• Kiwis are native to southern China, where they are known as “yang tao.” In the early 20th century, missionaries brought the fruit from China to New Zealand.
• They are also known as Chinese gooseberries, but in the 1960s marketing gurus realized that such a name could conjure unappetizing images and rechristened them kiwifruit, or kiwis.
• Kiwis grow best in Italy, Chile and New Zealand, which have long stretches of frost-free days, adequate rainfall and abundant sunshine. In the U.S. kiwis are grown commercially in California, with some hardier varieties in the Pacific Northwest.
• Worldwide kiwi production reached 1.5 million tons in 2010; by comparison, global apple production is about 60 million tons.
• In the 1970s, N.C. State University launched some experimental kiwi plots in Raleigh but all of them died after a series of brutally cold winters. Similar failed attempts occurred in Wilmington, and growers dug up the trees in 1991.
• In addition to Four Leaf Farm in Rougemont, kiwis are grown at John Stout’s farm in Snow Camp, which supplies Weaver Street Market in Carrboro.
Helga MacAller of Four Leaf Farms with a sample of the bounty. Kiwis will keep for months in a refrigerator crisper. For quicker ripening, place them on the counter or in a paper bag.
On the last Monday in October, as Hurricane Sandy lashed the North Carolina coast, 200 miles inland in Rougemont, the skies darkened, the treetops lurched and the annual kiwi harvest began.
Kiwis will tolerate a hard rain and an occasional wind gust, but they cannot stand the cold. Out here in the country at Four Leaf Farm, the forecast that evening called for 36 degrees, leaving a small window of time in which to pick the vines clean.
Helga and Tim MacAller crouched beneath a thick, vine-braided canopy of large-lobed leaves that were as soft as an ear. Scanning the boughs, Helga clutched a fuzzy brown fruit the size of a large hen’s egg and as hard as a stone. Kiwis ripen off the vine; they are ready when, to a gentle touch, their skin barely gives, like a baby’s fontanelle.
Helga placed the kiwis in small trays. “This is not a good year,” she said.
Last year, the tree yielded 200 poundsthe best crop in the farm’s history. Today, they would pick 35 pounds.
The ferocity of Hurricane Sandy is a bellwether of a changing global climate, but so was this year’s prematurely warm spring that contributed to the MacAllers’ paltry kiwi crop. The spate of balmy weather signaled the kiwi trees to produce buds, but it was followed by a late frost. Once burned, the buds are done for the year; they cannot make fruit. The trees eventually made a second set of buds, but there were far fewer of them.
Unlike other hardier species of kiwis, the fruit of the fuzzy kindActinidia deliciosa, the most commercially popular varietyalso succumbs to the slightest frost. The contraction and expansion of water inside the kiwi damages the tissues and cells of its emerald green flesh.
“The fruit doesn’t look like it’s hurt,” Helga said, “but you cut it open and it’s pithy, like a sponge.”
Helga, who comes from a farming family in Denmark, and Tim, a Southern Californian with a botany degree, started Four Leaf Farm in 1980. After taking a hiatus to raise their children, they restarted their farma half acre on a two-acre tractin 2001. In addition to traditional crops such as greens, herbs and vegetables, the MacAllers also dabble in recalcitrant plants. They can coax rhubarb out of the ground and persuade lemon trees to bear fruit in pots. Only their olive tree has yet to produce.
“We think of it as a pet,” Helga said.
North Carolina is not known for its kiwis. It was on a lark 25 years ago that the MacAllers planted the starts of two kiwi treesa male and a femalein what could be considered an arranged marriage via the Stark Brothers seed catalog. The couple took root near a shed, which protected them from north winds, yet they received ample sun. Nonetheless, it took four years for the female to mature and bear fruit. The male and female must bloom at the same time, and since her flowers produce no nectar, honeybees pass her by, and she must be pollinated by insects or the breeze.
Over time, the MacAllers erected simple steel trellises to support the vines, the beginning and end of which are now impossible to trace. The two trees seem to be one.
“We don’t know who’s who,” Helga said, admiring their sturdy trunks.
In December and January, Tim prunes the vines, stripping them of their shoots so the trees are easier to manage. By March, vines begin to regrow; in April, fat, furry buds appear. The buds turn into white flowers with yellow stamens. In May, the leaves come on, and all summer the kiwis grow, until October, when it’s time to pick them.
The MacAllers don’t irrigate or spray the trees, although Tim occasionally tosses a bucket of compost at the base of the trunks.
“We don’t pay much attention to them,” he said.
After just 20 minutes, the harvest was nearly complete. There won’t be enough kiwis to supply local restaurants as they have done in the pastPanciuto in Hillsborough and Lantern in Chapel Hill are among their biggest customersbut the MacAllers could sell a few at the Durham Farmers’ Market in early December.
Tim studied the vines for stragglers. “Oh look, an orphan,” he said.
In rubber boots, he balanced on a concrete block and stretched to the top of a bough to grab the final kiwi.
“It’s like when you take ornaments off the Christmas tree and find that last one,” Helga said.
The wind picked up. Clouds the color of gun-metal pelted the farm with a cold spittle of rain. Tim and Helga retreated into their house for a cup of tea. Here’s to next year.
This article appeared in print with the headline “So fragile, so sweet.”
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Photo by Jeremy M. Lange
Tim MacAller of Four Leaf Farms helps harvest kiwis, which are rarely grown in North Carolina.
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Photo by Jeremy M. Lange
The MacAllers harvest Four Leaf Farms’ kiwi crop just before the first frost. Last year, they yielded 200 pounds. This year produced only 35 pounds.
- Q: I would like to grow kiwi here. What can you tell me about it?
- Kiwi and 11 other unusual fruits you can totally grow in your Michigan backyard
- Growing Hardy Kiwi Vine In The Garden
- Hardy Kiwi Growing Tips
- 15 Fruit Trees That Grow Well In Florida
- Planting Fruit Trees
- Building Fruit Tree Guilds
- Deciduous fruits that grow well in Florida
- Semi-Tropical, Hardy and Super-Hardy Kiwis
- Cultural Requirements for Kiwis
- Kiwis are Dioecious
- Feeding Kiwis
- Staking Kiwi Vines
- Pruning Kiwi Vines
- Harvesting Kiwi Fruits
- Growing kiwi fruit: It’s easier than you think
- Tips for Growing Kiwi Fruit
- You Need a ‘Man’ to Grow Kiwi!
