What fruits can you grow in Central Florida?
Fruit Gardening Webinar Series
Here at UF/IFAS Extension Seminole County, we just finished up our “Get Your Grove On” webinar series. The series ran from September 23rd-October 21st and met for an hour every Wednesday at lunch time. During the five-week series, we spoke to over 300 people in Central Florida and beyond about how to properly grow some fruit crops.
What fruits can I grow in Central Florida?
There are a lot of fruits that grow well in Central Florida. Many of them are actually pretty low maintenance plants! Here are some of the fruits we covered in our class:
Bananas, avocados, apples, blackberries, blueberries, carambola, citrus, figs, lychees/logans, loquats, mangos, mulberries, muscadine grapes, peaches, nectarines, persimmons, pineapple, pomegranate, barbados cherries, carissa/natal plum, miracle fruit, passion fruit, jaboticaba, pineapple guava and more!
Even if you don’t want to grow the fruit yourself, many of these fruits are available for sale locally. Check out your local farms and farmers markets to see what you can buy and enjoy! For Seminole County residents, you can visit our 2020 Guide to Seminole County’s Local Farms and Farmers Markets to find produce available in our area.
What things should you consider before planting fruits?
First and foremost, is it a good time of the year to plant your plants? Every plant is going to have a season where it thrives. It is important to make sure you are planting your fruits during the best time for that particular plant to grow. For example, planting a fruit tree during the time of the year that the plant is dormant might lead to poor establishment of your plant. Also, young plants are more likely to be damaged by unfavorable conditions.
How much space does your plant need to grow and flourish? Proper spacing is important to make sure your plants have enough space to grow both above ground and below ground. The plant roots can often spread distances beyond what we see above ground. Planting near structures can limit the growth of our fruit plants, fruit trees especially. Plants that are too close together can compete for resources like water and nutrients. In the long run, this can lead to slower growth and lowered fruit production.
If it is a tree, how tall will it get? With fruit trees, you should consider how tall they can grow over time. It is very important not to plant taller fruit trees in areas close to powerlines or other structures. Even though your tree may start out small, some fruit trees, like loquats, can reach heights of up to 35ft tall!
Are you ready to committee to the pruning needs of your fruit tree? Some fruit trees can require annual maintenance to keep them happy, healthy, and producing good fruit. Pruning can help with increasing the fruit yield/quality. Too many branches or flowers may lead to smaller, or less sweet fruit. Pruning may also help prevent the incidence of pathogens/diseases. Good air flow can reduce the time that leaves stay wet and wet leaves are favorable for some pathogens. Pruning also can reduce the chances of branches breaking. Broken branches can be a hazard when they fall. This also create a wound that leaves plants stressed or vulnerable to other pathogens and pests.
Every plant is different and will have different requirements to successfully produce fruit. These needs can include:
- Temperature: Can your plant tolerate colder winter temperatures? Does your plant need chill hours to produce fruit? Is Florida just too hot for this plant?
- Soil type and pH: Will your plant survive in sandy Florida soils? Would your plant benefit from more organic matter in the soil? What is the desirable pH range for your fruit? Does your soil meet these pH requirements? How well does your soil drain following a heavy rain?
- Water: Do your plants require irrigation? How much water will they need throughout different times of the year? Are they susceptible to problems from flooding or heavy rains?
- Nutrient requirements: Will you need to fertilize your plant? How often and how much fertilizer should you give it? What time of the year does your plant need more nutrients?
For questions about growing fruits, you can always reach out to your local UF/IFAS county extension office!