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Cold Hardy Varieties

DeLand, FL(Zone 9b)

I am looking for the best cold hardy varieties of these plants:

1. Coconut
2. Banana
3. Avocado
4. Mango
5. Lime

I'd love to be able to grow these in the ground and not in containers. I am willing to keep them in pots until they are too big to keep moving though. Hopefully, by that time they would be hardy enough to plant in ground. Please share if you have experience with growing any of these and where to get them. Thanks.

Erin

Punta Gorda, FL(Zone 9b)

I can only help you with coconut, and good luck with that. I also live in 9B, and am near Ft. Myers. Mine has to be protected, and as far as I know, coconut has not been hybridized and so is a species, there are no 'cold hardy varieties.' I would not try this one, mine will be dug up in a few weeks and given to a friend further south, as it is getting too tall to protect the crown with light oil each winter, and therefore will die if I keep it.
Our very light freezes/frosts have already slowed it's growth, and cause die back every year. If I were you, I'd mark this one off my list. You will only be slowly killing it, and dismayed with any futile 'results' you get.




This message was edited Oct 22, 2011 6:32 AM

Gainesville, FL(Zone 8b)

Lime is the most sensitive of the common citrus. Limequat is probably the closest you'll get, and it's not very close. I have one I use for squeezing into beer, etc., - it's producing fruit right now - but the zest is pretty much worthless for seasoning. No commercial value.

Banana "trees" can be grown here in Gainesville as ornamentals, but they rarely ripen fruit because most of them set too late to escape frost. They usually die back to the ground in the winter - right when they should be ripening fruit. If you can find a variety that ripens fruit in one season, and early, it might succeed. If not, well banana leaves are used all over the humid tropics to make disposable cooking containers for rice, cornmeal, meats, etc. "Just Fruits & Exotics" (http://www.justfruitsandexotics.com/Bananas.htm) and "Willis Orchards" (http://www.willisorchards.com/category/Banana+Trees) are two you might try for advice and plants.

Avocado - (from another list) try Mexicola or a similar variety. IFAS (Florida extension service) has a brief pamphlet available online (google "ifas avocado").

AFAIK, both Mango and Coconut require frost-free climates unless you can cover them.

-Rich

Winter Springs, FL(Zone 9b)

I can only help with the avocado, mine freezes every single year here, I have one close to the house that is under a live oak, and the top part freezes that is above the roof line...never have any fruit...I lost the other one completely after three years of freezing temps, each year it would come back, but didn't this year....it was out in the open.
There were some bananas at the beginning of our neighborhood for years in a conservation area. They did freeze down some but would always come back. They aren't there anymore this year, not sure if someone removed them or they just never came back from the last freeze.

Winter Springs, FL(Zone 9b)

By the way my orange tree is dying and a professional came to look at it and told me it was a combination of things, and the freezing temps we had was one of them....especially followed by two dry springs. Have had the tree for almost seventeen years.

Clermont, FL(Zone 9a)

Tarzies,
Have tried to grow cavendish bananas in the yard close to where you parked your truck while here. 3 times they froze to the ground and sprouted a little then I got tired of waiting to eat a banana dug them up and pitched into trash.
Just down the road from me is a long line of banana plants and I think they are gone also. Go figure.
Bonnie

Okeechobee, FL(Zone 10a)

These last 2 record breaking winters have gotten everyone's attention.
Just pray we don't make it 3 in a row.
Sidney

Winter Springs, FL(Zone 9b)

Since this popped back up...I just wanted to add the banana trees are still at the front of our neighborhood...I noticed them on my morning walk the other day...because I was looking for them...they are only six foot tall, so sure they did freeze down...but they look good now.

I agree Sidney hopefully we won't get as cold as we did last year...I hate dragging pots in and out...my old back doesn't like it at all. I had a couple never come back last year...and the hibiscus has come back both years but no blooms...would like to see it bloom again.

Clermont, FL(Zone 9a)

Sherri,
I sure agree. Lets hope for a mild winter this year. My hibs can't seem to recover well from last 2 years cold. They are living but not blooming well.
Right now the blue sky vine from Jeremy is blooming and beautiful. I think they die back to ground but come back. Right now they are above my house roof and only planted after last May RU.
Also, the yellow cestrum. I'd sure hate to loose them.
Bonnie

Winter Springs, FL(Zone 9b)

Bonnie,
I did have a blue sky vine the light colored one - Thunbergia grandiflora, and lost it to the first year freeze we had. I do have the darker one - Thunbergia battiscombei, comes back each year after freezing down...doesn't seem to mind the cold. The light blue was such a beautiful vine...I was bummed it didn't come back...I think it started to but then died off.