Q: I would like to grow kiwi here. What can you tell me about it?
A: There are many problems with growing kiwifruit in Florida. The first is kiwifruit grows naturally at altitudes between 2,000 and 6,500 ft., most of Florida is at or below sea level. Ideal winter temperatures are 40 to 57 degrees with summer temperatures no higher than 77 degrees. During the winter, if temperatures fluctuate between warm and cold, blossom drop can occur which will reduce fruit production. The fruit is produced on “female” vines and requires a “male” vine for pollination. One male vine can pollinate as many as eight female vines. One of the biggest pests of kiwifruit is root knot nematodes, which are very common in our sandy soil. There have been several attempts to grow kiwifruits in northern and central Florida, and a few vines are growing experimentally in the southern part of the state and even on the Florida Keys but, so far, only the plants at Tallahassee have fruited to any extent. One other note, the fuzzy kiwifruit, Actinidia chinensis, found in grocery stores is from China. Actinidia arguta, also called hardy kiwifruit, is grown in the United States. The fruit have similar tastes but A. arguta, does not have to be peeled and can be eaten straight from the vine.
Posted: June 18, 2017
Category: Home Landscapes
Tags: A. arguta, Actinidia arguta, Actinidia chinensis, kiwi
Kiwi and 11 other unusual fruits you can totally grow in your Michigan backyard
A side-by-side comparison of hardy kiwi, which can be grown in Michigan (left) and what we know as a standard kiwifruit.
Emily Bingham | [email protected]m
The planting season is upon us, and this year, we dare the backyard gardeners out there to go boldly in a new direction: funky fruit. Sure, apples and pears are sweet, but have you ever had a saskatoon berry or a medlar? Neither had we, so we called up the pros behind the MSU Extension Lawn & Garden Hotline, and they walked us through the following unusual edibles that Michiganders can grow at home. (If you grow any of these, let us know in the comments below!)
Hiperpinguino | Wikimedia Commons
This is not the kiwifruit you know from sub-par grocery store fruit salads; this delicious little fruit is grape-sized, with edible skin, and it grows on a climbing vine that can grow up to 20 feet in two or three seasons. The best cultivars for Michigan are from the East Coast and Russia, with some varieties able to tolerate winter temps down to -45 degrees F.
Fruit clusters on an elderberry tree. Gary Houston | Wikimedia Commons
This vigorous shrub is native to much of the Midwest, where it produces stunning pink flowers followed by clusters of tiny, antioxidant-rich berries. The berries are too bitter to eat raw, but cooking those of certain cultivars imparts a sweetness ideal for making jams, jellies, pies (when mixed with other fruit) and even wine. Just don’t eat the immature red berries on any variety — the berries at that stage are toxic (yikes!).
The globe-shaped fruit of this sometimes spiny bush can grow as large as small plums, and comes in green, purple-red, yellow and white varieties. When picked early, gooseberries have a sweet-sour flavor that is perfect for all kinds of culinary uses: pickling, preserving, jamming, flavoring sodas and syrups, baking into pies or crumbles, or just eating plain.
Currants are praised for their use in everything from desserts to crème de cassis liquor, and they absolutely can be grown in the mitten state — but there’s a catch. Abi Saeed, an instructor and master gardener educator with MSU Extension, tells us that currants are a “controlled” plant, meaning the DNR likes to keep tabs on who’s planing them and where, because they can be susceptible to disease.
Don’t Edit Don’t Edit
Simon Eugster | Wikimedia Commons
Check it out: The fruit from this flowering shrub is a cross between a gooseberry and a black currant, is loaded with vitamin C, and freezes exceptionally well, making it a great pick to stash away for a taste of summertime come winter.
Scott Bauer, USDA | Wikimedia Commons
This Michigan native deciduous tree looks like it belongs in the tropics — and it grows a fruit that tastes like a cross between banana, pear and mango. Getting the tree to fruit can require some effort (hello, hand-pollinating flowers with an artist’s paintbrush) but the payoff is huge: pawpaw fruit is a nutritional powerhouse full of essential fatty acids, and it’s delicious fresh, baked or cooked into puddings and pie filling.
Ken Eckert | Wikimedia Commons
Sometimes (confusingly) referred to as “Juneberry” or “serviceberry,” the Saskatoon plant produces a small, sweet fruit that rivals the blueberry in taste (though with a little nuttiness) and nutrition (hello, fiber). Use these dark-blue beauties anywhere you’d use a blueberry: in pies and crumbles, heaped fresh over vanilla ice cream or cereal, maybe even cooked down with a little sugar and water to make pancake syrup …
Wonderlane | Wikimedia
It’s thought that the medlar, a funky-looking fruit reminiscent of a rosehip, has been cultivated for more than 3,000 years. But you don’t eat these babies straight off the branch; they should be “bletted” first, which means leaving them on the plant through a few hard frosts, then letting them sit in a cool, dark room for several weeks before consuming. But then — then! — they are a delight, with a flavor similar to spiced applesauce, good when stewed, preserved, or roasted chestnut-style over a fire.
Leslie Seaton | Wikimedia Commons
This raspberry-like plant grows wild in many parts of the Upper Peninsula, where it is prized for its use in making a divine ruby-red jelly. If a wild thimbleberry-picking trip isn’t in the cards for you this summer, the plant can pretty easily be grown in a yard; just make sure your soil is well-drained and nitrogen rich.
Don’t Edit Don’t Edit
Dietrich Krieger | Wikimedia Commons
Quince looks a bit like the ugly-duckling progeny of a pear and an apple: knobby and misshapen, with a woody flesh that’s not very tasty when eaten raw. But the fruit cooks down into a delicate, delicious treat — tart, slightly spicy, and excellent when prepared with meats or made into jams. (Fact o’ the day: The word marmalade originated from the Portugese word for quince.)
Rosendahl | Wikimedia Commons
Sure, you can pick up a bright jar of lingonberry jam at IKEA — the preserve is a staple in Scandinavian cuisine — but why not make your own? Tart little lingonberries grow on a low, evergreen shrub that thrives in the type of soil favoring blueberries and rhododendron. The fruit flavor is closest to that of a cranberry, and the jam is beloved as a tart-sweet topping for pancakes or toast, or as a relish for savory dishes.
