Lime trees are frost sensitive, small and leafy, and grow to 10 feet (3 meters) with smallish, generally round yellow to green fruit at maturity. Limes have the highest requirement of all citrus varieties for heat. Tropical and subtropical areas suit them best.
‘Tahitian’ or ‘Persian’ lime tree (Citrus aurantifolia)
This variety is the best lime for a cool climate. It has very few thorns and produces very juicy fruit all year round. The plants grow to around 10×10 feet (3x3m) tall, and they do well in the garden or in pots.
‘West Indian’ or ‘Mexican’ or ‘Key’ lime tree (Citrus aurantifolia)
This tree is has sharp thorns and grows to 6-13 feet (3-4m) high. It prefers tropical to semi-tropical climates and is frost sensitive. It should not be planted where frosts of 28F (-2C) are experienced.
‘Kaffir’ or ‘Makrut’ lime tree (Citrus hystrix)
This lime is a variety grown mainly for its aromatic leaves rather than the fruit.They prefer tropical conditions but can be grown in cold climates if protected from cool winds and given plenty of sunshine.
For more information on these lime tree varieties refer to our Lime Tree Varieties Blog.
Best Varieties for Your Location
The Tahitian or Persian lime is the most cold tolerant of the limes and in Australia, is commonly grown as far south as Melbourne and can even be grown in Hobart in southern Tasmania, in warm sheltered locations. Kaffir lime trees prefer tropical clicates but can be grown as far south as Melbourne if protected from cool winds and fully sunlit throughout the day.
Tahiti Persian lime and Key (West Indian or Mexican) limes are popular in Florida and make a satisfactory acid fruit for the home since fruit can be picked any time of the year. The Key lime is cold-sensitive and is susceptible to Scab, Anthracnose and Aphids.
The Bearss Lime (Tahitian-type Lime) is a seedless fruit, much larger and milder flavor than the Mexican lime. It is considered the most suitable to grow in Southern California. The Key lime (West Indian or Mexican lime is very frost sensitive and is only suited to more tropical areas that do not receive any frost (coastal areas). Thornless Mexican Lime is also available and is equally frost sensitive. Limequats (lime X kumquat hybrid) have a lime-like flavor that can substitute for a lime. This tree is more frost tolerant and can be planted in areas that receive an occasional frost.
Lime trees growing outside the Lower Rio Grande Valley are at a distinct disadvantage with regard to climate, i.e., winter almost always will be accompanied by one or more freezes. Lime trees are subtropical to tropical in nature; thus, they may suffer severe damage or even death because of freezing temperatures. Lime varieties grown in Texas include the Tahiti and Mexican (West Indian or Key lime) but both have poor cold-hardiness in Texas. A better choice may be the Limequat which has good cold-hardiness.
You will find full details about varieties of lime trees and other citrus trees and great advice and photos on recognising and correcting nutrient deficiencies, pest and diseases and problems in Grow Citrus: The Insiders Secrets to Growing Great Citrus