Tropical Florida Gardens - What's in Bloom at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates?

Tropical Florida Gardens

What's in Bloom at the Edison & Ford Winter Estates?

Growing & Caring for Papaya Trees

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On June 27th

Do you want to plant and grow your own Papaya? Here are some tips that can help.

 Growing & Caring for Papaya Trees

          The Papaya tree (Carica papaya) is a tropical fruit that originated in Mexico and South America. It is now grown throughout the North American tropics and other tropical regions around the world.

The fruit of the Papaya is also called pawpaw and is eaten raw without the skin. The fruit is sweet, low in calories and high in potassium and vitamin A. Papaya is also used in drinks, jellies, salads, desserts and is also dried and candied.

 Growing & Caring for Papaya Trees

There are many varieties of Papaya, but the main varieties grown in the U.S. are Red Lady, Maradol, and various Solo types. To successfully grow Papayas, you need a frost free climate, lots of sunlight, lots of water and good soil. If you give your plant all of these conditions, then you can grow a papaya from seed and generally have fruit in 6 to 12 months.

Growing Tips for Papayas:

  • Climate: Thrive in subtropical and tropical climates. Zone 10 to 11. They do not tolerate freezing temperatures and are damaged or killed if temperatures go below 32 degrees.
  • Pollination: The female plants produce fruit and may be cross pollinated with others by insects and wind. There are plants that may be self-pollinating (bi-sexual).
  • Growth Habit: The papaya is a short lived, fast growing woody herb. They generally have a single trunk and grow 10 to 15 feet tall, but some plants have been known to grow taller.
  • Sun Light: Grow best in full sun. Papayas love the heat and sunlight.
  • Fertilize: Papayas are heavy feeders and require regular fertilizing. Adding compost is also recommended.
  • Water: Papayas have large soft leaves and evaporate a lot of water in warm weather, so they need above average watering.
  • Soil: Papayas do best in rich soil that is high in organic matter. Make sure your planting location and soil has good drainage to avoid root rot.
  • Harvesting: Generally, fruit is picked when there is 1/5 to 1/3 color change in the fruit. After picking, keep at room temperature to fully ripen. Ripe fruit will keep 4 to 7 days in the refrigerator.

We currently have Papaya seeds and young plants for sale in the Garden Shoppe and grow the several varieties on the grounds of the Estates. Visit the Edison & Ford Winter Estates Garden Shoppe to see some of the varieties we have available. The horticulture staff is available to assist you and to answer any further questions you may have.

Planting & Care Tips for Your Star Fruit (Carambola) Tree

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On June 14th

The Carambola, also called Star Fruit, is a small to medium sized tree that produces a juicy tropical fruit. The flavor combines those of the apple, grape and citrus and is crisp in texture. The fruit can be eaten fresh and is often used in salads and as a garnish due to its unique star shape.

 Planting & Care Tips for Your Star Fruit (Carambola) Tree

     When selecting a Star Fruit be sure it is fully yellow then allow to ripen on your counter until the fruit becomes golden and the ribs begin to brown. Some of the common varieties of Carambola include: King, Bell, Sri Kembangan, Arkin, and Fwang Tung. Once your Star Fruit is mature it is capable of producing up to 200 pounds of fruit a year.

 Planting & Care Tips for Your Star Fruit (Carambola) Tree

TIPS for Growing Starfruit:

  • Temperature: Thrive in subtropical and tropical climates. Zone 10 to 11, but can be grown in zone 9 with protection from frost. Older trees are more tolerant of frost, but growth stops at 55 to 60 degrees and prolonged exposure to temperatures below freezing could kill the tree.
  • Best Dooryard Varieties: Arkin is the most commonly grown variety due to it sweeter flavor.
  • Avg. Height and Width: Varies with the variety, but Carambola trees range from about 12 to 30 feet tall. They are a smaller tree perfect for the average homeowner’s yard.
  • Native Range: Native to Malaysia, Indonesia and Southern China. Commercial production now occurs in Hawaii, Florida and other tropical regions of the world.
  • Fertilize: 4 to 5 times a year with balanced liquid fertilizer or use a slow release granular fertilizer several times during the growing season.
  • Water: Star Fruit does well with regular watering. Additional watering is not needed during the rainy season.
  • Plant in full sun. Trees will do better in an area that is protected or sheltered from the wind.
  • Soil: Carambola are not too particular of soil of types, but grow faster and produce more fruit in a soil with more organic matter. Needs good drainage and does not like wet feet.

We currently have the Arkin variety for sale in the Garden Shoppe and grow the Arkin and Fwang Tung varieties on the grounds of the Estates.

Visit the Edison & Ford Winter Estates Garden Shoppe to see some of the varieties we have available. The horticulture staff is available to assist you and to answer any further questions you may have.

Planting and Caring Tips for Your Lychee Tree

Posted by Edison Ford Winter Estates On June 7th

The season is upon us for harvesting the fruit of the Lychee tree. Despite the fruits addictive flavor, it remains one of China’s best kept secrets. Lychees have a rough outer skin that separates easily leaving you with a flesh that is sweet to sub-acid, aromatic and tastes unlike anything else on earth.

lychee fruit Planting and Caring Tips for Your Lychee Tree

In SW Florida, fruit is ready for a short time in late May through early July and has a very short shelf life.

The trees were introduced to Florida in the 1930’s and some of the larger commercial groves are in an area southwest of Miami. They grow best in the subtropical climates where temperatures are cool and dry for a short time in the winter months.

Lychees do not like wet feet, so be sure to plant your tree in well drained soil. Trees can also be planted on a mound to ensure proper drainage. The native soil of Florida is fine for successful growing.

lychee tree Planting and Caring Tips for Your Lychee Tree

Tips for Growing & Caring for Lychee trees:

  • Temperature: Thrive in subtropical environments. Heavy tropical environments may result in no fruit production. Mature trees can withstand a light frost, but prolonged temperatures below 32 degrees may result in damage or even kill the tree.
  • Best Dooryard Varieties: Hak Ip, Sweet Heart, Kwai Mai Pink and Mauritius. Commercial varieties such as: Brewster and Emperor are larger trees that may not be suited for a smaller yard.
  • Avg. Height and Width: Varies with the variety, Lychee trees range from about 20 to 40 feet tall. Average is 25’ X 25”.
  • Native Range: Common in areas of Southern China. Commercial plantations are common in Hawaii and Florida.
  • Fertilize established trees regularly 1 to 2 times during the growing season from spring to the end of summer.
  • Water: Lychees need regular watering during the growing season. Soils with too much salt in them, especially in the Southwest require regular watering to prevent salt build-up. Lychees should not be in standing water, as it will stunt their growth. Newly planted trees should be watered 2 to 3 times a week during the first weeks of planting, but can be reduced once the tree is established
  • Prune mature trees to help control the size and shape. The University of Florida Extension office recommends not cutting branches that are larger than 1 inch, or you risk having less fruit production.

During Lychee season, we will be selling Lychee fruit at the Downtown Farmers Market at Centennial Park Thursdays from 7am to 1pm.

Visit the Edison & Ford Winter Estates Garden Shoppe to see some of the varieties we have available. The horticulture staff is available to assist you and to answer any questions you may have.