A non-native persimmon. Boris Oblak | Wikimedia Commons
Native persimmon is possibly the most laid-back of all these unusual fruits: It’s drought tolerant, fairly disease and insect free, and handles partial shade and a range of soil types just fine. All that, plus it delivers a lovely late-fall fruit that can be eaten fresh or made into desserts. The only catch? It needs a long growing season for the fruit to mature, so this one may be best for Michigan’s most southern regions.
1856 German lithography. Wikimedia Commons
Ready to turn your yard into a fruit bonanza? A good place to start: Get your soil tested. Then, check out the nitty-gritty details on each of these plants in the MSU Extension publication Unusual Fruit Plants for Gardens in the North Central Region, or give the experts a call at the MSU Lawn & Garden Hotline, 888-678-3464. Happy planting!
Growing Hardy Kiwi Vine In The Garden
Kiwi (Actinidia deliciosa) is an attractive, sweet fruit that is produced mostly in California and New Zealand. However, if you live in an area that has mild winters and a frost-free season long enough for the fruit to ripen, you can grow hardy kiwi plants in your garden.
Hardy Kiwi Growing Tips
Although growing kiwi vines requires mild winters and a long frost-free growing season, you can grow hardy kiwi plants in cooler climates so long as you choose a variety that has adapted itself to the cooler climates. There are some hardy kiwi plants that have done so, and they make a great addition to your fruit garden.
Growing hardy kiwi requires a lot of space. These are vines that spread quite a bit – sometimes over 20 feet. Since growing kiwi vines takes a lot of space, it is best to train them on a fence or arbor.
In order to get your hardy kiwi growing, you should make sure you have a male and a female plant. They do not self produce, so you need both. However, you can have one male plant and up to eight females together, and the male should be able to pollinate all the female plants with no trouble.
When you plant your hardy kiwi vines, make sure you put them about 10 to 18 feet apart. Again, they require a lot of room.
Further, they prefer well-drained soil and an area that gets full sun in order to be able to produce fruit. This is what growing hardy kiwi requires. Although hardy kiwi plants enjoy sun, if you’re in a region known to get excessively hot, place them in an area that is protected during the hottest part of the day – like in an area that receives partial sun or shade at that time, or you can use a shade cloth for new vines, as young plants cannot handle the scorching heat.
All fruit from the growing kiwi vine comes from the new growth on wood that is one year old. You should prune your hardy kiwi vine because annual pruning definitely enhances the production of fruit. Make sure you mulch around your small plants.
Make sure once you plant your hardy kiwi vine transplants, you water them daily until they take hold. After that, you can slack off a little, as they prefer well-drained soil once they are settled. Mulch will preserve soil moisture and prevent frost damage to any new transplants.
The fruits can be harvested once they are firm, yet starting to soften. Kiwi is a great fruit for fruit salads or just eating by itself.
Florida has a unique climate and can grow a wide range of fruit trees.
What fruit trees grow well in Florida? Apples, Avocado, Bananas, Citrus, Figs, Guava, Jackfruit, Japanese Persimmons, Loquats, Lychee, Mangoes, Mulberries, Papayas, Peaches, and Tamarind all grow well in Florida.
We have a tropical, subtropical and temperate climate here in Florida. North Florida sees plenty of chilly nights while south Florida sees a warm humid climate most of the year.
This unique climate range gives us a wide variety of fruit trees to grow. some will be easier to grow in the north while others will be easy to grow in the south.
15 Fruit Trees That Grow Well In Florida
Some fruit trees on this list will need a certain amount of cold weather in order to begin to set fruit. These are called chill hours.
A chill hour counts when the temperature is between 32-45°F. Those in the deep south Florida will have a really hard time getting these hours and will not be able to grow some of these trees.
Don’t worry though, south Florida has no shortage of fruit that trees it an grow.
Take a look at this chart to get an idea of how many chill hours your area gets
Apples are a fruit tree that need a certain number of chill hours in order to set fruit. These will only grow well in north and northern central Florida.
Growing apples is relatively new to Florida. A low chill hour variety of apple right now is about 300-400 chill hours. This isn’t a possibility for lower central and south Florida.
Florida Friendly Apple Varieties: Anna, Dorsett Golden, and Tropic Sweet.
I order for apple trees to set fruit they need to be cross pollinated. This means you will have to have more than one apple tree in order to get fruit.
If growing from seed your tree will take some time in order to produce fruit. It usually takes seed grown trees anywhere from 6-10 years to begin producing fruit. If you have a grafted tree they will produce at a much younger age. Usually between 3-5 years old.
Apples normally ripen in Florida around June or July.
Avocados are like the opposite of apples. They prefer warm weather and don’t really like the cold. However, there are new cold tolerant varieties being made that allow north Florida gardeners the chance to grow them.
Brogdon, Choquette, Day, Mexicola, and Winter all have a high cold tolerance. This means that they can withstand temperatures in between 20-30°F.
The trees must be mature in order to withstand these temps. It’s a good idea to give young Avocado trees plenty of cover when cold weather rolls in.
Avocado trees can grow up to 60 feet tall depending on the variety but it becomes rather hard to pick the fruit when trees are that tall. Keeping them at a manageable size with pruning is a good idea.
The fruits actually don’t ripen on the tree. The best avocado will ripen in about 4 days after picking. If your avocado rots before it feels ready for eating that means that the fruit needs to stay on the tree a little longer.
The time at which they ripen will depending on the variety of avocado tree. You can get multiple varieties of avocado so that you can have a continuous harvest of this great fruit.
Bananas are not only great for their fruit but they are also beautiful plants. They are another plant that prefers the warm weather. Central and South Florida will have no problems growing bananas year round. but Cold temperatures do knock the banana plant to the ground, but it should grow back when the temperatures rise
Banana plants enjoy our warm and moist summer. They are a tropical plant. The best to time plant a new banana tree in Florida is mid to late spring when the weather warms up and afternoon storms become regular.
There are lots of different varieties of banana. The ones in the supermarket are usually just one or two different kinds. Bananas come in lots of different colors and sizes.
