Why Is My Key Lime Losing Flower Buds?

“I have a Key Lime tree that keeps losing the flower buds, so we never get any Key Limes. Do you have any suggestions for the soil that may help? I water the tree every other day during the dry season, and every 3-4 days during our rainy season. Thank you.” Question from Jenifer of St. Petersburg, Florida.

Answer: You can always expect some natural bud drop in any citrus, including key lime (Citrus × aurantiifolia). Flower buds and blooms will typically occur in waves from mid to late winter. If your key lime is losing all of its buds, then many different factors could be the cause. These can include:

  1. Excessive water or extreme drought
  2. Extreme temperature fluctuations
  3. Pest or disease problems
  4. Nutrient deficiency
  5. Leaf loss due to hurricane damage
  6. Dry air

You seem to be watering your tree quite a lot. If it appears to be very healthy, then water it less and make sure you are feeding it with a fertilizer formulated for citrus. Reducing water can actually induce flower bud set! If it looks unhealthy, send a picture, so I can better target the specific problem.

Happy gardening,

Jessie Keith

Black Gold Horticulturist


Plants are the lens Jessie views the world through because they’re all-sustaining. (“They feed, clothe, house and heal us. They produce the air we breathe and even make us smell pretty.”) She’s a garden writer and photographer with degrees in both horticulture and plant biology from Purdue and Michigan State Universities. Her degrees were bolstered by internships at Longwood Gardens and the American Horticultural Society. She has since worked for many horticultural institutions and companies and now manages communications for Sun Gro Horticulture, the parent company of Black Gold. Her joy is sharing all things green and lovely with her two daughters.

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