South Florida is known as USDA Zone 10 which is the most southern and warmest of the hardiness zones in the United States. With its semi-tropical climate, South Florida is always above freezing which means you can grow any number of tropical fruit trees that simply cannot survive in most of the United States. Let’s explore your options for the best fruit tree choices for your South Florida garden.
Whenever people think of Florida citrus trees are often the fruit tree that comes to mind and rightly so, as much of the commercial citrus grown in the U.S. is grown in Florida. There are many citrus trees that grow and produce well in South Florida including oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, and tangerines. These citrus fruit trees thrive in the warm South Florida climate, maturing in late winter and early spring, when cold weather in other areas would destroy their fruit.
Once you plant your citrus trees, you will need to water daily until the tree is established. Once established you simply water weekly, remove dead wood, and fertilize quarterly. Citrus trees don’t need pruning, and flourish when allowed to grow naturally. Your first fruit will appear in about five years.
A favorite among tropical fruits, avocadoes thrive in South Florida. Avocado trees are easy to grow and promise an abundance of fruit. Mature trees can reach heights of near 60 feet, so select your planting site wisely, at least 20 feet from your home or other buildings on your property. Your avocado tree will grow and produce fruit best if planted in full sunshine with well-draining soil.
Once planted, water your avocado tree every other day for one week and then once or twice weekly thereafter. You’ll want to fertilize your young tree every other month until it reaches one year, and then reduce to quarterly. You should prune your avocado tree, removing dead wood or less than healthy branches. Remember, avocados only ripen when harvested, allowing you to leave them on your tree until you are ready for them.
Sweet and juicy mangos are a top choice for tropical regions. In South Florida, mango trees grow large, up to 100 feet, and produce fruit abundantly. The best time to plan mango trees is spring and summer in well-draining sandy soil. Mango trees grow best in full sun. When planting be sure to mulch your mango tree.
Once planted, water every other day for one week and then twice per week for the first months. Your mango will need to be fertilized monthly for the first year, and quarterly thereafter. Mango fruit is harvested from May to September, picking when needed. Your tree will need to be pruned seasonally to encourage lateral growth and easy harvest.
Technically Papaya plants, though they look like trees growing tall with an abundance of leaves, are not trees at all. And while not a tree, papaya is a great choice for your South Florida garden. The most common Papaya grown in the U.S. are Maradol, Red Lady, and Solo. Papaya thrive on abundant sunshine, lots of water, and well-draining soil.
Unlike other tropical fruits, you can grow a papaya plant from seed and harvest fruit in as little as 6 to 12 months. Papaya plants often grow to 15 feet or more in height. Papayas need a great deal of water and must be regularly fertilized. Fruit is harvested before it is fully ripe and should be allowed to ripen at room temperature.
This short list gives you a great starting point for selecting fruit trees in your South Florida garden. Call on Xtreme Landscaping for tips and to help you get started growing an abundance of tropical fruits at home.