What tropical fruit trees grow the best in Florida?
Avocados, Papayas, Figs, Star fruit, Sugar Apple, Atemoyas, Cherilatas, Peaches, Mulberries, Pomegranate, Coconut, Mangos, Lychee, Longan, Jackfruit, Citrus, Dragon Fruit Cactus, Soursop, Guava, Bananas all grow very well in Florida.
What is Florida like for growing tropical fruit?
Florida’s climate is unique, and because of it, it can grow a wide variety of fruit trees.
Florida is considered a subtropical climate. The Nothern parts of Florida are much colder during the winter months (December through Early March).
South Florida experiences warmer temperatures and receives more rainfall than North Florida.
Location is essential in Florida when growing fruit trees long-term.
Both North and South Florida have different climates, and some fruit trees like breadfruit, mamey sapote, jackfruit, and longan may be challenging to grow in the northern parts of Florida while being easy to grow in South Florida.
Fruit Trees That Grow The Best In Florida
Papaya Trees in Florida
Papaya is a fast-growing Florida-friendly fruiting plant with an exotic appearance and tasty fruit.
Its taste is delightful, like honey, and has the texture of a cantaloupe.
The Papaya fruit plant is an easy and rewarding tree due to its fast-paced growth, tasty fruit, and tropical appearance.
In Florida, it is vital to provide these plants with plenty of water, sun, and nutrients. Papayas are heavy feeders and need nutrients to thrive properly.
For papayas to stay consistently fed all year and produce fruits, a fertilizer such as Osmcote plus 15-9-12 is recommended.
For more information on Which fertilizers to use for tropical fruit trees in Florida, read here.
Papayas grow well in South Florida and Central Florida but may struggle with the colder temperatures in Northern Florida. Papaya plants that freeze in northern Florida typically bounce back in March.
Papayas are large plants and can reach about 8-15 feet tall while producing for about four years on average. After a few years of making papayas, the plant’s fruit production begins to decline.
The papaya tree can come in three sexes, Male, Female, or bisexual (male & female). When the female plant bears the flower, she needs a male pollinator, so planting more than one Papaya is recommended.
If you purchase Papaya from a nursery, they will likely provide you with a bisexual Papaya capable of pollinating itself. Therefore only one plant will be necessary.
Avocado Trees In Florida
Avocados love the warm Florida weather. It grows fast in north, central, and south Florida.
The avocado tree can grow huge – up to 60 feet tall, depending on which type of Avocado you plant and whether you keep the tree pruned.
Avocado varieties in Florida
Some Florida avocados are
- Marcus Pumpkin
Which avocado grows best in North Florida?
Suppose you are planting an avocado in Northern Florida or a colder climate. In that case, we recommend a variety that can withstand colder temperatures up to 20 to 30F, such as ‘Brogdon,’ ‘Choquette,’ ‘Day,’ ‘Mexicola,’ and ‘Winter’ cultivars have a much higher cold tolerance than others.
Prune avocado trees often because of their ability to grow tall and large.
Carambola (Star Fruit) Trees In Florida
Carambola, or star fruit, is a sweet fruit grown in Florida. When cut into slices, its starlike appearance is called ‘Star fruit.’
The carambola tree can be a large tree reaching from 22 – 33 feet at its final height.
The carambola tree loves warm weather. Growing starfruit in central and south Florida is no problem – but northern Florida growers will need to protect this tree come winter.
The best temperature to grow Carambola (star fruit) in Florida is 68-95 F. Temperatures as low as 27-29 F are enough to kill a young Carambola tree. So growing it up north would require a heating element for the colder months.
Some popular varieties of Carambola grown in Florida are the Arkin, Fwang Tung, Kajang, Kary, Lara, and Sri Kembangan.
Star Fruit is delicious, nutritious, and recommended in every Florida food garden.
Sugar Apple (Annona squamosa) Trees In Florida
The sugar apple is a tropical fruit tree that bears a delicious creamy custard-tasting fruit with a taste similar to soursop.
It grows well in warm climates but struggles in colder temperatures – often losing all of its leaves during winter.
The sugar apple tree can grow up to 15 to 20 feet and spread out. Proper pruning is encouraged in Florida to keep a productive and healthy sugar apple tree.
The sugar apple flowers emerge mid to late spring as trees flourish in new vegetative growth.
In Florida, two types of sugar apples are generally sold in nurseries. The more common green sugar apple is the Thai Lessard and the Na Dai Vietnamese sugar apple. A red sugar apple variety Kampong Mauve can also be purchased.
Optimal growing temperatures for sugar apple or Annona squamosa in Florida range from 73 to 94 F. Sugar apple trees can face death if temperatures reach below 30 – 32 F.
The fruit of the sugar apple is round, oval, or heart-shaped and has many seeds.
Peach Trees In Florida
Peaches, up until recently, were very difficult due to needing a certain amount of chill hours to produce fruit.
Typically peaches will grow better in northern parts of Florida, such as Tallahassee.
Still, newer varieties have recently made their way to southern Florida gardens that are adapted to warmer environments – requiring much fewer chill hours.
It is essential to select a variety of peaches with low chill hours, such as
- Florida Crest
- Florida Dawn
- Florida Glo
- Florida Prince
- UF Gem
- UF Sun
- UF 2000
- UF Best
- UF Gold
They are all common Floridan varieties that need low chill hours.
What are chill hours for fruit trees?
Chill hours are the number of hours during the night when it gets cold. Peaches need a certain amount of those cold night hours between 32 F – 45 F for their fruit to become perfect.
