Off-Season Lawn Care Tips
November 14, 2017
One of the joys of gardening is the ability to produce your own vegetables and, in the right climate, fruit. Here in Florida, with our warm climate and humid summers, there are many types of fruit trees that are suited to the conditions. Fruit trees can be an interesting aspect of your landscaping and will also produce delicious fruit for you and your family to enjoy!
Although the weather isn't quite warm enough all year round for us to grow some of the tropical fruits that are suited to southern Florida, there are still plenty of options to consider here in North Central Florida. Whether you want citrus or something more exotic, check out our list to find your new favorite fruit tree!
If you want to grow citrus trees in North Central Florida, satsumas are a great option. These small, sweet fruits in the orange family are more cold-hardy than any other citrus. They are a great source of Vitamin C and their thin skin also makes them easy to peel!
It's easiest to begin with a grafted tree, as it takes up to eight years for satsuma trees to mature when grown from seed. Place your tree in a location that will get a lot of sun - preferably ten hours a day, especially in spring. Satsumas can cope with a light frost but need protection if temperatures drop below 25 degrees.
Satsuma trees grow well in sandy soil that is slightly acidic. They need a lot of water, especially during dry spells, and benefit from fertilization in late winter. Although satsumas require some maintenance they are well worth the effort! The tasty fruits should be harvested as soon as they reach maturity, usually from October to December.
Did you know that the Meyer lemon is actually a hybrid fruit? It is thought to be a cross between a lemon and an orange. Its fruit is rounder and sweeter than other lemons, and is often used in cooking. Because it self-pollinates, you only need one Meyer lemon tree to enable the fruit to grow.
The Meyer lemon is hardy in zones 9-11, which means it will do well in Central and South Florida; in the very north of the state the weather may be too cold. This citrus plant needs full sun in a sheltered position and requires well-drained soil. Once situated, it needs regular watering. The soil should be moist but not too wet.
This easy-care lemon tree is an excellent choice for Florida yards, and can even be grown in a container, allowing you to bring it inside if cold weather sets in.
A kumquat tree, with its dark green foliage and small, bright orange fruits, is an unusual citrus tree that will look appealing in your yard. The small fruits, which have sour juice and sweet peels, tend to be eaten whole.
Kumquat is relatively easy to care for. Like other citrus trees, it requires full sun, warm weather, and well-draining soil that needs to be kept moist. It's hardy in zones 9-10, so is suited to the climate in all but the most northern regions of Florida.
Harvest season for most popular varieties of kumquat is in the fall. The small fruits should be cut with scissors, as pulling on them can damage the tree. Although the first year's harvest may be modest, future years should see an increase in fruit production.
Have you ever tasted a fresh fig? These tasty tropical fruits are a rare treat because they need to ripen on the tree. It's also tricky to ship them, which means that figs tend not to show up very often in grocery stores. If you want to enjoy a fresh fig, the best way is to cultivate them in your own yard.
The common fig tree, ficus carica, is suited to the warm climate of North and Central Florida. Popular varieties include brown turkey, green ischia and celeste. Because they need a certain amount of chill weather during the cold season to encourage an abundant harvest, these varieties are not recommended for South Florida.
The common fig is not too hard to grow. It is self-pollinating and can be grown in the ground or in a container. It needs full sun and, if planted in the ground, plenty of space to expand. It may take 3-5 years for a fig tree to start bearing fruit.
Banana plants, with their gigantic leaves, can help to give your landscaping an extravagant, tropical look. Of course, you may also want a banana tree for its sweet fruits. There is a wide range of edible cultivars whose fruits vary greatly in size, taste and even color.
Many of the ornamental cultivars are cold hardy, but winter temperatures will affect the fruit production of your banana tree. Dwarf Cavendish can be grown throughout Florida and, as long as it doesn't freeze back over the winter, will produce tasty fruits.
Banana trees need plenty of water in order to produce fruits, but it's also important that they're not overwatered as they can be damaged by waterlogged soil. They need full sun, wind protection and frequent fertilization (four to six times a year). It's easier to grow banana trees simply as an ornamental feature of your landscape but, with proper care, edible bananas can be produced in Central Florida.
Growing nectarines or peaches will give you a sweet crop of delicious, juicy fruits in late spring to early summer. But did you know that these trees also produce beautiful blooms in early spring? Peach and nectarine trees have charming flowers that look like cherry blossoms; they are sure to add appeal to your spring landscaping.
Deciduous trees such as peach and nectarine are not always suited to a warm climate like Florida's because they need a certain amount of cold weather each year. However, there are some "low chill" cultivars that require fewer chill hours over the winter season. The University of Florida has more information and a list of suitable cultivars for Central Florida here.
As with most tropical fruit trees, peach and nectarine need both full sun and shelter from the wind. They do require a little care, but a mature tree will reward you with delicious fruits when harvest season comes.
Our focus has been on types of fruit trees that grow well in Central Florida, where LawnMore is based. If you live in North Florida, where it's cooler, check out this Garden Guides article for some suggestions on fruit trees that would grow well there.
If you're based in the South of the Sunshine State, you'll have lots of options for citrus and other fruit trees. Florida Smart has some more information on what might grow well in your backyard.
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