Our Fruit Trees


Our trees are planted in Central Florida, between cold-hardiness zones 9a and 9b. Typically we have a light freeze every other year. The dry season is October through May, with about 25 in. of rain, and the wet season is June through September with about 30 in. of rain. There is humidity every night, all year-round, 100% most of the year. It tends to rain sparsely but heavily. Our soil is sand with typically 5 in. of topsoil under turf and 8 in. of topsoil under large trees. Most of our planting area is partially shaded by large oak trees but spring/summer/fall direct sun is very intense.

We planted our trees between 2014 & 2017, typically from 3 gal. nursery pots. We planted them in what we call hugelholes. Our typical 4 ft. diameter hugelhole is 2 ft deep, has a center mound of sand, and a ring of freshly cut 2" dia. and smaller tree branches and leaves replacing the removed sand, with the original topsoil mixed back in, plus a 5" layer of mulch over that. This provides abundant nutrients for the first year. Subsequently it provides water retention, the various benefits of organic material, and smaller amounts of added nutrients. We denote the aspect for each fruit tree with shade=0 and sun=1, for each of 12 summer hours and 8 winter hours, e.g. 000111100001-00111000 means a tree gets on a summer day 3 hrs shade, 4 hrs sun, 4 hrs shade and 1 hr sun. Then, on a winter day, 2 hrs shade, 3 hrs sun, and 3 hrs shade.

^ Ambarella

Ambarella is a tropical tree with a pineapple/mango flavor fruit, that we eat skin and all. Wild Ambarellas grow large, while our tree is a dwarf variety that fruits young. They grow true from seed and ours produced a couple dozen fruits immediately after planting out from a 3 gal. container, probably age 2 years. It lost leaves and maybe 20% of branches first winter without freeze so it's quite cold sensitive at that age. It flowered/fruited again in spring. This time we culled all but a dozen fruit because it seems the plant wants to fruit more than it wants to grow. It seems to be the most prolific of all our trees. We planted it in a 3 ft hugelhole in aspect 000111100001-00111000, watering moderately.

^ Avocado

We planted one each of Brogdon, Lula, Mexicola, and Winter Mexican varieties, each 2 years old from 3 gal. containers, into 3.5 ft hugelholes. These varieties balance our needs for cold hardiness and a wider fruiting season. They grew very fast in their first and second years after planting, with the new growth wilting and needing a lot of misting in the intense sun. They flower in Jan/Feb, Mexicola fruit mature in Jun/Jul, Brogdon fruit Jul/Aug.

^ Banana

Dwarf Cavendish and Grand Nain are thriving here with 2/3 full sun. One DC had 220 fruits but others average 60. A few flowered small indicating need for more sun/water/food. One plant with a 60-fruit rack developed rot on outer stalk layers in Jul'19 weakening the stalk allowing the core to break and halt fruit development (though small, the fruits still ripened delicious, this amazing species). Expecting more pruning of dead leaves, exess pups, and nearby shading trees, and better stalk support will prevent recurrences.

^ Blackberry

^ Blueberry

We planted highbush blueberries: 2 wild plants, 4 Sunshine Blue which are dwarf, 1 Sharp Blue, 3 Legacy, 1 Misty and 1 Emerald varieties. The Sunshine Blue plants are older/larger so they made good crops the first year. We planted in oak hugelbeds thinking oak provides more acidity than other biomass but we suspect this isn't really the case. The hugelbeds are 1.5 ft deep but even that is probably too deep for blueberries. They need lots of mulch and water because they are shallow rooted. Some of the fruit softened and shriveled first year, probably due to lack of water. Although their aspect is moderate sun, they can't tolerate the intensity of the Florida sun in late spring/summer without plenty of water.

^ Canistel

Our canistel is a Fairchild #2 variety.

^ Cashew

Our cashew tree has quadrupled in size since planting, under significant shade and neglect, but no flowers/fruit yet after 1 year, 8 months in the ground.

^ Calamondin

This mandarin x kumquat hybrid bears small, easy-to-peel oranges with deep orange sour-sweet pulp that we thought would complement our limes. The plant grows fast, is not vulnerable to common citrus pests/diseases, and fruits two or three times per year. We planted in a colder/windier location because of its cold-hardiness.

^ Che

^ Cherry of the Rio Grande

We read that this tree can have random branch dieback that did not seem conderning and we experienced this ourselves in the first year. The tree has continued new vegitative flushes after some moderately severe branch diebacks. Futher investigations we expect to reveal a fungus that we may control organically. The tree seems to be moderately slow growing. It flowered a month or two after the transplant (we estimate it was 2 years old then) but no fruit that time.

^ Chestnut

^ Fig

We have two Brown Turkey and one Mission fig tree. They are slower-growing than expected, we think due to their deciduous nature, but we suspect they want more sun than available, and also root knot nematodes, plus fig rust intenstified by humidity.

^ Grape

We have a Southern Home muscadine which is patented but we won't propagate from that one. We have a Nesbitt muscadine which we will propagate from. We have two Concorde plants selected for a southern climate, and we have a Catawba plant. We planted the Catawba and Southern Home muscadine near each other in a sunny location and the Catawba produced more grapes than the muscadine the first year, which we attribute to the slow-growing nature of muscadine plants.

