Welcome to the Website of the California Rare Fruit Growers!

Welcome to the CRFG website!

With 22 chapters — not all in California —  and members on every continent except  Antarctica, we are the largest amateur fruit growing organization in the world.  If you want to learn everything and anything about growing fruit in an environmentally responsible manner, this is where you want to be.  Come on in!


Oh, the fun we have!



Jorge Ochoa, Instructor in Horticulture at Long Beach City College, gives the West Los Angeles Chapter a brilliant talk on Passionfruit. As chapters provide information on upcoming meetings, they will…
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Field Trips

Most chapters schedule field trips every other month.  Click Chapters in the Menu above for one near you.
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Our Famous Annual Scion Exchange

Every January and February, our famous scion exchanges are held at local chapters. There are generally demonstrations of various grafting techniques as well. Sharpen up your knife and create your…
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Fruit Tastings

The best way to know if a variety of fruit should be in your garden is to taste the fruit before buying the tree.   Check out our calendar for…
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Nurseries & Plant Providers

Definitely a work in progress, but we are attempting to put together a listing of our favorite nurseries, both local and online.  Any recommendations gratefully received.   Alden Lane Nursery…
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Scholarships and Grants

Education is one of CRFG’s cornerstones.  Originally interpreted as educating the general public, it has over the years centered on the education of young people interested in growing rare and…
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Making Wine From Rare Fruit

The information here was taken from an article by John M. Riley that appeared in the 1978 CRFG Yearbook (vol. 10, pp. 57-62). See the back issue information for price and ordering information.
Metric unit conversions are at the end of the document.

Getting Started

Listed below are some basic concepts and techniques in wine making. Prospective home vintners might also find it useful to consult a book on the subject, particularly a book with good illustrations and step-by-step instructions.

Wine making is gardening of a sort. Selected yeasts are the seed. They need nutrients in the form of sugar and all the elements associated with life. As in gardening, the selection of good seed ensures a good wine. Wild yeasts are found on almost all fruit, but these generally produce a wine which is inferior in flavor and of a lower alcohol content than wines produced by select strains of yeast. Good wine yeasts costing no more than a package of flower seed will provide a variety of controlled flavors and 16-20% alcohol. Baker’s yeast will give a “beery” taste and low alcohol content, but could be used in a first attempt at raisin jack or apple cider.

Just as there are weeds in the garden, so there are weeds in wines. There are microorganisms the feed on alcohol and cause a poor flavor. Vinegar bacilli will change sugar to vinegar. Molds give a stale flavor. To prevent these unwelcome intruders, cleanliness is the only answer. An effective agent is sal soda (sodium carbonate). This is inexpensive and does not contribute a taste of its own. Baking soda is fairly effective if given time to work. Either of these agents will remove odors and flavors from the containers. If soap or detergents are used, the containers must be carefully rinsed. Even the slightest trace will be apparent in the taste of a light wine.

A second means of ensuring that the wine yeast dominates the brew is to start a culture into vigorous growth a few days ahead of the fermentation of the must (the fruit pulp and syrup). By this means the selected yeast will have such a head start that it will consume the sugar and render the wine antiseptic before any unwanted organism can gain a foothold.

The procedure for preparing yeast starter is simple: Boil together 1/2 cup (~120 ml) fruit juice, 4 tablespoons (~60 ml) sugar, 1-1/2 cups (~360 ml) water and a pinch of yeast nutrient for three minutes to sterilize. Pour into a sterilized container. When the temperature has fallen to near room temperature, add the wine yeast. Cover the container so that the carbon dioxide can escape. For example, a sheet of plastic wrap held in place with a rubber band lets the gasses escape, but keeps out unwanted organisms. The mixture will turn cloudy and smell yeasty within a few days, at which time it is ready to use.

Fermentation and Bottling

In order to brew a gallon of wine it is desirable to have a primary fermentation container that will hold about three gallons of must. Never use metals for storage or fermentation of wine components. Following the recipes for various fruit wines, fill the plastic container with fruit pulp and liquid. At this time the fruit will contain a variety of organisms ready to grow. Sterilize the mixture by adding Campden tablets which consist of meta-bisulfite which releases sulfur dioxide when wet. The sulfur in addition to sterilizing, reduces oxidation and helps maintain the color of the wine. After about 24 hours the sulfur is recombined and contributes no flavor of its own. Then add the yeast starter and cover the plastic pail and must. Stir the fermenting must daily to distribute the fruit pulp evenly. The open fermentation and exposure to air helps establish a vigorous growth of yeast. After 6 or 7 days of open fermentation, strain the must through a sieve or cheese cloth and fill the primary fermentation container.

The primary fermentor most often used by the home wine maker is a glass gallon jug. This maybe readily sterilized and examined to check progress. An airlock is used to keep out unwanted air. These are usually made of plastic and consist of an inverted cup over a stem. The combination holds enough water so that carbon dioxide may escape by bubbling through the water. When the yeast is deprived of oxygen, it changes its method of growth, producing much more alcohol. New wine bubbling merrily in the jug is a beautiful sight. Fermentation will slow as the sugar is consumed and in two or three weeks will be essentially complete. It is not time to rack or bottle the wine.

The process of bottling wine can be given the dignity it deserves by the use of special wine bottles, corks and even foil and labels. However, you can just as well use soft drink bottles which have a screw top. Be sure the bottles are clean and free from odor or contaminants. Siphon the new wine into the bottles to minimize exposure to the air. Fill the bottle to the top. There will be a considerable sediment (lees) composed of yeast and residual particles of fruit at the bottom of the fermenter. Do not siphon too close to this sediment for this will develop off flavors if allowed to age with the wine. Let the wine age for about three months in a moderately cool and dark place. Rebottle the wine once again, avoiding the small amount of sediment sure to be present. Add 2 Campden tables per gallon of wine to sterilize and then seal the bottles permanently. Some wines are pleasant immediately, but others require as long as a year before they develop a good character.

