“It’s totally impossible.”
“You can’t do it.”
“They won’t work.”
“(Insert pest/disease here) kills them.”
“The chill hours are wrong.”
“The extension says you can’t.”
THE MORE YOU TELL ME IT’S IMPOSSIBLE, THE MORE I WILL DESIRE TO TRY!
I promised in a post last week that I’d tell you about my attempt to grow cherries in Florida.
It gets better than that. I am trying cherries this year… but I’m also going to try growing almonds in Florida as well. Here’s the proof:
Yes. I spent that much on an experiment. See how much I love all of you?
Apparently, you can’t grow cherries in Florida because the chill hours are wrong here… and you can’t grow almonds in Florida because the humidity messes up the fruit.
On the first problem, there is hope. People are growing apples in the tropics. Check this link out.
One of the keys seems to be stripping off the leaves to induce dormancy. No problem – I’ll do that.
As for almonds, here’s my thought: the climate is changing.
“OMIGOSH OMIGOSH OMIGOSH!!!1!!1!!! DAVID THE GOOD HAS ESPOUSED GLOBOWARMTHINK!!11!!1!!!”
No, I haven’t. But climate is a dynamic thing.
This year we had a very strange winter. Up north, people were buried under snow and suffered brutal lows… here, it was pretty warm… though much, much wetter than usual.
My thought is this: if the winter was wet, could it be that we’re shifting to a more rainy winter/dry summer climate, like much of Georgia? If so… perhaps almonds will in fact become possible here.
My goal is to get the trees going, feed them well and treat them as my honored guests… in the hope that they may start bearing and perhaps even giving me good nuts in favorable years. Just because there’s no “commercial” potential doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
Somebody needs to try and write about it. I searched and searched for good data and have come up empty. So I’m making it now.
Cherry Test Varieties:
Almond Test Varieties:
North Central Florida; Latitude: 29, Longitude: -82
Trees arrived bareroot on 2/25. All 4′ tall or shorter. Planted in sand. Light dappled shade, Southwestern exposure. Spacing: 12′. Trees dormant at planting. Planters: David Goodman and Democritus “Jeffrey” Xenophon III.
Above: just-planted almond tree.
Above: just-planted cherry tree.
This, my friends, is how to really figure out what grows in your area. Try everything… be prepared to fail… and see what happens.
If these trees successfully produce any fruit at all, the seeds from those fruit will be planted right here in my yard… and we’ll try again and again until something takes, even if the parents succumb.
Updates and more photos will be posted in the future.
Good luck !
I know you meant they arrived in Feb right? Good luck!
Thanks for the catch. Fixed it.
I don't know if this helps at all, but my next door neighbor used to have a cherry tree. It had sour cherries, the kind that you put in cherry pie. One year it got cold early in the fall, and then we had a warm period. The tree flowered and started growing a second crop of cherries. Of course, they didn't get too far before they froze, and that killed the tree, but the point is, the tree decided it was spring strictly based on cold temperatures followed by warm temperatures. Not length of daylight or anything. So if you get several days in a row where it gets below freezing, it might be enough to make it decide it's winter.
You may want to try the new low chill cherries Royal Lee an Minnie Royal. There are reports of them fruiting in coastal so Calif. Also check this place for apple varieties that grow in the tropics. http://kuffelcreek.com/tropics.htm.
Thank you. Just bought both.
I have 2 cultivars of sweet Cherries I am growing in Hernando County, Minnie Royal and Royal Lee and a Garden Prince Almond on colt rootstock. I received them last year just after Christmas and they are doing wery well, waiting to see if I get blooms this year as they should be mature enough, they are all around 8' tall and our chill hours were good.
I live in citrus county and was wondering if you ever had luck with your cherry trees?
Good luck with the almonds and cherries… keep an eye out for brown rot on the latter. I'm in sub-mountain north GA, and I don't know anyone who grows fruiting cherries, but the flowering ones (that produce small, astringent/bitter fruit) are common. I don't know of anyone growing almonds (and, other than me, almost nobody producing peaches in the Peach State).
It would be interesting to breed the flowering varieties with the fruiting types… though they're probably different species.
About 7 years ago I put a Hall's Hardy almond into the ground here in Tallahassee. It was a mere twig, one of the catalog specials. It is now robust and 6-8' tall, bearing a moderately heavy crop of almonds for the first time. It was covered with charming peach-type dark pink blossoms in early spring, worth it just for that. I'll be looking for the almonds to survive the squirrels and heat/humidity of our brutal summer and if a successful crop results I will be extremely happy. As for cherries, seriously doubt it will work but we can have figs, practically any citrus, yes, apples, pears, plums, blueberries, Asian or native persimmons, and so much more! all of which are also in my small in-town yard. Good luck!
Great report – thank you. Let us know how the almonds work out at harvest time! If you can spare a few, I'd love to germinate them.
Thanks for sharing. I am going to search for a Hall’s almond tree
Any updates? Did the wee trees survive the summer?
