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Are Yellow Limes Bad: What To Do With Yellow Limes

Are Yellow Limes Bad: What To Do With Yellow Limes


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Limes aren’t just good in a virgin (or otherwise) margarita. A squirt of lime goes a long way enlivening and enhancing flavor. When we purchase limes, they are generally fairly firm but with a slight give and uniformly green in color. What happens if you encounter limes with yellow skin though? Are yellow limes bad?

Are Yellow Limes Bad?

If you have neglected to use your limes in a timely manner, you may end up with limes that are yellow. This will be especially true if you have stored them in an area of sun exposure. The sun causes them to turn yellow and will change the flavor of the lime. So, are limes with yellow skin bad? No. In fact, depending upon the variety of lime, the flavor may be even more intense and juicier or more on the bitter side.

Limes are of two ilks, sour or sweet. Sweet limes are not readily available at the grocers so we more commonly use sour limes, which are higher in citric acid, hence tarter. There are two types of sour limes commonly available: the Tahitian and the Key or Mexican lime. Of the Tahitian limes, there are the oval Persian (Citrus latifolia) and the smaller, seedless Bearss. Key limes (Citrus aurantifolia) are even smaller and far more acidic than the Tahitian variety.

Sweet limes might be mistaken for lemons since they are yellow when ripe and ready to use. They have less acid than Tahitian or Key. They are popular in India, Vietnam, Egypt, and along the Mediterranean coast.

Limes are yellow when they are fully ripe and develop sugars that make them delicious at this stage. They are not sold when yellow because unripe fruit is easier to ship since it is harder, and stores longer when unripe. If limes were shipped to the supermarket when they were ripe, they might be over-ripe by the time they get there and well on their way to spoiling. Yellow limes will undoubtedly be squishier than their hard green counterparts. That said, most limes are picked when green and immature.

Limes can be stored at room temperature for a week, but limes that need to be stored for any length of time should reside in the crisper of your refrigerator and will keep for between 10-14 days.

What to Do with Yellow Limes?

Eat them, of course! Or at least try them. If they are a sour lime, they may be a bit bitter but if they are sweet, they will be sublime.

What if limes are turning yellow on your tree? What to do with these yellow limes? As mentioned, limes yellow as they ripen and subsequently they drop from the tree.

The Mexican lime bears fruit year round, peaking May-June and November to December. Tahitian limes also bear year round, but peak during the summer. If you don’t regularly harvest the limes, chances are good you will find yellow limes that have dropped from the tree. Just check them for rot. If they look good, they probably are.

If you have limes that are turning yellow on the tree and don’t seem to be ripe, you may have a different problem entirely. Citrus trees are susceptible to any number of diseases that can affect fruit – time to diagnose and treat if possible. Next time, select disease resistant stock to avoid disorders such as citrus blotch, which can cause skin yellowing.

Heavy precipitation can also result in limes that are turning yellow on the tree. Fruit splitting, the result of heavy rains, leads to yellowing and rot as well as premature fruit drop. These fruits should probably not be eaten since the open “wound” may now harbor bacteria that could make you sick.


Lime Citrus Plant With Yellow Leaves

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Whether you grow a standard tree in the ground or a dwarf one in a pot, lime trees are rewarding and attractive plants. Even if your lime tree never produces a bounty of fruit, the lush canopy of leaves makes the tree a welcome addition to the garden or greenhouse. Several problems can turn the dark green leaves to yellow. Luckily, most of these problems can be solved if tended to soon enough.


Lime Varieties

Limes are a small, shrub-like tree that produces fruit that is smaller than lemons, full of vitamins and citric acid.

If you’re planning to do any type of indoor growing, dwarf trees are your best bet. They typically grow between 8-10 feet tall.

Always make sure to pick a tree from a reputable nursery, especially if they offer a guarantee on their trees. Lime trees tend to be vulnerable when it comes to root diseases, so you want to get started with a clean, healthy tree.

Key Limes

Key limes (Citrus aurantiifolia) are smaller than the standard ones you see in the store. They have slightly yellow-green skin and are intensely juicy.

Also known as Mexican limes, the small trees get grow between 6-13 feet tall. The round fruits get between 1-2 inches in diameter.

Finger Limes

Finger limes (Microcitrus australasica) are unusual, with a cylindrical shape filled with caviar-like pods inside.

Fruits come in green, red, yellow, and pink.

You can get standard varieties, which grow up to 12 feet, or semi-dwarf, which stay around 6 feet with pruning.

The trees can also handle partial shade.

Phillipine Limes

Philippine limes (Citrus microcarpa) stand out from other limes because they have orange flesh. It’s also called calamansi and calamondin.

The fruits stay small, getting only about 1 inch long. The ring is pleasantly sweet, but the flesh can be extremely sour.

The trees make attractive ornamental options in the garden.

Kaffir Limes

Kaffir limes (Citrus hystrix) have distinctively bumpy skin. The fruits turn slightly yellow as they ripen on the tree and they have an extremely tart flavor.