Very often wine is fermented to dryness, and sugar is added later in the form of syrup to sweeten the wine to the individual taste. If this process is used, add Campden tablets to stop the fermentation which otherwise may start up again. Sometimes this secondary fermentation is deliberately encouraged to coax a greater alcohol content.

Wine recipes

A “wine” of sorts can be made with approximately two pounds (.9 kg) of sugar, yeast, nutrient and water to make up a gallon (3.8 L). Fermentation reduces the sugar and creates alcohol. The addition of fruits provide the flavor and aroma. There is a temptation to process whole fruit in a food blender as a short cut rather than peel it. This can introduce unwanted strong flavors from the skin. Some of the better wines also make use of judicious amounts of aromatic herbs and spices as well as fruit.

The recipes offered here are general and intended to stimulate the imagination. There is a good opportunity to create very fine wines from fresh fruit in season and from canned “rare” fruits in ready supply. Be aware, however, that much imported canned tropical fruit is of low quality. Most have a metallic taste from the can. If at all possible use fruit in bottles or fruit syrups.


2 lb fresh fruit or 20 oz canned fruit
2 lb sugar
1 teaspoon tannin
2 teaspoons citric acid
1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
wine yeast
water to 1 gallon liquid

If the fruit has a high pectin content (jells easily) it will be desirable to add 2 tablespoons of depectinizer to assist in breaking down the pulp. A mild flavored fruit may be used in greater quantities than one which has a strong flavor. There is nothing wrong with blends of compatible fruits, and indeed some of the best wines are blends. Bananas and raisins are particularly valuable since they give body to the wine without dominating the flavor.


3 lb raisins
1 lb sugar
juice of 2 lemons
water to 1 gallon

The raisins should be chopped or ground in a food blender with the lemon juice. Heat the sugar and water to boiling to dissolve and pour over the raisins. If a cup of raisin pulp is held out until the water cools, it will likely supply the natural yeasts needed to start fermentation. Let ferment in a primary fermentor for 6 to 7 days. Strain off the sediment and place in a secondary fermentor with an airlock for 1 to 2 weeks. When the fermentation has ceased and the wine has cleared, put into bottles and seal.

This is nothing more than “Jungle Juice” of World War fame, but the product is generally liked and the wine can be sampled immediately. A really superior wine can be made using raisin in more sophisticated recipes with a good yeast.


2 cans sliced or crushed pineapple (20 oz total)
1 1/2 lb sugar
2 teaspoons citric acid
1/2 teaspoon tannin
1/2 teaspoon yeast nutrient
wine yeast
water to 1 gallon

Finely chop the pineapple or put through a blender to assist in extraction. Dissolve the sugar in 2 quarts of boiling water. Allow to cool to near room temperature and add pineapple, juice from the can, tannin and nutrient. Add sufficient water to bring the total volume to one gallon. Add yeast starter, ferment and bottle as described above.


2 cans mandarin orange slices (20 oz total)
2 lb sugar
1/2 teaspoon citric acid
1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
wine yeast
water to 1 gallon

Crush or blend the orange segment with the juice in the cans. Dissolve the sugar in 2 quarts boiling water, add the citric acid, tannin and nutrient. Pour in the orange pulp and juice. Add water to make one gallon by volume. When the mixture is near room temperature, add yeast starter and ferment as described above.


2 cans papaya (20 oz total) or 2 lb. fresh fruit
2 lb sugar
2 teaspoons citric acid
1 teaspoon tannin
1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
2 tablespoons depectinizer
wine yeast
water to 1 gallon

Crush or blend the fruit saving the juice. Boil two quarts water with the sugar to make a syrup. Let cool to near room temperature and add tannin, citric acid, nutrient and depectinizer. Pour over the fruit pulp and juice. Add water to make one gallon by volume. Cover and store for one day at room temperature. This will allow the depectinizer to break down the fruit pulp and produce a better wine. Add the yeast starter and ferment as described above.


2 cans sliced mangos (20 oz total) or 2 lb. fresh fruit
2 lb. sugar
5 teaspoons citric acid
1 teaspoon tannin
2 tablespoons depectinizer
1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
wine yeast
water to 1 gallon

Prepare as for papaya wine. This makes a light golden table wine which is at its best as a dry wine.

Honey is especially good as a base for light wines with fruit flavors. The following recipes introduce the combination of honey and fruit in an ancient drink known as melomel.


43 to 46 oz grapefruit juice (canned or fresh)
2 lb mixed wildflower honey
1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
1/2 oz tartaric acid
wine yeast

Dissolve the honey in 3 pints of water and add grapefruit juice, tartaric acid and nutrient. Add two Campden tablets and sufficient water to make up 1 gallon of mixture. After 24 hours introduce a yeast starter. Ferment as describe above. This melomel has the characteristic bite of grapefruit, but the flavor blends very well with honey.


1 lb canned lychees
1 lb orange blossom honey
1 lb sugar
1/4 oz malic acid
1/2 teaspoon tannin
1 teaspoon yeast nutrient
sauternes yeast
water to 1 gallon

Dissolve the sugar and honey in 6 pints of water. Add lychees, nutrient, malic acid and tannin to make one gallon. Add two Campden tablets. After 24 hours add yeast starter to the pulp. Ferment three days. Strain off lychees and continue fermentation to dryness. Continue as described above.

Approximate metric unit conversion
1 lb = 0.45 kg
1 oz = 28 g
1 teaspoon = 5 ml
1 tablespoon = 15 ml
1 oz (fluid) = 30 ml
1 cup = 236 ml
1 pint = 473 ml
1 gallon = 3.8 L

Growing Rare Fruit From Seed

The information here was extracted with minor revisions from an article by John M. Riley that appeared in the 1981 CRFG Yearbook (vol. 13, 1981, pp.1-47). The full article contains important additional information on mechanisms of seed germination, propagation techniques, propagation media, container mixes and seed storage.  You can access the entire article by clicking here.