Florida Friendly Banana Varieties: Apple, Blue Java, Dwarf Cavendish, Dwarf Orinoco, Dwarf Red, Gold Finger, Ice Cream, Lady Finger, Mysore, Williams.
Ice cream bananas are really y cold resistant, Those in north Florida will probably have the best luck with those.
Different varieties will grow to different heights. the dwarf varieties will usually grow between 6-9 feet while the other varieties can get up to 14 feet tall.
All bananas enjoy full sun and well draining soil. If their roots stay soaked they will die.
Citrus is probably the first fruit tree that comes to mind when you think of Florida. Oranges, Lemons, Limes, Grapefruits, Key limes and Tangelos. Florida’s climate can support all of these fruits.
However, there has been a serious issue affecting commercial citrus production and that is a disease called citrus greening. It is spread by infected bugs, soil, and equipment. It is a huge issue and it has the industry struggling.
However, this does not mean that we can not grow our own citrus trees in the backyard. Citrus is a subtropical fruit and is damaged by freezing weather. Those in north Florida will have to provide protection for your plant on the colder nights of the year.
Navel oranges are probably the most popular variety of organge we can grow in Florida. Tangelos are a cross between a grapefruit and a tangerine. Popular varieties are Orlando and Honey bells. Tangelos are actually cold hardy.
Myer lemons are another example of cold hardy citrus that north Floridians can grow. Key limes on the other hand can not tolerate any frost and should only be grown in the southern parts of the state.
Lots of times you can find cocktail plants at your local nurseries. These are root stock plants that have had a couple of different kinds of citrus grafted on to them.
Citrus trees prefer full sun with a well draining soil. They can grow up to 15 feet tall and wide so give them plenty of space to spread. If you are growing your trees in containers they will still grow just fine but their mature size will be much smaller.
Really good fresh figs are hard to get at your supermarket, the fruits don’t do well with all the logistics.
For this reason a homegrown fig might be the tastiest fig you will ever eat.
Figs are an easy fruit to grow in Florida. They prefer full sun and Plenty of room to grow. Figs can get 12-15 feet tall and the same wide.
The best variety of fig that you can grow in Florida is ‘Celeste’. ‘Brown Turkey’ is another popular variety in Florida as well.
I think Celeste is better because the fruit is formed with a closed end. Brown Turkey figs, on the other hand have a hole in the bottom of them. This gives a nice home for bugs to grow in.
It’s not the end of the world, Brown Turkey figs grow fantastic in Florida, but it’s just an extra thing to be aware of and I would rather not worry about whether or not I washed this fruit good enough before eating.
If you are planting from a tiny cutting or seed the best time to plant figs in Florida is March.
The early springtime will give your tree the best conditions to thrive. However, if you have a mature tree you can plant it at almost any time of year. But I would avoid the hottest and coldest months of the year.
Figs take a few years of growth before they start producing. Both varieties will start to ripen around July and continue to ripen for the next few months.
There seems to be some debate as to whether fig trees need chill hours or not to ripen. There are some sites that say they do and others that say they don’t. I’m in central Florida and I see fig trees with lots of fruits all around me.
If you’re in south Florida and are growing figs just fine join in on the discussion in the comments below. What varieties are you growing and how are they doing?
For more on growing figs in Florida check out this post.
Guava might not be the most desired fruit on this list but a freshly grownn, freshly picked guava fruit tastes like a sweetened pear. It does not have a texture of a pear, the texture is much more dense and creamy.
Guava is native to tropical America, so it grows well in south Florida and central Florida. North Florida’s cold weather will kill this tree. Temperatures lower than 27F will kill a mature guava.
Fruit production and plant growth stops at 60F. Guava trees can grow up to 12-15 tall and wide.
There are two types of guava fruits, pink/red and white guava. White varieties are a little more tart than pink guava. Pink guava is sweet and extremely fragrant when ripe.
Florida Friendly Guava Varieties:
- Pink/Red Guava – Barbi Pink, Hong Kong Pink, Patillo, and Homestead(Most popular)
- White Guava – Crystal, Lotus, Supreme, Webber
Guava trees need a well draining soil, especially for our wet Florida summers. Guava trees do not like their roots to be wet for very long. It is a plant that tolerates drought very well.
You should also pick a spot where your guava gets plenty of sun. Guava trees do not do well in part shade, you will get much more fruit from a tree that is grown with plenty of sunshine.
Pick fruits that are firm but have a little give when you squeeze them. As the fruits ripen they change from a green color to a yellow color.
Jackfruit trees are definitely for south Florida gardeners.
Temperatures at 32F will start damaging this tree. Anything lower than 28F will kill a jackfruit tree. This tree would not be an option for those in north Florida unless you can provide adequate protection, like a large greenhouse.
The jackfruit tree can make fruits up to 60lbs! This doesn’t mean that all of your fruit will be massive. They more commonly weight in the 10 – 20 lbs range. The variety will affect the size of the fruit as well.
Florida Friendly Jackfruit Varieties:
- Black Gold
- Chompa Gob
- Dang Rasimi
- Golden Nugget
- Honey Gold
- Lemon Gold
The tree itself can grow between will grow between 18-40 feet tall. It is best to prune your jackfruit tree in order to make harvesting easier and to keep them at a manageable size.
Varieties Black Gold, Cheena, Chompa Gob, and Gold Nugget can be pruned and still happily produce when they are kept at around 8 feet tall.
Jackfruit doesn’t really mind our Florida soil. Sandy soil doesn’t seem to bother them but beefing up the soil will make them happier.
Plant jackfruit trees in Full sun.
It’s always much quicker to get fruit when you buy a nursery grown plant but if you plan on planting from seed you should expect fruit in years 3-4 of growing.
Loquat trees can be grown across all part of the state. These trees can take south Florida’s tropical climate but they can also take freezing temperatures. Loquats really are an amazing tree.
They are also beautiful and used for landscaping purposes. They have large attractive foliage and bright little bursts of white flowers with orangish fruits that give this tree an appealing look.
When I learned about loquat trees and started looking around I noticed them all over the place near me. Lots of them on the side of the road and in plenty of yards. They are so easy to grow here in Florida that they don’t really require any extra irrigation or care once established.
If you start to notice some loquat trees around you and get the smart idea of picking a fruit and planting a seed you should know that the tree doesn’t grow true from seed. This means you may get a different variety of loquat than the mother plant. One that may produce less fruit or different tasting fruit or no fruit at all.
