Florida Fruit-Growing Zones

Contrary to what many outsiders (and even many Floridians) believe, Florida has greatly varied climate zones, which mean that drastically different fruits can grow (or not grow) in different regions of the state. If you already live in Florida and you want to start planting fruit trees, it’s important to know which species are most likely to produce well in your area. Even more importantly, if you want to move to Florida so you can eat fresh-off-the-tree tropical fruits every month of the year, choosing the right part of the state is a huge factor in determining how successful you’ll be in achieving that goal.

The big take-home message you should get from this page: the further south in Florida you are, the greater the number of fruit species you can grow. Look at how much longer the fruit lists get as you move from north to south. The diversity of life is greatest in the tropics, and that’s true for fruit species as it is for other living things. And these lists doesn’t even fully cover the difference from north to south, because winter weather in the northern part of the state limits the ability of trees to ripen crops during months when their fruits would be subject to damage from freezing temperatures. Even in January, you can eat an abundance of different species of tropical fruit right off the tree in South Florida. Also, there are whole categories of tree crops in the tropics which don’t really have any counterpart in fruit species adapted to areas with winter freezes – hearty, dessert-like fruits like canistel or mamey, or giant nuts like coconut are treats which only thrive in frost free areas.

Florida has very different fruit growing climates from north to south. This map is an extremely oversimplified view of where the zones are. In reality, the boundaries are much fuzzier than shown here, and there are lots of warm pockets and cold pockets which can make any particular property more similar in winter climate to areas a bit further north or south. But this map and the accompanying fruit lists on this page are a starting point for understanding what kinds of fruit trees can produce well in your area.

You’ll notice that the zones curve upward near the coasts. Being close to the thermal mass of the ocean buffers winter cold snaps, allowing coastal regions to grow fruit trees that might freeze at that same latitude a few miles inland. (Note; if you’re really close to the ocean, right by the beach, salt spray can pose a problem for some species.) Being near inland lakes can also create a warmer micro-climate for surrounding areas, especially locations on the southeastern shore of the lake, since winter cold fronts tend to blow out of the northwest. (Being closer to the ocean also has a downside: you are prone to greater damage from hurricanes than areas further inland.)

North Florida:  In the northern part of the state, warm-temperate zone fruits and nuts thrive. But the tropical fruits are difficult here — colder winters that get into the low twenties and sometimes even the teens mean mean that most tropical fruits need a greenhouse to survive in North Florida.

Fruits and nuts that do pretty well in North Florida include:

  • Persimmon, Asian & American
  • Muscadine grape
  • Pecan
  • Mulberry
  • Pear
  • Blueberry
  • Blackberry
  • Fig
  • Pindo palm
  • Loquat
  • Chestnut
  • Avocado (cold-hardy Mexican-subspecies varieties only)
  • Chinese jujube
  • Che fruit
  • Cattley guava
  • Prickly-pear cactus (some types)
  • Citrus (HLB disease is a major limiting factor these days)
  • Cherry of the Rio Grande
  • Peaches & nectarines (Florida varieties)
  • Plum
  • Feijoa

Central Florida:  The middle portion of the peninsula is an intermediate zone, where some tropicals and some temperate zone fruits can grow side-by-side, with microclimate and recent weather determining which types are doing best at any particular time and place. After one or two mild winters, the tropical fruits can bear heavily in central Florida. In years with colder winters, the tropicals take a hit, but the winter chill can make temperate zone fruits produce abundantly. Citrus fruits are particularly well-suited to the central portion of Florida, although HLB disease is a major problem for them these days.

Fruits and nuts for Central Florida include:

  • Loquat
  • Casimiroa (aka white sapote)
  • Wampee
  • Bananas
  • Pineapples
  • Atemoya
  • Avocado
  • Macadamia
  • Lychee
  • Longan
  • Cattley guava
  • Tropical guava
  • Jaboticaba
  • Cherry of the Rio Grande
  • Dragon fruit
  • Prickly pear cactus
  • Peruvian apple cactus
  • Papaya
  • Carambola
  • Passionfruit
  • Chinese jujube
  • Indian jujube
  • Persimmons, Asian and American
  • Muscadine grape
  • Mulberry
  • Pear
  • Blueberry
  • Blackberry
  • Fig
  • Pindo palm
  • Che fruit
  • Citrus (with HLB disease limitations)
  • Mysore raspberry

South Florida:  If approximately the southern third of the peninsula, winter low temperatures rarely dip more than a degree or two below freezing, and consequently a huge selection of luscious tropical fruits thrive here. Not every tropical fruit can grow in this region – some species from the equatorial tropics don’t like even the mild cold fronts which give South Florida some refreshingly cool breezes off and on through the winter, so durian for example is not possible here. But  huge number of tropical species are quite happy to grow and produce fruit in the southern part of the Florida peninsula.

Some of the fruit & nut diversity you can grow in South  Florida:

  • Mango
  • Jocote/ciruela
  • Jun plum/ambarella
  • Cashew
  • Canistel
  • Mamey
  • Green sapote
  • Sapodilla/Nispero
  • Caimito (star apple)
  • Casimiroa
  • Wampee
  • Rheedia
  • Jackfruit
  • Breadfruit (in the warmest parts of S FL)
  • Bananas
  • Atemoya
  • Sugar apple
  • Custard apple
  • Ilama
  • Rollinia
  • Soursop/guanabana
  • Avocado
  • Macadamia
  • Lychee
  • Longan
  • Quenepa/mamoncillo
  • Ackee (Caution, toxic when immature)
  • Tropical guava
  • Jaboticaba
  • Cherry of the Rio Grande
  • Pitanga
  • Pitangatuba
  • Grumichama
  • Wax apple
  • Rose apple
  • Java plum
  • Coconut
  • Peach palm
  • Dragon fruit
  • Prickley pear cactus
  • Peruvian apple cactus
  • Cocoplum
  • Imbe
  • Cherapu
  • Gamboge
  • Muntingia berry
  • Chocolate pudding fruit
  • Ice cream bean
  • Acerola
  • Carambola
  • Bilimbi
  • Passionfruit (many kinds)
  • Indian jujube
  • Fig
  • Che fruit
  • Bael fruit
  • Carissa
  • Monstera deliciosa
  • Darling plum
  • Kei apple
  • Velvet apple
  • Asian persimmon (varieties ‘Triumph’ & ‘Hudson’ in S FL)
  • Papaya
  • Pineapple
  • Tamarind
  • Governors plum
  • Mysore raspberry
  • Bignay
  • Peanut butter fruit