18 February 2008 |

Cold Tolerant Fruit Trees

Written by Jason

We love trees here at The Yardstead.  We have added several trees to our landscape over the last several years.  In keeping with our policy of Edible Landscaping, most of the recent additions have been fruit trees.  Although we are located in north Florida, we still have to consider the cold hardiness of trees and all the plants we plan to cultivate.  We have had several frosts this year including a 2 day stretch where the temperature was below freezing for four to five hours each night.  Frosts are not uncommon in January and February around here, but by noon the temperature is usually back up around 50F at least.  Considering the dozen or so frosts we have had this year, maybe 4 or 5 of the days saw freezing or below temps for 4 hours or more.  It was cold enough however to damage several of our young citrus trees.  
The lemon tree seen here on the left appears to have survived the best out of all our citrus trees.  I believe this is a Myers Lemon.  It was started from a seed left over after my wife sliced up a lemon grown on a local tree known to be at least 30 years old.  It is three years old and has never produced fruit.  It suffered a little frost damage last year also and I pruned it back a bit to much.  It lost some leaves this year and some parts of the branches have turned brown, but I will wait until after the spring to prune it this time.  By then I should be able to tell better what is actually dead. I believe the older (year or longer) branches have a better chance of growing fruit, so I want to prune them as little as possible.  This is something that I need to look up about pruning citrus.
Most of our other citrus trees....

lost all of their leaves and  it looks like about half the length on most of their new branches.  Most of these trees were purchased at a local nursery and were potted for their first two years and transplanted to The Yardstead last year.  I tried to get some good satsumapictures but the small bare branches were difficult Keylime Limequatto see.  These trees still have green trunks and some green limbs, so I will wait an see about pruning these after the spring as well.  A couple of the citrus trees we bought last year (shown here left and right) are still in containers and although I inadvertantly left them outside during the bad frosts, they survived completely and still have ripe fruit.  This can be attributed to their location outside rather than their hardiness.  They were sitting against the southern facing exterior wall of the house.  They were also located below a large window which is known to be less than airtight.  The Keylime Limequat shown on the left has some of the tastiest fruit I have ever eaten.  The skin is sweet and the pulp and juice are bittersweet.  I just recently tasted one of the fruits for the first time, and I will definetly be taking better care of this tree in the future.   
These trees along with a few more including blueberries will be transplanted this coming spring.  The blueberry bushes are still in pots and were also left out during the bad frosts.  They survived well and are now covered with buds.  We also have an old sand-pear tree, an everbearing mullberry and two plum trees which are completely covered in buds.  I m really looking forward to spring and seeing all these buds turn into blooms and getting these other trees in the ground.  I will be covering the planting growth and development of all these trees in future articles.  I should have some really colorful pictures with plenty of fresh flower blossoms.

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