When you buy a lemon from the grocery store, it will probably be just one of a couple of varieties. For that reason, you might think that most lemons taste the same.
But outside of the commercial market, there are many varieties of lemon tree. Each has unique characteristics, needs, and aromas and flavors.
The Bearss lemon is just one of dozens of lemon types. These juicy, tangy lemons are more acidic than most. In the spring, they bloom into white, fragrant flowers.
While they grow most prolifically in tropical regions, it is possible to grow them in colder climates. Read on to learn what you need to grow a Bearss lemon tree.
History of the Bearss Lemon
The Bearss lemon tree was developed in Florida in the early 1950s. Since then, they have become known for their fast growing fruits that are extremely juicy. The variety can be grown either outside or inside in a pot, provided it gets enough air and sunlight.
Tree / Fruit Characteristics
Bearss lemon trees have a few characteristics that stand out. Firstly, they grow and produce fruit very quickly. They also have few thorns, unlike most lemon tree varieties.
Bearss lemons are tart, acidic, and juicier than the average lemon. They are also known to have fewer seeds, which makes them ideal for juicing. The lemons are coveted for their high concentration of lemon oil, which is used in baking.
As a tropical plant, the Bearss lemon tree flourishes in warm, humid regions with lots of sunshine. In general, they are recommended for growing zones nine to eleven, although they can be grown in zones eight through twelve. If you choose to grow a Bearss lemon tree in a colder climate, you will need to make accommodations for providing extra water and protecting it from frosts.
Size and Spacing
Bearss lemon trees can vary significantly in size, ranging from 10 to 20 feet at full maturity. Much of this depends on the conditions under which it is planted and whether it is outside or in a pot. Lemon trees thrive with extensive pruning, which can significantly curb their height.
In addition to the standard Bearss lemon tree, there is also a dwarf variety. This type is better suited to pot growing and still produces a good amount of fruit.
Because this tree needs a lot of root aeration, it should be planted with plenty of space between it and other trees. Full-size Bearss lemons should be 12 to 25 feet away from other plants, while dwarf varieties need 6 to 10 feet. Make sure not to plant this variety in open spaces where it will be vulnerable to frequent, cold air currents.
Bearss lemon trees are self-pollinating, so you will get a fruit harvest even with a single tree. However, planting a second lemon tree nearby can encourage cross-pollination and increase your fruit yield (provided both trees have adequate space, as specified above).
If you do not have room for a second lemon tree, there are many herbs, flowers, and shrubs you can plant to attract pollinators. These include lemon balm, fennel, cilantro, rosemary, thyme, basil, parsley, and marigolds.
Because Bearss lemon trees are so particularly suited for a certain climate, they require extensive care. If you live in a cooler climate, you should move the tree inside once temperatures begin regularly dropping below the mid-50s at night.
While keeping the tree indoors, make sure it is by a window so that it gets partial to full sun every day. Keep it away from drafty areas and maintain your home’s temperature at a minimum of 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Bearss lemon tree needs partial to full sunlight. If you are growing it inside, place it in a sunny spot in your home, preferably on a patio or by a large window. You may want to place a grow light nearby to provide extra warmth.
Like most citrus trees, the Bearss lemon should be planted in soil with excellent drainage. Too much moisture around the root system can cause the tree to develop disease. Many citrus trees thrive in clay or sand so that they stay moist without retaining too much water.
Water the tree a moderate amount when you notice the soil around the roots is dry. Although you should not overwater, the Bearss lemon does need a humid environment. If you are keeping the tree indoors, especially in dry winter air, mist it daily or keep a humidifier running nearby.
Like most citrus trees, the Bearss lemon requires extensive pruning and training. If you know what training is from pruning other types of fruit trees, you can apply the same principle to the Bearss.
Citrus trees require extensive pruning because they need good air circulation. By removing the excess branches, you ensure that oxygen will reach the remaining tree limbs and encourage healthy growth.
