How to Grow a Lime Tree from Seed

Are you tired of running to the grocery store whenever a recipe calls for fresh lime juice? Wouldn’t it be easier just to grow your own tree? Even if you don’t have the right climate for an outdoor lime, the trees grow very well indoors. But there’s a catch – you can’t grow just any lime from seed. Read on to learn more.


The Most Commercialized Limes Don’t Have Seeds

Persian limes (Citrus latifolia) are big, bright green and prized for their acidity. But they’re also seedless. So where does that leave you?

The next-best thing is to plant a Key lime (Citrus aurantifolia) seed. With the right care, it should start fruiting within seven or eight years.Grow it outdoors in USDA zones 10 and 11.

Sprouting a Seed

A Key lime seed grows best if it’s harvested from a freshly picked, unblemished pale- green lime and allowed to sprout it before it’s planted: To sprout it:

  • Soak it in warm water to remove pulp and debris. Discard any floaters.
  • Moisten a paper towel and squeeze out the excess water.
  • Center the seed on the towel.
  • Fold the towel with two layers above and beneath the seed.
  • Place the towel in a sealable plastic sandwich bag. Squeeze out the air, close it and put it in a sealable plastic container.
  • Set the container in a dark, warm cupboard.
  • After a week, check the seed daily for sprouting.

Planting the Sprouted Seed

To plant your sprouted lime seed, you’ll need:

  • Citrus potting mix
  • Large bowl
  • Water
  • 1-gallon pot with drainage holes

Step 1: Fill the bowl with citrus mix and add water to moisten it evenly.

Step 2: Fill two-thirds of the pot with moist mix.

Step 3: Make a 1/4-inch deep hole in the center of the mix.

Step 4: Set the seedling the hole and gently cover the roots.

Step 5: Set the pot outdoors in morning sun if your nights stay above 60°F (15.5°C). Otherwise, put it in a south-facing window until the nights warm.

Seedling Care

For the first two weeks, water with a spray bottle when the top 1/4 inch of soil feels dry. After two months, fertilize with compost tea every other week.

When its roots poke through the drainage holes, move the seedling to a 10-inch pot of citrus potting mix. Water to keep the soil damp and fertilize every two months with 2.5 teaspoons of organic, slow-release 5-2-6 fertilizer.

If the seedling is going in the ground, transplant it in early fall. Otherwise, move it indoors before nighttime temperatures drop below 50°F (10°C).