How to Grow Fruit Trees in Florida

Overview

Florida gardeners are blessed with year-round growing conditions for many plants. Tropical fruit trees that do well in Florida's subtropical climate include mango, papaya, Jack fruit, pummelo, lychee and others. However, apples and stone fruits such as peaches, plums and nectarines require a specific amount of cold in winter in order for them to produce fruit. Varieties have been developed that do well in warmer regions: in north and central Florida, the "Anna" and "Dorsett" Golden apple trees produce well. Red delicious apples need as many as 1,400 "chill hours" weather a year, making them appropriate for more northerly states.

Step 1

Purchase a grafted fruit tree of a variety that will grow well in your part of Florida. Local nurseries will have such trees available for purchase and their staff can answer your questions about the fruit trees you want to grow.

Step 2

Prepare a growing area for your fruit tree where it will receive at least six hours of sun a day and where it will have plenty of space when it grows large. Well draining soil is important for fruit trees, especially all of the citrus varieties. To ensure that your soil drains well, combine one part compost with four parts topsoil. Dig a hole twice as large as the root system of your tree and then mix the soil and compost together in a wheelbarrow. Refill the hole half full with your soil mixture and then set your tree into it, distributing the roots around the soil surface. Refill the hole with the rest of the soil and compost from your wheelbarrow.

Step 3

Water your newly planted fruit tree thoroughly by running a hose at the root zone slowly for about 30 minutes. Keep an eye on the soil moisture and water again when it feels dry to the touch down to about 2 inches deep. Normally, most fruit trees need a deep watering once a week: if rains occur, skip watering until the soil dries out a bit. In very hot weather, water more often.

Step 4

Fertilize your fruit tree with a balanced plant food about one month after you plant it. Different fruit trees have different needs for fertilizer, so check the guidelines for your type of tree and fertilize it accordingly. For example, citrus trees need three to four feedings between early spring and late summer.

Step 5

Prune your tree correctly for the type of tree. You can prune citrus trees to keep them compact and tidy, but some other types of trees do not respond well to heavy pruning. Do a little research to learn what is best for your tree.

Step 6

Spray some types of fruit trees with dormant oil in winter to control insects such as scale and diseases such as powdery mildew. Spray trees with insecticidal soap at any time of year if they fall victim to aphids, mealy bugs and certain other insects.

Tips and Warnings

  • Do not bury the grafted portion of your tree's trunk. This area is usually 3 to 4 inches above the tree's roots.

Things You'll Need

  • Sunny location
  • Well-drained soil
  • Soil test kit
  • Compost
  • Shovel
  • Wheelbarrow
  • Fertilizer
  • Pruning shears
  • Insecticidal soap spray (as needed)
  • Dormant oil (as needed)

References

  • Florida Plants: Growing Fruit in Florida
  • Just Fruits and Exotics: Just the Facts
  • Texas A&M Cooperative Extension: Home Fruit Production-Oranges
Keywords: fruit trees, tropical gardening, Florida plants

About this Author

Barbara Fahs lives on Hawaii island, where she has created Hi'iaka's Healing Herb Garden. Fahs wrote "Super Simple Guide to Creating Hawaiian Gardens," and has been a professional writer since 1984. She contributes to Big Island Weekly, Ke Ola magazine, GardenGuides and eHow. She earned her B.A. at UCSB and her M.A. from San Jose State University.