Mexican Key Lime
Grow Fragrant, Delicious Mexican Key Lime Trees
- Lush, Aromatic Small Tree
- High Yield of Delicious Fruit
- Culinary Favorite
- Lime Juice is a Cocktail Favorite
- Great in Containers
Look in any bartender’s tray across the country and you’ll probably find neat triangles of squeezably cut limes. These are Mexican Key Limes (Citrus aurantifolia) and they add a wonderful boost of flavor when spritzing a cocktail, a glass of sparkling water or a taco. And oh, don’t get us started on the sweet-tart taste of Key Lime pie.
Smaller, sweeter and thinner skinned than Persian lime varieties, Mexican Key Limes are true limes. Even though their thin skin can be green or yellow-green, they are packed with juice. The small, tart fruit has a wonderful flavor with outstanding floral hints.
The fruit fetches a good market price, and these pricey limes can really add up at the supermarket. Why not grow your own supply of these extremely popular limes?
The fragrant flowers buds are purple tinged and open to pure, waxy white. They’ll perfume the air with a wonderfully fresh citrus scent.
Mexican Key Lime is also known as Bartenders Lime, due to its great flavor and high juice content. It’s also called the West Indian Lime, to recognize where this lime was first propagated in the West Indies.
Mexican Key Lime makes an ideal container plant and wonderful patio shrubby tree. Imagine having the fruit for your drinks or cooking just an arm’s length away!
Mexican Lime is an important ingredient in Mexican cuisine. Others call it by another name, but the zippy juice of the West Indian Lime boosts the flavor of Middle Eastern, African and Asian meals all the same.
Grow your own to have instant access to the complexity and freshness of “really local” fruit. Place your order today!
How to Grow and Use Mexican Key Lime
These mid-sized, bushy trees accent your landscape beautifully. Grow them in the ground in Zones 9 - 11. Or, use as a Patio Tree in a large container in the colder climates.
This is both an ornamental and edible tree with fragrant white flowers, shaggy, deep green leaves and yellow-green fruit. Try it as you would other trees. Make a bold statement by placing a single Mexican Key Lime tree as an anchor in your foundation planting.
Or, try two of them in large containers, flanking either side of the entrance. Announce that you have the Fun House on the block with these handsome evergreen Lime trees. You’ll instantly set expectations that your guests have found the party!
Keep the lowest limbs on, and these trees become a hard-working, exotic evergreen backdrop for garden plantings. You’ll gain a wonderful privacy screen.
To grow a solid screen, plant individual plants 5 – 7 feet apart on center. You’ll measure between the main trunks. The canopies will grow together. For individual trees, increase the spacing between to 8 – 10 feet apart.
You'll love coming up with ways to use your harvest. Try zesting the peel, juicing it for cocktails and pie, and dry and grind the leaves for aromatherapy.
The leaves release a marvelous lime scent when crushed. Try them in potpourri or homemade soaps and shampoo bars.
There are so many different ways to use these floral limes from the time that the dark green skin starts to lighten into greenish yellow. At this time the juice content is at its highest.
#ProPlantTips for Care
Mexican Key Limes like it hot, and do best in areas with short, frost-free winters and long summers. This is the most cold sensitive of all the popular citrus varieties and great care should be taken in selecting a location for planting.
Full sun, which has as early exposure to the morning sun as possible. Good air drainage can also contribute to a successful planting.
Select a location with air movement in the morning, if possible. Dead air locations are often much colder and take longer to warm up in the morning.
Mexican Lime trees grows best if certain cultural requirements are met. These fruit trees require good drainage and if poor drainage is suspected plant in a raised bed or mound 12 to 18 inches high by 3 feet wide.
A slow to moderate grower, providing your Mexican Lime with the best growing conditions and drainage will only make ensure that it grows its best.
In extended dry periods, make sure that your Lime is well irrigated going colder weather. Protect the Mexican Lime with C9 Christmas Lights and a frost blanket if temperatures below 32 degrees are suspected. Covering may remain on for extended periods of time during longer cold spells.
For those in the colder parts of Zone 9, a containerized Mexican Lime is easy to move to a more protected location for winter protection. Bring your tree indoors once the temperatures dip into the mid 30’s.
Here are tips to successfully grow Mexican Key Lime trees in an indoor/outdoor growing culture. Place the plant by a bright sunny window away from any heat sources such as heater vents or stoves.
Give Mexican Lime lots of light. A LED supplemental grow light may be required to keep the plant healthy while indoors.
While indoors, keep the plant on the dry side. It will not require much water inside.
You will love having an abundance of fruit to use and share. Order yours today!
Buying Options for Plants
Nature Hills sells a large variety of plants with several options available. Plants are offered in both potted containers and as dormant bare root without soil. Here is a helpful resource to understand your options as you create a beautiful landscape with help from Nature Hills.
Ever wonder what a larger plant will mean for your landscape? Container Sizes are really all about the age of the plant!
