Landscape fruit options abound in Louisiana

John Young, Gill, Daniel J., Owings, Allen D.  |  11/6/2008 10:23:47 PM

Sustainable Landscape News Distributed 11/06/08

By LSU AgCenter Horticulturists

The late fall and winter months in Louisiana are great for planting fruit trees and shrubs. Ones that work well in our landscapes include fig, citrus, blueberry, pawpaw, pomegranate and persimmon. Most can be easily grown, are low-maintenance, have appealing forms, good texture, attractive colors and provide wildlife benefits. These characteristics “fit the bill” for a sustainable landscape.

Figs are one of the most popular. Major available varieties are Celeste, LSU Purple, LSU Gold and Brown Turkey. Figs are one of our most adapted fruit to the Gulf States region and are low-maintenance. They prefer a well-drained site but adapt to a wide range of soil conditions.

Full sun is best for figs. Partial sun to partial shade will reduce fruit production. Apply mulch under the canopy of fig trees to insulate the root system during the winter and conserve soil moisture in the summer. Fertilize only when needed. Figs should be pruned occasionally in February to keep them at a manageable height.

Citrus are becoming more widely planted. With the lack of cold winters lately, satsumas, kumquats and oranges have made a comeback all over the state. Satsumas mature in November. Popular varieties include Owari and Brown Select. Kumquats mature in late November and early to mid-December. Meiwa is a common kumquat variety. The Washington naval orange is popular in South Louisiana and matures in December.

Citrus need full to partial sun for best fruit production. They adapt to many soil types and container-growing as well.

Blueberries are low-maintenance bushy plants that require an acid soil (ph 4.5-5.5). Their shallow, fibrous root systems benefit from mulch application. They prefer a full sun, well-drained location. Recommended varieties are Premier, Tifblue, Climax and Brightwell. Plant two or more varieties to guarantee cross-pollination and good fruit development. Most blueberry plants will produce a good fruit crop by the third year after planting.

A popular native fruit tree sometimes hard to find at garden centers is the pawpaw. Pawpaws need some shade to get established but can tolerate full sun after the first couple years. Flowers are maroon and appear in mid-March in South Louisiana. Fruit ripen in August and early September. They are tannish-yellow with white, creamy flesh that is custardy in texture.

Persimmons for Louisiana include native and oriental varieties with the oriental being preferred. Oriental persimmon fruit is seven to 10 times larger than native persimmon fruit. Oriental fruit has few to no seeds while native fruit is very seedy. Persimmons are best adapted to partial sun or partial shade. Taninashi and Fuyu are popular varieties.

Pomegranates are found in old landscapes in Louisiana. They prefer cool winters and hot, dry summers. They like sandy or silty soil more than clay, and soil moisture kept even. Full sun is best; shade reduces production. Pomegranates ripen in fall. The most popular variety is Wonderful, which grows into a 15-foot shrubby, small tree. A few ornamental varieties of pomegranates have double flower forms.

Most retail garden centers have a good selection of fruit trees from November through February. Take advantage of this time of year to add some fruit varieties to your backyard plantings.

More information on home landscaping from the LSU AgCenter and details on horticulture work at LaHouse can be found at www.lsuagcenter.com and www.louisianahouse.org.

LaHouse is located near the intersection of Burbank Drive and Nicholson Drive (La. Highway 30) in Baton Rouge across the street from the new LSU baseball stadium. For more information, go to www.louisianahouse.org and www.lsuagcenter.com/lyn.

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Contacts:
Dan Gill at (225) 578-2222 or dgill@agcenter.lsu.edu
Allen D. Owings at (985) 543-4125 or aowings@agcenter.lsu.edu
John Young at (225) 578-2415 or (225) 578-2222 or JoYoung@agcenter.lsu.edu
Editor: Mark Claesgens at (225) 578-2939 or mclaesgens@agcenter.lsu.edu

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