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How To Grow
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THE PLANTS Fruit Home
Many fruit trees like apples, peaches, pears, plums, etc., need a certain amount of winter dormancy (resting phase) to develop their leaves and fruit buds for the coming year. This dormancy period is triggered by colder weather and shorter days, and the tree will stay at rest until it has just the amount of cold weather it needs. Fruit tree folks measure this period in terms called chilling units or chill hours.
Chill hours are accumulated when the temperatures are between 32 - 45 degrees Fahrenheit. BUT any hours below 32 don't count. THEN when the temperature rises to 60 degrees and above you start losing the hours you had accrued. Confusing, huh? Fortunately, university research stations, NOAA, and the USDA keep track of all that, so you don't have to. They even publish maps showing the avarage number of chill hours across the country (we've got them lower on this page).
We simplify this by letting you know which USDA gardening zones that each of our fruiting trees grow best in. In apples, for instance, some high chill varieties like Red Delicious require up to 1400 hours of chill. So they do well only north of the Carolinas. Anna and Tropic Sweet need only 250-300 hours, so are perfect for growers in north and central Florida, in zones 8B-9.
Plant a Red Delicious in North Florida and it will sleep right through our March spring, grudgingly wake up to leaf out in late April or May, refuse to flower, and just generally sulk and pout until you dig it up and send it to your Aunt Em up in Minnesota where it belongs.
So read carefully the zones listed at the end
of each fruit description and make sure you are
buying a plant that likes the weather where you live.
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) divides the United States into 10 climate zones that vary at 10 degree farenheit increments based on average miniumum temperature.
At Just Fruits and Exotics, we are in North Florida, and therefore garden in Zone 8B with average minimum temperature of 10 to 20 degrees.
For additional information throughout the US about USDA hardiness zones, go to the
2012 USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
or use this map to find your hardiness zone before ordering plants.
The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Science (UF-IFAS)
tabulates chill hours (as opposed to average minimum temperature)
in more detail for Florida and their map can be used to identify the expected range of
chill hours for areas in Florida. Be sure to match your plants by Hardiness Zone and
by chill hours if you live in Florida! The UF-IFAS web site is a GREAT source of information
for gardening in Florida and the Deep South (http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/ ).