Grow Tropical Fruit in NZ
If you have ever wanted to grow tropical fruit in NZ, you don’t have to take a trip to the Islands to enjoy your favourites. Many varieties can be grown right here in NZ, as long as you don’t get too much frost. These heat loving plants generally need warm, humid conditions, so plant trees in the warmest spot possible, or in a glass house if you have one.
Check out these NZ tropicals below and start growing your own fruit salad!
Mountain Paw Paw
A highly ornamental tree perfect as a sub-tropical planting around a patio or courtyard where the aroma from the fruit can be appreciated.
Usually fruits between August and December and may produce up to 50-60 fruits per season. Unripe paw paw can be eaten as a vegetable, but ripe fruit contains all the minerals and nutrients.
The purple passionfruit is a native from Brazil to northern Argentina. Passionfruit vines look stunning on a pergola where their large green leaves can provide shelter year round. They also provide a vibrant flower display in summer, and of course, tasty fruit in autumn.
Passionfruit prefer full sun or partial shade and well drained soil. They are heavy feeders so can do with around two handfuls of a nitrogen based NPK fertilliser every three months.
Passionfruit have a long fruiting period from mid-January to mid-June and you can get anywhere from 3.5-7kg of fruit off the vine in a season.
Try: Palmers Passionfruit Black Magic. This variety is dark purple with juicy, aromatic flavour. It’s quick growing and ideal for a sunny fence or wall.
Pepino is a relatively “recent” discovery from Peru and Chile where it is often prepared as a vegetable rather than a fruit. The pepino plant will happily grow in a container on a deck or patio where it will fruit and flower prolifically.
The fruit flesh is sweet and tasty and is perfect in a fruit salad or as a dessert accompaniment.
Cherimoya will happily thrive in the hot NZ summer temperatures. The tree is small and looks great in a container or espaliered alongside a fence or wall.
The fruit is sweet and delicious and the pulp can be used in ice creams, smoothies and sorbet.
Tamarillo is a member of the Soloanaceae family, with potato, tomato, pepino and naranjilla. Once known as the ‘Tree Tomato’. Tamarillo plants have large sub-tropical leaves and like a warm, sunny and sheltered position in the garden.
Tamarillos are shallow rooted so do not handle windy areas well. They also benefit from around three feedings of low nitrogen NPK fertiliser during the growing season. This plant will fruit from mid-March to mid-July and you can expect to get 15-20kg of fruit per plant.
Oak Leaved Papaya
The oak leaved papaya is native of South America. and is from the same family as mountain paw paw, but hardier. This attractive spreading tree can grow to 4-6m in height, has large oak like leaves and golden drop shaped fruit. The fruit is sweet and musky and with zesty perfume and can be eaten straight from the tree, skin and all.
This papaya prefers full sun, well drained soil and needs to be protected from the wind. It will fruit during April and May, producing hundreds of small fruit.
The pineapple is the main edible member of the Bromeliaceaea family. Pineapple is native to southern Brazil and Paraguay. Pineapples are an attractive addition to your tropical or sub-tropical garden and ideal in a container in your conservatory or on your deck.
Pineapples are happy in either full sun or shade and grow in a wide range of soils. They can tolerate the wind, withstand drought and even a light frost.
Depending on variety a well tended plant with lots of suckers can produce up to six fruit in 3 years.
Bananas are surely the best known tropical fruit and one of the most healthy and versatile. Bananas originated in South-East Asia and have grown in the Tropics since ancient times and beyond. The wonderful luscious tropical leaves of the banana tree are great as a backdrop or centre piece to your garden and work well planted against a house, around a pool or in a courtyard.
Banana trees like full sun, good drainage and a bit of shelter. They fruit from around mid-August through to late November and you will get roughly one bunch of bananas per mother plant each season.
Try: the Banana Misi Luki. This banana is small, sweet and perfect for lunchboxes.
The guava originates from an area extending from Mexico through Central America into South America. It is more cold hardy than its name suggests, is easy to grow and has attractive foliage, fluffy white flowers over a long period and produces abundant sweet, juicy fruit.
Guavas grow best in full sun and do not like the wind. Young trees need regular feeding and do not handle frosty temperatures well. Guavas fruit from mid-August through to mid-November and you can expect anywhere from 3-50kg of fruit off a plant.
We recommend checking in with your local Palmers branch by calling 0800 PALMERS to check their stock availability.