I do hope the winter stays mild this year...I saw a big huge Hibiscus bush in the pink the other day and that is the one I have that hasn't bloomed in two seasons now. So maybe if it doesn't freeze down again I'll get flowers next year. My yellow started to come back this spring and then died off this summer. My red has blooms on it now, but skimpy bush, it is right next to the house and I know that helped it to not freeze so bad.

Gainesville, FL(Zone 8b)

Quote from tarziesgirl :
I am looking for the best cold hardy varieties of these plants:

1. Coconut
2. Banana
3. Avocado
4. Mango
5. Lime

I'd love to be able to grow these in the ground and not in containers. I am willing to keep them in pots until they are too big to keep moving though. Hopefully, by that time they would be hardy enough to plant in ground. Please share if you have experience with growing any of these and where to get them. Thanks.

Erin


Erin,

I don't know how I missed this one before. They are very helpful with advice and apparently very knowledgeable - and right here in Florida! An especially good source for hardy avocado information and plants.

http://www.toptropicals.com/index.htm

-Rich

Apopka, FL(Zone 10a)

Cut back on nitrogen fertilizer when fall comes. New tender foliage is more succeptable to the frost.

Here just north of Orlando, I have grown bananas here for 20 years. Only One winter there was zero frost and we had bananas to eat. Other years we usually loose them all the way down to the ground. They have a part of the stem corm underground that almost always produces a child or two that sprouts up in spring. We have a dwarf banana next to the house, and it is worth the trouble to try to keep it going.

The other plant I have tried in the past is papaya and it is similar to banana in being extra tender and needs that lucky second year to make fruit.

My friends south of downtown Orlando have papaya and avacado every year.

DeLand, FL(Zone 9b)

The area I live in has a little hotel on a main drag that I drive by all the time. They have some kind of banana tree in front. The other day I almost wrecked my car because they have not one, but two branches growing bananas! The 27th was my birthday and I was out to lunch with my kids right next to the hotel. I decided to go by and ask if they'd let me dig up one of the babies. They said to take them all! I managed to dig one up with the measley screw driver I carry in my car. Now I know why mom takes a shovel with her everywhere she goes! It made my birthday. I took pictures with my cell phone of the bananas on their tree(s). I wish I knew what variety it was. I'll try to get a picture posted, but wanted to share my excitement over possibly having some bananas of my own!

Erin

Clermont, FL(Zone 9a)

Happy birthday Erin, and glad you found some bananas you can experiment with. Good luck with them.
Bonnie

DeLand, FL(Zone 9b)

This is the banana growing in front of the motel.

Thanks for the birthday wishes Bonnie.

Erin

This message was edited Dec 29, 2011 11:34 PM

Thumbnail by tarziesgirl
DeLand, FL(Zone 9b)

I'm so sad. They mowed those beautiful bananas down to the ground shortly after I dug my little one up. I wish I had gotten more. I think they'll come back again, but it seems such a shame.

Erin

Clermont, FL(Zone 9a)

Erin,
If your banana does well you will have a very large patch in no time. I agree such a waste.
Got loads of broccoli and cabbage from my little backyard garden. Was loaded with all kinds of tomatoes but the cold got them just before they ripened. Will try again this spring.
Rabbit enjoyed my spinich and swisschard. Got a few head of cauliflower. Shared the brocco. with everyone that came by so that was good to have plenty.
Hope you and family have a happy and healthy new year.
Bonnie

Gainesville, FL(Zone 8b)

Quote from tarziesgirl :
I'm so sad. They mowed those beautiful bananas down to the ground shortly after I dug my little one up. I wish I had gotten more. I think they'll come back again, but it seems such a shame.

Erin


My guess is the banana plants won't even notice. If you got any of those cold overnight temps last week, the tops probably would have died back anyway. My biggest one did that last year (in a large planter outside, completely exposed through a string of nights in the 20's) and popped right back out in the spring. In fact, it got so big this summer it burst through the sides of the pot. AFAIK bananas die back to the ground anywhere the air freezes for long enough, but the *ground* generally has to freeze to kill them, and that usually means temps in the 20's for days at a time (and a good thick mulch can usually defeat that down here).

The problem remains - it is very difficult to get a crop of the fruit to mature anywhere the air gets really cold. Where the plants die back (most of Florida), the blooms can't begin to form until the tops grow out, which usually means they don't start blooming before hot weather, which means they don't have time to ripen their fruit before the next freeze.

