The small leaved lime, large-leaved lime and the common time that is a cross between the two are all native trees. The common lime is usually planted in urban areas but is also found occurring as a natural hybrid in the wild. Large-leaved lime is now by far the rarest of the native limes. It differs only slightly from the small-leaved variety. Lime was once a dominant woodland species though not it is far more commonly seen in managed landscapes like parks, streets and of course gardens.

Growing lime trees:

Lime trees like full sun or partial shade and are deciduous with a spreading, branched shape. They look good when grow singly as specimen trees or down the side of an avenue.

Lime trees have glossy, dark green, heart shaped leaves that can be eaten like a salad crop in the spring. They have hanging clusters of yellowish green flowers in the spring and noticeable winged fruit later in the year.

Limes will not grow well in very dry conditions or in a situation where they will be assailed by high winds. They prefer a moist but well-drained soil that is neutral or alkaline and will not do well in very acid conditions. Limes however when they are established are a fantastic low-maintenance addition to wildlife gardens.

The lime is hardy throughout southern reaches, up to zone 3 and is commonly used in landscaping, especially further south. It is not frost tender. It is also uniform in habit, especially the common lime, which makes it popular for street settings and gardens.

The lime is propagated by seed and this is possible to do though most people will buy one of the readily available saplings that are for sale and plant a one or two year old tree, or even one that is older still, into their garden.

The lime is also commonly known as the linden throughout Europe. The names are used interchangeably and refer to the same family of trees.

Why grow lime trees in the garden?

Lime or linden trees are beautiful and graceful shade trees. They are also of benefit to bees and other pollinating insects, lime trees are home to a number of moth species and are extremely attractive to aphids, thereby keeping aphids away from your vegetables and other plants and attracting predatory insects like ladybirds and hoverflies. These trees are also useful for the birds in your garden.

During the war, lime flowers were used to make a soothing tea. Lime wood is useful in woodworking craft and furniture making. The wood does not warp and can be used to make a wide variety of objects including sounding boards, piano keys, cups, ladles, bowls or sticks for beans etc.. Lime can be coppiced and it is sometimes also used for fuel. 

Quick Facts

Latin Name
Tilia x europaea, tilia cordata, tilia platyphyllos