Rangpur lime: care, cultivation & uses of Citrus limonia
Rangpur limes bring a welcome citrus zing from the tropics directly into your own garden and kitchen.
Rangpur limes (Citrus limonia) are considered a tropical rarity among the citrus plants. A relative of oranges and lemons, they enrich gardens with their wonderful, zesty fragrance and add to the culinary diversity of your cuisine with their bittersweet fruit. Read on to find out everything you need to know about planting, caring for and using Citrus limonia.
Citrus limonia: origin and properties
The Rangpur (Citrus x limonia), also known as Citrus limonia, lemandarin or Rangpur lime, is a member of the Citrus genus belonging to the citrus family (Rutaceae). It is thought to be a cross between oranges (Citrus x sinensis) and lemons (Citrus x limon), hence it is often referred to as Citrus x limonia. Since it is not uncommon for citrus fruits to hybridise naturally, often resulting in hybrid varieties, there is no way of knowing exactly how the Rangpur lime came to be. In fact, there are about 39 hybrids of the approximately 25 varieties of Citrus limonia that are cultivated agriculturally.
As the name suggests, Rangpur limes are native to and widespread throughout sunny India. Here in the UK, Citrus limonia is usually grown in pots. Depending on the environment, it can grow as a perennial tree or shrub. In nature, it grows to a height of about 5 m, but only a mere 2 m in pots. Citrus limonia grows upright, branched and has thorny shoots. Rangpur lime trees have dark green, broad, oval and pointed leaves with a glossy surface. Usually in spring, but also into autumn, Citrus limonia produces white flowers with a violet hue that have a citrus-like fragrance. Depending on the flowering period, Rangpur lime trees develop fruits the size of a tangerine with a thin, knobbly peel. In our part of the world, the peel turns orange, whereas in subtropical climates it remains green. The orange flesh of the Rangpur lime tastes sweet initially, but has a fresh, bitter aftertaste.
Planting Rangpur lime trees: how and where to plant Citrus limonia
Over here, Citrus limonia is best grown in a pot. This is because this tropical plant likes it warm, which also means that you may have to move it from time to time, depending on the weather. You can move your Citrus limonia outside from May to October. Choose a sunny location so that the shoots get plenty of light. However, it is vital to first slowly accustom your Rangpur lime tree to the sun, otherwise the leaves may burn. To do this, gradually increase the amount of light by moving the container every week. Make sure the container or pot does not overheat, otherwise the root system will die. So, avoid steel pots or dark plastic pots. A pot made of porous, unglazed terracotta is ideal.
When choosing a pot, consider the size of your Rangpur lime tree and make sure it is large enough to accommodate the plant’s roots. Like most citrus fruits, Citrus limonia perishes when the roots are wet, so make sure the pot also has a drainage hole and use a well-draining soil. Use a nutrient-rich potting soil mixed with ingredients that help with drainage such as gravel, sand or expanded clay in a mixing ratio of 3:1. Our Plantura Organic All Purpose Compost is a suitable choice. This high-quality, pre-fertilised soil is ideal for plants with higher nutrient requirements, such as Citrus limonia. Aside from imitating the nutrient-rich soil of the Rangpur lime tree’s tropical home, it is also peat-free. Peat-free soils are not only environmentally friendly, but also beneficial for citrus fruits. They have a lower water retention capacity and allow air to circulate more freely, reducing the risk of waterlogging. Even after severely drying out, this soil is easy to wet again and does not sink as quickly, saving you from having to repot your Rangpur lime too often.
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Planting Citrus limonia:
- Repot into a new container that is 2 – 5 cm wider in March/April
- If necessary, remove dead root tips
- Plant Rangpur lime trees in a pot with drainage hole(s) and nutrient-rich, well-draining soil
- Water well and place in a sunny spot
Rangpur lime care
A happy and healthy plant is less likely to succumb to pests and diseases. To help protect your Citrus limonia against pests such as spider mites in summer or scale insects in winter, follow the following Rangpur lime care tips.
Rangpur lime tree winter care
As it is not native to the UK, Citrus limonia can be a little more difficult to care for. Rangpur lime trees love plenty of sunlight and do best outdoors at warm temperatures of 25 °C and above. They can also be grown all year round in a greenhouse or conservatory. Like most citrus plants, Rangpur lime trees are not winter hardy, so must be brought indoors between October and March and on frosty days. To prevent leaf drop, overwinter it somewhere between 8 °C and 15 °C with sufficient light.
Remember: When it comes to overwintering your Rangpur lime tree, the cooler the place is in winter, the darker it can be. Conversely, the brighter the place, the warmer it can be.
Watering Citrus limonia
Water your Rangpur lime tree regularly, even daily if necessary. You can let the surface of the soil dry out, but always keep the lower layers moist. Avoid waterlogging.
Repotting the Rangpur lime
You can repot Citrus limonia every one to two years, depending on how the roots are looking. However, it is best to repot this plant as seldom as possible, as its roots, like those of many citrus plants, are quite sensitive. Due to the stress of repotting, Rangpur lime trees will often not flower for a year afterwards. If you do decide to repot your Rangpur, do so between March and July, preferably after the last frosts in mid-May.
Pruning Citrus limonia
To keep your Rangpur lime tree compact, prune the shoots of the crown during the summer. You can also cut back long branches to the main stem in winter.
Fertilising the Rangpur lime tree
Citrus limonia are very hungry plants, so require regular fertilizing. Fertilise weekly between March and October, especially while they are flowering and fruiting. Our Plantura Liquid Citrus Food is ideal for this, as it provides all the nutrients that Rangpur lime trees get in their tropical home. An optimal NK ratio helps Rangpur lime tree fruits to develop an aromatic flavour.
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Harvest, flavour and use
Given the right care, Citrus limonia bears plenty of fruit. Rangpur limes are edible, making them a very special ingredient in the kitchen. They taste very sweet with a surprisingly bitter aftertaste, making Rangpur limes ideal for jam as well as for adding an Indian twist to sauces and savoury dishes. You can also buy Rangpur lime-infused gin. As with most citrus fruits, Citrus limonia is also said to have medicinal properties. With its high vitamin C content and antibacterial properties, it is said to boost our defenses and help us to overcome infectious diseases.
Tip: Depending on the conditions, temperature and light we give our Citrus limonia, it can flower and fruit at different times of the year. Depending on when it flowers, you can harvest your Rangpur lime six months later. It is common to observe blossoms and fruits on the plant at the same time.