Growing A Bearss Lime Tree
Our Bearss Lime Tree As A Baby In The Spring And Later In Fall...Click thumbnail to view full-size
In The Growing Zone 9B Hot And Arid Climate Of Las Vegas!
We began our adventure into attempting to grow a Bearss lime tree here in Las Vegas back on April 5, 2012. After looking at our "little" tree recently, we thought that we must be doing something right so far. It is doing really well and growing by leaps and bounds!
Seeing pictures side-by-side recently, I was surprised at how well it has done here. The climate here, if you have ever been to Las Vegas, is an arid, hot desert type of climate. In fact, we're actually in a Valley here, in a part of the Mojave desert. Temperatures here in the summer time are absolutely brutal on some days, reaching highs at times of 115 degrees! And that is along with VERY low humidity, usually around fifteen percent.
In the winter, temperatures are generally pretty mild, but sometimes they can dip into the 20's, so we will have to be careful not to let the Bearss lime tree freeze this winter. From everything we've read, these trees grow best in climates with temperatures that do not go below the 20's, so we think it would be OK here, but we will cover the lime tree just to be safe.
Bearss Lime Trees are a Popular Choice in Las Vegas
Bearss lime trees are pretty little trees that bloom in the spring with small white flowers, as you can see from my pictures. Whenever new growth appears, there are little sprouts with yellow tips that appear first. The new growth comes along after these yellow bulbs appear.
Today, our Bearss lime tree is completely green and full with a lot of leaves. And from what we have learned, it can take anywhere from a year to three years to see the first limes on the tree. And when the limes do appear, it is usually in late fall to early winter, with the most active growth times happening from late October until about January or February. So, we'll see!
I don't know whether we will get limes on the tree this winter, but if we do, I will definitely put pictures here. I know I'll be so excited that I'll have to share pictures. As you can probably tell, this is our first experience growing a fruit tree, even a dwarf type fruit tree, so this is a completely new venture for us.
A Bearss lime tree can be grown either in a decorative pot, or you can remove it from the nursery pot and plant it in the ground. The ground here in the desert, however, is not good at all for growing trees and the soil needs extra help if any type of tree is to be grown. The soil here tends to be on the rocky and sandy side.
So, we chose to grow our Bearss lime tree in a pot. Make sure if you attempt to grow it in a pot that the pot is big enough to support the trees growth so you don't have to keep transplanting it. The recommended size is a minimum of two gallons.
If you are growing a Bearss lime tree in a pot, you will want to fill your pot about half full with good quality potting soil, then place the lime tree in with the root ball having been gently separated beforehand. Put the tree into the pot, being careful that it is centered and gently cover the roots with more potting soil until the roots are completely covered. Then, you will want to pat the soil down gently around the tree trunk.
Once that is done, you can put mulch on top of it. We happened to have some mulch left over from some other plants we had planted, so we used just a thin layer of mulch. We used it to try to protect the young tree from the suns harshest rays in the summer and from the winter cold. If you live in a more temperate climate, you can probably do without the mulch.
Choosing a Growing Place Based on Climate
If you live in a climate that gets very cold in winter, you will find that you need to bring the tree indoors whenever there is a freeze possibility. Or better yet, keep it indoors until spring until it is OK to put it outside once more.
Once you've planted your Bearss lime tree, water it well and put it in a location where it will get partially filtered sun at least for the first week or so. The place we have our tree, it gets full sun in the morning and a more filtered, partial sun in the afternoon. We thought that would be better for the Bearss lime tree, since that afternoon sun can be brutal here.
After the tree is planted and situated just where you want to put it, it is best to wait a couple of weeks or so before using any kind of fertilizer on it, and when you do, be sure to use a fertilizer that is especially made for citrus trees. That way, you will ensure that your little tree is getting exactly what it needs without the guesswork. It is usually recommended that fertilizer be used about twice a year, or simply follow the directions on the fertilizer package.
We had to spray our tree one time for aphids, since aphids can be a problem with Bearss lime trees. Use a good quality spray directly intended for getting rid of these pests. Aphids can do some real damage on these trees, so it is good to check it every so often to see if the little pesky bugs have returned.
Once you do begin to see limes on your tree, leave them on until they are ready to be picked, usually when they are dark green and over two inches in diameter. If you wait too long, they will begin to turn yellow and will not be as juicy.
When the limes start growing, it is advised to pick them once per month in the winter months, and then every week from May through the fall. It is best to always pick them by hand, and Bearss lime trees sometimes will have limes that fall off of them, this is normal for this type of tree. You want to try to get the limes before they fall, though.
Another thing to watch for on a Bearss lime tree besides aphids is a viral disease that sometimes affects citrus trees called wood pocket. This virus especially affects lemon trees, but can occasionally affect lime trees as well. Characteristics of this disease are breakage or small defects on the bark of the tree. When you lift the bark, you can see that the bark underneath has become discolored. The tree can, unfortunately, die from this disease. If you are lucky, though, a Bearss lime tree can last for ten years or more bearing fruit and staying disease free.
Some Fun Facts About Bearss Lime Trees
Here are some fun and interesting facts about Bearss Lime Trees:
- Bearss Lime trees are practically thorn-less and the limes they bear are seedless. They can be pretty vigorous in their growth, growing from medium to large size and they spread out and bear white blossoms in the spring.
- Bearss Lime trees are also known by the names of Persian Lime or Tahitian Lime.
- Bearss Lime trees generally do very well wherever lemon trees are able to be grown. And in fact, Bearss Lime trees are hardier, especially in cold weather, than Mexican lime trees.
- The first Bearss Lime tree is thought to have originated on a ranch in the town of Indio, California. It was said that it began as a small seedling that was grown from the seed of a fruit that originated in Tahiti.
- The fruit from a Bearss Lime tree usually measures about 2 to 2 1/2 inches in diameter and is bigger than the fruit that comes from Mexican lime trees.
- The limes from a Bearss Lime tree reach their full maturity in the late fall to early winter, and if you leave them on the tree they will fall off. It is best to pick them before they have the chance to fall off.
Bearss lime trees respond very well to being pruned, especially when the branches grow upwards and outwards in all directions. They can be shaped to an extent and some pruning won't harm them.
Limes can be used in recipes made by adventurous cooks, in limeade and in iced tea and as an accompaniment to many Mexican meals. They are wonderful in salads, especially in a delicious southwest salad featuring things like black beans and corn and southwest seasoned chicken breast.
And of course, they can be used to make a wonderful Key Lime pie, or in this case, a Bearss lime pie. If we are lucky enough to see limes from our tree and if I am able to make a pie from them one day, I'll have to put a picture of a home-made pie on here, made with the limes we have grown!
© 2012 KathyH