Tropical Fruits in NC... Possible?

MagickMareApril 11, 2007

I am drooling over everything I see people list on this forum! I'm in z7b in NC and would love to grow some tropical fruit. Is it possible here? Do I need to wire my basement with grow lights and try re-creating the tropics indoors, or do any tropical fruits grow, and fruit, outdoors in zone 7b? Thanks for humoring a tropical fruit newbie!

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This sounds like a job for Ohiojay and Stressbaby - they've both had remarkable success in growing a wide variety of fruit trees in decidedly unfavorable climates. As a general note, though, most tropicals will not survive weather several degrees below freezing, and many species (mangosteen, rambutan, durian) will generally die at several degrees above freezing. You are more than likely going to have to use a greenhouse or a complicated grow light system. A word of caution - growing tropical plants in difficult climates tends to be a very addictive (and in most cases expensive) hobby. If there are other things in your life that require constant attention, I suggest you quit now when it won't hurt so much. That having been said, ask Ohiojay or Stressbaby if they're happy with what they're doing, and I'm pretty sure you'll get an enthusiastic 'yes' from each.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 11:47AM
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That figures... I am easily addicted to difficult & expensive hobbies. I have dreams of a LARGE green house with a koi pond inside, nestled among tropical fruits, birds of paradise & maybe a few chameleons hanging around. Sounds like the perfect escape!

Ohiojay & Stressbaby - any advise for a like-minded newbie would be tremendously appreciated!!!

I am particularly interested in Miracle Berry, Ice Cream Banana, Passion Fruit... etc.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 1:44PM
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ohiojay(z6 OH)

See a very expensive therapist! You poor, poor, misguided soul. I'm sure SB and I could go on for days on this subject. To keep it short...if you are really REALLY going to do a greenhouse, then start small and modestly on your plants until you know for sure the greenhouse is in the very near future.

Keep in mind light, temps, and humidity requirements of the plants BEFORE purchasing and not after...wondering why a plant died. The internet is fantasic source and you can always ask anyone on this forum. Everyone is terrific and won't talk at you like you are an idiot (we are!).

Also keep in mind the cost of all this. IT DOES NOT STOP. I love it though...even thru the disappointments, frustrations, and days I down right would like to blow the hell out of the whole mess!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 3:05PM
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Unfortunately, the GH is a ways off (no sense in buying small, I'd rather save & wait). I became addicted to tropicals while living in Hawaii - I had a Lychee before I knew what one was! Moving back stateside was a hard (insane) choice - I love being close to family, but I miss the daily appreciation of the island's beauty.

Any suggestions for "starting small" - just to curb my withdrawl symptoms?

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 4:30PM
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hey Magik,
maybe start w/a pineapple, they can be grown in pots, are easy to start (twist the top off a store bought)and are not too dificult to grow.

Dragon fruit (though it will get big and need serious support later) at first can be kept small, in a pot. They are easy to come by, go to a box store, look in the cacti area for the alien looking neon grafted cacti. The bottom part of that graft is hylocereus undatus (dragon fruit). Cut the top off and plant the bottom.

pepino dulce, some eugenias, even a "condo" mango can be kept small, but you are getting into more needs with the mango.

What I can recommend you not do (at least now), is try growing mangosteen or other serious rainforest tree that is VERY pickey about its treatment. There is a gentleman "up north" growing these and others, I think he has a permanent scar on his forhead, from banging his head against the wall.

from the three fruits you listed, you will need a huge gh. IC banana get tall before they fruit (they make shorter bananas, just dont get super dwarf cav), passionfruit (depending on cv.) are enormous and takeover places. Miracle fruit should be ok.

I use a gh for a few months a year (winter), other than that I'm outside. So I can appreciate height and size requirements. OhioJay and Stress Baby would be able to offer a much better perspective on more of a full time set up. Just my little 8'x8'x8' gh that is a swing arbor the other months cost me some money. I even did all the work myself. If you go back in to last years posts, you can see pics of Jay's gh, it is a beaut! (WOW!) My wife would make me live in it if I did that.

good luck, sorry about the addiction (seek help while you still can),


    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 5:43PM
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ohiojay(z6 OH)

I didn't think the scars were that noticeable!

Starfruit is a nice choice. YOu could get a grafted one or start from seed pretty easily. The dwarf cavendish is a nice selection. Maybe some papaya. Stress was getting a new plant, June Plum, I believe? Suppposed to grow/fruit very fast. Maybe some citrus.

I agree with Ethan...stay away from any Garcinia varieties for now. I would also stear clear of any vining type plants like passion fruit mentioned above. Just takes up waaayy too much room. Even with a greenhouse, Stress and I are always "space" challenged. I firmly believe that the greenhouse WILL expand magically on its own as the plants get big. That's why I continue to put more in...when my wife is not looking.

