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If you live in Florida, you know there’s no better place in the United States to grow fruit. Florida’s tropical climate and mild, sunny weather create some of the juiciest and most delicious fruit available-oranges, tangerines, guava, bananas, mangos, grapefruit, and papaya are just a few of the fruits that flourish in the southeastern tip of the US.
If you’re considering growing your own fruit trees, use our Ultimate Fruit Tree Guide to help you grow healthy trees and enjoy fresh fruit in your own backyard.
It’s so easy to purchase fruit at your local supermarket-why would you even consider growing your own produce at home?
For one thing, you miss out on a lot of nutrients and flavor when you purchase fruit commercially. Fruit sold in supermarkets is usually picked long before it is ripe so that it can look ripe when it is put on store shelves a few days later. But the few final days of ripening on the vine or branch is a magical time, when flavor becomes most full and nutrients develop fully in the fruit. Store-bought fruit misses that magic.
When you grow fruit from your backyard trees, you can eat or store your fruit when it is at its ripest. Once you try a juicy, perfectly ripe Florida orange straight from the tree, you won’t need much more convincing. The flavorful and nutritional benefits of growing your own fruit are hard to beat.
Oh, and did we mention that you can control which pesticides and chemicals go into your fruit when you grow it yourself? Enough said.
Choose to grow fruit that grows well in tropical climates like that in Florida. Fruit trees are classified by how many “chill hours” are needed for the tree to set fruit. A chill hour is 60 minutes of soil temperature below 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
For example, a 600-hour cherry tree won’t grow well in Florida-the soil simply doesn’t get cold enough for those cherries to ever blossom! A 200-hour peach tree might be a better choice.
A little research about your fruit trees can help, but you’ll also want to consider personal preference. Which fruits does your family really enjoy? Which fruits would you consider selling or giving as gifts?
Choosing fruit trees can be a tricky process, so at the very least, speak with your local arborist and tree specialists. Your tree care professionals know which trees grow best in your climate, and they can help you make an educated decision.
Once you’ve selected and purchased the fruit trees you’d like to grow, it’s time to plant. This stage of the process can be a bit tricky, and every tree is different, so make sure you clearly understand the instructions that the nursery gave you about the trees you purchased. The following general guidelines can help:
Place your trees at least 3-6 feet away from sidewalks and buildings. The tree’s roots will extend far beyond its crown, so give it some space to spread out.
Your fruit trees will need plenty of sun, so don’t plant in the shadow of buildings, fences, or other trees. The average fruit tree needs about six hours of sun each day.
Space your fruit trees about ten feet away from each other.
Fruit trees need well-drained soil, so plant where there is deep soil with good irrigation and water run-off. (You may need to check the pH level of your soil-check the instructions for your fruit tree.)
Clear the soil on the planting site of weeds, rocks, and grass.
If you have questions about the specific trees you’ve purchased or how to plant them, contact your nursery and tree specialists immediately.
Once you’ve planted your trees, their proper care and maintenance becomes critical to their health. If you want fantastic fruit that your family and neighborhood can enjoy, you’ll need to give your trees the nutrition, water, and care they need to flourish.
Water. When you first plant your trees, you’ll want to water them every time the top 2″ of soil dry out. Newly planted trees need at least a gallon of water each week. Your soil’s drainage, the rainfall at the time of planting, and other factors will influence how much water you should give your tree.
Nutrition. Your fruit trees will need a deep-root fertilization at least once a year, if not more. Fruit trees can quickly soak up all of the available nutrients in their soil, so fertilizing your trees from time to time can protect the health and flavor of your fruit. We recommend that you speak with your local tree fertilizers about which type of fertilizer is best for your fruit trees.
Care. You may need to periodically prune away dead or decaying wood from your trees. This helps your trees stay healthy and get the sunshine and nutrients they need. You should also spray your trees with safe pesticides to eliminate bugs and disease. Again, a professional tree caregiver can help.
The benefits of growing fruit in your own sunny Florida backyard are hard to count. You’ll love having fresh fruit whenever you want it. Further questions? Call your local tree specialist today.