Florida growers and home gardeners have a large selection of fruit to choose from that can be grown successfully. More temperate fruits thrive in the north and tropical/subtropical fruits will excel the further south you go. To learn more about growing fruit in Florida keep on reading.
Apple/Asian Pear Trees (North):
Low-chill apple varieties have changed the game for apple growing in Florida. Fuji, Gala, and Granny Smith are great apples that require less than 500 chill hours. Asian pears like 20th Century, Hosui, and Shinseiki are also low chill varieties that will do great. For the best results, plant your apple trees in well-draining soil, and be sure to top dress with compost and mulch annually.
Much like Pome Fruits, you need to select low chill varieties for your Peaches, Plums & Nectarines. Babcock White Peach, Donut (Stark Saturn) Peach, Suncrest Peach, Santa Rosa Plum, Burgundy Plum, Satsuma Plum, Double Delight Nectarine, Goldmine White Nectarine, and Snow Queen Nectarine all require 500 or fewer chill hours. These trees should be pruned to an open center. This allows light to reach the interior of the tree which allows for more even ripening of fruit as well as for air to flow freely through the tree. For the best results, plant your trees in well-draining soil, and be sure to top dress with compost and mulch each spring.
Florida provides all the right conditions for figs to grow fairly easily. Most fig varieties require very low chill hours(100). Brown Turkey Fig, Black Mission Fig, and Excel Fig are well-rounded varieties that are self-fruitful and heavy bearing. Trees should be planted in well-draining soil and protected from sunburn with tree paint/spray. These trees will also benefit from a generous top dressing of compost and mulch each spring.
In general, Avocado trees should be grown in areas that don't freeze and in soil with good drainage. For growers that regularly experience temperatures above 90°F, you will want to protect your tree from sunburn with tree paint/spray. Young avocados are very susceptible to sunburn which creates entry points for pests and disease to come in and ravage your tree. Florida is one of the leading producers of the low fat "slim avocado". That said, California varieties like Lamb Hass, Jim Bacon, and Pinkerton are superb in flavor and adaptability, making them excellent choices for Florida Growers.
I don't need to convince you that citrus grows well in Florida. The sunshine state provides the sun, heat, and humidity you need to produce excellent citrus fruit. This subtropical fruit thrives in the parts of the state that don't regularly experience freezing temperatures. Of course Oranges, Lemons, Limes, Pumelos, Grapefruits, Kumquats, Mandarins, and Exotic varieties will all thrive in the state. Our growers in the northern part of the state will want to stick to Lemons and Limes as the lack of heat means other varieties will not produce sweet fruit.
This elegant evergreen has inspired greatness and symbolized peace for thousands of years. The silvery leafed tree is covered in white flowers in April or May before setting its delicious fruit. Arbequina and Mission Olives are the classic go-to olives for the table or processing. While this Mediterranean tree will thrive in the north, researchers have grown them as far south as Orlando with varying results. You want to grow your olive tree in a sunny part of the yard that has well-draining, sandy soil as too much water can cause root rot. Once established, they require minimal maintenance but protecting them from sub 20°F is crucial.
This orange-colored fruit is widely grown in Florida. Divided into two categories, the Persimmon has both astringent and non-astringent cultivars. Some of these cultivars have an almost tomato-like flesh while others have an apple-like crunch to them. These large(20'-30'+) trees prefer well-draining soil and require minimal maintenance. Regular watering and good pruning in the winter are all these trees need. Varieties like Fuyu & Hachiya are self-fruitful and produce lots of fruit with minimal chill hours.
The Wonderful superfood known for its bright red color is rich in antioxidants, antibacterial, antiviral, and various other healthy properties. The Pomegranate can be grown as a bush or a single trunk tree depending on how you prune. This tough tree will grow in a variety of soil types and requires very little water or maintenance for most of the year. You will want to ensure that your tree is getting adequate water during the late summer and into fall while the fruit is ripening to prevent splitting.
Bushes & Vines:(North/Central/South):
Southern Highbush blueberry varieties were specially bred to thrive in the southern states. These picky berries require an acidic soil mix with lots of organic matter and space for them to thrive. You want to plant these blueberries in a sunny spot in the yard, water them regularly, and mulch to ensure the soil stays moist. It is also recommended that you grow at least two varieties of blueberry so that they can help pollinate each other. SharpBlue Blueberry Bush, Misty Blueberry Bush, and Reveille Blueberry are great varieties that once established will provide tasty fruit for years to come.
The guava is grown all over the state. The fact that guavas grow wild and roadside truly shows how easy this fruit is to grow. Guavas can be grown as a bush or single trunk tree depending on the pruning style. These are very vigorous plants and regular pruning will be required to keep this plant in check. The Strawberry Guava is an incredibly tasty piece of fruit and will self-pollinate but cross-pollinating with another variety will increase yield.
The passion vine is another Florida native plant that is easy to grow but can become a bit invasive if planted in perfect conditions. They attract lots of pollinators and butterflies with their lovely flowers. These vigorous vines should be planted on a trellis and given lots of space to run and spread. Nancy Garrison Passion Vine not only produces incredible flowers but also delectable fruit that is packed with tropical flavor.
Author: Israel Osuna