What a wonderful place you live in! Zone 10 is has little to no winter cold, and tends to be balmy with a distinct ocean affect. You may be on the beautiful California coast, on the tip or northern keys in Florida, or in some parts of Hawaii. You have a year round growing season and can grow amazing tropical plants that more northern gardeners only dream of. Temperatures rarely drop below 40 degrees F and there is little to no danger of freezing. Your typical last possible frost date is in February.
Sweet tropical fruit is the hallmark of the zone 10 garden. You may be thinking about oranges or grapefruit, or perhaps something more unique like guava. Regardless, most zone 10 fruit gardens are fairly easy to maintain. They require initial work during planting, monthly fertilizing after and copious watering with a harvest at least a year after planting. But that first taste of mango or tangerine makes it all worthwhile!
Citrus: It doesn’t matter if you’re growing lemons, oranges, grapefruit, tangerines or limes. Choose a dwarf tree in order to get your first crop in as little as 1-3 years. Full size trees can take 6 years until you see your first harvest & can grow to enormous sizes, so if you’re looking for cover with a lovely harvest in the future you can try that as well. For the best possible crop, choose a plant from the nursery rather than simply sowing seeds from your favorite fruit into your yard. Not only will it delay your harvest (sometimes by a decade), you may not get the plant you’re expecting due to hybridization. Just because you plant a Valencia orange seed doesn’t mean you’ll get a lovely Valencia tree!
Be aware of other trees in the neighborhood as some citrus trees are unable to fertilize themselves. If your neighbors don’t have any fruit trees similar to the type you’re looking to plant, consider planting several of the same type in your yard to ensure they will produce fruit.
There is very little need to prune your citrus tree and never water it with sea water–the salt is not good for it. Check with your local garden center for the best fertilizer for your region, as this is vital to producing a healthy tree with a good harvest.
Tropical fruit: Other amazing fruit that can be enjoyed by the Zone 10 gardener are mangoes, bananas, avocados, star fruit, guava and so much more. Many of the same tips from our citrus trees can be applied to them.
For best results, choose a plant rather than using a seed to ensure quicker harvest & no hybrid issues. Although I’ve personally had wonderful success growing mangoes from seeds when I lived in Miami, you may not be as lucky. Tropical plants require lots of water & fertilizer. Compost is highly recommended for young plants as chemical fertilizer can burn the roots.
Most tropical plants require a lot of sunlight– up to 12 hours a day–so ensure that you plant them in a sunny location. Be sure to read up on the particular variety you’re planting to make sure you pick a prime location.
You’re the envy of gardeners worldwide as you can grow amazing citrus and tropical fruits with ease. Enjoy your humid, sunny days in your luscious fruit garden!