The Q&A on Subtropical Fruits offered valuable information on many types of subtropical and temperate fruits of interest to homeowners.  Below are the reference materials related to specific questions that were asked along with notes from the panel discussions.

How to protect tropical and subtropical fruit trees from freezes?
Freeze protection of TF crops outside of Miami-Dade County:

Cold protection in South Florida is mainly through irrigation practices. It takes irrigation to run before freeze and continue until freeze is over.

What are the easiest subtropical fruits to grow?
Home Citrus Culture Publications – UF:

What are the best citrus trees to grow on NE Florida?
Tangerine, Mandarin (Owari and Brown select mandarins), & Tangelo Varieties:

Can we grow papayas here?
Growing Papaya in the Home Landscape:

Papayas are grown from a seed, not from air layering or grafts. There are some disease issues from Papaya ringspot virus. May have to start new plants. Less than a year from seed to fruit. Seed can be all male, all female, or have both male and female flowers. Need to get rid of the males. Male flowers hang off the tree where females stick to the stem more.

What are the best varieties of limes to grow in the Panhandle?
Growing “Tahiti” Limes in the Home Landscape:
Tahita and Persian limes are in retail nurseries. These are cold sensitive so plant in protected areas. Key limes would need to be in a container for most people.
Rangpur lime is a lemon and mandarin cross.

Bananas continually produce nice foliage but do not form fruit in 5 years.  What to do?
Maybe not spend any more time trying to get fruit. If the bananas are in a large clump, you don’t want to have a large clump. Cut them back so that you have 3 bananas, one large, one medium, and one small so that you get lots of light. That is the key to fruit. Remove brown leaves.

Can we grow a Barbados cherry successfully?
Malpighia glabra, Barbados Cherry:
Small tree to about 6 feet x 6 feet. Mild flavor. Not really suitable for North Florida. Needs sunlight for fruit.

Can we get the transgenic papaya that is immune to the Ringspot virus?
TREC Fruit Specialist has the papaya but it is not legal to introduce them into Florida at this time.

Advice on growing kiwi vine.
Growing Kiwis in FL:
Temperate fruit that requires chill hours. Golden varieties developed by Auburn University. AU Golden Dragon and AU Golden Sunshine. Need a substantial trellis. Male and female vines so male vine for every 2-3 females.

Crestview gets fairly cold in late winter. What fruit trees do well here?
Dooryard Fruit Varieties:

Will Papaya fruits reach maturity in NW Florida?
Growing Papaya in the Home Landscape:

Papayas do not like the cold. Probably not likely to produce a fruit but can give it a try.

What about pineapples?
Good option in a container. Bromeliad that is terrestrial that is watered through the roots.

I planted an arbequina olive tree and it’s struggling. Keeping in pot and protected from freezing but not thriving.
Olives for Your FL Landscape:

Olives like a more consistent temperature than the Panhandle offers. Needs excellent drainage.

Mexican avocado has survived freeze and flooding but still not thriving. Why?
Avocado IPM:
Hass avocado, smaller ones from CA and Mexico. South Florida is too warm to grow Hass but it may work in North Florida. Green skinned avocado is grown in South Florida. More tasty. Florida avocados need a little cool weather to initiate flower and then fruit.

Avocados will not like wet soils.

Will lychee and avocado grow in Pensacola?
Red fruit, white inside, similar to a grape but sweeter. Needs chill hours. 2018 lychee mite came into Florida and now in 13 counties. Difficult to manage.

Shade-tolerant subtropical fruits?
Fruit needs sun. Monstera deliciosa, Swiss cheese plant, produces an edible fruit grows in shade. Definitely needs protection. DO NOT eat fruit early or you will have mouth pain. Fruit should be falling apart.

Pawpaw is not tropical but grows in shade.

How to trim fruit trees?
Hand pruning and training of tropical and sub tropical fruit trees:

Often prune for size control in South Florida to encourage lateral growth and get sunlight into the center.

Which banana trees thrive here?
Banana Growing in the Florida Home Landscape

What subtropical fruits are garnering the most interest in the panhandle right now?
Loquat Growing in the Florida Home Landscape:

Mangos are of most interest in South Florida

What about akee?
Caribbean fruit related to lychee. Do not eat before ripe or you will die.

The good pH for blueberries and raspberries
Blueberry Gardener’s Guide:

What plum varieties are recommended?
Fruit Tree Recommendations for AL:

Finger limes are the new hot crop at the TREC.

Beth Bolles
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