Lime trees are thorny evergreens that produce small, white flowers about 1 inch in diameter. These trees grow poorly in most of the United States because of their extreme sensitivity to freezing temperatures. Several varieties offer choices in both tree and fruit size, along with growth rate.
Most lime trees reach a height between 15 and 20 feet when mature. Lime trees are considered mature when they begin bearing fruit, usually in their third year. These fruits appear mostly during the summer season, although limited fruit production occurs year-round.
Different lime tree species grow to various heights. The Mexican lime tree sometimes looks more like a shrub, developing in a bushy manner to a height of only 6 to 7 feet. Alternatively, it may reach up to 13 feet in height, still a small lime tree by comparison. The Tahiti lime tree reaches 15 to 20 feet in height under ideal conditions.
Fruit size and quality vary greatly between lime tree species. Mexican limes reach about 2 inches in diameter while Tahiti limes grow another 1/2 to 2/3 inch beyond this size. The giant key lime, released in 1994, develops fruit twice the size of any other lime tree.
Provide ideal growing conditions to encourage lime trees to reach maximum possible height. This includes well-drained soil and full sun, protection from cold and winds and limited watering every week to 10 days after being established. Fertilize three times per year, with an annual total application of 1 cup of ammonium sulfate per year of age.