Richard Bogren, Owings, Allen D. | 11/25/2015 9:47:31 PM
News Release Distributed 11/25/15
By Allen Owings
LSU AgCenter horticulturist
HAMMOND, La. – Plucking fresh fruit from your own orchard can be a delicious way to add beauty and taste to your home landscape. The best time to plant fruit trees in Louisiana is now through January. Plant now, and you can pick your own fruit at home later.
Fruit trees and bushes make a great addition to many landscapes. A large number of fruit trees that can be grown successfully in Louisiana include figs, blueberry, blackberry and citrus in south Louisiana, and even more types can thrive in northern parishes.
One key to success with most home fruit trees is being aware of your soil type. Most fruit trees need loamy, well-drained soil. Avoid areas where water collects after a rain, and avoid clay soil. It is also important to select a planting location that gets a minimum of six hours of direct sunlight daily.
Figs continue to be the most popular fruit grown in Louisiana. The recommended varieties – and normally the ones most easily found at the garden centers – are Celeste, LSU Purple and Brown Turkey. The LSU AgCenter has released other fig varieties – LSU Gold, O’Rourke, Champagne and Tiger – but these are not available in large numbers in the state.
Figs are very well adapted to Louisiana’s growing conditions and are low-maintenance.
Mulch trees to insulate the root system during winter and to conserve soil moisture in summer. Fertilize only when needed. Figs should be pruned occasionally to keep them at a manageable height.
Citrus are popular in Louisiana and commonly planted in home landscapes. Satsumas, kumquats and oranges have made a comeback all over the state in the past 10 years because of our mild winters. Cold weather during the winter in 2009-2010 damaged some citrus trees, but many made it through the cold weather much better than expected. You also can grow grapefruit, lemons and limes successfully in south Louisiana.
Blueberries are also low-maintenance. They are a bush-type shrub and need acid soil. Their shallow, fibrous root system benefits from mulch. Blueberries require a full-sun planting location. Recommended varieties include 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.
Blackberries have come a long way since you picked them along roadsides in your youth. New hybrids are highly productive, and some are thornless, making harvesting painless. Look for thornless Arapaho and Ouachita and thorny Shawnee, Cheyenne and Brazos varieties. Blackberries are higher maintenance due to the pruning required, but it is well worth planting a few.
Peaches are another great Louisiana fruit tree. Select peach varieties for the southern, central or northern portion of the state depending on the number of chilling hours you typically get in your geographical area. In general, coastal areas get 200-300 hours; south Louisiana gets around 400 hours; central parts of the state get around 500-600 hours, and north Louisiana gets 700-800 hours.
Finally, don’t overlook the native fruit trees like plums, mayhaws and pawpaws. Want nuts? There’s nothing better than our native pecan trees. Also you can find low-chilling varieties of apples and pears that do well in Louisiana.
Fruit trees, vines and bushes can make great holiday gifts. Try some fruit trees in your home landscape, too.
You can see more about work being done in landscape horticulture by visiting the LSU AgCenter Hammond Research Station website. Also, like us on Facebook. You can find an abundance of landscape information for both home gardeners and industry professionals at both sites.