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The list of fruits that grow in tropical climates is incredibly long. There are so many tropical and subtropical fruits you can grow in a tropical climate that you’ll never be able to taste them all. Some fruits that grow in cooler or temperate climates will also grow in the tropics.
This post lists all of the tropical fruits we grow in the tropics, plus those we don’t. When choosing the best fruit to grow in the tropics, consider your personal taste, what’s popular, and which fruits will give you the most useful amount of food. Some tropical fruits can be cooked or used in savoury dishes and not just as sweet fruit.
The popular tropical fruits are generally the best tasting. You see pineapples on the shelves of European and North America supermarkets because they taste good. This is also linked to how easy and profitable they are to transport.
Many of these tropical fruits can be preserved to use out of season, by freezing, dehydrating, making jams, chutneys, ferments and preserves.
Some colder climate fruits cannot be grown in tropical climates, but it’s often worth having a try. I’ve seen grapes grown in the tropics yet some will tell you that it is impossible to grow grapes in tropical climates. There may be a different variety of tropical fruit suited to your tropical climate.
As a tropical gardener on a moderately sized farm or homestead, we grow so much fruit that we never need to buy it. The natural succession of fruits keeps us self-sufficient in fruit year-round.
List of Fruits That Grow in Tropical Climates
Fruits are some of the best of the food plants that grow in the tropics and in equatorial climates. Of course, the exact location, elevation, rainfall, and soil type, will affect local climate, microclimate, and the grower’s ability to grow these tropical fruits.
In some cases, tropical varieties exist which may not be identical to the fruits grown in cooler climates.
Most of these fruits on the list grow as perennials in the tropics, some may be annuals in colder climates where cold winters will kill them. Some fruits grown in the tropics may need some shade from the full tropical sun, others love full sunshine. Most will prefer rich soil and well-draining soil.
Some fruits that we normally think of as vegetables, like tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, and eggplant, are also fruits. We include these on our list. Some traditionally summer fruits can be grown in winter in the tropics.
- bananas and plantains, many varieties
- papaya (called pawpaw in Australia)
- custard apple
- kaffir lime
- finger lime
- sapote and chocolate sapote
- cacao fruit (surrounding the bean)
- star fruit
- star apple
- eggplants (aubergines) many varieties
- peppers or capsicums, hot chili peppers or sweet
Can You Grow Citrus Fruits in The Tropics?
Yes, you can grow citrus fruits in the tropics and a tropical climate allows a gardener or farmer to grow abundant citrus fruits of many kinds.
I personally grow grapefruit trees (pink, ruby, and yellow), oranges, lemons, limes, kaffir limes, and mandarins. Pomelos are another citrus fruit you can grow in the tropics, as are kumquats
There are many varieties of each type of citrus fruit, of course, and they produce fruit at different times of the year. Most lemons are usually ripe around March, that’s autumn here in the tropical southern hemisphere, just as lemons ripen in autumn in the northern hemisphere. Some other species of lemon can produce ripe fruit at any time of year.
Smaller varieties of citrus trees are well suited to growing in pots in tropical regions and a greenhouse or heating shouldn’t be necessary. All of our citrus trees survive the tropical wet season just fine, but do choose a spot with good drainage.
The fruit on our pink grapefruit is normally ripe in autumn too.