A question often asked at the Extension office is what kinds of fruits can we grow? Well, it is a tough question as we are in a growing zone that is not quite temperate and not quite tropical. Many temperate fruits such as peach, plum, and pears require temperatures that stay cool for extended periods. Tropical plants can survive temperatures that are typically lower than 55 °F. Below are 5 fruits that grow well here in Putnam County.
There are two types of blueberries that we can grow in Putnam County, Southern
Highbush and Rabbit Eye. There are many different varieties that have low chill hours and will grow well in Putnam County. Blueberries grow so well that there are about 7 UPick blueberry farms. Grow Blueberries in a sunny well-draining spot and plant 2 different varieties to have a larger yield. Blueberries have very shallow root systems so don’t forget to mulch. Finally, test your soil before you plant one to ensure that your pH is right (<5).
The most commonly grown persimmon in Florida is the oriental, although there is a native. Both will grow easily in Putnam County. Persimmon Trees will fruit with just one tree plant 2 for a larger yield. Native persimmons usually need a frost to ripen whereas the Japanese Persimmon will ripen normally. Pick a bright well-draining area away from sidewalks and driveways, the fruit will stain if it falls.
Also called the Japanese plum, loquats are very adapted to life in Putnam. An evergreen tree that can stand very low temperatures, and has small peach-like fruits. They are sweet with white to yellow flesh. The fruit can be used in many different ways like jams, jellies and can also be canned, dried, frozen, or made into syrup. One of the major issues that can affect this fruit tree is Fire blight. If you have one and you start seeing death at the tips prune it out. Using too much fertilizer with high Nitrogen can also increase its susceptibility to fire blight.
There are many different varieties of figs that vary in taste and size. Most will grow and fruit well in Florida. Plant in a sunny well-drained site. They are fairly cold tolerant, but if freeze damage does occur the tree will regrow. Figs fruit at the growing of the growing tips. Make sure you prune, early summer after the fruit ripens. Be cautious of the root system as it will extend beyond the canopy. Fig leaves and branches will ooze white sap that can irritate the skin. If you are looking to plant a fig, the suggested varieties are ‘Brown Turkey’, ‘Celeste’, and ‘Ischia’.
5. Barbados Cherry
This is one of the few “cherries” that will grow in Florida. This fruit-bearing bush produces small bright red, tart-tasting fruits. This bush may not be fully adapted to all of Putnam. It needs a partially shady area that is sheltered to protect it from frost. It can grow 10 to 12 feet high, but with pruning can be kept in a container. This will allow the bush to be moved to a protected area away from freezing temperatures. Just don’t forget to water occasionally while in their protected area.
While there are still several more fruit-bearing plants that will grow in Florida. What types of fruits do you grow? Leave a response in the comment area below.
For More Information:
Blueberry Gardener’s Guide – UF EDIS Publication
Blueberries – UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions Website
Diospyros virginiana: Common Persimmon – UF EDIS Publication
Japanese Persimmon Cultivars in Florida – UF EDIS Publication
Japanese Persimmon – UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions Website
The Fig – UF EDIS Publication
Figs – UF/IFAS Gardening Solutions Website
Malpighia glabra Barbados Cherry – UF EDIS Publication