Tropical Style

Problematic Shoots Across the Base of a Lime Tree

Unless you live in a tropical climate, then you will probably be growing the “Bearss” — also known as “Persian”– lime (Citrus latifolia), which rises in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 8 through 11. Limes trees, such as all citrus, can create shoots at the bottom of this tree. Recognizing these and correctly removing them will help to conserve the health of your lime tree.

About Suckers

The shoots at the bottom of lime trees are called suckers. Their appearance does not mean you are doing anything wrong because they are inherent will all kinds of citrus. Identifying and removing them is the most important matter to maintain the suckers from posing problems for your own lime tree.

Identifying Suckers

If you see suckers growing up from the foundation of the lime tree trunk, you need to take a close look to see if they are in the lime tree variety you are growing or in the rootstock. Suckers can be either over or below the graft of this tree. The location of this suckers and any leaf that appear on them will help you to identify the kind. Leaves on the suckers which are not the same as the leaves in the canopy indicate that the rootstock is producing the shoots. The foundation of those shoots are going to be in the bottom of the trunk, below the graft or occasionally from the bottom across the bottom of the tree. Suckers which are over the graft still need removal despite the fact that they are the same as the assortment of lime you are growing. All these above-the-graft suckers will create thorny branches and unpalatable fruit while drawing nutrients away from the main canopy.

Removing Suckers

The suckers which come in the rootstock would be the most important to eliminate. Don’t wait until these suckers grow large and create leaves. As soon as you see them, then pull them away by hand or use pruning shears to cut them away in the base of this sucker. The University of Arizona Cooperative Extension also recommends removing the suckers from over the graft up to 12 inches in the bottom. This concentrates the developing strength of this tree on the canopy.

Issues From Suckers

Suckers need to be removed early. Leaving them in place can prevent the growth of the chief portion of the tree since the suckers draw away nutrients. If you have a youthful lime tree, sucker removal is particularly important because the growth of the suckers can outpace that of this tree. If you’ve had a lime tree for several years and not seen any fruit on it, suckers from the rootstock may have grown into the tree dimensions but produce no fruit.

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