This is not a big deal if you plan to only use this tree as an ornamental but I say why not get the best of both worlds? If you are buying a loquat from a nursery make sure that it has been grafted.
Florida Friendly Loquat Varieties:
- Golden Nugget
If you want more info on growing loquats in Florida check out this post, it has all you need to know about growing them in Florida.
If you’ve never heard of lychee you aren’t alone. This is a lesser known fruit on this list. It is a bright red fruit that is shaped kind of like a strawberry. It has a thick bumpy skin and the edible part is reached by peeling this skin off.
The edible part is sweet and clear. the texture is like that of a firm jello.
The fruits are grown in clusters on the tree and can be anywhere form 3 – 50 fruit large.
Lychee is a plant that will thrive in Central and South Florida. It is a tropical to subtropical plant. Temperatures at 24F will severely damage or even kill a mature tree. Tree damage starts at 32F.
The two most popular varieties in Florida are Brewster and Mauritius. Mauritius produces more fruit than the brewster variety.
Lychee is a plant that loves full sun and well draining soil. It will not tolerate its roots being in water for very long. It is a semi drought tolerant but young plants enjoy regular watering.
Lychees do not grow true from seed. The most common commercial way of making new lychee trees is by air layering. I’d never heard of this before and it’s a really interesting way of propagating plants that don’t do well from cuttings.
Mangoes are another central and south Florida loving tree. Much like the loquat tree, mangoes are a beautiful tree that could be grown just for how attractive it is in the garden.
You can still grow a mango tree in north Florida if you plant in a large container are diligent enough to bring it into a greenhouse or protected area when nights get cold.
You can also try protecting your mango by planting it in an area close to the south side of a building and by planting a nice layer of plants around it to protect it.
Mature trees can take temperatures down to 25F but younger trees will be killed by temperatures lower than 30F.
Avoid planting mangoes during the coldest time of the year.
Florida Friendly Mango Varieties: Carrie Atkins, Dunkin, Edward, Keitt, Parvin, Floridian, and Van Dyke
Mango trees begin to flower in December and go through April. They need insects in order to pollinate.
Mango trees need full sun and once mature don’t really need regular watering.
You can grow a mango tree from seed but this plant can also be grown from a cutting or by being grafted.
Mulberry trees can be grown accross all parts of the state. It can grow in the deep south where it’s hot and humid but they can also withstand a north Florida winter.
They aren’t picky about soil, actually, they seem to enjoy being planted into the ground here.
If you want to talk about a plant that produces a ton of fruit, this is one of them. I bet you’ll have a hard time getting rid of all the fruit that you get on this thing.
Mulberry growing at Kerby’s nursery.
It’s best to start mulberry trees as cuttings. You can expect fruit within the first 1-2 years this way. If you grow from a seed you will have to wait at least double to triple that.
Mullberries enjoy a good pruning and they are grow well as a shrub.
I think the best variety of mulberry is the Pakistan Mulberry. It makes long, weird looking fruits but they taste similar to a raspberry. The ebst thing about the Pakistan mulberry (Besides how hardy it is) is that the fruits do not stain.
Many homeowners have complained about mulberry fruits staining sidewalks and other things around the house.
If you’re really into berries, check out this post about the best berries to grow in Florida.
Papayas are really interesting fruits in terms of texture and flavor. They are often compared to cantaloupes in terms of flavor and texture.
As far as growing papayas you might not find an easier fruit tree to grow in Florida. Provided with enough water and plenty of sun you will have no problem growing papayas in central and south Florida.
Florida Friendly Papaya Varieties: Maradol, Red Lady, Solo Types
Papayas are damaged by light frosts, they can be grown in containers as long as they are at least 30 inches in diameter. So those in north Florida could potentially grow papayas if you had the ability to protect a large potted plant during the winter.
Papaya plants normally grow about 10-15 feet tall and produce fruit for about 4 years. After that fruit production begins to decline.
Papaya plants can be Male, Female or both Male and female. The female plants bear the fruit, but need pollination. If you are growing from seed its best to plant more than one plant in order to increase your chance for both sexes.
If buying from a nursery they will probably know the sex of the plant.
Peaches are another fruit tree that requires a certain number of chill hours in order to set fruit.
There are a number of varieties that are Florida friendly and require a low number of chill hours. North Florida will have no problem growing any of these peach trees. Central Florida will have to be pickier when it comes to which variety they can grow. Those in deep south Florida may be out of luck until we can make no chill hour variety peaches.
But your location may vary.
Never say never. If you are in south Florida and have peaches growing let us know how they are doing in the comments below.
- Florida Glo and Florida Prince are low chill hour peach varieties that will do well in most parts of the state. These varieties will need 150 chill hours to set fruit.
- UF Best is an even lower chill hour variety needing only 100 chilly hours.
There are other varieties of peach trees that can be grown in Florida but I think these three mentioned will do well for the majority of the state.
If you want to know of other varieties of peaches and the number of chill hours your location receives check out this post on peach trees for Florida.
Peaches enjoy full sun and a well draining soil. Peaches do require a little pruning in order to maximize fruit production. Trimming them into a vase like structure gives you the best opportunity for lots and lots of fruit.
Asian varieties of persimmon are way more desireable than the native American varieties. The taste is much much better.
The Asian varieties will only grow to about 10 feet tall while the native American varieties will grow to be about 30 feet tall. These trees do well in full sun and a well-drained soil.
There are two types of popular persimmons, Astringent and non astringent. Astringent varieties are usually grown for drying fruit and non astringent are better suited to easting fresh. Non astringent are the more popularly grown ones.
Florida Friendly Persimmon Varieties:
- Astringent: Giombo, Ormond, Saijo, Sheng, Tenenashi
- Non-Astringent: Fuyu, Hana Fuyu, Izu, Suruga
It’s important to eat your persimmon only when ripe. If you eat this fruit before it’s ready I highly doubt that you will ever want to eat one again. Fuyu persimmons can be eaten while still firm but persimmons are best to eat when they feel pretty mushy.
Tamarind grows easily, almost like a weed in south Florida. This is not a tree for north Florida gardeners. Trees are easy to grow from seed. However, they also don’t produce true from seed so you will not know what kind of fruit quality to expect.
