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Fruit Trees -Basics need recommendation on planting

3 months ago
last modified: 3 months ago

Good Day,

NOTE: I talk a lot – if you want to skip the chit-chat go below the dotted line

Moved to FL 5 yrs ago. Used to live up north. Only did Vegetable gardening x2 years and it was very successful (been years so my “knowledge” base is rusty) – besides very different environments – temp, soil, pests etc etc. Never tried Fruit Trees. Now that I have a “garden” I want to try my hand at it. I love sweet tasting things

Live in 10A (was 9B 3-yrs ago) – Hillsborough/Manatee County. I want to turn one side of my house into a fruit tree haven. Size (see images) ~ 10-16.6 feet wide (depending on section) x 72 feet long. I do have some room around the property too… we’ll see


1- My lack of knowledge

2- Garden facing the NNW – I know NW = strongest winds (or so told).

3- Spacing/Pruning – Want to make the most of my space

4- Root Growth – would it hurt the house?

5- Disease, pests, mold, maintenance etc etc

6- Many many many other things I don’t know how to do – see #1

We get a decent amount of sun – shade typically closer to the “house side”. We do get a decent amount of wind on all sides (maybe because we got a pond behind us?) – but the two houses on our side are 2 stories (we are one) so we are somewhat shielded (were during the two hurricanes too LOL).

Chose that side because grass is kind of dead/weeds so can start over (other side we got new grass). Anyhow, went to the Manatee Fruit Tree sale – which ignited my need to garden and I bought 2 mango, 1 guava, 1 lemon, 1 blackberry… and an olive tree (yes this last one may not work depending on “chill” hours). Hoping to get some Fig, Lychee, Strawberry and some Citrus (tangerines or clementines – I love sweet things)? I don’t know looking at other fun options like dragonfruit (they look sooo cool), mulberry, Barbados cherries or not. I don’t know. I’m excited but I need to be realistic. Hopefully some responses here can help with that. I also understand Citrus has a lot of diseases here… Avoiding Banana because the whole “death” after fruiting sounds scary


Where I need help (in the most economical way!):

1- How to set this up. Up north, I till my soil while I add compost to it. Plant my veggies and weed daily (which was feasible since the growing season is shorter)… but I can’t weed 365 days in FL! So what would you do here to fill the empty spaces (aka avoid weeds)? Fill it with strawberries/herbs? Mulch the entire garden? (that’s a lot of mulch)

2-Compost – I typically just add manure/worm casting – any recommendations for fruit trees?

3- These trees are self-fertilizing but - Companion trees – of the above trees/shrubs I’m interested in – which do you avoid planting next to each other or plant close by? The almac said Guava trees help Mangos – but I can’t find anywhere online if that’s true. And strawberries help Fig etc etc

4- Looks like Mango trees become massive – is it possible to keep them smaller? Growth rate is “fast” – unsure what exactly that means. What about Mulberry Trees?

5- Any other sweet fruit trees (other than Lemon) that you recommend I look into? Specific types/subtypes or ones to avoid from the above? Pest/Disease Hardy Trees?

6-Was reading some spacing guidelines - like mangoes needing 19 feet of space between them and the next plant. That's a lot (and hard to imagine when the plant I have isn't even 5 feet) - okay to use a partially shaded shrub in the middle?

7- Any initiative things I can do to minimize disease/pests. Someone recommended adding tap to the tree stem to stop ants.

8-ANY advice/thoughts/ideas are appreciated!


Comments (10)

  • 3 months ago

    anyone have brandons link to tree planting....

    NEVER amend a planting hole.. use native soil ..

    do a perc test.. if you have non draining clay plant high ..

    ipm... integrated pest management indicates you react to an actual problem.. bug or disease.. you do not proactively obliterate all wild life in your yard in advance ...

    where are you planting.. up north or FL?

    orchards usually have a spray program of 3 to 5 sprays per season.. to achieve fruit that looks like what you see in the store.. and that is why i eventually gave up on fruit trees .. i didnt really want to slaughter every living thing in my garden.. including the babes ...

    it should be easy to find thousands of videos on topic.. it would be much easier if you narrowed down your quest for info to specific topics... rather than asking us for a beginners tome on topic..


