I went to the Urban Harvest fruit tree presentation last Saturday where they talk about the trees they will have for sale this coming Saturday, January 15th. Almost all of the sales have similar pre-sale presentations. I encourage you to go to one of these presentations if you are planning on going to their sale. Check out Kathy Huber’s article on Houston Grows for dates and times of plant sales and talks.
The presentations usually include detailed descriptions of the trees and their unique needs or characteristics along with a tantalizing first hand account describing how the fruit tastes. You can pick up a lot of great tips from these presentations, not just about which trees to buy, but also about how to grow them.
This post will concentrate on some of the information I given about tree characteristics, I’ll talk more about care in another post.
Dorsett and Anna are the only varieties that will reliably set fruit in all parts of Houston. If you live on the north side of town you can probably get away with a few other varieties, but know your chill hours. (refer to my last post for more on chill hours)
Blueberries have shallow root systems and need acid soil. I think both of these characteristics make them good candidates for containers. Nature’s Way sells blueberry soil or you can use a mixture of 70% peat moss and 30% washed sand. You will need at least two blueberry varieties for pollination (but 3 is better). There are many success stories about growing blueberries in pots. That’s is what I will be doing this spring.
This year Urban Harvest will be selling Southern High Bush blueberries. These set fruit at a different time of year than the Rabbiteye blueberries. Rabbiteye blueberries have been proven winners in our area, it sounds to me like the Southern High Bush are still in an experimental stage. I’m not sure that they have been proven to do well in the Houston area, so these are for those of you who are a little more daring.
Figs are very easy to grow and tend to taste better when grown in full sun. They are so easy to grow, I grew mine and my Dad’s from cuttings given to me by another gardener. You should harvest in the morning before the birds get to them. Celeste is the sweetest, South Carolina Lemon does have a slight lemon flavor, and LSU Gold has a very upright growth habit.
Jujube’s are extremely drought tolerant and will tolerate occasional floods, they are very upright, and need to be mowed around to keep the suckers under control (on a separate site, I read that they should also not be planted near a foundation for the same reason). When jujubes are dried they taste like dates. Mmm, sounds yummy.
Here’s an interesting jujube article from Texas Gardener.
The 5-1 Peach will be Mid-Pride, May Pride, Eva’s Pride, Florida Prince, & Desert Gold
The Gulf Plums being offered this year are patented by the University of Florida and they are hard to come by. The Gulf plums all need another Gulf plum for pollination, so buy two to get fruit.
They are offering a 3-1 plum, some of the possible varieties are Beauty, Mariposa, Golden Nectar, and Santa Rosa. The growers will often graft 5 or 6 varieties onto the same rootstock, but only some will survive, that’s why there are sometimes 3-1, 4-1, or 5-1 offered. There will be several combinations offered at the sale. Take note that Santa Rosa is only good if you live on the North or West side of town.
Pomegranates are very cold hardy, have few to no pests, are deciduous (beautiful as a hedge), you can juice them with a citrus juicer, and they usually ripen in August or September.
Now, on to the citrus. Most citrus will not need cold protection once established, with the exception of limes. I put the caveat “once established” in there, because people have a tendency to buy citrus at a plant sale then run home and plant it in the ground in January. Then we have a freeze in February and they wonder why their citrus is dead. Do not plant your new citrus tree (or any other tropical tree) in the ground until all danger of a freeze has past (probably sometime in March). When buying multiple citrus trees consider when they will ripen and spread it out over the season. Both Marrs and Navel N33 will ripen early.
Good fruit trees for containers include pomegranates, apples, blueberries, blackberries, lemon, lime, kumquats, & tangerine. For the more exotic go for dragonfruit, lychee, grumichama, starfruit, or sugar apple. Stay tuned for more information on container gardening in an upcoming post.
Have I peaked your interest in fruit tree gardening yet? There is something for everyone when it comes to fruit trees, and there is nothing better than eating fresh homegrown fruit from your yard (whether large or small) or from your patio or balcony.
Additional Fruit Tree articles: Fruit Tree Series #1 and Fruit Tree Series #3