Fruit Tree Garden Florida Ultimate Guide | All You Need To Know
Florida is a sub-tropical fruit paradise for growing tropical fruit trees. In Florida’s climate, you can produce various exotic tropical fruits depending on the region of Florida you reside in. Whether you’re trying to grow mango, sugar apple, lychee, or all the fruits – this guide will help you learn about nearly all the tropical fruit trees you can plant, grow, fruit, and harvest in Florida.
Florida’s subtropical growing climate
Florida is considered a subtropical climate – it’s almost considered a tropical climate, but Florida does have a short cold season from December to February that sends most tropical fruit trees, such as sugar apple (Annona squamosa), into dormancy. This brief period of cold weather does play an important role for many fruit tree fruit production in Florida, such as the lychee tree (Litchi chinensis) and mango tree (Mangifera indica) that require a certain number of chill-hours to send out flowers and therefore produce fruit.
Florida’s winter period, on the other hand, can be detrimental for those fruit gardeners in the Central to Northern parts of Florida, such as Ocala, Tallahassee, and Gainsville. The Southern parts of Florida, as well as the coastlines, do not get as cold during the winter months and therefore have a much stronger chance of surviving the colder months of Florida.
South Florida stays warmer than Northern and Central Florida because of the proximity to the earth’s equator, where the sun is the hottest. The micro-climates along the coastlines, rivers, large trees, and dense plantings can also help your fruit trees stay warm during winter.
Throughout Florida, several micro-climates and planting strategies can be used to ensure your fruit trees have the highest chance of growing and fruiting for many seasons.
Floridas Soil For Growing Fruit Trees
Floridas soil is primarily a sandy substrate. If you are struggling to grow fruit trees or have noticed your fruit trees are working to produce fruit in Florida, it might be due to having poor nutrition soil. Like humans, fruit trees also require certain levels of nutrients to be healthy, which can be improved by improving the soil in which your fruit tree is planted. The best way to ensure your fruit trees are healthy in Florida is to add tree mulch or organic material on top of the soil and around the base of your fruit tree.
Adding mulch and organic materials such as tree trimmings and kitchen fruit scraps can improve the overall micro-biome health of the soil your fruit tree is planted in. Over time, under the hot Florida sun, the mulch will break down into virgin soil, which is easily absorbed by your fruit tree roots – it’s some of the best nutrition your fruit tree could have.
Besides mulch being a natural soil improver for your fruit tree, it also provides several other benefits, such as moisture retention and weed barrier, and is aesthetically pleasing. Please read this article for more reasons why it’s essential to mulch your fruit trees.
What fruit trees can I grow in Florida?
Florida can grow a wide range of tropical fruit trees, such as
- Sugar apple (Annona squamosa)
- Atemoya (Annona atemoya)
- Rollinia (Annona deliciosa)
- Custard apple (Annona reticulata)
- Soursop (Annona muricata)
- Ilama (Annona diversiolia or Annona macrophyllata)
- Soncoya (Annona purpura)
- Beach sugar apple (Annona salzamnii)
- Star fruit (Averrhoa carambola)
- Yellow Cacao, Red Cacao (Theombroma cacao)
- Lychee (Litchi chinensis)
- Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis)
- Jackfruit (Artocarpus heterophyllus)
- Chempajack (Artocarpus integer x Artocarpus heterophyllus)
- Longan (Dimocarpus longan)
- Mango (Mangifera indica)
- Thai / Indian Jujubee (Ziziphus spp.)
- Star apple (Chrysophyllum cainito)
- Abiu (Pouteria caimito)
- Mamey (Pouteria sapota)
- Sapodilla (Manilkara zapota)
- Wax Jambu (Syzygium samarangense)
- Mountain apple (Syzygium malaccense)
- Bilimbi (Averrhoa bilimbi)
- Cecropia (Cecropia peltata)
- Jaboticaba (Myrciaria spp.)
- Cashew (Anacardium occidentale)
- Macadamia (Macadamia spp.)
- Banana (Musa acuminata)
- Avocado (Persea Americana)
- Guava (Psidium guajava)
- Papaya (Carica papaya)
- Tamarind (Tamarindus indica)
- Santol (Sandoricum koetjape)
- Ice cream bean (Inga vera)
- Araza (Eugenia stipitata)
- Fig (Ficus carica)
- Coconuts (Cocos nucifera)
- Sugar cane (Saccharum officinarum)
- Passion fruit (Passiflora edulis)
- Miracle fruit (Synsepalum dulcificum)
- Achachiaru (Garcinia humilis)
- Persimmon (Diospyros kaki)
- Muscandine grape (Vitis rotundifolia)
- White sapote (Casimiroa edulis)
- Canistel (Pouteria campechiana)
- Ross sapote (Pouteria campechiana)
- Barbados cherry (Malpighia punicifolia)
- Surinam Cherry
- Loquat (Eriobotrya japonica)
- Peach (Prunus persica)
- Olive (Olea europaea)
- Pomegranate (Punica granatum)
- Dragon fruit (Selenicerus megalanthus)
- Black sapote (Diospyros digyna)
- June plum (Spondias dulcis)
- Hog plum (Spondias spp.)
