Unique Edible Plants to Grow in Florida

GardeningGrowing

Take advantage of Florida’s subtropical and tropical climates to cultivate unique fruits and vegetables. Grow lychee, pineapple, passionfruit, and avocado. Yucca and amaranth serve as alternatives to potatoes and collard greens. Choose from the many tropical squashes that thrive through the summer months.

Tired of the same old summer vegetable garden? Fortunately, your options for edible plants to grow in Florida are not as limited as you might think. Take advantage of our state’s subtropical and tropical climates to cultivate unique fruits and vegetables. Many of these edibles can be planted this month. 

Fruit

  • Lychee: This evergreen tree produces beautiful, bright, red fruits during the summer months. Cultivating the young trees requires effort, but once mature, these plants are hardy and reliable. Lychee does best in South Florida, where winter freezes are not a threat.
  • Pineapple: Growing this fruit is as easy as saving the pineapple top from the garbage and sticking it in the ground! The plant does best with some water during dry periods and once a week if planted in sandy soil. However, overwatering can cause root rot. And be patient – it will take up to 18 months for this plant to reach maturity.
  • Passionfruit: This plant produces beautiful flowers and delicious fruit and can grow year-round in South Florida! The fruit grows on an evergreen, climbing vine, so make sure you set it up for success with a supportive structure. It can grow more than 35 feet in a year (though it won’t exceed 100 feet in length). Numerous cultivars are available in Florida, and most hybrids are between yellow and purple types.
  • Avocado: Like the idea of growing your own avocados for taco night? Make sure to plant a Florida avocado (not the Hass avocado), which will grow to be 30 to 65 feet tall. Keep in mind that some varieties are self-pollinating, while others cross-pollinate and require a second tree to fruit. 

Vegetables

  • Yucca: Also called cassava, yucca is a root vegetable similar to the potato, but starchier. Yucca can be used in many of the same ways as potatoes. To prepare yucca, boil it first, then bake, roast, mash, or fry.
  • Amaranth: You might not have heard of amaranth, but what about callaloo? This leafy green goes by both names. It makes a great summer substitute for collards and spinach and is typically served as boiled greens.

Make It a Squash Summer

There are way more types of squash than the summer squash that, ironically, won’t last past May. These tropical varieties will thrive through the hot summer months. 

Luffa

Did you know that your shower luffa (or ‘loofah’) gets its name from the luffa gourd, a member of the cucumber family? This vegetable is often harvested for its fibrous interior and used as a scrubbing sponge for use in the shower or around the house. However, when harvested young, the luffa can be eaten like squash. So take your pick! Enjoy the versatile gourd at the dinner table or while cleaning up afterward.

Seminole Pumpkin

This versatile, heat-loving pumpkin is a must-have for every Florida garden. When young and green, even the skin of the Seminole pumpkin can be eaten. You can harvest and enjoy the flowers, too. The pumpkin’s flesh is sweeter than butternut squash and firmer but less fibrous than that of the pumpkins we carve every October. Store the Seminole pumpkin for several months and enjoy them into the fall. 

Chayote

Chayote, often called the vegetable pear or mango squash, is a vining plant related to the cucumber, though its texture is similar to other squashes. This vegetable, native to Guatemala, can weigh between six ounces and three pounds!

Long Squash

Another vegetable of the Cucurbitaceae family, long squash has been cultivated in Africa and Asia for thousands of years. You’ll need a trellis for this plant, as it is a vigorous climbing vine. Harvest the fruits when young, or they will be too dry to enjoy.

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