It’s best to get grafted or air layered trees. There are two types of tamarind, a sweet kind, and a sour kind. Sour tamarinds are used more for cooking and sweet tamarinds can be eatent fresh.
All Tamarinds come in a hard shell and inside (the sweet kind) the fruit tastes like a sweet prune. Be careful when eating fresh tamarind, There are seeds inside that you probably don’t want to bite through.
Usually nurseries aren’t anymore specific than sweet or sour tamarind when it comes to variety.
Tamarind trees are long-lived, they can live up to 200 years. They can also grow rather large, up to 100 feet tall. These are extreme cases of course but this tree would be perfect for a large shade tree in a Florida food forest.
Fruits usually mature in April through July. Heavy rains can damage fruit, so if you know that heavy rains are on the way you should harvest your fruit.
Planting Fruit Trees
When it comes to planting all trees it is always a good idea to dig a hole that is at least twice the size of the root ball. This gives the roots plenty of lose soil to work with.
Its good to backfill the hole you just dug with some of the dirt you took out and compost. you want to fill it just enough so that the trees trunk will not settle below the soil line.
Give the plant about an inch or so to count for settling of the dirt.
Soil around the base invites disease and problems to your plant. So just make sure that the base of your plant is not completely covered in dirt.
you should still have some dirt leftover from digging your hole. Use that dirt to build a ring a few feet away from your tree. This helps retain water.
And as always, mulching is on the list. Super big fan of mulch!
Building Fruit Tree Guilds
A fruit tree guild is a group of plants that are purposefully planted together in order to maximize yield and space.
There is usually a central element(A fruit tree) that things are then planted around. It’s a way of designing your garden that copies nature.
The first step to deciding what your fruit tree guild will look like is knowing how much space you are working with. A smaller fruit tree guild should have a smaller main element. For instance, if you have a small space to work with you don’t want to deal with an 80-foot tall tamarind in the future. Sure, shes small now but in a few short years she’s gonna be a big girl. You should choose a smaller tree like a Mulberry or something as your main element.
And then plant around it other plants that will benefit you and this tree in someway. That can be another food source for you, or it can act as a fertilizer for the soil and a living mulch for the tree. These other plants could attract beneficial insects and they could just look really pretty.
You can have a ground cover layer, a shrub layer, an herbacious layer, a vine layer, an upper canopy layer , and a lower canopy layer. With fruit tree guilds it’s all about craming as much beneficial plant diversity as you can.
If you want to learn more about fruit tree guilds and building a Florida food forest you will definitely be interested in this post:
Deciduous fruits that grow well in Florida
Sally Scalera For FLORIDA TODAY Published 3:50 PM EDT Mar 21, 2017
It is still evident that winter isn’t quite over because many of our deciduous trees, shrubs and vines are still leafless.
Those bare plants reminded me that even though we live in Central Florida, there are still a variety of deciduous fruit crops that we can grow here.
Deciduous fruit crops need a certain number of chilling hours and temperatures below 45 degrees to initiate flowering. To be able to harvest deciduous fruits from your own yard, you will need to make sure that you have chosen a cultivar that will flower here.
Take for example Red Delicious apples, which need 400 chilling hours. We could never get fruit from a Red Delicious apple tree.
Here in Central Florida, we have four cultivars that we can grow: Dorsett Golden, Ein Shemer, Anna, and Tropic Sweet. If cross-pollination is required, as is the case for TropicSweet, then that cultivar needs to be planted with Anna or Dorsett Golden for cross-pollination to occur.
For anyone who is interested in growing deciduous fruit in their yard, the “go to” source of information is our FruitScapes site at http://trec.ifas.ufl.edu/fruitscapes/. This site contains information on temperate, subtropical and tropical fruit crops.
Just to give you a quick overview, here are the deciduous, or temperate, fruit crops that we can grow here in Brevard: apples, blueberries, Chinese dates, figs, bunch grapes, muscadine grapes, peaches, pecans and pomegranates. We have separate bulletins on each of these crops that cover topics such as cultivar selection, planting, watering, fertilizing, general care and pruning.
When it comes to blueberries, we have the Blueberry Gardener’s Guide bulletin. This bulletin covers how to grow blueberries in the ground and in containers. The southern highbush are recommended for our area, and because most cultivars are not self-pollinated, it is recommended to plant another cultivar for cross-pollination. The Southern highbush cultivars that are recommended include Emerald, Jewel, Star, Windsor, Springhigh, Sweetcrisp and Farthing.
Chinese Date or Jujube is a deciduous tree with an open, irregular growth habit and spiny, gnarled branches. The tree can grow 15 to 35 feet tall with a 10- to 30-foot spread. Small clusters of fragrant white or yellow flowers appear in spring, though you may not see them because they are hidden in the foliage. One-inch-long fruit is produced that go from green to dark red and finally black when fully ripe. The sweet fruit is typically eaten fresh, candied, dried like dates or canned. Young two-year-old trees can produce delicious fruit, but because of the high quantity of fruit produced, it could be considered a messy tree. So be sure to place the tree away from sidewalks, driveways and patios. Another great characteristic of this tree is that it is very cold tolerant and can survive all the way up into hardiness zone 6A.
Fig trees, such as Brown Turkey and Celeste, are grown throughout the county. Our bulletin lists 18 additional cultivars, so if you are interested in growing figs, check out the bulletin for all the details.
If you are interested in growing grapes you will want to read both our bunch and muscadine grape bulletins so that you can pick the right grape for you. In addition to differences in the ripening characteristics and the actual grapes, they also require different pruning practices. Make sure to read about the pruning requirements, so that you know what you are getting into.
The Florida peach varieties that are good for our area, that only require up to 100 to 150 chilling units, include UFSun, UFBest, Floridaprince, and TropicBeauty. The lowest chilling unit nectarine variety is Sunbest, which only requires 225 chilling units. This may flower and fruit well in Mims, Titusville and possibly even Central Brevard.
Next on the list is the pecan tree. Amazingly enough, pecan trees can be grown in all areas of Florida, from Pensacola to Miami, though most of the acreage is up in northern Florida. The pecan publication is large, consisting of 16 pages and even covers grafting and budding trees. The recommended cultivars are Elliott, Excel, Lakota and Sumner.