Two almonds died. Nursery's fault, though, not mine. The cherries are living. The Royal Lee and Minnie Royal from Peaceful Valley are doing the very best.
How are the trees? David the Good and Anonymous from May 9, 2014.
Did any of the trees make it to 2016?
The Minnie Royal and Royal Lee cherries from Grow Organic both lived and have thrived. The stuff from Wilson nurseries has kicked off. I won’t buy from them again.
What happened to your cherries from Wilson nurseries? Just received 1400!
The trees I got from Willis all did poorly and have died.
The trees I got from Grow Organic (which distributes for Dave Wilson Nurseries, I believe) did great.
Did any of the Almond trees survived into 2016?
No – but I think the problem was the nursery, not the fact they were almonds. Trees looked terrible when I planted them and just didn’t take. Worth trying again.
I live in central florida zone 9b and am trying to grow several different type of fruit in my home orchard. Basically, my back yard has become a personal orchard. There are different varieties of citrus, different varieties of apples from anna, tropic sweet and dorsett golden to fuji, pink lady, granny smith, arkansas black and gala. I also have harvester peaches and apricots in the ground for about 2 years now. The apricots seem to be growing well. I get an occasional bloom from the royal blenheim apricot but no blooms yet from the moorpark apricot. This year I am going to plant three persimmon trees (fuyu, tanenashi, and Ichi-Ki-Kei-Jiro) as well as one *all-in-one* almond tree ordered from Stark Bro’s nurseries. Oh I also have two Lapins Cherry trees ordered from fast-growing-trees a few years ago. One of them has taken very well and grown remarkably. The other didn’t do so well so I uprooted it and placed it in a pot with better soil. I think it was suffering because of the clay content of the soil in my yard. Lapins are supposedly self-fertile bing type cherries that can tolerate the heat of zone 9. We shall see if that pans out. Oh I almost forgot, I also have two Santa Rosa plums, two methley plums, two starking plums and two shiro plums plus one golden delicious apple planted in the ground. Like you said these are all experiments. I know the citrus is a safe bet and probably the persimmon’s will be too. The other decidious stone fruits I am not so sure about. To further hedge my bets I planted two alphonso mangos, two glenn mangos and one kent mango as well. I know these sub-tropical stone fruits will be ok in zone 9.
Excellent! My Santa Rosas all died on me – some sort of fungus, I believe.
The persimmons do really well in Florida, though. If you don’t have any mulberries, they’re another great addition.
Hope those apricots take off – that would be fantastic.
I thought I would share with you and others in this forum some good news regarding the apricots. This season (spring 2017) after about 2-3 years in the ground one of my moorpark apricot trees started to put out blooms. Because of the pruning I did earlier in the season I had less fruiting wood on the tree but even so I got at least 10-20 blooms. At around the same time I had several varieties of citrus also in bloom. I mention this because I have found it takes alot for the local population of honeybees to ignore a medium sized citrus tree in full bloom but they in fact did visit my apricot blooms. I caught several honey bees and a rather large bumble bee feeding on the apricot blooms. Even so I was not going to take any chances and I decided to manually pollinate the flowers also. The apricot blooms are very delicate and it doesn’t take much to damage the petals. It’s actually surprisingly hard to manually pollinate an apricot flower but I think I managed to do it. I can see a handful of little apricots growing and forming at the base of what used to be a flower. So I think we can finally put to rest the question of whether apricots will fruit in zone 9b of Florida. They almost certainly will if you get one of lower chill varieties like GoldKist, Katy, or Blenheim. However, I was a bit surprised that what they sold me as a Moorpark apricot at fast-growing-trees.com actually bloomed and set fruit in my area. This past winter I don’t think we even got over a 100 chill hours. Maybe they sold me another lower chill variety mislabeled as a moorpark. I rather suspect they have done this to me with a Santa Rosa plum purchased a few years ago. Meaning I think they sold me a Methley plum instead. I should get a better idea of whether I have a moorpark or not when the fruit matures. If it is small-to-medium sized then it’s probably not a moorpark. Either way if you want to grow apricots in Zone 9b of Central Florida go for it…..it can work!
If you want to see pictures of the fruit I am talking about go here
Look for the postings dated 3/19/2017. I have uploaded photographs taken with my camera phone of the apricot and apple fruit set.
Just purchased a new property that I am putting in a small orchard with apples, peaches, nectarines, pears, bananas . . . and I am cherries, almonds and olives . . .
I am wondering if any of your cherry or almond trees have survived subsequent plantings that you may have done?
I am looking at either the Garden Prince Dwarf or the NePlus tree for almonds and the Royal Crimson, Minnie Royal or Royal Lee trees for the cherry . . .
I live about 15 miles north of Orlando, so I am in zone 9b . . .
Thanks in advance!
Last I heard the Minnie Royal and Royal Lee were doing well, though the almonds died. I think that was more the nursery stock, though. Unfortunately, I sold my property and could not continue the experiment.