-Rich

(Zone 9a)

I recently saw a potted avocado that has borne fruit in the lower corner of coastal SC. The variety was 'Gainesville' and it has been in this container outside, with no protection, throughout the past two winters which were the coldest ever. It ws grown from a cutting from a tree that regularly bears fruit in Charleston, SC.

Apopka, FL(Zone 10a)

Mustard greens and collards do well going through a frost.
Pic shows small tangerine tree in background and dead sweet potato vine below.

Thumbnail by ApopkaJohn
Gainesville, FL(Zone 8b)

Quote from ApopkaJohn :
Mustard greens and collards do well going through a frost.
Pic shows small tangerine tree in background and dead sweet potato vine below.


I'm not a mustard fan, but I know collards will survive down to around 25F once established. So will kale and Brussels sprouts (though once the actual sprout buds start to expand they may be damaged). Broccoli plants will certainly stand hard freezes, but the heads are also subject to damage from hard freezes (side shoots that form later will be fine, though).

One vivid memory of my last garden in Georgia is of cutting ice-coated Brussels sprouts off the plants after an ice storm, throwing them into the steamer and eating the sweetest and mildest tasting and tender sprouts you will never find in a grocery store.

-Rich


This message was edited Jan 14, 2012 3:56 PM

Gainesville, FL(Zone 8b)

Quote from rjogden :
I'm not a mustard fan, but I know collards will survive down to around 15F...


Yeesh! I really need to proofread my posts better before I hit "send". I was so busy inserting that "degrees" symbol that I completely missed the fact I had hit a "1" instead of a "2" (now corrected in the original post). They may actually survive 15F, but I don't have any personal experience below about 25F! Sorry about that!

-Rich


This message was edited Jan 14, 2012 3:57 PM

Winter Springs, FL(Zone 9b)

I have been paying attention to the banana and papaya trees I see in the yards around here on my daily walks since the cold temperatures we had. The banana trees are totally brown again if out in the open, up close to a house just touches of brown, but still pretty damaged. The papayas just damage at the end of the leaves, but see fruit on them still...so might be okay.

The temps dipped to mid thirties three night in a row, the coldest night was 32.

I have my peppers in pots and took them in...didn't take any chances. But my scallions did well, didn't seemed fazed at all by the cold temps.

Gainesville, FL(Zone 8b)

Quote from sunkissed :
I have my peppers in pots and took them in...didn't take any chances. But my scallions did well, didn't seemed fazed at all by the cold temps.


I have a grow box full of scallions (two varieties of true non-bulbing Welsh onions, sp. Allium fistulosum) that are now in their second winter. I started with seedlings transplanted several inches apart each way. I keep them watered and fertilized, and try to keep the onions thinned, harvesting for the kitchen and table, but still they are getting very crowded. They have stood numerous nights completely exposed in the low twenties and frequent summer highs in the upper 90's, and are as tender and fresh-tasting as ever - far more so than anything at the grocery store. I am going to have to divide them soon and start in a new grow box...

-Rich

Winter Springs, FL(Zone 9b)

Rich that is good to know that they can take the very cold nights. I didn't start these until late summer. I love to cook and put them in many dishes...they do taste so much better than the store bought.

DeLand, FL(Zone 9b)

That banana plant that was hacked down to the ground has bananas again this year! It only has one stalk this year where it had two last year, but I'm impressed. I still can't believe they have bananas here.

Thumbnail by tarziesgirl
Gainesville, FL(Zone 9a)

I get bananas almost every year, only one year in 12 have they ripened. The trees come back great, with huge leaves..huge. I keep them for around the pool just for privacy and they look great. No fruit to be had tho. Only thing I get fruit from is the meyer lemon. Its loaded.
Unfortunatly, the cuban tree frogs are also a big fan of the banana trees.

Thumbnail by gardenglory
DeLand, FL(Zone 9b)

I guess theirs may not make it either. Last year they had no chance because a maintenance crew leveled them. I'll be keeping an eye on these.

Erin

Orlando, FL(Zone 9b)

it's interesting to drive around the area and see what froze and what survived cold nights. of course sometimes you have to wait a while to tell. but, bananas do benefit from shelter from the cold winds because they are so tender and delicate. my neighbor's tree set fruit in May or June but those tropical storms blew it over. relatives in Orlando have gotten fruit but had to cook them to eat them. just thought i would add to the conversation...

meanwhile i think my guava is dying from dehydration.