Seed Treatment Methods

Hot Water
This treatment consists of soaking the seed in hot water for a period of time. One procedure is to pour boiling water over the seed, using about four volumes of water to one volume of seed. The intent is a thermal shock which rapidly diminished to room temperature. Usually this is followed by moist cold storage. Most pathogens are destroyed at about 160° F (71° C). The treatment is a little tricky for home use, since most seed are killed at 178° F (81° C).
Sulfuric Acid Treatment
The acid attacks cellulose and is often recommended as a dramatic treatment for seed coat modification. For the home gardener, handling sulfuric acid may present some hazard.
Hydrogen Peroxide
This is commonly available in a 3% solution. It may be used in full strength for about 20 minute to disinfect seed and alter the seed coat. The peroxide may then be diluted in half with water and the seed soaked for up to 24 hours.
Sodium/Calcium Hypochlorite
This material is commonly available as ordinary laundry bleach. It effectively sterilizes and disinfects when used in a 10% solution. This can be prepared by added 1/4 cup bleach to 2 cups of water. Soak the seed for 20 minutes to sterilize and rinse thoroughly afterwards.
Alcohol and Other Solvents
Many volatile solvents, including grain alcohol have been mentioned as having an effect on seed germination. Quite possibly this results from softening waxy compounds in the seed coat which are not water soluble.
Gibberellic acid promotes germination in many seeds. It also helps overcome the tendency for some seedling to become dwarfed and to grow slowly after the harsh treatment used to initiate germination. Seed may be soaked with concentration of 100 to 1,000 ppm for 24 hours.
Natural growth hormones stimulate the germination of many kinds of seed by acting at the molecular level on biological processes. Many synthetic cytokinins are available from tissue culture supply houses, but since they must be kept at a low temperature to prevent decomposition, they are not available in garden supply centers. Soaking for three minutes in kinetin at concentration of 100 ppm has been recommended.
This gas occurs naturally in plants and has a number of biological effects, including the stimulation of seed germination. One of the chemicals available to gardener to generate ethylene is ethephon. Since gibberellins, cytokinins and ethylene are three dominant components in initiating germination, it is natural that they work best when applied together.
Potassium Nitrate
Many freshly harvested dormant seeds germinate better if soaked in a 0.2% potassium nitrate solution. Seeds should be soaked for no more than 24 hours and then rinsed well.
This has been used to stimulate germination of some dormant seeds, particularly those that do not germinate in darkness or at high temperatures. A water solution of 0.5 to 4% is recommended. Since thiourea is somewhat inhibitory to growth, the seeds should be soaked no longer than 24 hours and then rinsed well.
The most common vitamin supplement for plants is vitamin B1 (thiamine). Other vitamins of the B complex are also useful. Nicotinic acid (niacin) and ascorbic acid (vitamin C) have all been recommended.
Willow Tea
A tea made from willow bark contains a substance that enhances the actions of plant hormones and appears to stimulate germination. Soaking seed in willow tea for 24 to 48 hours is suggested.


The table that follows summarizes specific information useful for growing rare fruit from seed. Rare fruits (mostly those tried in California) are listed by their botanical names. Common names can be connected to their botanical names through the CRFG Fruit List.

Storage Life, in months, (assuming proper treatment) is listed in column two. The storage type (next column) is categorized as follows:

Seed should be maintained above 70° F (21° C) and not allowed to dry out before planting.
Seed should be dried to about 70% of harvest weight and stored a temperature of about 40° F (4° C).
Seed should be dried to below 50% of harvest weight and stored at room temperature or preferably 40° F (4° C).
Store seed with sufficient moisture to prevent drying out at about 40° F (4° C).

Dormancy Breaker, column four, indicates any special treatment to break dormancy. In each case the seed can profit from a 24-hour soaking before planting.

Seeds are made permeable to water by sanding, filing or nicking the seed coat.
Carefully crack or remove outer seed coating.
Soak seed 24 hours before planting.
After soaking 24 hours, pack the seed with moist sterile material and store for 30 to 60 days at 40° F (4° C).
Soak seed 24 hours and store moist for one or more seasons in the natural environment. Do not let seed dry out.
After soaking 24 hours, store above 70° F (21° C). Plant soon.
Soak seed for 24 hours and subject to periods of 40° F (4° C). Cycle several times if necessary.

Germination Period, column five, lists the time lapse between seedbed planting and emergence. Time required to break dormancy is not included. Times vary with cultivation and seed condition.

Hardiness (deg. F and C), column six. Values are approximate and are mostly taken from books which include the tropics, Florida and California. In a given situation, plant size, previous environment, health and chill factor can alter the response to a given temperature. There may also be significant differences in variants of the same species. The hardiness values listed are probably optimistic by about 5° F (2° C) for tropical fruit tree seedlings or young plants.

General Comments. A number following a symbol indicates the days of treatment required. A plus (+) after a number means the value may be exceeded. A temperature in parenthesis following the germination period indicates the minimum temperature (°F, °C) required for germination. The information on germination time is approximate and based largely on John Riley’s personal experience.


