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from Plants Daily Post

9/5/2008 Patio Trees for Florida

Key Lime

The Key lime, Citrus aurantiifolia (Christm.) Swingle actually of Southeast Asian origin, is believed to have been introduced to Florida through Mexico, and through Florida to California. It was important nutritionally in the diet of the 16th century settlers and the later Conchs. Key lime, which will fruit in 2-3 years from seedlings arose in status as the most important lime in Florida, until the 1926 hurricane, after which Persian lime (Citrus x "Tahiti") became favored as a crop plant . Still, the tart little globe managed to give the state a signature dessert, and by the 1960's Key Lime Pie was said by restaurateurs to be the most requested dessert in Florida.

A Key lime tree in the yard is something modern day settlers frequently dream of, for an endless supply of the heavenly confection. In practice, since the Key lime tree is not highly ornamental and more of a shapeless shrub, it becomes delegated to a lightly seen and seldom used side of the property. There it grows incorrigibly, sending out wild thorny shoots in all directions, to an unreachable height of 15' and width of 15' or more. At that scale, maintenance becomes a chore which is always put off, rendering that area of the property unpassable. Finally, left to its own devices, the bearer of such delightful fruit will begin to resemble more a briar patch than a citrus tree.

Cultivating a patio specimen offers opportunity to keep a close eye on the Key lime before it turns to brambles. This means aside from daily monitoring for correct soil moisture, conducting a weekly examination for unwanted shoots, followed by light pruning to keep the plant tree-like in form. Though a smaller yield has to be expected from a container-grown fruit tree, in the case of the Key lime, less fruit for a few less pies may be desirable.