Growing Jackfruit in North Florida?
After my post on Growing Jackfruit in South Florida, I received an email from a regular reader requesting a post on growing jackfruit in North Florida.
He also sent me a link on the power of jackfruit as a superfood which also fights diabetes – check this out:
“One of the most powerful health benefits associated with jackfruit is its ability to fight diabetes. This potential of the fruit is just beginning to be fully explored, in part because the best way to use jackfruit for diabetes is to consume the unripe fruit, which is not a common practice outside of the regions where it is grown.”
It would be quite tough to pull off growing jackfruit in North Florida since it’s definitely a tropical tree, but I’ll give you my suggestions.
Is it Possible to Grow Jackfruit in North Florida?
Yes, if you have an almost impossibly good microclimate or a greenhouse with some SERIOUS headroom!
You can grow them the same way I postulated you could grow coconut palms outside their range. I know this because my friend Craig grew a jackfruit tree inside his greenhouse-over-a-pit in Citra, Florida.
Something like this:
Plant right in the ground, though, and prune like mad.
Jackfruit aren’t a small tree and they don’t like being constrained in pots… however, they really are easy to start from seed, so you don’t have to spend much of anything if you want to experiment with growing them outside their range. Only fresh jackfruit seeds will germinate. They look like a large bean. Throw some in your compost pile and they’re likely to come up all on their own, as my friend Amanda discovered.
She sent me these pictures of seedling jackfruit a little while back:
Another possibility is to be really clever with your south-facing wall. I grew coffee, key limes, guava, black pepper and lemons next to my south wall in North Florida. Judicious pruning, tying down branches and keeping the trees tight to the wall could help you grow jackfruit in North Florida… but still, those trees get big! I’ve never heard of anyone espaliering a jackfruit – you could be the first to do so!
I might start the tree from seed, letting it grow straight up, planted towards one end of the wall, then bend it sideways as far as I could once it got big. Or start it in a big pot, then plant it way bent over along the ground. Weighting it down with cinder blocks might work, too.
The book Agricultural Options for Small-Scale Farmers has a report on page 202 that reads:
“‘The… jackfruit usually bears its large fruit (up to 80 cm in length) on the trunk and main branches, high up in the tree. In the Songkhla Province of Thailand, the young jackfruit is planted over a large stone or metallic plate, thus blocking the growth of the tree’s tap root.’ As a result, fruits grow in clusters around the base of the trunk.”
This would be very helpful in a small space!
Once a tree reaches up past the edge of the roof, that part is going to freeze off on a cold night. Your goal is to dwarf the tree and keep it from getting that tall.
Another possibility might be to grow a jackfruit tree on an island in the middle of a pond. Or on a big raft in your swimming pool. The radiant heat overnight could keep it alive. Maybe.
I planted a jackfruit seedling in my North Florida food forest once and it froze to the ground. The next year it came back from the roots, then froze down again that winter and failed to return.
Growing jackfruit in North Florida is a serious challenge. I’d never recommend it to a beginner, but it’s totally something I would try myself until I pulled it off.
If anyone tries it, please let me know what happens!