Here are the chill hours required for some of the Floridan variety peaches
- UF Best: 100 chill hours
- Florda Grande: 100 chill hours
- UF Gem: 175 chill hours
- Florida Crest: 350 chill hours
- Floridaglo: 150 chill hours
- Florida Prince: 150 chill hours
- UF Gold: 200 chill hours
- UF 2000: 300 chill hours
Mulberry Trees In Florida
The mulberry tree in Florida produces a ripe fruit that has a similar appearance to a blackberry.
The berry starts off green on the tree, then turns to a red color, then finally black once ripe.
Native Florida Mulberry is red/black, but another variety that is grown in Florida is also a white variety.
The mulberry tree thrives in the sandy soils of Florida, making it an excellent choice to include in your garden.
Did you know the mulberry plant family (Moraceae) is in the same family as figs, jackfruit, and breadfruit?
This fruit tree produces plenty of berries for the whole family.
Pomegranate Trees In Florida
The pomegranate in Florida can be somewhat tricky to grow. Due to Florida’s tropical climate.
The pomegranate fruit prefers a Mediterranean climate over a tropical one – but still can grow in Florida.
A Vietnamese tropical variety of pomegranate in Florida is known to produce fruit prolifically. It is known as the ‘Vietnamese pomegranate.’
The pomegranate tree is a bushy, often thorny shrub with dark green skinny leaves that cover its branches. Trimming the tree to maintain it at your desired height is recommended.
Pomegranate trees also produce suckers around the crown or base or the trunk. Commercial growers remove the suckers to allow maximum growth of the pomegranate.
Its flowers are considered ornamental as they produce a beautiful orange-red flower. The flowers of a pomegranate are usually self-pollinated.
Coconut Palm Trees In Florida
Growing a coconut tree in Florida can be very rewarding. In Florida, coconut trees grow excellently and are widespread throughout the tropics.
The coconut palm is an essential palm tree and has thousands of uses worldwide.
Every part of the coconut palm can be utilized. In Florida, coconut palms are used as ornamental landscape trees and are grown for their sweet coconut water and meat.
Its most important feature is the fruit – which is loved for its water and flesh.
The coconut palm tree starts producing fruit 6 – 10 years after the seed germinates and reaches its full production at 15- 20 years of age. It usually produces around 50-200 coconut fruit per tree.
The Malayan Dwarf Palm and the hybrid Maypan Palm have been widely grown in Florida because of their reported resistance to LY, a fatal disease of coconut palms in Florida and parts of the Caribbean region.
The coconut palm tree is usually found along tropical, sandy shorelines since it can tolerate salty soils and salt spray. However, salt is not required to grow healthy coconut palms, which can be grown inland.
The coconut palm in Florida gives a tropical feel to the Florida landscape and provides fruit for home use.
Mango Trees In Florida
Mango trees grow very well in Florida. Mangos worldwide are recognized for their sweet-tasting fruit compared to no other. There are endless uses for this delicious fruit.
Mangos are adapted to a tropical, subtropical climate and warmer temperature areas that do not experience freezing.
In South Florida, mangos are grown commercially – and typically, mango trees are a common yard tree in South Florida.
Mangos come in different sizes and shapes, but most have an oval/oblong shape with colors ranging from yellow, green, red, orange, and even purple.
There are over 50 varieties in Florida, and every year, there are efforts to create new hybrids. Zill High-Performance plants have developed many delicious cultivars, such as ‘Orange sherbert,’ one of my all-time favorite mangos.
Lychee Trees In Florida
Lychee is a subtropical fruit tree that grows excellently in the central and southern parts of Florida.
Lychee trees can grow up to 40 ft in height and are very ornamental in their shape and leaf design.
The fruit of lychee is jelly-like and transparent, with a leathery red outside shell when fully ripened.
Bees and the wind pollinate lychee flowers. Typically one isolated lychee tree on a property will produce an acceptable amount of fruit alone – but gardeners have been said to experience more fruit when cross-pollinated by having more than one lychee tree in the garden.
Young lychee trees can be damaged by temperatures as low as 28 F to 32 F and even killed by colder temperatures ranging from 24 F to 25 F.
Longan Trees In Florida
Longan is a subtropical tree that grows very well in Florida’s climate.
Longan trees produce fruit that is very similar in characteristics to lychee – being in the same family (Sapindaceae).
Its fruit is a small circular jelly-clear fruit with a leathery light brown coat.
The fruit is very sweet and has a seed in the middle.
The Longan tree in Florida can grow up to 30 ft – 40 ft and is recommended to prune to keep to a manageable height to pick the fruit.
Longan trees are less cold-resistant than lychees. Longans are damaged by cold temperatures in Florida, as low as 29 F to 31 F. Logan trees may face death from temperatures as cold as 26 F to 28 F. Older longan trees will be able to withstand colder temperatures.
Jackfruit Trees In Florida
The jackfruit tree in Florida is a large tree that can grow 30 ft – 40 ft if left unpruned.
Jackfruit is the world’s largest fruit; once seen, it cannot be mistaken.
In the Florida landscape, jackfruit makes an excellent choice for its vitamin-packed fruit and sweet taste that’s unlike no other fruit.
Jackfruit, when fully ripened, can weigh anywhere from 10 – 60 lbs. That’s a whole lot of fruit!
In Florida, Jackfruit typically sells for 1-3$ a pound depending on the grower, cultivar, size, etc.
The Jackfruit tree has adapted to Florida’s hot tropical climate. For the best chance of growing a productive jackfruit tree, select a sunny area for the jackfruit.
In Florida, you have many options for which tropical fruits to grow. Each tropical fruit tree is different in taste, size, and color, but each fruit will bring health and joy into your life.
When selecting tropical fruit trees to grow, select the ones you like to eat.
Many nurseries in Florida will allow you to try the fruit of many varieties of fruit trees if the fruit is in season, so it is recommended to try the fruit before you plant the tree.