Mexican lime trees (Citrus aurantifolia) are small, thorny trees that produce fragrant green fruits used for cooking, drinks, and cleaning. There are regular and dwarf varieties of Mexican lime trees. Dwarf varieties reach a smaller mature size but bear full-sized fruit.
Quick facts on dwarf Mexican lime tree size
- Mature height of 4-8 feet
- Mature canopy spread of 3-6 feet
- Grows in USDA zones 9-11
- Ideal for containers
- Slow growth rate
Typical mature size of dwarf Mexican lime trees
A dwarf Mexican lime tree typically grows to a height of 4 to 8 feet when mature, with a canopy spread of 3 to 6 feet wide. It has a naturally smaller, more compact form than a standard Mexican lime tree. The dwarf variety grows at a slower pace as well.
The dwarf Mexican lime is perfectly suited for growing in containers, reaching heights of 5-6 feet in pots. It also works well for smaller residential landscapes where a full-sized lime tree would overwhelm the space.
Dwarf Mexican lime trees are slow growing. They put on about 1 to 2 feet of growth per year once established. The slower growth rate is one reason they stay so compact compared to regular Mexican lime trees.
In ideal conditions, a container grown dwarf lime can grow up to 2 feet per year. Growth rates are slower for trees planted in the ground. Expect your dwarf Mexican lime to reach its mature size within 5-10 years.
Mexican lime trees grow best in USDA zones 9-11 where winters stay frost-free. They can tolerate brief drops into the mid to upper 20s Fahrenheit (-2 to -3 C).
Lime trees need full sun exposure and warm temperatures to thrive. Cool coastal areas or hot deserts are not ideal for Mexican lime cultivation. They grow best in subtropical climates that do not experience hard freezes.
If you live in a cooler climate, you can grow dwarf Mexican lime trees in containers that you bring indoors before first frost. Select dwarf varieties which adapt better to containers.
Other factors affecting dwarf lime tree size
The final size of your dwarf Mexican lime depends on a few other factors:
- Rootstock: Grafted trees on vigorous rootstocks may grow slightly larger.
- Pruning: Regular pruning keeps trees smaller. Minimal pruning allows them to reach their natural size.
- Growing conditions: Ideal climate, soil, sun exposure results in larger healthy trees.
- Fertilization: Heavy feeding can stimulate faster growth.
For the most compact tree, select an own-root dwarf variety and prune yearly to contain growth. Avoid overfeeding with nitrogen which causes rapid green growth.
Typical root size
A dwarf Mexican lime has a root system in proportion with its smaller canopy size. It will have an average spread of 3-4 feet from the trunk when mature. Container grown trees will have roots that fill out the pot.
The dwarf lime has a shallow root system compared to other citrus trees. Most absorbing roots grow in the top 12-18 inches of soil. Consider this when situating containers or planning irrigation.
Fruit size and yields
Dwarf lime trees produce standard sized limes, around 1-2 inches in diameter. The dwarf tree is less prolific than full-sized varieties, but crops well once mature. Expect harvesting around 200-300 limes per year from a healthy dwarf specimen lime.
Fruit production increases as the tree grows larger and older. Limes grow singly or in small clusters along the branches. The petite dwarf lime flowers and fruits year-round in ideal climates.
Ideal conditions for maximum growth
Here are the best conditions for maximum growth of dwarf Mexican lime trees:
- Plant in zones 9-11 or bring indoors before frost.
- Full sun – at least 6 hours direct sun per day.
- Well-draining soil, or potting mix for containers.
- Moderate irrigation when top few inches of soil become dry.
- Protect from winds and salt spray.
- Regular fertilization in spring and summer.
- Prune after fruiting to encourage new growth.
Avoid extremes in temperature, uneven watering, or planting in cold windswept sites. This leads to stunted lime trees.
Uses in the landscape
The compact dwarf Mexican lime is tailor-made for today’s yards and gardens. Here are some popular uses:
- Container growing on patios and decks
- Accent or focal point planting
- Edging along borders and beds
- Espalier against walls
- Group planting for a mini orchard effect
- Bonsai culture
Go for bold groupings of dwarf lime trees in pots or beds for maximum visual impact. The petite trees also make excellent ornamental specimens on their own.
Comparison to standard Mexican lime trees
Dwarf Mexican lime trees offer many advantages over standard sized trees:
|Factor||Dwarf Mexican Lime||Standard Mexican Lime|
|Mature height||4-8 feet||15-20 feet|
|Canopy spread||3-6 feet||10-15 feet|
|Growth rate||Slow (1-2 feet per year)||Moderate (2-3 feet per year)|
|Fruit size||Standard (1-2 inches)||Standard (1-2 inches)|
|Good for containers||Yes||No|
|Chill hours needed||None||None|
The main differences are the dwarf lime’s much smaller stature and suitability for growing in pots. The fruits are identically sized on both trees.
Popular dwarf varieties
Here are some compact dwarf Mexican lime cultivars to consider:
- Bearss Seedless: A thornless dwarf variety growing 6 feet tall and wide. Prolific fruiting and good disease resistance.
- Tahitian: Vigorous dwarf reaching 6-9 feet tall. Fragrant flowers and lots of large fruits.
- Kaffir: Semi-dwarf growing 10-15 feet tall. Double duty for leaves and fruits.
- Palestinian Sweet: Cold hardy dwarf lime for zones 8-11. Sweet fruit. Grows 6 feet tall.
There are also generic unnamed dwarf Mexican lime varieties available. Look for trees grafted onto dwarfing citrus rootstocks for best results.
How to limit the size of dwarf lime trees
To restrict growth and keep dwarf Mexican lime trees extra compact, follow these tips:
- Select smaller grafted varieties under 6 feet mature height.
- Grow in containers vs. in ground.
- Use regular pruning to contain outward growth.
- Pick buds and small fruits to reduce crop load.
- Avoid overfeeding with nitrogen fertilizers.
- Situate away from irrigation overspray.
- Move containers to sheltered areas in winter.
With proper care, you can maintain a dwarf Mexican lime tree at 4-5 feet tall for many years. The tree will still produce an abundance of fruit while staying petite.
Dwarf Mexican lime trees offer a compact alternative to standard sized trees. At just 4-8 feet tall when mature, they are ideal for today’s small gardens and patios. You can enjoy homegrown dwarf lime fruits without committing to a large tree.
Look for dwarf varieties grafted onto rootstocks like Bearss, Tahitian, or Palestinian Sweet limes for the most petite mature size. With optimal growing conditions and pruning to restrict growth, dwarf Mexican limes will thrive while remaining small landscape specimens.