You may have a vegetable garden at home. And chances are, you may have citrus trees somewhere on your property – or even an avocado! But did you know that there are lots of other interesting plants – trees and shrubs alike – that make great additions to your landscape, look fantastic year round and produce edible fruit? These plants are great selections for those interested in permaculture, or just looking to add something different and multi-functional to their landscape. Read on for more!
Beautiful, tropical-looking trees with long, dark green leaves with attractive, fuzzy bronze undersides. Makes a great street or shade tree. Tolerant of any soil, takes full sun and drought resistant. Matures to about 15 feet tall. The oblong golden fruit is tangy and sweet with lots of soft flesh and a pit in the middle.
Mulberry, Morus alba
Mulberries are tart and sweet and look like slender black or raspberries. Two varieties are popular in backyard use – ‘Pendula,’ a compact weeping variety, and the regular tree form variety, which makes an excellent, fast-growing shade tree. Both are drought resistant but can be messy – fruit will stain sidewalks and cars – so choose placement wisely. For this reason, the weeping variety is often a better choice for those interested in the fruit.
Banana, Musa hybrid
Bananas are great tropical plants that perform well in large containers or in the ground. While they can tolerate full sun, they are water-thirsty and will be more tolerant of lower water use if grown in partial shade. Bananas can be finicky to produce fruit but are a rewarding plant that looks beautiful in the landscape.
Natal plum, Carissa macrocarpa
Natal plum is often used as a hedge in highway medians because it is so hardy. Drought tolerant, takes full sun, thrives in salty coastal conditions. There are varieties both with and without thorns – some prefer thorns to deter dogs or pedestrians – and prostrate or larger varieties for whatever purpose. Produce small, fragrant, jasmine-shaped white flowers followed by profuse large, neon pink fruit that darken to red. Taste like a cross between a cranberry and strawberry. Fruit are very high in latex so should not be consumed by the allergic. Great for making tarts, jams or eating raw, be aware that the high latex content can stick to cookware.
Papaya, Carica papaya
Papaya is a great tropical fruit that grows on an interesting tree – a tall, single trunk with a canopy of philodendron-like leaves around which fruits cluster like bananas. Not incredibly productive, these plants will make a handful of fruit each year and appreciate San Diego’s subtropical climate. Needs moderate water to thrive.
Pineapple guava, Acca sellowiana
A gorgeous plant with beautiful silvery-green leaves and grey stems, it can be grown as a standard with a single stem and traditional canopy, or a multi-trunked shrub. Makes a good screen. Produces interesting flowers with edible, fragrant pink petals and bright red stamens. Small green fruit tastes like a mild cross between pineapple and, well, guava! Grows to about 8′ tall.
Surinam cherry, Eugenia euniflora
A cousin of the common eugenia seen all around San Diego, the Surinam cherry is a shrub or tree growing to 20′ tall native to South America. It produces small, pumpkin-shaped fruit that are quite tart but have an interesting flavor. Pick only when ripe – a very deep, blood red, and falls easily into your hand. Eat fresh or make into jams, syrups, sauces and more! None of your neighbors will have this one!
See something you like? Have questions about the perfect tree or shrub for your space, permaculture or edible gardening? Just want to say hi? Stop by and say hello or give us a call today!