Botanical nameStorage life (mos.)Storage typeDormancy breakerGermination daysHardiness°F (°C)
     chinensis12+TDSC/CW14-2110 (-12)
     arguta12+TDSC/CW14-21-25 (-32)
     kolomikta12+TDSC/CW14-21-40 (-40)
     marmelo12+TISK/WMS14-2128 (-2)
     quinata24+TDMC14-2125 (-4)
     trifoliata24+TDMC14-2125 (-4)
     ainifoli8TDSC/MC14-21-50 (-45)
     occidental1WTMSK14-2130 (-1)
     cherimola24+TDSK14-2126 (-3)
     purpurea12+TISK14-2128 (-2)
     reticulata12+TISK14-2128 (-2)
     squamosa12+TISK14-2128 (-2)
     bunius12+TISK14-2126 (-3)
     dallachyanum12+TISK14-2126 (-3)
     platyphyllum12+TISK14-2128 (-2)
     unedo12-24TDMC3015 (-10)
     communis1WTMWMS7-2135 (3)
     integrifolia1WTMWMS7-2130 (-1)
     hypargyraeus1WTMWMS7-2130 (-1)
     triloba12+CMSC/MC30-90-25 (-32)
     bilimbi6TISK14-2128 (-2)
     carambola6TISK14-2128 (-2)
     cymosa24+TDMC14-210 (-12)
     scandens24+TDMC14-210 (-12)
     sapida3WTMWMS7-2130 (-1)
     goudotiana24+TDSK14-3028 (-2)
     monoica24+TDSK14-3028 (-2)
     papaya24+TDSK14-3030 (-1)
     pubescens24+TDSK14-3026 (-3)
     stipulata24+TDSK14-3028 (-2)
     toronchi24+TDSK14-3028 (-2)
     carandas12+TISK1624 (-5)
     edulis12+TISK1626 (-3)
     macrocarpa12+TISK1626 (-3)
     illinoiensis36-48TIMC30-10 (-23)
     edulis6TIR/SK14-2124 (-5)
     tetrameria6TIR/SK14-2128 (-2)
     dentata8CMMC28-10 (-23)
     pumila8CMMC28-10 (-23)
     siliqua60TDSC20-3020 (-8)
     peruvianus36TDlight3-1426 (-3)
     cainito6WTMWMS14-2128 (-2)
     aurantifolia12TISK14-2128 (-2)
     aurantium12TISK14-2128 (-2)
     limon12TISK14-2128 (-2)
     maxima12TISK14-2128 (-2)
     mitis12TISK14-2120 (-8)
     paradisi12TISK14-2125 (-4)
     reticulata12TISK14-2125 (-4)
     sinensis12TISK14-2125 (-4)
     lansium12TISK14-2125 (-4)
     uvifera12TDWMS14-2130 (-1)
     arabica6CMWMS14-2128 (-2)
     liberica6CMWMS14-2128 (-2)
     amonum24+TDCW14-210 (-18)
     mas24+TDCW14-210 (-18)
     americana12+CMCW10-30-15 (-26)
     avellana12+CMCW10-30-15 (-26)
     aestivalis24+TDSC/MC30-40-15 (-26)
     pubescens24+TDSC/MC30-40-15 (-26)
     tricuspidata36TDSC/ST14-21-20 (-29)
     oblonga8CMMC14-21-15 (-26)
     betacea24TDSK14-2128 (-2)
     digyna6WTMSK/WMS14-2128 (-2)
     discolor6WTMSK/WMS14-2128 (-2)
     kaki12+TISC/MC14-210 (-18)
     virginiana24-36TDSC/MC14-21-10 (-23)
     abyssinica24+TISK14-2125 (-4)
     caffra24+TISK14-2128 (-2)
     hebecarpa24+TISK14-2128 (-2)
     multiflora24+TISK/MC14-21-10 (-23)
     philippensis12+TISK14-2125 (-4)
     pungaens24+TISK/MC14-210 (-18)
     japonica8 daysCMMC14-2112 (-11)
     aggregata6TISK14-2120 (-8)
     brasilliensis6TISK14-2128 (-2)
     luschnathiana6TISK14-2128 (-2)
     uniflora6TISK14-2128 (-2)
     longan1WTMWMS16-3024 (-4)
     sellowiana24+TIMC14-2114 (-10)
     limonia12TISK14-2128 (-2)
     carica24+TISK14-2125 (-4)
     ramonchi12+TISK14-2128 (-2)
     japonica12TISK14-2110 (-12)
     margarita12TISK14-2110 (-12)
     mangostana1-2WTMSK/WMS14-2140 (4)
     xanthochymus2-4WTMSK/WMS14-2128 (-2)
     shallon12TDMC300 (-18)
     frondosa24+TDCW10-300 (-18)
     resinosa24+TDCW10-300 (-18)
     avellana6CMWMS14-2110 (-12)
     caffrum24+TIR14-2126 (-3)
     sabariffa36TDSK14-2128 (-2)
     dulcis24+TDSC/MC14-30-10 (-23)
     paterno6TISK14-2128 (-2)
     chinensis1WTMWMS16-3028 (-2)
     integrifolia24TISK14-3024 (-4)
     tetraphylla24TOSK14-3024 (-4)
     glabra6TISK14-2128 (-2)
     americana2-4WTMSK/WMS14-2128 (-2)
     indica2WTMR/SK14-2128 (-2)
     zapota24TDSK15-3028 (-2)
     bijugatus3TISK14-2128 (-2)
     alba24+TISC/ST14-21-20 (-29)
     nigra24+TISC/ST14-210 (-18)
     rubra24+TISC/ST14-21-10 (-13)
     calibura12+TISK/WMS14-2128 (-2)
     balbisiana12TISK/WMS14-2128 (-2)
     cauliflora6TISK14-2124 (-4)
     communis24+TDMC14-2125 (-4)
     alata3-6TISK14-2128 (-2)
     edulis3-6TISK14-2125 (-4)
     laurifolia3-6TISK14-2125 (-4)
     ligularis3-6TISK14-2128 (-2)
     molissima3-6TISK14-2125 (-4)
     quadrangularis3-6TISK14-2132 (0)
     americana 4 WTM WMS 14-21 22-28 (-6, -2)