The limes get about 2 inches wide and have less juice than most other varieties.

Bearss Limes

Also known as Persian or Tahitian limes (Citrus latifolia), this is the popular type that you often see in grocery stores.

The fruits get about 2.5 inches in diameter and are oval. They have a longer shelf life thanks to their thick skin and are sweeter than key limes.

You can find both dwarf and standard-sized cultivars, all of them thornless.

Blood Limes

Heard of blood oranges? How about blood limes? They have a tangy flavor and red skin. The oval fruits get about 1.5 inches long.

This is a hybrid cross between finger limes and Ellendale mandarin limes.

Mandarin Limes

Mandarin, or Rangpur limes (Citrus x Limon), are a cross between mandarin oranges and lemons, but are considered closer to limes than either. The orange fruits get 1.5-2.5 inches wide, and you can peel it like an orange.

The trees are thorny and get up to 20 feet tall. It can handle a freeze, unlike most other limes.


Yellowing Lime Tree Leaves

Along with fragrant white blooms and succulent, juice-filled fruit, all healthy lime trees (Citrus spp.) boast dense canopies of glossy green leaves. But when their leaves start turning yellow, something’s not right. The two most common causes for yellowing lime tree leaves are excessive watering and poor nutrient absorption. We look at both – and what you can do to avoid them.

Water-Related Yellowing

Whether they grow outdoors in the ground or indoors in pots, evergreen lime trees need lots of water. They just don’t need — and won’t tolerate — overwatering that leads to standing water around their roots. Overwatering is a major cause of yellowing lime tree leaves.

The Solutions:

To avoid overwatering outdoors:

  • Plant lime trees in well draining, sandy loam soil if possible.
  • Amend poorly draining soil in advance with a 4-inch layer of organic compost worked into the top 10 inches of your planting site.
  • Let the top 6 inches of soil dry before watering established lime trees. The time this takes depends on rainfall, soil drainage and where your trees are in USDA hardiness zones 8 through 11.

To avoid overwatering indoors:

  • Plant your lime tree in a container with drainage holes.
  • Use a growing mix formulated for citrus trees, or make your own consisting of 2 parts organic potting soil to 1 part coco fiber or perlite.
  • Water slowly and deeply only after the top 1 inch of soil feels dry.
  • Empty the drainage saucer immediately.

Soil pH Problems

Outdoor lime trees thrive with a slightly acidic to neutral soil pH between 6.5 and 7.0. If a soil test shows significantly higher or lower numbers, your trees could be at risk of leaf yellowing from poor nutrient absorption.

Correcting Overly Acidic Soil

To raise the pH organically, amend your oil with phosphorous-rich wood ash. A little goes a long way ½ cup (64g) scattered around a large lime tree and covered with a 1-inch layer of compost will do the job.

Expert gardener’s tip: Wood ash releases its phosphorous so slowly that it may take your tree’s leaves several weeks to begin greening up. But a single application should keep them green for at least three years.

Correcting Overly Alkaline Soil

Organic elemental sulfur granules gradually lower soil alkalinity. Scatter them around your in-ground trees at the rate of 2 ½ tablespoons (37.5g) for every 10 square feet of soil and work them in. For potted trees, use 1 tablespoon (15g) for every 4 inches of pot diameter.

Soil bacteria break the granules down into pH-lowering sulfuric acid. The soil’s moisture, temperature and bacterial content determine how quickly it happens.

Expert gardener’s tip: Don’t apply the sulfur more than twice — or try to lower your pH reading by more than 1 unit — in a single year.


Foliage Diseases

Citrus canker is a bacterial infection that causes brown or yellow spots on leaves, which can also spread to the fruit. To prevent the disease, spray trees with a copper-based fungicide in the spring. Space lime trees so they get adequate air circulation. Use soaker hoses, instead of overhead sprinklers because wet leaves can spread the disease.

Citrus greening is a serious disease spread by the Asian citrus psyllid. It causes yellowed leaf veins. The leaves and stems may die back and the fruit turns bitter. There is no cure for this disease. Remove and destroy infected trees.


Q. lime tree

I have a lime tree (in northern Florida) that produced year round. Three years ago it split and we lost half the tree. Last year we lost the other half. The tree has resprouted from the stump. It is 5 feet from a lake and gets all the water it needs. It now has multiple branches and the branches are dividing and producing off-shoots. How long before the tree starts reproducing fruit? And should I prune back any of the main branches so they become stouter?

The new growth may be growing from the the grafted root stock.

This will be some sort of citrus tree but may not be the same as the original plant.

It can take 4 to 10 years for a new Lime Tree to produce fruit.


About Me

Hey, I'm Tyler Ziton. After a decade of health issues, I found the only thing I needed was to eat fresh food. With some trial and error, I learned that the best way to make sure food was fresh was to grow it myself. Today, I'm learning about everything gardening, off-gridding, and homesteading. This site is the place where I share everything I've learned to help get you moving on your homesteading journey.

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