Dwarf Tropicals Can Make Your Orchard Complete --- Even When It's Cold Out!
While dwarf stone fruits (like peaches, nectarines, plums) are often both impractical and unreliable, dwarf tropicals can reliably produce a hardy amount of fruit.
And for those of us in the more sub-tropical parts of Florida, they make it possible to have a tropical paradise -- in a small greenhouse.
Here's what is do-able
in container grown dwarfs:
Many of these varieties are actually tolerant of some cold -- down to maybe 28-30 degrees, though keeping them warmer will mean more fruit production. But what that means is you don't have to keep your greenhouse heated to more than maybe 35 degrees to succeed.
Carrie, Cogshall, and Ice Cream are all "condo" mangos that actually produce good fruit reliably on smaller trees, even when container grown.
Carrie is a very early season mango, Cogshall ripens in June and July, and Ice Cream can be kept the smallest size of all at only 6' tall. Cogshall and Carrie can be easily trimmed to 10' tall and still produce lots of fruit.
All are fiberless, juicy and sweet.
Wurtz is a dwarf Guatemalan and Mexican hybrid that produces 10-12oz fruit with a smooth green skin, and a fairly high oil content at 16%.
It has consistent production from year to year, sports a very small seed, and has excellent flavor.
Wurtz grows very compactly to a height of about 10' at maturity.
Described as the "taste of the Caribbean": Sapodilla is a small brown furry fruit that looks on the outside a lot like a kiwi fruit. It has a soft melting texture and tastes something like a pear dipped in brown sugar. Others describe it as a sweet mix of brown sugar and root beer.
The fruit are best left to fully ripen for another 4-5 days after picking and are ready to eat when soft to the touch. Do be careful not to swallow the seeds though -- they have a hook on them that can catch in the throat.
"Silas Woods" is a much coveted dwarf variety, growing to only about 6-10' tall when fully mature. Ever-bearing, very prolific, heavy bearing, the small 9oz fruit have a very fine texture and white flesh.
Read more about sapodilla cultivars here:
While papayas can reach incredible heights in tropical areas, we have 2 that stay short: Red Lady & King George.
Red Lady grows to about 12' tall, is supposed to be self-fertile, but sometimes takes till the second year to start fruiting.
King George is only 60% self-fertile, grows to about 10' tall, and starts blooming and setting fruit at about 2-3' tall at only 6 months of age. We recommend 3 plants to guarantee pollination with the King George. It can be grown as an annual if you have no greenhouse because it fruits so young -- pick fruit within 4 months from a 3g plant.
No discussion of dwarf tropicals would be complete without discussing bananas!
Dwarf Cavendish & Grand Nain (Chiquita's bananas) are commonly known popular bananas that only reach about 7-10' at maturity.
But Raji Puri is an interesting variety from India that only gets 8' tall, has 5-6" long bananas, and has excellent flavor.
Truly Tiny is perhaps the shortest of all the fruiting bananas for zone 9: it only gets 4' tall and has mini bananas about 3" long!
Also makes a nice contrast grown next to a stand or circle of tall banana plants in the garden!
Jamaican June Plum
aka "Hobo or Jobo Plum"
June plum is a close relative of the mango family. It is an upright tree that grows to 60' tall in Jamaica, but can be container grown and kept to 10' here in the States. Self-fertile.
Oval fruits are about the size of a small apple, 2.5-3.5" long, with a pineapple-mango flavor and crunchy texture. Fruits ripen from fall to mid-winter.
Read more here: http://askthegreengenie.com/tropical-fruits/jamaican-june-plum/
Cherry of the Rio Grande
Native to Surinam and northern South America, this cherry is sweet-tart while young and sweeter with maturity -- kinda like fine wine.
Can be kept trimmed to 6-8' tall and container grown. Young trees actually can take short/light freezes down to 28-29 degrees, older trees a bit colder.
It's the closest we're going to get to a real cherry flavor in zone 9!