  • 3 months ago

    Mango trees are huge but there are many different sized varieties. Many maintainable if you start it as a baby. Which two did you pick? Some might get a little large for a space between two homes. I remember my mulberry being more of a bush than a tree but there are probably varieties there too. My favorite mangos are Glenn and Nam Doc Mai.

    I have planted barbados cherry as an ornamental, nobody really eats them but the birds. They spread, I use them as privacy hedges not food. I planted dragon fruit once and let it run up a pine tree. Hard to harvest that way LOL. They need a proper hardy trellis system to harvest correctly and it is a cactus. Speaking of thorns LOL My experience with all my citrus over the years was bugs, disease and thorns. I planted a guava that was a named variety but wanted it as an ornamental. Good thing as I never got a single fruit as they always had bugs. Very pretty tree though.

    I can recommend Star fruit as easy to grow and trim, might look a lttle scraggly to you when it is loaded with fruit. I had a Kari and it was sweet and easy care.

    Bananas are so easy. When the stalk is harvested and the tree stalk dies, it just gets mushy and easy to chop off. It’s babies are left to give more fruit. It gives a nice tropical look but the leaves can get battered looking in cold winds.

    My current yard is so loaded with trees that I have only added one fruit tree. A Nam Doc Mai mango and it has bugs right now. It’s always something with growing food.

    Maybe you could keep your berries in pots scattered among your tree grove along with some mulch?

  • 3 months ago

    I was just thinking that I might have planted Surinam cherry, not barbados cherry. Maybe Barbados cherry taste better.

    Tamarind trees are also beautiful and productive but larger than mango. I think I should plant a Tamarind if I can find a good spot at this house.

  • 3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Barbados cherries are delicious, perishable, and have pretty pink flowers. Surinam cherries have a resinous flavor and pretty white flowers.

    You can grow pineapples and papayas here too.

    I lost all my citrus trees to greening and now the only thing that I've managed to grow is Mexican/Key lime I started from seed.

    I have a macadamia nut tree as well.

  • 3 months ago

    Ok perhaps some will disagree but... Mango trees are a massive PITA. What nobody tells you about mango is that when they get big, which is fast, it becomes near impossible to pick all the mangos. So they rot and fall, the thin skin bursts as they hit the ground, and you are left with huge globs of rotting mango mush everywhere under the tree. Had a very large mango tree in a past life elsewhere: never again.
    I'd suggest papaya instead. Stays narrower and manageable size for almost any tropical garden, fruits are way easier to pick.
    All your other choices sound very nice!

  • 3 months ago

    Thanks for the cherry info Carol. There is a hedge of them at my new house and now I can watch for the flowers to see what it is.

    I took someone to the tire shop in Stuart yesterday and parked under 2 Massive mango trees. I am talking unable to pick a single fruit massive! Hopefully not all varieties get that massive? The neighborhood kids throw things at the fruit to get it to fall I was told.

    Papaya is awesome for a residential lot. My MIL grows them. They grow skinny and super fast.

  • 3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    Our neighbor had a 2 mango trees - one short and one tall - that bore huge delicious mangoes, which she graciously shared with us, and there were many more than could be harvested, so they did indeed pile up on the ground and made a mess, which was a problem because she is mostly away at her main home in CA, so she had the taller one cut back recently.

    And she has one of these on a very long sturdy pole that made picking the high up ones pretty easy:

  • 3 months ago
    last modified: 3 months ago

    BTW, neighbor's trees are Kiett mangos - really huge and sweet, smooth textured fruits with very little maintenance.

  • 3 months ago

    I was in the passenger seat today so I was able to take few photos of the mangos I was parked under the other day. These photos should impress the new Floridian enough to pick the right variety. There are two trees on the corner. One has a double trunk and a palm next to it, the other is a single trunk. This is Stuart FL.

    another angle.

    Check out the sign on the tree that asks not to throw things at the mangos. Notice the size of the trunk in relation to that normal sized patio chair. These trees are huge! And basically un-pickable..

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