Growing Fruit in the Lowcountry


PlantasiaLogo-green-150The third workshop I went to at Plantasia was all about growing fruit here in Charleston. I was happy to go to this workshop because I have a fig tree in my back yard but I would like to add additional fruit bearing bushes, trees, shrubs, whatever!

Darren Sheriff, aka The Citrus Guy around here, was our teacher for this fun filled hour. First and foremost we learned from this Master Gardner that the soil where you plant must be well draining and have lots of sun, 8-10 hours. Another important thing that I had never heard of is chill hours. Some plants/trees need a certain number of hours spent between 32 and 45 degrees F (roughly). Any Winter temperatures above 60 degrees are subtracted. Here in Charleston, we have around 600 to 800 chill hours.  This encourages the plant to go dormant and bloom and grow correctly the following season.

Here are the plants and trees we covered:

  • Click the pic for source, Jefferson Farm & Gardens.

    Click the pic for source, Jefferson Farm & Gardens.

    Blackberries – There is the erect and semi-trailing. Blackberries are drought tolerant but need water during fruiting. Fertilize in early Spring and again after harvest with 10-10-10. They are good weed control but remember to plant disease resistant cultivars such as Cheyenne, Cherokee, Shawnee, Kiowa (all erect), Gem, Black Satin or Hull (Semi-trailing).

  • Blueberries – There is the Rabbiteye and Southern Highbush and your soil Ph should be 5.0 to 6.0. The Rabbiteye is adapted for all of SC but you need to plant two varieties for cross pollination. Varities include: Beckyblue, Bonita, Brightwell, Climax, Permier, Woodard (early season), Bluebell, Briteblue, Chaucer, Powderblue, Tifblue (mid season), Baldwin, Centurion, Choice and Delite (late season). For the Southern Highbush there is a lower chilling requirement and it has better drought tolerance. Plus, it is self-fertile. Varieites include: O’Neal, Cape Fear (early season), Blue Ridge, Georgia Gem (mid season), Legacy, and Summit (late season).

Click pic for source, Irvin House Vineyards.

  • Grapes – American and some hybrids of the two will work in SC. They need full sun and do not need cross pollination. Varieties include Daytona, Orlando seedless and Conquistador.
  • Strawberries – This is the first fruit to ripen in the Spring and can be grown anywhere in SC. However, those that bear fruit in June are the best suited to SC. You should water when plants are set and during dry periods. Varities include Fla 90, Chandler and Douglas.
  • Apples – Unfortunately, the western part of the state is better suited to apples. For cross pollination, you need two types of overlapping flowers. Varieties include Anna, Dorsett Golden, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Yates and Granny Smith.
  • Peaches and Nectarines – These guys are self fruiting. Varieties with low chill hours are required for the coast. Varieties include: Floridaking, Redglobe, Juneprince, Harvester, Georgia Belle and Jefferson.
  • Figs – One inch of water per week is good for the fig so this makes it a drought tolerant tree! Varieties include Alma, Brown Turkey, Celeste, Gree Ischia, Hunt, Magnlia and Kodato.
  • Loquat – Can do partial shade and is drought tolerant but will yield better fruit with deep waterings. Only small applications of fertilizer. If you like to prune, do so only to keep the fruit within harvestable range.
  • Plums – Only one inch of water per week for the plum too! Fertilize in February, June and August with 10-10-10. Varities that DO NOT need cross pollination: Burgundy, Duffs Early Jewel, Santa Rosa, Hawera and Methley.

Click pic for source, The Produce Blog.

  • Plumcot – You need moist soil for these guys!
  • Pears – One inch of water per week (I love this). However, Fire Blight can be a real problem as well as late frosts. Remember you need to cross pollinate with pears. Varities include Bartlett, Kieffer, Ayer, Seckel (aka Sugar Pear), Magness and Moonglow.
  • Citrus – Recommended to plant on South or West side of the house and these guys can tolerate down to 28 degreees. Varieties of Tangerines and Mandarins include: Owari, Ponkan and Early St. Anne. Varieties of Lemons and limes include: Meyers Lemon, Meyers Improved Lemon, Persian Lime and Variegated Eureka Lemon. Kumquat varieties are Meiwa, Nagami and Galamondin (Kumquat Hybrid). Grapefruits are the Ruby Red, Marsh Seedless and the Duncan. Finally, for Oranges, plant the Cara Cara Red Navel.

On a final note, places to get fruiting plants around the Charleston area are:


Click the pic for source, McKenzie Farms.

  • Ward’s Tree Farm and Nursery, 126 Little Salem Lane, Ridgeville, SC (843-832-5770). You should call for availability and speak to Duane and Elaine Ward. They usually offer the “Wonderful” Pomegranate; the Brown Turkey and Celeste Fig; the Fuji Persimmon; the Florida King and Florida Crest Peach; the Granny Smith, Anna, Dorsett and Ein Shemer Apple; the Kiefer, Moonglow, Pineapple and Orient Pear; the Santa Rosa Plum; the Bronze and Southland Grapes; the Goldmine Nectarines and the Loquat.
  • At McKenzie Farms on 2115 Olanta Highway Scranton, SC 29591 they have the Yuzu, Owari, Kimbrough, Changsha, Satsuma, Meiwa Kumquats, Nagamie Kumquats, lemson, Limes and Floomsweet Grapefruit and Citrange in the Citrus department. As for figs they have the Brown Turkey. Pomegranates they carry the Russian Giant. For Kiwis they have the fuzzy type. They also have Pineapple Guava, Muscadines, Blueberries, Asian Persimmons, Asian Pears, Plums, Peaches, Apples and more! Call for availability though (843-389-4831) and check with Stan McKenzie. They also ship!

Other workshops at Plantasia:

Planted Pallet

ABCs of Pruning


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