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When to Harvest Limes – 3 Obvious Signs!

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Do you like squeezing lemon over everything to make the flavor more refreshing?

If you are a fan of the delicious and refreshing citrus taste, you would have tried growing limes in your backyard.

Limes are highly popular worldwide and have versatile uses, such as in limeades, meals, and drinks like mojito. It does not matter for what you use lime, the taste of fresh fruit taken straight from the garden beats everything else.

Lime needs certain conditions and requirements to grow in its best shape.

But one of the most critical questions for the best fruit taste is when to harvest limes. How do you know this citrus fruit is ready for you to pick?

If you have faced this dilemma and always pick limes at the wrong time, keep reading to know when to harvest limes.

Green limes—when to harvest limes
When to harvest limes? – Image via Hanna Balan.

When to Harvest Limes? | 3 Signs They’re Ready!

Since limes don’t ripen any further once they have been picked, you need to ensure that you collect them from the tree only after they have reached a desirable ripeness.

You must consider a few factors before harvesting lime fruit.

1. Color of the fruit

Color is the first consideration for checking whether lime is ready for harvesting.

  • Depending on the variety of the lime, you’ll be looking at different colors at the time of harvesting.
  • For example, the Persian limes turn from their usual dark green to a more lime green color and become heavier, indicating high juice content. That is the ideal time to pick them up.
  • Other lime varieties will turn light green or yellow at ripeness.
  • The color should be consistent and not in patches.
  • The lighter the color, the sweeter the fruit and the fuller juice.
  • For sourer lime, harvest them when it is bright green, showing higher acidic content.

That aside, let’s move to the next sign.

2. Skin Texture and Weight

Heavier limes have more juice, so you want to pick ones that feel full.

Weigh and compare with other limes on the tree to see which ones are heavier. Limes get heavier as they mature and reach ripeness.

Moreover, the skin of the limes should not be too squishy, but it shouldn’t be too hard, either.

You should be able to squeeze it in with some effort.

3. Time of Harvesting

If you are still confused about the appearance to harvest lime, the best time to pick the fruit is in summer.

Mostly, the harvesting time starts in late summer and sometimes goes on a little till winter.

Now that you know when to harvest limes let’s look at some FAQs.


Here are the answers to some frequently asked questions.

What Do Mature Limes Look Like?

You need to understand their physical appearance and structure to grasp the timeline of their maturity.

  • Limes are about seven to eight centimeters in length with an oval shape, and their outer covering is usually green and thick.
  • The lime tree has beautiful flowers in a creamy white hue and a brilliant fragrance, but sometimes they may take on a lavender color or some other shade of purple under excessive sunlight.
  • The shape and size of leaves differ based on the variety of limes, and so does the exact size of the fruit.

You need to pick limes at the right time, when they are ripe, as these fruits won’t ripen any further once you have picked them off the tree.

Related article: Why Don’t Limes Have Seeds? The Ultimate Answer

How to Differentiate Limes from Lemon?

Many people confuse limes and lemons as being the same fruit.

However, both are different!

They are closely related, being citrus fruits, but come from different families. Given that there are several varieties of limes, some are more closely related to lemons than others.

There are some distinguishing factors and attributes through which you can easily compare both citrus fruits and differentiate between them, especially if you are starting with gardening.

  • One of the main factors to set lemons and limes apart is that the latter is green when it reaches the perfect ripeness, unlike lemons which are yellow when ripe.
  • There are some varieties where the limes may have a slight hue of yellow at ripeness. Specific environments and growing conditions also bring some yellow shade to the lime.

Another distinguishing factor is the shape of the lime.

  • Lemons are usually oval and not completely round. Lemons also have a slight extension or protrusion at the top. Limes are completely round in shape.

Some other attributes and characteristics also set apart these two citrus fruits, such as their shelf life.

  • Lemons usually last longer than limes, but limes have a more enhanced sour taste than lemons.
  • Moreover, limes have better juice content, making them more popular for drinks.
  • Regarding nutritional content, the Vitamin C content is almost the same for both citrus fruits.

Those were some distinguishing features of lemons and limes.

What are the Different Types of Limes?

Before planting limes in your garden, you should know about the different types of limes and their appearance to differentiate between their signs of ripeness.

  • One of the varieties is the Persian lime which can be distinguished by the slightly oval shape of the fruit and broad leaf surface.
  • Then, key limes are significantly smaller than Persian limes and round.
  • One of the easiest limes to distinguish is the kaffir lime. It has a distinct wrinkled peel, so you can easily tell this variety from others.
  • Another variety that can be identified promptly is caviar lime. The fruits on this tree are shaped like a finger.

There are some other varieties, but these are the most prominent ones.

When to harvest limes? | How to Tell if Limes are Ready for Harvest – YouTube


I hope now you know when to harvest limes.

The important thing to remember is that the harvesting time for limes will differ based on the variety and the taste you want.

You will have to harvest earlier if you like green, sour fruits. But if you want the taste to be less sour and somewhat sweet, wait until the color turns light green or yellow.

It takes about three to four months for the lime to reach maturity for harvesting.

Make sure you know and learn about the variety you are growing to pick the right time for harvesting the fruit.

And enjoy the limeade!