Limes

Few fruits conjure up fantasies of tropical lazing about like the lime.

The very names - Tahitian, West Indian - make me want to kick off my work boots, slip on some boardies and sip on an ice cold mojito. Australian native limes expand the options so that there’s a lime for everyone.

 


Few fruits conjure up fantasies of tropical lazing about like the lime. 

 

Growing

Limes are terrific backyard plants, grown in the ground or in a pot. Treat Tahitian and West Indian limes (as well as makrut, aka kaffir limes, which are grown for their fragrant leaves, used in Thai cooking) like any other citrus. Offer humus-rich soil, regular dressings of organic fertiliser or composted manure, and a coarse mulch to keep the shallow root system cool and moist. Your reward will be bumper crops of fruit and leaves as autumn gives way to winter.

Australian native limes are a slightly different kettle of fish. Finger limes are rainforest understory plants that consequently enjoy dappled light, regular moisture and a relatively frost-free position. By contrast, Australian desert limes (Citrus glauca) are tough little outback shrubs that handle frost, drought and heat better than a Brahman bull from the back of Bourke.

 

Harvesting

Tahitian and West Indian limes are usually picked green but in my view they’re even more delicious when allowed to fully ripen on the tree. At this stage they are lemon yellow. Pick finger limes once the skin has coloured and the fruit is plump. Desert limes are ready to harvest when the fruit is pale green. The leaves of makrut limes can be harvested as required.

 


Limes are terrific backyard plants, grown in the ground or in a pot. Photo - Robin Powell

 

Troubleshooting

Nutrient deficiencies showing as yellowing in the leaves can be treated by feeding with a complete organic fertiliser. For a quick boost, spray the foliage with a diluted 50/50 mix of seaweed solution and fish emulsion.

 

Varieties

Tahitian (Citrus latifolia)

- prolific crops of golf ball size fruit with a smooth skin. Some frost tolerance.

West Indian (Citrus aurantifolia)

- smaller growing than the Tahitian with more flavoursome fruit but poor frost tolerance.

‘Rainforest Pearl’

- a finger lime producing masses of crimson fruit bursting with crimson flesh.

 


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About this article

Author: Justin Russell

Garden Clinic TV