Growing Tropical Fruit – Rob Pyne

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Best Tropical Fruits

The best tropical fruits to grow are worth a close look. When added to fruits from other regions that grow in the tropics, choice abounds.

These fruits come in a range of shapes and sizes. Banana, pineapple and coconut are probably the best known, but there are many more to add to the list. The number and variety of fruits that originate in the tropics is amazing.

Tropical Fruits to Grow

Our list of favourites is as follows:

  • Black Sapote
  • Custard Apple

    Custard Apple

    Custard Apple

  • Dragon Fruit
  • Grumichama
  • Guava Tree
  • Jaboticaba
  • Kumquat Tree
  • Mamey Sapote
  • Passion Fruit
  • Paw Paw
  • Rambutan
  • Star Apple
  • Watermelon

Don’t let the fact some of these trees can grow very large put you off. The backyard gardener simply has to prune to keep these monsters under control. Indeed, when grown commercially, most of these trees, such as the mango, are pruned regularly as a matter of course.


Other fruit trees that grow in the tropics

Many of the non tropical fruits grown in the tropics are citrus. We are fans of the lemonade fruit in particular. However, there are many other citrus that will grow and thrive in the tropics.

  • Grapefruit
  • Lemons (The Meyer Lemon in particular thrives in the tropics)
  • Mandarin
  • Oranges
  • Tangerine
  • Tangelo

Of course some citrus actually originate from the tropics! One of these is the West Indian lime, known as the key lime. The grapefruit is another. However, my favourite tropical citrus is the pummelo (aka pomelo). The pomelo  is related to grapefruit, but is sweeter.  There are several types of pomelo, including Nam Roi, which produces a large sweet seedless fruit.

Another Non Tropical Hero

Do mulberry trees grow in the tropics?

Yes. Unlike mulberries grown in southern climate, mulberries grown in the tropics will grow into a bush, not a tree. However the fruit is just as sweet.

Other Tropical Fruit

Of course not all fruits grow on tropical fruit trees. There are a number of fruits that grow on tropical vines. Passionfruit is a great example.

Types of Vines

Tropical vine fruit comes in various shapes and sizes. They range from small fruit to massive fruits, such as the watermelon. Our list of favourites is as follows:

  • Bitter Melon

    Dragon Fruit

  • Dragon Fruit
  • Monstera
  • Passion Fruit
  • Snake Beans
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Watermelon

Types of Tropical Vine

What are the three types of vines?

We divide vines into three groups:

Clinging: Vines that have sticky pads or claw-like growths along their stems that can attach to the surfaces they touch.

Sprawling: Vigorous, spreading vines (eg. climbing rose).

Twining: These vines wrap around their supports. Alternatively, they may have twining tendrils that grab and wrap around any supporting structure or plant (eg passion fruit).

Space and Support

Two issues you should consider before planting tropical vines in your garden are support and space.

Some plants require significantly more support than others, so you should make sure you plant them somewhere they will receive that support. So if you’re growing on a trellis, you need to make sure your trellis will support the weight of a mature vine.

Other Tropical Vines

Of course it is not always about food. In addition there are a variety of ornamental vines available that are suitable for your garden and landscape. However, it will depend on the amount of garden space you have available.

Other Tropical Fruit

We love pineapples as well, but for the time and care it takes to grow them, it has not been worth the bother for us. Also, we only have limited space and you have to draw the line somewhere.

Bananas are another tropical fruit you can grow very easily. However, we are just not banana lovers. Fortunately there is a lot of information already out there on how to grow bananas.

The mangosteen is another popular tropical fruit. Don’t let the name confuse you, it is nothing like a mango. The fruit has a white flesh with a ‘sweet and tangy’ taste. A tropical evergreen tree, the mangosteen is widely grown in Southeast Asia.

Don’t Even Try

In these days of artificial micro-climates and genetic modification it seems almost anything is possible. However, it remains easier to work with the environment than to try to modify it. Some of the non tropical fruits we would not even try to grow in the tropics include apples, pears, peaches, cherries and other temperate specialists.