- Bael (Aegle marmelos)
- Blue grape (Myciaria vexator)
- Monstera (Monstera deliciosa)
- Cherry of the Rio grande (Eugenia aggregata)
- Cocoplum (Chrysobalanus icaco)
- Feijoa (Feijoa sellowiana)
- Grumichama ( Eugenia brasiliensis)
- Imbe (Garcinia livingstonei)
- Jamaican Strawberry Tree (Muntingia calabura)
- Velvet apple (Diospyros blancoi)
- Mulberry (Morus spp.)
- Pawpaw (Asimina triloba)
- Pineapple (Ananas comosus)
- Pitomba (Eugenia luschnathiana)
- Prickly pear (Opuntia ficus-indica)
- Otaheite gooseberry (Phyllanthus acidus)
Which fruit trees grow best in Florida?
The best tropical fruit trees adapted to Florida’s climate are Mango, Avocado, Sugar apple, Atemoya, and Jackfruit. When planted properly, these fruit trees have a reasonably low maintenance care routine and thrive in the Florida climate.
Which Fruit trees can handle full sun in Florida?
Many fruit trees in Florida prefer full sun to produce fruit optimally. A few tropical fruit trees that can be planted out in the full sun in Florida are
- Sugar apple trees
- Mango trees
- Avocado trees
- Lychee trees
- Guava trees
- Atemoya trees
- Ice cream bean trees
- Longan trees
- Soursop trees
- Mamey sapote trees
- Sapodilla trees
- Mulberry trees
- Ilama trees
- Breadfruit trees
- Papaya plants
- Banana plants
What fruit tree grows fastest in Florida?
In Florida, the fastest-growing fruit trees that can grow and produce fruit for you in the shortest amount of time are
- Papaya – From seed to fruit in as little as six months
- Ice cream bean – Grows fast and will fruit within five years
- Guava – From seed to fruit in as little as one year
- Banana – Produces a rack of fruit within one year of planting
- Red Jaboticaba – From seed to fruit in 5 years or less
- Sugar apple – From seed to flower and fruit within two years
- Indian or Thai Jujubee- Grows fast and big every year. It needs to be pruned back yearly.
- Mango – Fast-growing fruit tree in Florida, fruits fast when grafted
Does fruit grow year-round in Florida?
Yes, fruit trees that produce fruit year-round in Florida are coconuts, bananas, papaya, mulberries, and sugar cane.
Which area of Florida is best for growing fruit trees?
Florida is divided into three sections regarding growing tropical fruit trees. South, Central, and North Florida.
North Florida might pose a challenge when growing true tropical fruits without a greenhouse or extra protection when it comes to winter. North Florida has the highest chance of holding the coldest temperatures, which tropical fruit trees do not like, and can die if exposed to too cold of temperatures. Includes cities such as Tallahassee and Jacksonville
Includes cities such as Sarasota, Tampa, St. Petersburg, Orlando
Central Florida still can grow tropical fruit trees but may require extra protection when it comes to wintertime, such as building a greenhouse around your fruit trees or setting up a grove heater.
Includes cities such as Homestead, Miami, Naples, Fort Myers, West Palm Beach
Generally, South Florida has the best climate for growing tropical fruit trees because of its location and usually higher annual rainfall per year.
Micro-climates in Florida
In Florida, there are many areas along the coastlines and rivers where tropical fruit trees thrive.
Along the Florida coastlines, you can find various micro-climates to grow fruit. Microclimates are areas in your yard where other trees, plants, or structures are situated that protect tropical fruit trees in the event of cold weather, high winds, and extreme heat.
When young, tropical fruit trees prefer to grow in a shaded microclimate habitat, but as they grow, they tend to want as much sunlight as possible.
Microclimates are essential in growing fruit trees in Florida because they can keep the more extreme tropical fruit trees such as breadfruit, cecropia, yellow cacao, red cacao, and soursop warm during the winter months without any additional protection input. Searching for micro-climates in your yard is always a good idea before you plant more cold-sensitive tropical fruit trees.
Which fruit trees grow well in Florida without much care?
In Florida, you can grow the following fruit trees in all parts of Florida, North, Central, and Southern Florida, and expect yearly fruits
- Sugar apple trees(Annona squamosa) – Grows in Florida’s hot sun with well-draining soil. Sugar apples grow fast when planted out in the full sun and mulched. Mature sugar apple trees can handle down to 29 °F during the winter.
