That brand-new Florida apple orchard is the result of an afternoon my wife and I spent in the garden a week ago.
10 trees in a row. 9 apples and one Pineapple quince.
The apple varieties are… drum roll, please…
Hudson Golden Gem
Arkansas Black Spur
They’re planted 5′ apart. Very close, I know; but I needed them where they’ll get lots of attention. After this photo, I cut all the trees at knee height. When they start growing, I’ll be shaping them up with good limb structure so they fit this tiny space.
We need to answer the question: “Can you grow good apples in Florida?” More specifically, can we grow apples in Florida other than Anna, Ein Shemer, Tropic Sweet and Golden Dorsett?
I hope so, or else I’m going to be out $200 for nothing but my love of you, O inquisitive reader. It’s not that I don’t love you all enough to sacrifice my grocery money for bare-root trees that likely won’t grow here… it’s just that I really want good apple pie.
That said, in according with my permaculture approach to gardening, these apple trees will also be surrounded by other species including herbs, nitrogen-fixers, flowers and berries. I want to grow apples in Florida – so I’m going to make it happen.
I will report on their progress in future posts.
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Blaze the trail brother! Good grow vibes your way. I'm so far south I'm not sure any apples would produce well here. (Sarasota) Though they do sell apple trees from places like home depot here. I've grown them to about a foot and a half tall from seed too here. Should of kept the nice one I had but gave it to a buddy whom really loves fruit trees and wanted to start an exotics orchard here. Not saying apples are exotic but he has all kinds of rare fruits.
Looking forward to updates!
You can grow apples in Sarasota – it just takes a little work. Check out Kuffel Creek Nursery for details – they're growing them in equatorial Africa. Anna is a particularly good variety for south Florida.
Also – good for you for starting trees from seed! Plant more!
We are reading your articles with even more attention and affection lately, because the move to South Carolina and a tree farm is now in process. It's not Florida, but a lot of what you write will apply nicely.
Do you have any experience with growing wolfberries? I found an article that said they thrive in zones 6b to 9b.
Yes – some. I sell them in my nursery but have only had them here in the ground for a year. Thus far they're ridiculously easy to grow; however, they haven't fruited yet. Should this year.
I hope you come visit at some point!
I'm jealous..that's a lot of apple pie, apple sauce, apple fritters if you can get them to take off. Can't wait to see how this turns out, especially considering how close everything is together..looking at the holes, were they 2 or 3 times the root ball size, and what did you fill the holes with?
Thanks. I filled them with native soil. Otherwise, it's believed that the roots fail to spread as well.
your recent series on growing apples in the south prompted me to have one more try at growing apples in Central Texas. Bought three lovely specimens from the local Producers Co-op and got them planted under drip irrigation. Wasn't three days later that while checking the drip system I noted that all three trees were missing the bark from the first foot or so of their trunk!! Rabbits? or rats? Don't know what sort of critters you have in Florida, but you might want to get some sheet metal protection on your new orchard!! I ended up lopping off the top of one tree that had a single bud remaining on the scion below where it was girdled. The other two have about a half inch wide strip of bark remaining where it was protected by the stake so with a little luck they may survive until I can get some rootstock growing and try grafting the top growth.
Good luck with your orchard – I've been trying for four years and have yet to hold a single tree over a full year after planting. Still trying and hoping my luck will change. Your site has been very encouraging.
Hi Pete in Texas,
Probably rabbits or voles, if you have those. That's really rough – I'm sorry to hear it.
We are moving to Ocala next year and wondering whether to take take our 1 year old honey crisp apple tree. Will it grow in FL?
Quite possibly, but you will have to keep an eye out for fireblight. Also, I recommend you buy Kevin Hauser’s book “Growing Apples in the Tropics”.
[…] me they were growing quite a few northern varieties in Zone 9, far from their supposed range. I planted multiple varieties myself, then never got to see the experiment through because I moved to the tropics and left my mini […]