Lee's Summit, MO(Zone 6a)

I live in Panama City, Florida. My neighbor has gotten two ripe bunches of bananas from his plants in the past month - sweet and firm and delicious. His are planted and protected on the south side of his house. I have other neighbors who get bunches of bananas, but they freeze every year. None of my banana plants have bloomed yet.

Gainesville, FL(Zone 8b)

Quote from KayJones :
None of my banana plants have bloomed yet.

They are widely reported to be greedy feeders. Do you happen to know what variety(s) are fruiting there?


Lee's Summit, MO(Zone 6a)

No, but they grow to 15+ feet tall.

Orlando, FL(Zone 9b)

my banana is supposed to be a dwarf. it hasn't grown much since spring. for some reason i always doubt the fruiting potential of dwarfs.

Gainesville, FL(Zone 8b)

Quote from coastalzonepush :
my banana is supposed to be a dwarf. it hasn't grown much since spring. for some reason i always doubt the fruiting potential of dwarfs.

Remember that bananas are incredibly greedy feeders. Since they essentially have to grow an entirely new plant every year (especially around here), and they grow very fast, and it is soft green growth (full of water), it is hard to over-fertilize or over-mulch. Check out: http://www.justfruitsandexotics.com/Bananas.htm.

Just don't burn them by applying too much chemical fertilizer at once. IMHO that includes wood ash, which is NOT in it's "natural state" (it's wood that's been burned, after all) and is able to release a lot of strong alkali very quickly when watered.

Orlando, FL(Zone 9b)

thanks for the tip. i will wait until spring to fertilize because i don't want to be risky. but i think it would benefit from some mulch after all summer of washing away!

btw for some reason, the website isn't opening on my computer. but i will try again.

Gainesville, FL(Zone 8b)

Quote from coastalzonepush :
thanks for the tip. i will wait until spring to fertilize because i don't want to be risky. but i think it would benefit from some mulch after all summer of washing away!

btw for some reason, the website isn't opening on my computer. but i will try again.

For some reason, Dave's Garden is including the period at the end of the sentence in the URL when you click on it. It wasn't typed in that way.

Try: http://www.justfruitsandexotics.com/Bananas.htm

-Rich


This message was edited Dec 9, 2012 3:53 AM

Wake Forest, NC(Zone 7b)

Hi Erin,
when I lived in Maitland, FL (abt 30 miles South of you, for those who don't know) I watched a neighbor's huge avocado tree he grew from seed, many orange trees and other tropicals all die due to the freeze in 1984 (I think it was) which also destroyed whole orange groves. Because of all the mature stuff that died, it is obvious that it was a real rarity. Our house was part of a sub-division built in an orange grove and we all had several mature Valencia trees growing beautifully - all were killed.

Still, if you have a plant you really love, you can always hang a few 100 watt light bulbs around on extension cords. .It's amazing what just a minimum amount of heat will do to protect from freeze. Also try to plant near the South side of a building.

Oh yes; A cheap king size sheet thrown over the top and tied to lower branches or to something heavy will help hold in the heat too'

(I don't know what I will use once only CFL bulbs are available)

Paul

DeLand, FL(Zone 9b)

Hi Paul,

We'll all have to stock up if we want the regular old bulbs I guess. I'm sure they'll still be available online from other sources after the cutoff. I've never liked fluorescent bulbs anyway. They don't put out any light compared to incandescent. Guess that's one way I'm not so green.

Erin

Orlando, FL(Zone 9b)

Rich, thanks! i read the website, looks like bananas give us the potassium they ask us to feed them haha

and, Erin - not sure if this was mentioned or if you area already aware- but it's really great if you give the roots a drink before a freeze. hydrating the plants will help on the cold night especially if it's a windy freeze event.

Gainesville, FL(Zone 8b)

Quote from pbyrley :
Hi Erin,
Still, if you have a plant you really love, you can always hang a few 100 watt light bulbs around on extension cords. .It's amazing what just a minimum amount of heat will do to protect from freeze. Also try to plant near the South side of a building.


Here in Gainesville, aside from Satsumas, kumquats and a few hybrids, there are quite a few types of citrus that will survive with protection. A couple of friends have strung outdoor Christmas lights (the big old fashioned ones, NOT the new leds) all through the branches and on really cold nights they cover the trees with cloth or plastic sheets and turn the lights on. They've got three really beautiful, large (15'+), very productive trees growing and fruiting very well in their backyard. Unfortunately they did not keep a record of the varieties they planted, but the red grapefruit is definitely marginal this far north and it's in great condition.

-Rich

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