Florida is a large state with hardiness zones ranging from 8a to 11. Florida's weather is, for the most part, exceptionally mild with average winter temperatures ranging from 10 to 40 degrees Fahrenheit and higher, making it an ideal climate for growing tropical fruit trees. Florida's soil varies as much as its weather and ranges from sandy to clay based.
The star fruit tree (Averrhoa carambola) is a slow growing, deciduous tree that thrives in zones 8 though 11. Star fruit trees do not have any salt tolerance, so do not plant them anywhere near the shoreline. Growing to a height of 30 feet, the star fruit tree has a medium drought tolerance rating and thrives the most in full sun. The fruit of the star fruit tree are regarded as showy and long with juicy yellow flesh. The fruit's skin can be eaten along with the rest of the fruit and when cut into cross-sections, the fruit takes the shape of a star.
The Barbados cherry (Malpighia glabra) is a tropical fruit tree that thrives in zones 9b through 11. The Barbados cherry tree is a tender evergreen shrub with a high drought tolerance. It prefers partial shade and partial sun for optimal growth and reaches a final height of 10 to 12 feet. The Barbados cherry is a summer blooming plant that produces red, fleshy fruit. The fruit is known for attracting birds. With its small size, the Barbados cherry tree is very well suited for potted planting and has been known to thrive on a patio. If you are planting this tree in natural soil, be sure to have the soil tested for root-knot nematodes, as they are the most common pest for this tree and will make the tree weak, causing its leaves to drop.
Caribbean Red Papaya
The Caribbean red papaya (Carica papaya) is a tropical fruit tree that does best in hardiness zones 9b through 11. This short shrub reaches a maximum height of 10 to 15 feet and is neither drought or salt tolerant. The Caribbean red papaya thrives in full sunlight and is an invasive grower, known to spread quickly into nearby landscapes. The fruit of this tree is oval with a red and orange coloration and is used for both consumption and in many skin and hair products.