wouldn’t know it today, loaded with limes the size of lemons and standing over 2 meters tall.
Our poor Tahitian lime struggle with growing until I did a lot of research and change the way I planted our fruit trees and gardened in general. The key to a successful fruit tree is the preparation in the first place. We use our Tahitian lime tree to mainly make cordial and in cooking.
Where To Plant a Tahitian Lime Tree
A Tahitian lime tree need 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight a day to develop their juicy fruits. A Tahitian lime tree does well in a pot or planted in the ground. If planted in a pot, we recommend getting one that is grafted onto a dwarf root stock.
When To Plant a Tahitian Lime Tree
You can plant your Tahitian lime tree in autumn or spring however, I think it better to plant them in early spring, as coming out of the cool of winter into the warm days of spring encourages growth, which will help establish your plant better.
How To Plant a Tahitian Lime Tree
When planting your Tahitian lime tree, you need to consider what kind of soil you’re planting it into, for us this is sandy soil. To prepare the ground for sandy soil we like to dig a hole two to three times the pot size, then into this hole add, one part kaolin clay, two parts homemade compost, two parts cow and sheep manure and a slow release organic fertilser. Then mix this into the existing soil, then plant your Tahitian lime tree and give it a good soaking with water, then cover the ground with a good layer of mulch.
If planting into clay soil or a pot, Tahitian lime trees don’t like their roots staying wet for a long period of time, so the soil must be free draining. For planting into a pot or clay soils I would skip the step of adding clay. In clay soils which hold water, you may want to consider in building a mound on top of the soil and plant into it.
After planting your tree into the ground, we recommend in reducing the foliage by a third. This will help the tree to become established and allow the new roots to settle in without expiring to water from the plant.
How Big Do Tahitian Lime Trees Grow
A Tahitian lime tree can grow up to 4 metres tall, but there are varieties grafted onto dwarf root stocks which they will grow to 2.5 metres tall. Height can also be managed by pruning.
How To Prune a Tahitian Lime Tree
The pruning on a Tahitian lime tree is to manage its size, remove dead, disease or damaged branches, removing crossing branches, water shoots and suckers. It’s also best done after the tree has finished fruiting. You can also tip prune younger plants to encourage new growth.
Its is always best to try and prune Tahitian lime tree in late winter to early spring, however quite often there is the odd branch I will prune off to manage the tree size and shape whenever it’s getting out of control. Most citrus bear fruit on the tips of branches of one year old growth, so don’t prune the whole outside of the tree as you will be removing all fruiting sites.
How To Care For Your Tahitian Lime Tree
On young trees its best to remove the fruit for the first 2 years to help the tree establish itself, this allows the tree to put more energy into growing strong healthy branches.
On all our trees we fertilise them every 3 months with a slow release organic fertilser with trace elements and in spring we add some manure, compost and new layer of mulch around the tree. Remember the roots on the tree will go all the way to the edge of the leaves, so make sure you compost, manure and fertilser covers the whole area.
When To Pick Your Tahitian Limes
Tahitian Limes can be picked when they are green or yellow. A green lime is sourer and will add more bite when cooking, however when making cordial I prefer to use a yellow lime as it has more juice and is sweeter.
Common Problems With Growing a Tahitian Lime Tree
We have had few issues with growing our Tahitian lime tree, the first was a lack of ground preparation. We have had continuous problems in spring and autumn with citrus leafminer and we had 2 years ago a massive aphid infestation on our tree after going away for 6 weeks. Below is a list of common problems you may come across on your Tahitian lime tree.
These are small sap sucking insect that are found on new shoots and on the underside of leaves. If caught early they can be easily to controlled by squashing them with your finger or washing them off with a hose. Here is a detailed article on how to control your aphids.
The citrus leafminer larvae tunnel their way through young new foliage, making the leave curl up and distort. If you look at the leaves you will see a clear/silvery trails on the leaves. We have seen and tried many things to control citrus leafminer and so far, the only thing that has seem to work are the citrus leafminer traps made from Organic Crop Protection.
Snails and Slugs
While snails and slugs don’t tend to do much damage, I have found snails climbing up the trunk and on flowers, which will reduce your yields. So, we just pick these snails off by hand, if your find your having a larger problem with snails and slugs here is how we control them.
Mediterranean Fruit Fly
Mediterranean Fruit Fly also called Medfly is a large problem for fruit trees in general and while we haven’t had any problems yet on our citrus however, we have seen it on our stone fruit. Medfly do not fly more than 50 metres from where their eggs have been laid so they can very easily be controlled, however the catch to this is there eggs and pupae can survive for extended periods of time, so they can accidently be transported to and from your property. With research we have done, and we are still testing what works best but so far, the pheromone fruit fly traps seem to have work well. The other option is after the flowers have finished is to net your tree with fruit fly netting.
Citrus Gall Wasp
Citrus Gall Wasp is a native Australian insect which is found in northern New South Wales and Queensland, however it has now spread all over Australia. Citrus gall wasp will affect the nutrient flow in the tree, fruit setting and potentially kill your tree. Adult females lay their eggs underneath bark of a citrus tree. The eggs hatch 14-28 days later and burrow deeper into the bark where they live for 9-10 months. When inspecting your citrus tree if you notice a lump or gall in the branches, it’s a good chance it’s a gall wasp larva.
There are couple of methods we have seen to control gall wasp which are, prune of the affected gall and solarise to make sure all the larvae are gone. You can use a potato peeler on the gall, to remove bark expose the larvae, remove them and dispose of them.
This is fungi that grows on honeydew, normally the honeydew is excreted from aphids, scale or mealy bug. Control these and your sooty mould will go away.