I think Stress needs to post some pics of his dragon fruit. It's been several weeks since he pruned his and it started branching.

Good luck and happy buying. One other thought. In your zone, you should be able to plant kiwi's in your yard.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 7:00PM
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I second Jay's suggestion about the june plum (also called ambarella, Spondias dulcis) - I don't think they're quite as good as hog plum, but there is a dwarf variety of ambarella which makes it an extremely attractive option for the container grower. I had one fruit at just a foot and a half high! They'll fruit themselves to death if you let them... I also second his suggestion about the starfruit (I told you he'd be the guy to ask, didn't I?) - grafted varieties are extremely precocious. My 'Arkin' variety bore more than 100 fruits its first year in the ground, and I have seen them bear quite heavily in containers; it's a small tree by nature, and they deal with pruning very well. Sugar apples are also easy to maintain at a small size, although you'll more than likely have to pollinate them by hand if you want decent fruit-set.

    Bookmark   April 11, 2007 at 11:17PM
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I HAVE seen the photos of Ohio's GH build... VERY impressive!!! :) I've got Pineapple, Kiwi, Star fruit & Miracle Fruit on my must have list! Hopefully I can ease into growing tropicals; I'm always accused of diving in head first!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2007 at 2:39PM
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ohiojay(z6 OH)

Thanks! Wait till you see Stress's setup! The man did some serious work inside and he's got a lot of stuff!

Diving in head first?? I've never been accused of least in the last day or so!

    Bookmark   April 12, 2007 at 5:08PM
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My theory is that a large GH could not only house my tropicals, but also a small koi pond & a few tropical reptiles (my reptile room in the house is getting to be too small). Throw in a little music, trpocal drinks & you'd have a glass enclosed party!

    Bookmark   April 13, 2007 at 11:57AM
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that might be the initial set up Magick, a year later you would be squeezing between plants. Not the ones you had, just all the new ones that magically appeared in your collection.

seriously, seek help while you can, its almost too late,

    Bookmark   April 13, 2007 at 12:26PM
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whatever happened with your topical fruit dreams- were you able to realize any of them

    Bookmark   January 4, 2008 at 10:05AM
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boson(Delray Beach,Florida)

I live in Florida but will move to North Carolina soon. I just have to get a greenhouse because I don't want to loose my tropical plants. I am taking them with me in the move somehow. Luckily most of them are still small:

Ambarella (dwarf)
Cherry Mangosteen
Meyer lemon
Mountain papaya
Orange (Valencia)
Orange berry
Orinoco nut (dwarf variety)
Pataua palm
Pili nut
passion fruit
Mayan Breadnut
Strawberry Guava
Yellow Jaboticaba

It will be an experiment to see if I can keep them alive and well in a greenhouse in North Carolina.


    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 10:13PM
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ohiojay(z6 OH)

Nice collection! You'll have to rent a separate truck just to haul your plants! Good luck.

    Bookmark   January 11, 2008 at 11:09PM
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Passion Fruit is here - guess they do okay in my zone after all! I've been given a nice Pulmeria tree, while not a fruit, is tropical. I got side tracked with the landscaping this past spring/summer -- those boxwood foundation plants HAD to GO!! So now that everything is slower... I'm dreaming again!! I'm starting a Pineapple now and I'm planning on ordering the Miracle Berry & Meyer Lemon soon. We have a temperature & humidity controlled room for our reptiles which should be perfect for tropicals while inside.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 1:28AM
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stressbaby(z6 MO)

Missed this thread last time through...what was I doing last April?

Funny about Jay's scars. I have a few of my own.

We're off the topic of fruits, but anyway...Plumerias are easy. I let mine go dry in winter, cut off most of the leaves, and store them dormant inside where it is drier. Less risk of black tip. This will work for the more common P rubra, but not for P obtusa and maybe not for P pudica either, I'm not sure.

I agree with the suggestions in this thread. I have been able to ripen passionfruits in the GH at all times of the year and although it does need regular, sometimes severe pruning, it grows straight up a trellis and it doesn't take up too much space.

Never did get that June Plum, Pine Island had none last year, but it still is on the wish list.


    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 8:45AM
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stressb- did you get my email?

    Bookmark   January 12, 2008 at 2:59PM
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In the Spring 2007 issue of "Tropical Treasures", thereÂs an article about some teens in a region of Russia, near Siberia, who converted an old refrigerator room into a green house/room. They started their own small business selling exotic plants.
In another article, itÂs mentioned that a person converts his bedroom into a greenhouse for the winter, moves his plants inside, sleeps in his front room, then moves the plants outside when itÂs safe for the rest of the year.
Where thereÂs a will, thereÂs a way.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2008 at 10:50AM
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ohiojay(z6 OH)

Hmmm...that last one brings back memories!

    Bookmark   January 17, 2008 at 12:44PM
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