7 of the Best Types of Fruit Trees to Plant in Central Florida

Central Florida is a great place to grow fruit trees. The warm winters and hot summers of this USDA zone 9 tropical climate mean year-round growing for gardeners. While there are many wonderful fruits we can grow in this region, we’ve tried to pick out the very best for the home gardener. We have included some popular favorites Florida fruit trees as well as a couple special delicacies you may never have heard of!

7 of the Best Types of Fruit Trees to Plant in Central Florida

1. Citrus Fruits

To be healthy, citrus trees require a great deal of exposure to the light and heat. They require a soil that drains well and that is shielded from the cold winds and frost. If you provide them with a suitable location and some organic fertilizer, you will be rewarded with fragrant blossoms like jasmine and bushels full of delectable vitamin C bombs. The following are some of the most well regarded in our area:

Oranges and Mandarins

florida mandarin fruit tree
Mandarin Fruit

Who doesn’t adore the tangy and juicy flavor of an orange or mandarin? These are a wonderful addition to any orchard because they produce an endless supply of fruit that can be eaten raw or used to make juice. Standard trees can develop to a height of 25 feet, whereas dwarf trees often only reach heights of 6 to 10 feet.

We recommend the following for zone 9:

  • Valencia
  • Naval
  • Temple
  • Satsuma
  • ‘Sugar Belle’
  • ‘Murcott’

Tangelos

florida tangelo fruit tree
Tangelo Fruit

Tangelos are the product of a hybrid between a tangerine and a grapefruit, which results in a fruit that is both sweet and sour. The trees are of a moderate size and can often reach a height of up to 12 feet. Both the ‘Orlando’ and the ‘Minneola’ types are rather popular and can be found easily.

Planting tangelos in close proximity to other citrus trees that are compatible with them would greatly boost pollination and fruit-setting. If you’re looking for an evergreen tree that produces fruit that looks just like oranges, but without the risk, then the tangelo might be an option for you! It has a smooth to slightly bumpy rind and an easily removable peel. The fruit is known for its extremely juicy flesh that is both acidic and sweet with a delicious aroma.

Kumquats

Florida Kumquat fruit tree
Kumquat Fruit

It doesn’t matter if you like to make your mouth pucker by eating this sweet and sour fruit straight from the tree or if you enjoy making your own kumquat marmalade jam; this is a terrific fruit to cultivate at home either way. This tree can be simply planted in the ground or maintained in pots due to its small size and adaptability.

Because kumquats are more resistant to cold and frost than other types of citrus, they are an excellent choice for growing in central and northern Florida. “Meiwa” and “Nagami” are the names of the two primary types of kumquats.

Lemons and Limes

florida lemon fruit tree
Lemon Fruit

Because they are susceptible to damage from frost, particularly in their younger years, the vast majority of lemons and limes should only be grown in zones 9 and higher. On the other hand, there are a number of techniques to get around this. Many orchards spray them during the winter to produce a protective barrier. Another technique is to wrap them in a thick cloth.

Dwarf trees can be easily moved if they are housed in containers that have wheels underneath them. They will be protected from the frost damage that can occur if you bring them inside during the chilly evenings. Alternatively, you could try planting some more cold-tolerant varieties. We recommend:

  • Yuzu Lemon
  • Tiwanica Lemon 
  • Rangpur Lime
  • Red Lime (similar to Key Lime)

2. Avocados

florida avocado fruit tree
Avocado Fruit

If you have the room to cultivate your own avocado tree, you might just be on your way to the holy land of guacamole and avocado toast. Avocado trees can grow anywhere from 30 to 60 feet tall, making them ideal for use as shade trees. Avocados require lots of water when bearing fruit, so consider installing a drip irrigation system.

Hass avocados from California have a darker, more flavorful flavor but have a higher fat level than Florida avocados, which have greener skin. Hardier types like ‘Choquette’ and ‘Booth 8’ thrive quite well in zone 9, especially if they are given a little extra shelter from frost.

Purchase avocado seeds or seedlings from registered nurseries to ensure the fruit will be true to type and the plant less susceptible to disease. Laurel wilt is a fungal disease currently spreading through Florida’s commercial avocado crops. If you are not living in an area near these orchards, you are less likely to come up against this problem. When starting with a seed of a cutting, remember it can take up to seven years for your avocado tree to bear fruit.

3. Papayas

Florida papaya fruit tree
Papaya Fruit

A tropical favorite, papaya is a fast-growing tree easily propagated from seed. Amazingly, you can expect to harvest your first papaya fruits within a year of planting the seeds! That is almost unheard of for tree production. The flip side to this fast growth is that the trees will decline in production after several years, so it is good to plant new trees every two or three years.