The most important pruning happens in the first two years of the tree’s life. During this time, you will be training the tree — that is, shaping it to guide its future growth. Beginning gardeners sometimes feel intimidated by this complex process. However, in time you will get the hang of it. In subsequent years, lemon trees don’t require such extensive pruning.
Almost make sure that your pruning shears are clean and sharp to avoid infecting your trees. Cut branches at an angle.
Common Uses For The Fruit
Bearss lemon trees produce fruit annually from August through December. The lemons are juicy and sweet, making them ideal for cooking, juicing, and preserving.
What Do Bearss Lemons Taste Like?
Bearss lemons are tarter and more acidic than most lemon varieties. They are very juicy, making them ideal for lemonade and other beverages. They are also known for having high concentrations of lemon oil in their skin.
There are many ways to use Bearss lemons in cooking. You will most often find them incorporated into pastries, breads, cakes, and pies, usually in the form of juice or zest. But lemon juice can also be incorporated into savory dishes. It is often used in glazes or sauces, sometimes paired with pasta or meat.
Although you probably won’t be eating raw lemon fruit, that doesn’t mean you can’t use the juice in uncooked dishes and beverages. Bearss lemons are delicious when juiced for lemonade, incorporated in salad dressing, or put into smoothies.
Canning / Freezing / Drying
Lemons are a popular choice among home canners. They are perfect in jams and other preserves. You can also use them in a unique preserve called curd, which combines lemons and eggs to make a creamy citrus jam.
Although lemons don’t lend themselves well to drying, they can be frozen either whole or sliced. Just bear in mind that freezing them, especially for long periods, may change their texture.
Consider adding Bearss lemons to a baking recipe, like this eggless lemon plum cake. When used in cakes and pastries, the acidity of citrus is tempered to become sweet and tangy.
Health Benefits of Bearss Lemons
Like most other lemon varieties, the Bearss lemon is full of vitamins. Citrus is known for its high levels of vitamin C, but this isn’t the only health benefit. These lemons are also chock-full of antioxidants. Many of these have inflammation-fighting elements, reducing the effects of diseases like Crohn’s and diabetes. They may also improve the health of your skin, eyes, and digestive tract.
Where To Buy Bearss Lemon Trees and Lemons
Most lemons you find in grocery stores are only one of a few varieties, so you are not guaranteed to find Bearss lemons in the produce section. You may be able to find the variety from a local grower. This is more likely if you live in a region where Bearss lemons flourish, like Florida.
If you are interested in buying online, you can get Bearss Lime Trees from Nature Hills Nursery.
How Long Does It Take Bearss Lemon Trees to Produce Fruit?
While most lemon trees take two to four years to start producing fruit, the Bearss variety may reach maturity much more quickly. The tree is known for its rapid growth, so you might be able to expect a crop in just a few years.
When Should I Move My Bearss Lemon Tree Inside For The Winter?
If you live in a cool climate where temperatures are very cold during the winter, you will need to transfer your Bearss lemon tree inside. The right time to do this is when temperatures consistently drop below the mid-50s at night.
What Indoor Environment Does The Bearss Lemon Tree Need?
If you grow a citrus tree inside in a pot, you will need to provide a very specific environment to help it thrive. Keep the soil well-drained. Position the tree near a window where it can get a minimum of five hours of sunlight every day. Meanwhile, keep it away from cold draughts but make sure it is in an area with good airflow.
Lemon trees need humidity, so place a pan of water nearby or run a humidifier in the same room as your tree.
Is The Bearss Lemon Tree Thornless?
Although Bearss lemon trees have fewer thorns than most citrus trees, it is not completely thornless. Practice caution when pruning and harvesting by wearing gardening gloves.
There are many varieties of lemon, but the Bearss lemon is an excellent choice. This fast-growing tree will rapidly produce fragrant white flowers in the spring and a good fruit harvest beginning in late summer.
Other Lemon Trees on Minnetonka Orchards