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Fruit drop on lime tree

My lime tree gets flowers and fruit but then the baby fruit shrivel up and fall off. Could it be lacking in something?


Limes (Citrus aurantifolia) are great garden plants for warmer areas, either in the ground or in containers.  They are attractive and of course the fruit are great in cooking and drinks.  If conditions are frost-free, they tend to be quite easy to grow.  However, when fruit is shed in large numbers, there could be a number of explanations.

How old is your lime tree? Limes generally take 3-6 years to fruit properly, possibly longer if in a container.  You will get flowers and apparent fruit-set, but the fruit will discolour, shrivel and drop off.  Patience is the only practical answer here!

Most citrus make many more little fruits than the tree can sustain, and then shed the excess.  If your tree is shedding a portion of the fruit, it may just be a natural thinning process.

Drainage and watering could be a possibility.  Limes, like most other citrus, do not like to have wet feet, so check your drainage.  Drought can also cause citrus to drop fruit.  Check your watering during dry periods and consider a mulch (but not up against the trunk — that may cause rot).

Lack of pollination could be a problem.  Do insects, bees, etc, visit your lime?  If there is inadequate pollination, your flowers will not set fruit properly.  Hand pollination or trying to attract bees with other flowering shrubs may be an option.

Wind will knock fruit off, but I doubt that it would make you lose all of your fruit.

A number of pests and diseases willl attack limes, but most leave lesions on the leaves or flowers, or you can see scale, or mealy bug, etc. If this is your problem, then an insecticide or fungicide may be necessary — being careful not to kill your pollinators, of course.

The last possibility is in the soil nutrients.  Limes tend to be quite tolerant of most soils, as long as the texture is fairly open and free-draining.  If in doubt, you could try a citrus fertiliser.

UnitecAdvice by Dr Dan Blanchon from Unitec's Diploma in Sustainable Horticulture and Bachelor of Resource Management.

Reproduced with permission from NZOOM Home and Garden content,
from the previous website of  TVNZ News

The views expressed here are not necessarily those of the RNZIH

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