Seasonally, Nature Hills offers hand selected, high quality bare root trees, shrubs and perennials. Bare root plants are sold by height from the top of the root system to the top of the plant. Plants may be taller than the height minimums.
- Popular sizes of select trees are 1 foot, 2 feet, 3 feet, etc.
- Popular sizes of select bare root plants is 1 foot, 18 inches, etc.
Nature Hills Container Size by Volume
|Young Plants to 18 Months|
|2"x2"x3"||Ranges from||.18 to .21 dry quarts / .198 to .23 dry liters in volume|
|4.5" Container||Equal to||.655 dry quart / .72 dry liter in volume|
|3.5" Container||Equal to||.67 dry quart / .74 dry liter in volume|
|4" Container||Ranges from||.31 to .87 / .35 to .96 dry liter in volume|
|6" Container||Equal to||1.4 dry quarts / 1.59 dry liters in volume|
|1 Quart||Equal to||1 dry quart / 1.1 dry liter in volume|
|5.5" Container||Equal to||1.89 of a dry quart / 2.08 dry liters in volume|
|4"x4"x5"||Ranges from||.8 to 1.1 dry quarts / .88 to 1.2 dry liters in volume|
|4"x4"x6"||Ranges from||1.0 to 1.3 dry quarts / 1.1 to 1.41 dry liters in volume|
|4"x4"x9"||Ranges from||1.1 to 2.1 dry quarts / 1.2 to 2.3 dry liters in volume|
|4"x4"x10"||Ranges from||1.7 to 2.3 dry quart / 1.87 to 2.53 dry liters in volume|
|Plants 18 Months - 2.5 Years Old|
|2 Quart||Equal to||2 dry quarts / 2.2 dry liters in volume|
|#1 Container||Ranges from||2.26 to 3.73 dry quarts / 2.49 to 4.11 dry liters in volume|
|5"x5"x12"||Equal to||3.5 to 4.3 dry quarts / 3.85 to 4.74 dry liters in volume|
|Plants 2 - 4 Years Old|
|#2 Container||Ranges from||1.19 to 1.76 dry gallons / 5.24 to 7.75 dry liters in volume|
|#3 Container||Ranges from||2.32 to 2.76 dry gallons / 10.22 to 12.16 dry liters in volume|
|Plants 3 - 5 Years Old|
|#5 Container||Ranges from||2.92 to 4.62 dry gallons / 12.86 to 20.35 dry liters in volume|
|#7 Container||Ranges from||5.98 to 6.08 dry gallons / 26.34 to 26.78 dry liters in volume|
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Lime Variety Beloved Worldwide
The Mexican Lime is the oldest known and most popular lime variety throughout the world. Since its introduction to the world stage, it has gained several different names.
The Mexican Lime is native to a region called Indo-Malayan, a wide sub-continent which includes India east to Indonesia. In this region, it is referred to as the West Indian Lime or just Lime.
West Indian Lime reached Europe during the Crusades. By the 13th century, it was reported to be planted in gardens throughout Italy and into France. It exhibits a high degree of polyembryony and comes true from seed. Because of this quality, there are few varietal selections offered.
Seed carried by the Spanish is likely how the Lime made it to the Caribbean Islands and Mexico, where it is reported widely grown by the 1500's. Because of the similarities in climate to the Indo-Malayan region, it was not long before the plant naturalized into the local wilderness.
The name Mexican Lime came about with the early cultivation of the fruit by the Spanish in strongholds like Colima, Mexico. By the end of the 1500's, the Mexican lime was an important part of the Mexican culture.
This was not the case with its introduction into the United States. It wasn't until the mid-1800's that Mexican Lime began to be planted - mostly in the Southern Florida region. By the late 1800's, reports of commercial plantings begin to be cited.
It was at this time the name Key Lime begins to make its appearance with commercial plantings extending into the Florida Keys. The Key Lime business flourished into the mid 1920's.
It was, however, in the Florida Keys where its popular American name took hold. The Bartender's Lime, as it is referred to, is a part of the culture of the Florida Keys, most notably Key West. The Bartender's lime become a part of many of the drinks of the Key West Bar Scene and was preferred by the bartenders of the region. This, along with the famous Key Lime pies and all the unique receipts offered by each proprietor, made the Key Lime forever associated with Key West Florida.
Today, the Mexican Lime remains an important part of the Mexican culture and into the Western states. The West Indian Lime remains an important part of the culinary community through the Middle East, into Africa, and on to Australia and New Zealand.
It's a popular home garden variety, but is only suited to the most hospitable climates, and is not even dependable in USDA zone 9. In fact, it has surpassed the popularity of the less thorny and more hardy, seedless Bearss Lime.
|Botanical Name||Citrus x aurantiifolia|
|Mature Height||8 - 10 feet|
|Mature Spread||5 - 8 feet|
|Soil Type||Well Drained|
|Sun Exposure||Full Sun|