Pomegranates are the last temperate fruit listed and none of them require cross-pollination. A large number of cultivars are listed, with descriptions of their origin, fruit color, size, and flavor.
If you are interested in growing any temperate fruit, mark your calendar for the Brevard Tropical Fruit Clubs annual plant sale.
When: Saturday, April 22, at 8 a.m.
Where: Field next to the Melbourne Auditorium at 625 E. Hibiscus Blvd.
Published 3:50 PM EDT Mar 21, 2017
Kiwis have become a staple in the produce department at grocery stores and now they are becoming more commonplace in the backyard as well. The lovely perennial vines create a unique cover for trellises and arbors. And kiwi fruits are good for you. They are packed with vitamin C, potassium, vitamin E, high fiber, and are low fat.
Semi-Tropical, Hardy and Super-Hardy Kiwis
It may surprise you to know that kiwis will thrive in just about any climate that experiences at least a month of below 45 degree F temperatures in winter. The vines need a period of cold to set fruit.
The kiwis available at the grocery store, Actinidia deliciosa, are native to China. They are semi-tropical and are best suited for zones 7 through 9. Look for these varieties: ‘Blake’, ‘Elmwood’, and ‘Hayward’.
Hardy kiwis, Actinidia arguta, and super-hardy kiwis, Actinidia kolomikta, have smooth, edible skin and smaller fruits. They are very prolific and the flavor of the fruit is sweet. Grow A. arguta in zones 4 through 7 and A. kolomikta is cold tolerant to zone 3. ‘Anna’ and ‘Dumbarton Oaks’ are two common A. arguta varieties. ‘Arctic Beauty’ is A. kolomikta.
Cultural Requirements for Kiwis
Plant your kiwi vines in well-drained soil with a pH between 5.0 & 6.5. They will produce fruit in partial sun. The hardy & super-hardy types are particularly shade tolerant. It’s important that they are in a location that is shielded from glaring winter sunlight and away from cold spring air pockets that might damage the early blooming flowers.
Kiwis are Dioecious
Plant a male kiwi vine within 35 to 50 feet of a female kiwi vine for proper pollination. A single male plant can pollinate several female plants. Hand pollination is an option for a small number of plants. Just pick a male flower and rub it on a female flower.
Kiwis roots are sensitive to fertilizer so always use a slow release fertilizer when feeding. Apply an all-purpose, slow release fertilizer at planting time. After the first year feed in early spring before the leaf buds break and again in summer after the flowers fade. Kiwis are excellent candidates for organic gardens because they respond well to options such as cow manure.
Staking Kiwi Vines
The kiwi is a vine that needs staking. This helps support the fruits, allows sunlight to reach the leaves and keeps the vines off the ground. You can train them to a guide wire and stake system similar to grapes or any vertical structure such as a fence or trellis.
Pruning Kiwi Vines
It’s important to prune kiwi vines to keep the shape tidy and for fruit production. Fruits are borne on the current season’s growth that emerges from the previous season’s canes. During the first year work on developing a central trunk that is trained to the support. Thereafter prune during the dormant season. Remove dead and diseased wood and stems that fruited during the previous year. Shape up male kiwis after they flower in summer.
Harvesting Kiwi Fruits
Growing kiwis is a time investment. It may take 2 to 5 years to see a plentiful harvest. Look for the fruits to begin to ripen in early fall. Semi-tropical kiwis are ready to pick when the skins turn brown, but the fruit is still firm. You can further test for ripeness by slicing into one of the fruits. If the seeds are black, go ahead and harvest the rest. Give them about a week at room temperature to soften before eating. Hardy and semi-hardy kiwis will drop from the vine when ready. To keep kiwis longer, put them in the refrigerator while they are still hard. They will stay fresh for 5 weeks to several months.
Growing kiwi fruit: It’s easier than you think
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Do you enjoy growing fruit? Perhaps you have a few blueberry bushes, a handful of strawberry plants, or some apple trees and you’re looking to expand your garden’s offerings? Consider growing kiwi fruit.
While you may be picturing the brown fuzzy kiwis you find at the grocery store, those aren’t the kiwi fruits I’m talking about. Grocery store kiwis (Actinidia chinensis) are native to southern Asia and they don’t survive temperatures lower than 10 degrees F. But, hardy kiwis (Actinidia arguta) are native to northern China and Russia and can survive temperatures as low as -25 degrees F. And, best of all, hardy kiwi fruits do not have to be peeled! Their skin is beautiful and smooth, so they can go straight from the plant into your mouth. They taste much like their fuzzy-fruited cousins, but I find hardy kiwi to be sweeter and far more enjoyable to eat.
You may think that growing kiwi fruit is challenging, but I’m here to tell you it is one of the easiest fruits to grow, if you keep these few things in mind.
Related post: Growing organic apples with fruit bagging
Tips for Growing Kiwi Fruit
- Variety selection is everything. Most hardy kiwi varieties are hardy from USDA zones 5-9, but if you live where it gets very cold in the winter, your best bet is to plant Russian selections like ‘Natasha’, ‘Tatyana’, and ‘Ananasnaja’ (a favorite for its aromatic fruit and extremely productive nature). These Russian varieties are said to be hardy all the way down to -35 degrees F! Other good varieties for growing kiwi fruit just about anywhere include ‘Michigan State’, a larger fruited, hardy variety that I love, and ‘Ken’s Red’ which bears sweet-flavored fruits with reddish-plum colored skin.
- The fruits are smaller than the fuzzy kiwis at the grocery store. The green fruits of hardy kiwis are only slightly larger than a grape, but they’re produced prolifically. Expect dozens of one to two inch long fruits to be produced within three or four years of planting. The best production occurs when the vines are about eight years old, and you can expect them to produce for forty years or more.
- Only female vines produce fruits. Hardy kiwis are dioecious, meaning male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. So, for growing kiwi fruit, you’ll need to plant one male vine for every eight or nine female vines. Since vines are vegetatively propagated, the vines will be “sexed” when you purchase them.
- Hardy kiwis are fast growing (like, seriously fast!). You’ll need a sturdy pergola or trellis to support the growing vines. Each one can grow up to 40 feet tall!
- Growing kiwi fruit means you’ll also be growing fragrant flowers. The flowers, which appear in early summer, are small and white. Their fragrance is similar to lily of the valley. The fruits continue to mature all summer long and are ready to harvest in late fall.