A tropical favorite, papaya is a fast-growing tree easily propagated from seed. Amazingly, you can expect to harvest your first papaya fruits within a year of planting the seeds! That is almost unheard of for tree production. The flip side to this fast growth is that the trees will decline in production after several years, so it is good to plant new trees every two or three years.

Papaya like full sun, heat, well-drained soil, and some protection from wind and cold. They do not like their roots to be too wet, but they don’t want to dry out either. Having well-drained, fertile soil for these hungry plants is the best way to keep them happy and fruiting all year long. Fertilize often with a complete fertilizer and be liberal with the compost. Plant them straight into your garden as they do not enjoy being transplanted.

4. Guavas

Florida guava fruit tree
Guava Fruit

There are several varieties of guava and its close relative feijoa that will grow well in humid subtropical climates. Some contain seeds small enough to eat, while others will be scooped out of the center before the fruit is enjoyed. All are extremely high in vitamin C and are very tasty.

These are handsome trees with pretty, fragrant flowers. Since these are small trees, usually growing from 6 to 20 feet tall, they also fit well into most yards. They don’t mind a little shade but do need well-draining soil and plenty of organic fertilizing for optimum production. They will also need some protection against cold winds if you live in a frost-prone area.

These are the best varieties for our region:

  • Bestonia Hardy White Guava Tree
  • Strawberry Guava 
  • Pineapple Guava (Feijoa)

5. Loquats

Florida loquat fruit tree
Loquat Fruit

Loquat fruit is small, about the size of a large kumquat. Its bright yellow-orange flesh is smooth and sweet with a slight tang, like mango or a perfect peach with a hint of citrus. Its skin is thin and edible so the only things stopping you from popping the whole thing in your mouth are several inedible seeds in the center. Those seeds easily propagate new trees which will produce fruit a short three years after germination.

These small to medium-sized trees are commonly grown for their handsome foliage and aromatic white blossoms, as well as their delicious fruit. Make sure to purchase a variety of loquat selected for the sweetness of its fruit instead of for landscaping purposes. Loquats are unusually high in minerals for a fruit and contain carotenoids and phenolic compounds which may have anti-cancer properties.

6. Ice Cream Bean Tree

Florida Ice Cream Bean Tree
Ice Cream Bean

Foot-long bean pods hang from this towering 60 to 80-foot-high tree. Inside, seeds are covered with a moist, cottony pulp that really does taste like vanilla ice cream! The plentiful seeds will easily sprout into new tree seedlings, which commonly produce their own fruit only three years later. These fast-growing trees like a sunny location with evenly moist soil and will appreciate more water in their early years.

Being a legume like beans and peas, and not technically a fruit tree, gives this tree the ability to fix nitrogen into the soil. This makes it a valuable addition to the organic orchard. This tree will require less fertilizer for itself and it will also increase the health of nearby plants by making nitrogen more available to them. To spread the love, use any trimmings from the tree in your compost or as a direct mulch to plants you wish to fertilize.

7. Bananas

Florida Banana Tree
Banana Fruit

Last, but not least, is the banana. Though not technically a tree but an herbaceous plant, we had to include this well-loved and versatile plant. Growing your own bananas and allowing them to ripen naturally makes for a sweeter, more flavorful fruit than any banana in the grocery store. They do not like frost, so it’s a good idea to plant them in a sheltered spot such as the southern side of a building. They are also heavy feeders, so give them plenty of good plant food!

Aside from improved flavor, growing your own banana “trees” allows you to take advantage of all parts of the plant. Banana flowers can be prepared similarly to artichokes, and young “tree trunk” shoots are eaten much like bamboo shoots. Further, banana leaves can be used as compostable plates, and are traditionally used to wrap sticky rice for steaming, or marinated fish and meat for grilling.

We know this list isn’t exhaustive but we hope you’ve enjoyed our list of favorite Florida fruit trees to grow. We know there are many varieties and options available when it comes to finding a great tree for your landscape, but we think these seven make up an excellent start! Please subscribe to our newsletter if you want more information on how to care for any of these trees or need help choosing one that’s right for you. Thanks again and happy planting!

seeds now ad

Posted by Amaral Farms

HI and thanks for visiting my blog. I guess I would say I have always been a gardener at heart. My parents gardened and I helped them from a young age. As an adult I took to the organic movement and began gardening using almost exclusively organic methods. My focus has shifted the last decade to add heirloom gardening to the mix. By no means an expert, I do enjoy it and spend at least a few hours a week dedicated to it. I hope you enjoy and gain some value from my blog.