     vera2-3TIR/SK14-2110 (-12)
     pinnata6WTMWMS14-2128 (-2)
     trifoliata12-24TISK14-210 (-18)
     campechiana6WTMWMS14-2130 (-1)
     sapota6WTMWMS14-2130 (-1)
     viride6WTMWMS14-2130 (-1)
     salicifolia24TISK14-2120 (-7)
     cattleianum12+TISK14-2125 (-4)
     guajava12TISK14-2128 (-2)
     granatum36TIMC14-3012 (-11)
     tomentosa12TISK14-2126 (-3)
     hirtellum 48+ TD MC 30 -30 (-35
     nigrum48+TDMC30-30 (-35)
     rubrum48+TDMC30-30 (-35)
     sativum48+TDMC30-30 (-35)
     uva-crispa 48+ TD MC 30 -30 (-35)

     deliciosa--TISK14-2128 (-2)
     caerulea24+TISC/MC30-20 (-28)
     canadensis24+TISC/MC30-20 (-28)
     racemosa24+TISC/MC30-20 (-28)
     koetjape36TDSK14-2126 (-3)
     argentea42+TDSC/MC30-60-20 (-28)
     chinensis12+TDSK5-7 (78/176; F, 26/176; C)15 (-10)
     quitoense24TDSK14-2128 (-2)
     topiru24TDSK14-2128 (-2)
     aucuparia24TDMC10-30-20 (-28)
     domestica24TDMC10-30-10 (-23)
     terminalis24TDMC10-30-10 (-23)
     dulcificum1WTMWMS7-2130 (-1)
     aromaticum2-6TISK14-2132 (0)
     cumini2-6TISK14-2128 (-2)
     jamabos2-6TISK14-2128 (-2)
     malaccense2-6TISK14-2128 (-2)
     paniculatum2-6TISK14-2128 (-2)
     indica6TISK14-2128 (-2)
     cacao1WTMSK7-14 (80/176; F, 27/176; C)30 (-1)
     molinae24+TISK14-2110 (-12)
     angustifolium120TIMC30-20 (-28)
     ashei120TIMC30-10 (-23)
     corymbosum120TIMC30-20 (-28)
     labrusca24+CMMC20-30-20 (-28)
     rotundifolia24+CMMC20-30-5 (-21)
     vinifera24+CMMC20-30-5 (-21)
     jujuba12-24TDR/SK14-21-20 (-28)
     mauritiana12-24TDR/SK14-2120 (-7)

Welcome to the website of the California Rare Fruit Growers!

The California Rare Fruit Growers (CRFG) is the largest amateur fruit-growing organization in the world. We specialize in fruit not native to nor grown commercially in any given area; but our breadth of knowledge and experience covers the environmentally sound culture of any and all edible plants.  What we have learned is exchanged on this website, in our magazine The Fruit Gardener, on field trips and at meetings of our 23 chapters (not all in California!).  There we get to go face to face with noted international horticultural researchers, commercial growers, and representatives from institutions of higher learning… not to mention our passionate fellow hobbyists.  In addition, we run the annual Festival of Fruit,  have photography contests, grant college scholarships,  and hold our famous scion exchanges. Come on in!  The fruit is fine.

Please note:  We are a non-profit organization. We are not a business and do not sell fruit or fruit trees. We do hold annual scion exchanges at our chapters’ January or February meetings, where CRFG members can exchange scion wood and learn how to graft it to their own fruit trees. The chapters also host public meetings to educate those interested in learning how to grow and propagate fruit.


Passion Fruit


Passiflora edulis / P. edulis flavicarpa


Common Names: Passion Fruit, Granadilla, Purple Granadilla, Yellow Passion Fruit

Related Species: Fragrant Granadilla (Passiflora alata), Red Granadilla (P. coccinea), Maypop (P. incarnata), Yellow Granadilla (P. Laurifolia), Sweet Granadilla (P. ligularis), Sweet Calabash (P. maliformis), Banana Passion Fruit (P. mollissima), Giant Granadilla (P. quadrangularis).

Origin: The purple passion fruit is native from southern Brazil through Paraguay to northern Argentina. It has been stated that the yellow form is of unknown origin, or perhaps native to the Amazon region of Brazil, or is a hybrid between P. edulis and P. ligularis. Cytological studies have not borne out the hybrid theory. In Australia the purple passion fruit was flourishing and partially naturalized in coastal areas of Queensland before 1900. In Hawaii, seeds of the purple passion fruit, brought from Australia, were first planted in 1880 and the vine came to be popular in home gardens.

Adaptation: The purple passion fruit is subtropical and prefers a frost-free climate. However, there are cultivars that can take temperatures into the upper 20’s (°F) without serious damage. The plant is widely grown in California as far north as San Jose, the Monterey Bay Area and the San Franciso Bay Area. The vines may lose some of their leaves in cool winters. The roots often resprout even if the top is killed. The plant does not grow well in intense summer heat. The yellow passion fruit is tropical or near-tropical and is much more intolerant of frost. Both forms need protection from the wind. Generally, annual rainfall should be at least 35 inches. Passion fruit vines make good container specimens but require maintenance. They perform well indoors.


Growth Habit: The passion fruit is a vigorous, climbing vine that clings by tendrils to almost any support. It can grow 15 to 20 ft. per year once established and must have strong support. It is generally short-lived (5 to 7 years).

Foliage: The evergreen leaves of passion fruit are alternate, deeply 3-lobed when mature and finely toothed. They are 3 to 8 inches long, deep green and glossy above, paler and dull beneath and, like the young stems and tendrils, tinged with red or purple, specially in the yellow form.

Flowers: A single, fragrant flower, 2 to 3 inches wide, is born at each node on the new growth. The bloom, clasped by 3 large, green, lifelike bracts, consists of 5 greenish-white sepals, 5 white petals and a fringelike corona of straight, white-tipped rays, rich purple at the base. It also has 5 stamens with large anthers, the ovary and triple-branched style forming a prominent central structure. Purple passion fruit is self-fruitful, but pollination is best under humid conditions. The flowers of the yellow form are perfect but self-sterile. Carpenter bees are the most efficient pollinator, much more so than honey bees. Wind is ineffective because of the heaviness and stickiness of the pollen. The flowers can also be hand pollinated.

