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This is my first attempt to grow something and it hasn't started off well. During the last winter, my Persian lime tree wasn't protected well enough from a cold front. All the leaves fell off, and the bark became brittle. I assumed it had died and was planning to uproot it in the spring.

When spring came around, I noticed at the very base, almost even with the soil, new leaves began to sprout. Today, even though there are 5-6 new branches forming,they are only at the base, and there is no sign of life on the rest of the tree.

  1. If I take care of it, will it eventually recover?
  2. Will it ever bear fruit again (Someone told me no).
  3. Should I cut away all the dead parts?
  4. Would I'd be better off replacing it.

Also, the tree was young to start with, only 4ft tall or so, but did bare a few limes before winter. Thanks!

Edit for clarity: My main question and concern is, if I choose to nurse the tree back to health, is there any possibility the tree will never bear fruit again? I had a person tell me that could happen, but I can't find any evidence to back that claim. If there is a possibility, then with the plant being so young, I might be better off starting over. Heh, I guess I feel bad for killing it and would like to see it recover.

I live in the U.S in southern Louisiana. Winters don't usually get below 20F here. I'd say average winter temp is around 50F.

Pictures Picture of entire lime tree Picture of the base of the lime tree

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Thank you for adding in the photos (they help greatly) :) I believe the photos confirm Robert's answer: gardening.stackexchange.com/questions/1313/… -- and I would 100% go with his advice on removing it... –  Mike Perry Jul 15 '11 at 15:31
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2 Answers 2

up vote 11 down vote accepted

Don't bother; Really. You likely have a bigger problem.

Persian limes are are sterile triploids, hence no seeds. What that means is the tree itself is a hybrid which was grafted onto the rootstock of a completely different citrus variety.

What that means to you is that there is a very strong chance the shoots are coming from original tree stock and you will not end up with a Persian lime tree.

There's no telling what you will end up with, even if it does manage to bear fruit. I had an orange tree that "suckered" from the wild rootstock… and the oranges it produced were closer to the essence of turpentine than anything resembling an edible orange.

Do yourself a favor: Get out your loppers, close your eyes, and give remnants a proper burial (but don't really close your eyes as that would be very dangerous). If you're essentially starting from scratch anyway, at least start out with a healthy, new tree. You may even consider looking into a variety that is just a bit more cold tolerant for your area.

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Ahh, then yes, this is what my friend was getting at. I had a good laugh reading about your turpentine oranges. Funeral set for Saturday. Thanks! –  csthopper Jul 15 '11 at 4:18
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@Robert, excellent! catch, point on the rootstock. I should have considered that, especially after only hearing a similar story on BBC Gardeners’ Question Time podcast only 2 weeks ago - An orange tree had started to grow lemons (via the root stock). –  Mike Perry Jul 15 '11 at 4:41
    
As an FYI, the rootstock that has come up and taken over is some variant of trifoliate orange (also called hardy orange, wild orange, and tastes like the poster describes: like turpentine). Unless you're into propagating roostock and/or like seriously thorny bushes, I'd do as the post suggests and get rid of it as the graft has died. Calamondin might be a good alternative (hardy to about 20 degrees). It's much hardier than any true lime and has a nice lemon/lime flavor. I've also heard of limequats being fairly hardy though I don't have any experience with them. –  Tim Clymer Aug 11 '11 at 15:31
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I can't answer all 4 of your questions, but please allow me to answer the ones I can.

  1. I honestly believe, no one can really tell you that for certain without actually seeing the tree in question (or at least a few photos).
  2. Pass.
  3. Yes, without question. Any dead parts on a tree should be removed immediately (ASAP). Failure to-do-so greatly increases the chance of pests and diseases moving in and infecting the tree. When removing dead parts, make clean cuts (using appropriate pruning tool for the job at hand), leaving a small part of the branch collar visible at the intersection of the trunk. Never cut (hack) into the trunk of a tree, unless you have to remove dead, infected parts of the trunk itself, then if it's that bad I would recommend calling in a specialist ie An arborist.
  4. Without actually seeing it, or least some photos of it, it's a little hard to say.

Appropriate pruning tools for trees:

  • Pruning shears, up to 1inch (25mm) diameter
  • Lopping (long handled) shears, up to 2inch (50mm) diameter
  • Variety of hand saws, from 1inch (25mm) up to 4inch (100mm) diameter
  • Chainsaws, from 2inch (50mm) up to felling giant Redwoods, Sequoias. Best left to the pro's when using this dangerous power-tool.

For an excellent resource on how to prune trees, take a look at the following document from the US Forest Service:

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