Kiwi vines also have beautiful, fragrant flowers.
- When growing kiwi fruit, site the vines in full sun. Try to find a location that’s protected from late spring frosts that might damage newly emerged spring growth. Space vines about ten to twelve feet apart, on center. Make sure they’re regularly watered until established.
- Pruning is a must. For many people growing kiwi fruit, pruning is the most challenging task. The vines must be pruned with a sharp pair of high-quality pruners when they’re dormant in the winter, and again two or three times throughout the summer. In winter, prune out any branches that produced fruit the previous season, as well as any dead or crossed branches. The one-year-old branches produce the most fruit, so don’t prune them out, instead trim them back to the eighth node up from the base of the plant (the nodes look like little nubs along the branch). These nodes will push out new fruiting spurs in the spring. Summer pruning involves removing any long, arching vines that extend beyond the developing fruits. Any non-flowering vines that extend off the trellis can be removed in the summer as well.
- Keep the vines well mulched. I like to use three inches of compost or shredded leaves. But, don’t pile the mulch against the base of the plant; keep it three inches away from the vine’s base.
- If your hardy kiwi fruit aren’t ripe when frost threatens in the fall, harvest them and allow them to ripen on the kitchen counter. Make sure all the fruits are harvested before frost strikes.
- Hardy kiwis are among the most pest-free fruits you can grow. The plants are not fussy, nor do they require any spraying. Oh, and they’re pretty, too!
Related post: Gooseberries
In many ways, growing kiwi fruit is much like growing grapes. They are vigorous growers and need to be properly pruned, trained, and trellised. But, when they’re treated right, you’ll have more fruit than you can handle. Growing kiwi fruit should be on every gardeners to-do list!
Growing kiwi fruit can also take place in containers. These forty-five gallon grow bags are perfect containers for kiwi vines.
For more on growing fruit successfully, check out the following articles:
- How to prune blueberries for more fruit
- Growing dwarf berries in containers
- 5 mini-melons for small gardens
Are you growing kiwi fruit? Tell us about it in the comments below.
You Need a ‘Man’ to Grow Kiwi!
Q. My son gave me a kiwi tree on Mother’s Day four years ago. The salesperson said it was female and didn’t need a nearby male to flower. The plant seems to be okay, but has not gotten any bigger and has never flowered. Do I need to get another plant?
- —Denise in Morton, PA, a suburb of Philly
Mike: We live about a block off the beach and are trying to get our kiwi to produce fruit. We’ve had the plants (three female and one male) for about six years. We’ve had blossoms the last few years, but no fruit. Any suggestions?
- —Bob and Marika in Emerald Isle, NC
A. There are several types of Kiwi fruit, all members of the genus Actinidia. The brown-skinned, egg-sized ones you see in the supermarket (A. deliciosa; what a name!) can only be grown in regions that are blessed with at least 225 frost-free growing days and moderate winter temperatures—mostly USDA Growing Zones 8 and 9.
But hardy kiwi varieties (A. arguta) can be grown almost anywhere in the nation—from Zones 4 through 9. They produce large clusters of small fruits whose flavor is very similar to the big ones (kind of tropical; kind of pineapple-y) and whose skins are so thin you eat them like the grapes they resemble. (They’re also incredibly rich in vitamin C.)
And the super-hardy varieties (A. kolomikta) can be grown in almost impossibly chilly regions—all the way down to Zone 3. But they’re all vines. And not just “vines” but rampant vines that grow so quickly and so vigorously that our resident fruit expert Dr. Lee Reich warns they should be pruned several times a season to keep them from overwhelming the property and shading themselves into fruitlessness. (Although he adds that the super-hardy types are much less rampant than the others.)
Kiwi vines do become almost tree-like at their base over time, but a plant that appears to have the form of a tree and hasn’t grown much in four years may not be a kiwi—so some questioning of the gifter and maybe a visit to the place of purchase may be helpful. It would be much less suspicious if you had said that the plant was overwhelming the place but hadn’t yet bloomed, as it can take a vine five years to begin flowering—especially if it isn’t being aggressively pruned.
And, although there are a few self-fruitful varieties, the vast majority of kiwi need a male plant nearby (within 35 feet or so) to pollinate the fruit-bearing females. This is so important that it’s boxed and highlighted in the kiwifruit section of Lee’s latest book “Grow Fruit Naturally” (Taunton Press; 2012).
The report of blossoms without fruit is a little more troubling. Once male and female vines are both flowering, there should be fruits—IF pollinators are present, and the male is compatible. (Lee explains that the male vine doesn’t have to be the same exact species as the girls, but it does have to flower at the same time.) If we assume that our North Carolinians have the right kind of guy, their location could be the problem.
MapQuest reveals that ‘Emerald Isle’ lives up to its name—it’s a long, thin strip of land about two miles East of the actual Carolina coastline, a spot that might not host an abundance of native bees. I’m thinking a beehive or hand pollination might be necessary in such an extreme (but undoubtedly breathtaking) location. Lee adds that Kiwi is also wind-pollinated to some degree, and plants should ideally be positioned so that the prevailing wind moves from the male towards the females.
Lee explains that all kiwi vines need acidic soil, perfect drainage, serious support, lots of pruning, and protection from extreme temperature swings. “Keep them away from South-facing walls and other areas that heat up in winter” he advises, “and protect young plants from winter weather as if they were fig trees their first few years of life. After that, they get pretty tough.” Lee adds that one male can ‘service’ up to eight females, and that it can be pruned back hard after its flowers fade, as it is a true one-trick pony.
No matter which type you grow, choose the site well, read up on the plants’ needs and differences, and be prepared to do a lot of pruning and to give the vines a lot of support. (All of Lee’s many books on fruit growing include detailed instructions on pruning and trellis construction.) The edible reward for your labors will be great, he assures us; and he adds that the vines of the hardy and super-hardy varieties are so attractive they were first grown solely as ornamentals.
Their only real insect enemy is the Japanese beetle, so keep an eye out for those armored invaders. But keep an even sharper eye on your local cats. Lee warns that something in kiwi vines can make catnip look like alcohol-free beer to kitty, with some felines going so crazy that they pull young plants right out of the ground, roots and all.
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