Fruit: The nearly round or ovoid fruit, 1-1/2 to 3 inches wide, has a tough rind that is smooth and waxy and ranging in hue from dark purple with faint, fine white specks, to light yellow or pumpkin-color. Within is a cavity more or less filled with an aromatic mass of double walled, membranous sacs containing orange-colored, pulpy juice and as many as 250 small, hard, dark brown or black, pitted seeds. The unique flavor is appealing, musky, guava-like and sweet/tart to tart. The yellow form has generally larger fruit than the purple, but the pulp of the purple is less acid, richer in aroma and flavor, and has a higher proportion of juice (35-38%). Numerous hybrids have been made between purple and the yellow passion fruit, often yielding colors and other characteristic intermediate between the two forms. The vine, especially the yellow form, is fast-growing and will begin to bear in 1 to 3 years. Ripening occurs 70 to 80 days after pollination.


Location: Plant passion fruit vines in full sun except in very hot areas where partial shade is preferable. The vine can be rather rampant, so it is important to plant it next to a chain link fence or install a strong trellis before planting. The plants can also be trained into an attractive arbor.

Soil: Passion fruit vines grow on many soil types but light to heavy sandy loams with a pH of 6.5 to 7.5 are the most suitable. Excellent drainage is absolutely necessary. Also, the soil should be rich in organic matter and low in salts. If the soil is too acid, lime must be applied. Because the vines are shallow-rooted, they will benefit from a thick layer of organic mulch.

Irrigation: Regular watering will keep a vine flowering and fruiting almost continuously. Water requirement is high when fruits are approaching maturity. If the soil is dry, fruits may shrivel and fall prematurely.

Fertilization: Passion fruit vines are vigorous growers and require regular fertilizing. A good choice is 10-5-20 NPK applied at the rate of 3 pounds per plant 4 times a year. Too much nitrogen results in vigorous foliage growth at the expense of flowering. Passion fruit vines should always be watched for deficiencies, particularly in potassium and calcium, and of less importance, magnesium. Plants that have been damaged by frost should receive a generous fertilizing after the weather has warmed

Pruning: Pruning is necessary to keep the vines within bounds, to make harvest easier and to keep the plants productive by maintaining vigorous growth. In warm winter climates prune immediately after harvest. In areas with cool winters prune in early spring. As a a general rule remove all weak growth and cut back vigorous growth by at least one third. In very hot climates allow a thick canopy of foliage to grow around the fruit to prevent sunburn.

Frost Protection: Because of their mass, passion fruit vines are difficult to cover when freezes threaten, but the layers of leaves help protect the inner branches from frost damage. The plant will also usually come back even when frozen to the ground. The best strategy is to grow the vines against a wall or deck or in a patio. Any kind of overhead protection provides additional benefits.

Propagation: Passion fruit vines are usually grown from seeds. With the yellow form seedling variation provides cross-pollination and helps overcome the problem of self-sterility. Seed planted soon after removal from the fruit will germinate in 10 to 20 days. Cleaned and stored seeds have a lower and slower rate of germination. Seeds should be planted 1/2 to 1 inch deep in beds, and seedlings may be transplanted when 10 inches high. If taller (up to 3 feet), the tops should be cut back and the plants heavily watered.

Plants can also be propagated by layers or cuttings of matured wood with 3 to 4 nodes. Rooting may be hastened by hormone treatment. Cuttings should be well rooted and ready for setting out in 90 days. Grafting is an important means of perpetuating hybrids and reducing nematode damage and diseases by utilizing the resistant yellow passion fruit rootstock. Scions of healthy young plants are grafted to seedlings, making sure the diameter of the scion matches that of the rootstock. Either a cleft graft, whip graft or side-wedge graft may be made.

Pests and Diseases: In tropical areas passion fruit vines are attacked by a host of pests and diseases. In these areas the purple passion fruit is particularly susceptible to nematodes, while the yellow passion fruit is more nematode resistant. In California the problems are much less severe, although the plants can be afflicted with nematodes and viruses as well as Fusarium and other diseases that thrive in cool soils. Nematodes are partially responsible for the short life of many passion fruit vines. Snails can also be a serious problem in California, often completely stripping a vine of leaves and bark, killing young plants or predisposing them to disease.

Harvest: The fruit will quickly turn from green to deep purple (or yellow) when ripe and then fall to the ground within a few days. They can either be picked when they change color or gathered from the ground each day. To store passion fruit, wash and dry them gently and place them in bags. They should last 2 to 3 weeks at 50° F. The fruit is sweetest when slightly shriveled. Both the fruit and the juice freeze well. The flavor of passion fruit blends well with citrus and many other fruit flavors, and is quickly appreciated by many people as they become familiar with it.


Purple form

Black Knight
Developed in Massacusetts for pot culture by Patrick Worley. Fragrant, dark purple-black fruit, the size and shape of large egg. Flavor excellent. Vigorous, compact vine, self-fertile, very fruitful. Handsome glossy foliage. Excellent for containers.
Originated in Vista, Calif. Similar to Black Knight, but more vigorous, larger growing and with larger purple fruit. One of the best outdoor cultivars for Southern California.
Originated in Lincoln Acres, Calif. by Patrick Worley. Kahuna X Brazilian Golden. Large, nearly oval fruit, greenish-purple with reddish cast. Slightly tart flavor. Good for eating out of hand, excellent for juicing. Extremely vigorous, self-fruitful vine. Very productive, more compact than P. edulis flavicarpa.
Very large, medium purple fruit. Sweet, subacid flavor. Good for juicing. Vigorous, productive self-fertile vine. Produces over a long season. Large, attractive foliage.
Paul Ecke
Originated in Encinitas, Calif. Medium-sized purple fruit of very good quality. Suitable for juicing and eating out of hand. Compact, very productive vine.
Purple Giant
Very large fruit, dark purple when mature.
Red Rover
Originated in Lincoln Acres, Calif. by Patrick Worley. Kahuna X Brazilian Golden. Medium to large, roundish fruit. Rind an attractive clear red color. Sweet, notably rich flavor with tart overtones,. Good for eating out of hand or juicing. Vine very vigorous, compact and self-fertile.