- Atemoya tree (Annona atemoya) – Grows well in Florida, providing well-draining soil. Plant in full sun for the highest amount of fruit production. Mature atemoya trees can handle down to 26 °F during the winter.
- Mango tree (Mangifera indica) – Mangos grow in Florida with very little care in sandy soil but grow increasingly better with a thick layer of mulch around the base of the tree. Mangos prefer full sun and enjoy the humid summer. Mango trees prefer well-drained soil.
- Avocado tree (Persea americana) – Avocado trees grow excellently in Florida’s cold and are hardy. They must be planted in well-drained soil. There are cold-tolerant varieties of avocados that can grow in North Florida as far as Gainsville and Jacksonville.
- Lychee tree (Litchi chinensis) – Lychee fruit is one of the sweetest fruits you can grow in Florida. Growing the lychee tree is fairly carefree, and it can easily handle freezing temperatures. Lychee trees require a certain number of chill hours, encouraging them to send out flowers and fruit.
- Starfruit tree (Averrhoa carambola) – The starfruit tree in Florida grows very nicely without much input. This tree will produce many fruits when in season and provides flowers that attract various pollinators to your garden.
- Jackfruit tree (Artocarpus heterophyllus) – Jackfruit trees make an excellent tree to grow in Florida and produce the largest tropical fruit in Florida. Some superior jackfruit cultivars like ‘Golden nugget’ and’ Lemon gold’ are commercially available in many Florida nurseries.
- Bananas – Although not a tree, bananas in Florida produce great fruit. Some banana cultivars, such as blue java, dwarf cavendish, and thai namwah, produce more fruit than you can eat on your own.
Which are the best fruit trees in Florida?
The best fruit trees that grow in Florida as far as the best taste are sugar apples, Zill mangos, atemoyas, lychee, longan, achaciaru, mamey sapote, dragon fruit, jaboticaba, avocado, tamarind, sugar cane, jackfruit, and Thai jujube.
Which fruit trees in Florida have a high cold tolerance?
Fruit trees in Florida with high cold tolerance are
- Atemoya – (Annona atemoya) – Due to its genetics and being crossed with cherimoya (Annona cherimola) x (Annona squamosa) it has a high chance of surviving the winters in Florida.
- Avocado (Persea americana) – Avocados in Florida are known to handle cold temperatures as low as 18 °F. There are certain varieties of avocado that are colder tolerant than other avocado varieties.
- Lychee – Lychees are known to handle temperatures down to 25 °F and require cold weather to produce an abundant crop.
- Longan (Dimocarpus longan) – Longans are known to handle temperatures as low as 25 °F and also can produce delicious fruit.
- Mango (Mangifera indica) – Mangos are relatively cold tolerant, handling temperatures as low as 28 °F. Mango trees are growing as North as Saint Augustine, Florida.
- Persimmon (Diospyros kaki) – Persimmon can produce in the northern and southern parts of Florida. The cultivar ‘Triumph’ persimmon is an astringent type of persimmon that can grow in Southern Florida. Central and Northern Florida can produce a wide variety of persimmon, such as a non-astringent variety, ‘Fuyu.’ Persimmon trees can handle down to -10 °F.
- Mulberries (Morus spp.) – Mulberries in Florida are not affected even by the coldest temperatures in Florida.
- Fig (Ficus carica) – Growing figs in Florida are known to handle the coldest of weather. Fig trees are known to handle temperatures as low as 10°F. Cultivars such as ‘brown turkey’ are known to be abundant producers in Florida.
Chill hour-fruit Gardening Florida
There are tropical fruit trees that benefit from something called chill hours. Chill hours help certain fruit trees produce flowers and set fruit.
Growing Citrus trees in Florida
Florida has a history when it comes to growing citrus fruit. Worldwide, Florida is known for its citrus industry, which has recently struggled to produce effectively.
Ever since a citrus pest called the citrus psyllid or huanglongbing (HLB) was detected in 2009 in South Florida, all citrus trees all around Florida started getting diseased and eventually dying with no cure.
This disease is known as citrus greening. The citrus greening makes growing and fruiting citrus in Florida difficult, as it requires foliar spray applications to help keep the citrus tree healthy. The citrus fruits in Florida are now more complicated to grow, but it is still possible to do so.
My favorite fruit trees that produce fruit
My favorite fruit trees to grow in Florida are sugar apples, atemoya, custard apples, jackfruit, starfruit, mangos, key lime, and tamarinds. I prefer these fruit trees because I tend to have fruit production year-round, and all of these fruit tastes delicious.
In conclusion, I highly recommend that any new Floridan fruit gardener looks at all the fruit tree varieties we can plant and grow in Florida. I encourage everyone to collect one of each fruit tree to bring diversity to your gardens. By planting an array of fruit trees, you are securing food security to have all year round, which will surely improve your health and well-being.