^ Grapefruit

We decided we want Thompson pink or Foster pink because they are not artificially mutated by radiation.

^ Grumichama

^ Guava

We have a red cattley guava that fruits big but all are infested with little worms when ripe.

^ Jujube

We have a Sugarcane and a Tigertooth varieties.

^ Lime

Our Mexican (Key) lime is our most vigorously growing citrus tree but it's not flowering/fruiting. Our Rangpur lime is a cross between mandarin and lemon, a much more cold-hardy lime.

^ Loquat

Our loquat tree is a seedling and grows fast under significant shade. We watch for aphids/mites under new leaves.

^ Lychee

Our lychee is Maritius and grows fast, leafing almost continuously.

^ Mamey Sapote

Our mamey sapote is a Lara variety.

^ Mandarin

Our mandarin is an Owari Satsuma variety.

^ Mango

We have an unknown seedling, a Carrie, a Nam Doc Mai, and a Lancetilla. Mangos are tough plants requiring little attention. They flower in mid-winter and fruit in summer or fall.

^ Mulberry

We have an unknown adult tree in heavy shade and planted an everbearing.

^ Orange

Our orange trees have been slow to grow and the branches have sagged to the ground. We finally realized they are carrying too much fruit, so our strategy now is to allow only one fruit per 1/2" branch. This solves both problems.

^ Papaya

We planted Mexican and Caribbean papaya seeds because those fruits were available from the grocery. Out of seven seedlings, two are producing female flowers their first 1.5 years. The other five produced only male flowers for their first year, but in spring, at 1.5 years, three of them are producing bisexual flowers and those are making fruit. One of these produced male flowers at 9 ft, and, after pruning to 3 ft, it is now producing bisexual flowers at 5 ft. Plants without hugelbeds are smaller, which we like, and some are fruiting as much or more than taller plants in hugelbeds.

The papayas get about 4 hours winter sun and six hours summer sun. They suffer a severe whitefly infestation that seems worst in fall and winter. They get moderate water, compost and urea. Out of ten fruit in 2016 all but two dropped due to papaya wasp infestation. White worms, about 1/8 in dia. and 1/2 in. length bore around in the center of the fruit, destroying it, but it is nearly impossible to detect infestation from observing the outside skin. Fruit drop is the first indicator.

The whitefly infestation is only seasonal and not a problem really. Papaya wasp is manageable with Spanish Moss covering the small fruits in the spring/summer. Papaya has become our most prolific species, explained by their very far-flung root systems. We've also learned that the female trees make seedless fruit without pollination so we only need male trees for seed propagation, and only for fruit when lacking enough females, given females are ever-bearing while males make only flower in early spring for a summer crop.
Anthracnos and ringspot prevail in the wet season. It affect the fruit, and it seems to reduce with removal of dropped leaves. White fly prevail in the dry season and cause defoliation. We think spraying under leaves with water deals white fly a double blow with the physical disturbance and raising the humidity, plus adds soil moisture.

^ Paw Paw

We planted four asimina parviflora under heavy shade and two asimina obovata under light shade. Great care is needed in transplanting to avoid root disturbance. They are deciduous and grow new flowers and leaves once in early spring.

^ Persimmon

We planted a tanenashi persimmon. It is very slow growing and grows new leaves once in early spring.

^ Pineapple

We plant pineapple tops from grocery fruit. We twist the tops off, pull bottom leaves to bare about 0.5" of the stalk, cut the juicy part off the end, let it dry overnight, and plant it in mulch with the stalk in compost-amended soil. They need sun for at least half the day. They need water but also need to dry out or their center buds will rot out. They seem to need only moderate fertilizer. After 1.5 years they produce a fruit bud, so harvest is about 2 years after planting. They are supposed to make a second fruit, in less time after the first. They say harvest when at least 1/3 of the fruit has changed from green to yellow starting at the bottom. They say sweet smell and dull instead of hollow sound when tapped are further indicators of ripeness. They say continues to ripen after harvest, but don't refrigerate until ripening is complete.

^ Pomegranate

Our Wonderful pomegranate was planted when we moved here and we think it was a couple of years old. So at age four it has made only a couple of flowers, and hasn't leafed out a whole lot. We think limited sun is the problem, which we may solve with hedge pruning.

^ Rollinia

Our rollinia flowered well in mid to late november 2016 but we didn't get fruit. We believe this is because we do not have insects there that evolved to pollinate these flowers. In the flower's female phase, access to the pistil is restricted to a small slit opening less than a millimeter wide. We believe the femal phase is in the mornings while the male phase is in the afternoons so insects would have to carry pollen over from the previous day. So we think we'll have to hand pollinate next year to get any fruit at all.

^ Sapodilla

^ Strawberry

^ Sugar Apple

^ Tangelo

Our tangelo is a Minneola variety.

^ White Sapote


Copyright (c) 2005, 2006, 2007 Robert Drury
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