Yellow form

Brazilian Golden
Large, golden-yellow fruits, larger than standard forms. Flavor somewhat tart. Extremely vigorous vine, requiring cross-pollination. Extra large, fragrant flowers, white with a dark center, blooming during mid-summer. Produces one large crop beginning in late August or early September.
Golden Giant
A large yellow-fruited cultivar that originated in Australia.


  • Morton, Julia F. Fruits of Warm Climates. Creative Resources Systems, Inc. 1987. pp. 320-328.
  • Ortho Books. All About Citrus and Subtropical Fruits. Chevron Chemical Co. 1985. pp. 66-68.
  • Popenoe, Wilson. Manual of Tropical and Subtropical Fruits. Hafner Press. 1974. Facsimile of the 1920 edition. pp. 241-245.
  • Samson, J. A. Tropical Fruits. 2nd ed. Longman Scientific and Technical. 1986. pp. 2291-295.
  • Vanderplank, John. Passion Flowers and Passion Fruit. MIT Press.1991. pp. 85-88.



© Copyright 1996, California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc.
Questions or comments? Contact us.

Miracle Fruit


Synsepalum dulcificum Daniell


Common Names: Miracle Fruit, Miracle Berry

Origin: Tropical west Africa.

Adaptation: Coming from hot, wet tropical lowlands, the plant is intolerant of frost and should be considered a container plant except in southern Florida and Hawaii. Older plants can survive a light frost but it is best to avoid it if possible. Miracle fruit is a marvelous conversation plant that does well in a container. Outdoors it is said to do best in partial shade.


Growth Habit: Miracle fruit is an evergreen bush or tree growing to 18 ft. in its native habitat, but rarely to 5 ft. otherwise.

Foliage: The plant has deep green, elongated leaves which grow in a spire-like habit. Both regular and large-leaf and a hairy-leaf form are known.

Flowers: The small 1/4 inch white flowers of miracle fruit are produced in flushes through many months of the year.

Fruit: The fruit is a small bright red, ellipsoid berry approximately 2 to 3 cm long and containing a single seed. Although not sweet itself, when a single fruit is eaten and the fleshy pulp allowed to coat the taste buds of the tongue and inside of the mouth, an extraordinary effect occurs. The fruit will now allow one to eat a slice of lemon or lime without wincing. The marvelous aroma and inherent sweetness of the citrus remains but the sourness is almost completely covered. The effect remains for some 30 minutes or more.


Location: As an indoor plant, provide the plant with bright light such as a well lit window. In the summer the plant can be moved with care to a warm, lightly shaded spot.

Soils: An acid soil is a must for miracle fruit. They prefer a soil acidity of pH 4.5 to 5.8. This can be achieved by planting in equal parts Canadian acid peat and pine bark. Also peat and perlite mixes are said to give excellent result. In the basic soils of California, the plants slowly die back until virtually only the stems remain. Allow the roots of the plant to fill the container before transplanting into a larger one.

Irrigation: Be sure that the soil is well draining as the plants do not like to sit in wet soils. Coming from a tropical climate they need highly humid conditions. When indoors, especially during the winter months, a small clear plastic bag put around the plant and supported by wood or a wire frame is helpful in maintaining humidity. Also, placing the plant container on a tray with stones on the bottom and filled with water to the top of the stones will add humidity to the local area. Misting the leaves with good water also helps.

Fertilization: Use a water soluble fertilizer such as Miracid and follow the label directions. Use sparingly with frequency dependent on the growing season, fertilizing more frequently during the summer months

Pruning: In general, there is no need to prune the miracle fruit plant.

Propagation: Propagation of miracle fruit is usually either by seed or cuttings. As the seed viability is short, plant the cleaned seed immediately just below the soil line When shipping cleaned seed for others to plant, package in a small plastic bag and enclose a slightly moistened toweling. Seed that are allowed to dry can be shipped for at least two weeks but rapidly loose their viability.

Pests and diseases: Watch for mealybugs, spider mites and other indoor potted plant pests. Waterlogged plant will succumb to root rot.

Commercial Potential: The plant is not important as a food crop. Attempts to exploit the striking effect on perception of sour flavors in development of artificial sweeteners have not been successful but are continuing.


A form with hairy leaves introduced into Florida from Africa some years ago. Small, oval, red fruits; larger than those of the common smooth-leaf type.


  • Facciola, Stephen. Cornucopia: a Source Book of Edible Plants. Kampong Publications, 1990. p. 202
  • Martin, Franklin W., Carl W. Campbell and Ruth Ruberte. Perennial Edible Fruits of the Tropics: an Inventory. U. S. Department of Agriculture, Agriculture Handbook no. 642, 1987.



© Copyright 1996, California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc.
Questions or comments? Contact us.



Artocarpus heterophyllus Lam.


Common Names: Jackfruit, Jakfruit, Jaca, Nangka.

Related Species: Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis), Breadnut (A. altilis ‘Seminifera’), Champedak (A. integer), Lakoocha (A. lakoocha), Marang (A. odoratissimus). Distant affinity: Figs (Ficus spp.), Mulberries (Morus spp.), African Breadfruit (Treculia african).

Origin: The jackfruit is believed indigenous to the rain forests of the Western Ghats of India. It spread early on to other parts of India, southeast Asia, the East Indies and ultimately the Philippines. It is often planted in central and eastern Africa and is fairly popular in Brazil and Surinam.

