Florida gardeners have a wealth of choices when it comes to selecting tropical fruit plants for their gardens, many more than just citrus. The state's subtropical and tropical climate is well suited for most tropical fruit plants that are native to warm regions of the world. Florida's tropical fruit plants include vines, shrubs and trees, so there is a variety that will meet your landscape's size as well as your tastes.
There are quite a few tropical fruit shrubs that grow well in Florida gardens. As with all species of plants, be sure to check the range where the plant will grow best as North Florida can experience freezing temperatures.
Guava (Myrtaceae) has many cultivars and is native to tropical regions of the Western hemisphere. If left unpruned, guava shrubs can grow into small trees reaching heights of 30-feet. Harvest the fruits year-round and eat fresh or use in jams, marmalade and desserts.
Surinam cherry (Eugenia uniflora) is a South American native with bushes growing to 20 feet tall, producing red to dark purple cherry-like fruits year-round. Eat fruits fresh or make them into preserves.
Sea Grape (Cocoloba uvifera) grows up to 40 feet tall and is considered a large shrub. Fruits ripen throughout summer and become dark red or purple when ready for harvesting. Eat the fruits like regular grapes or use in jams and jellies.
Tropical fruiting vines are a good choice for Florida gardeners without much space.
Monstera (Monstera deliciosa) is native to India and southern Asia. The plant supports its growth on a host tree and produces 3-to-10-inch long fruits spring through fall. The fruits are green on the outside with the yellow-orange flesh, and is used in fruit salads, sauces, chutney or drinks.
Dragon Fruit (Cactaceae) is a climbing cactus that produces large, white flowers, which then produce pink fruits in early summer through late fall. Fruits are chilled, cut in half and the center eaten, as well as used in drinks.
Passion fruit (Passiflora edulis) is an aggressive vine native to tropical parts of the Americas. The round fruits are harvested summer through early winter and the orange-yellow pulp used in juices, sauces, jams and desserts.
Florida gardeners have a large variety of both small and large tropical fruit trees that grow well in the state. Of course, citrus such a oranges, lemons, and key limes are grown in the state, but other tropical fruit trees also thrive there.
Coconut palms (Cocos nucifera) grow to 60 feet tall and are native to Indo-Pacific tropics. There are a variety of cultivars. Coconuts are harvested year-round and the inside pulp is eaten fresh, dried or refrigerated and the milk used fresh. Use coconut in desserts, ice cream, drinks and multiple recipes.
Carambola (Averrhaa carambola), also known as starfruit, is a southeast Asian native, growing to 25 feet tall. The tree produces 2 to 7-inch long fruits from June through March. Use the crisp, sweet fruits fresh, in salads, wine, or sauces.
Papaya (Carica papaya) is a tropical American native with many cultivars. Trees grow 16 to 33 feet tall producing 4 to 14-inch long fruits year-round. Use the fruits fresh, in fruit salads, desserts, sauces or drinks.