Adaptation: Jackfruit is adapted to humid tropical and near-tropical climates. Mature trees have survived temperatures of about 27° F in southern Florida, but these were frozen to large limbs. Young trees are likely to be killed at temperatures below 32° F. Unlike its relative, the breadfruit, the jackfruit is not injured by cool weather several degrees above freezing. There are only a dozen or so bearing jackfruit trees today in southern Florida, and these are valued mainly as curiosities. There are also several trees planted in the Asian exhibit at the San Diego Zoo. What they will do or how high they will grow remains a question. The tree is too large to make a suitable container-grown plant.


Growth Habit: The jackfruit tree is handsome and stately. In the tropics it grows to an enormous size, like a large eastern oak. In California it is very doubtful that it would ever approach this size. All parts contain a sticky, white latex.

Foliage: The leaves are oblong, oval, or elliptic in form, 4 to 6 inches in length, leathery, glossy, and deep green in color. Juvenile leaves are lobed.

Flowers: Male and female flowers are borne in separate flower-heads. Male flower-heads are on new wood among the leaves or above the female. They are swollen, oblong, from an inch to four inches long and up to an inch wide at the widest part. They are pale green at first, then darken. When mature the head is covered with yellow pollen that falls rapidly after flowering. The female heads appear on short, stout twigs that emerge from the trunk and large branches, or even from the soil-covered base of very old trees. They look like the male heads but without pollen, and soon begins to swell. The stalks of both male and female flower-heads are encircled by a small green ring.

Fruit: Jackfruit is the largest tree-borne fruit in the world, reaching 80 pounds in weight and up to 36 inches long and 20 inches in diameter. The exterior of the compound fruit is green or yellow when ripe. The interior consists of large edible bulbs of yellow, banana-flavored flesh that encloses a smooth, oval, light-brown seed. The seed is 3/4 to 1-1/2 inches long and 1/2 to 3/4 inches thick and is white and crisp within. There may be 100 or up to 500 seeds in a single fruit, which are viable for no more than three or four days. When fully ripe, the unopened jackfruit emits a strong disagreeable odor, resembling that of decayed onions, while the pulp of the opened fruit smells of pineapple and banana.

There are two main varieties. In one, the fruits have small, fibrous, soft, mushy, but very sweet carpels with a texture somewhat akin to a raw oysters. The other variety is crisp and almost crunchy though not quite as sweet. This form is the more important commercially and is more palatable to western tastes.


Location: The jackfruit tree should have a well-drained, frost-free location that is sunny and warm.

Soil: The jackfruit flourishes in rich, deep soil of medium or open texture. Planting on top of an old compost heap would be ideal. The faster one can force a tropical plant to grow, the better the chance of keeping it alive. The tree needs the best drainage and cannot tolerate “wet feet”.

Irrigation: The tree will not tolerate drought. Water frequently during warm months and warm periods in cooler months. Less water is necessary during colder weather.

Fertilization: The jackfruit’s requirements are not known, but frequent, weak solutions of all-purpose fertilizer will speed the plant’s growth without causing burn. In the regions where it is commonly grown, it succeeds without much care from man, the sole necessity being abundant moisture.

Frost protection: Although mature jackfruit trees will take several degrees of frost, it is prudent to provide young plants with overhead protection if possible and plant them on the south side of a wall or building. Small plants should be given complete protection with a covering on cold nights and even a light bulb if possible.

Propagation:Propagation is usually by seeds, which can be kept no longer than a month before planting. Germination requires 3 to 8 weeks. The seedlings should be moved when no more than 4 leaves have appeared. A more advanced seedling, with its long and delicate tap root is very difficult to transplant successfully. Cutting-grown plants and grafted seedlings are possible. Air-layering is common in India.

Pruning: Little or no pruning is required other than to remove any dead branches from the interior of the tree, so that sufficient light is obtained for the developing fruit.

Pests and diseases: A variety of pests and diseases afflict the jackfruit tree and fruit regions where it is commonly grown. In California the white fly is a minor pest.

Harvest: Jackfruits mature 3 to 8 months from flowering. When mature, there is usually a change of fruit color from light green to yellow-brown. Spines, closely spaced, yield to moderate pressure, and there is a dull, hollow sound when the fruit is tapped. After ripening, they turn brown and deteriorate rather quickly. Cold storage trials indicate that ripe fruits can be kept for 3 to 6 weeks at 52° to 55° F and relative humidity of 85% to 95%. Immature fruit is boiled, fried, or roasted. Chunks are cooked in lightly salted water until tender and then served. The only handicap is copious gummy latex which accumulates on utensils and hands unless they are first rubbed with cooking oil. The seeds can also be boiled or roasted and eaten similar to chestnuts. In Southeast Asia dried slices of unripe jackfruit are sold in the markets. The ripe bulbs, fermented and then distilled, produce a potent liquor.


In Malaysia and India there are named types of fruit. One that has caused a lot of interest is Singapore, or Ceylon, a remarkable yearly bearer producing fruit in 18 months to 2-1/2 years from transplanting. The fruit is of medium size with small, fibrous carpels which are very sweet. It was introduced into India from Ceylon and planted extensively in 1949. Other excellent varieties are Safeda, Khaja, Bhusila, Bhadaiyan and Handia. In Australia, some of the varieties are: Galaxy, Fitzroy, Nahen, Cheenax, Kapa, Mutton, and Varikkha. None of these appear to be available in the US at this time.


  • Morton, Julia F. Fruits of Warm Climates. Creative Resources Systems, Inc. 1987. pp. 58-63.
  • Popenoe, Wilson. Manual of Tropical and Subtropical Fruits. Hafner Press. 1974. Facsimile of the 1920 edition. pp. 414-419
  • Tankard, Glenn. Tropical Fruit: an Australian Guide to Growing and Using Exotic Fruits. Viking O’Neil. 1987. pp. 52-53.



© Copyright 1996, California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc.
Questions or comments? Contact us.

Growing Fruit Crops in Containers

Julian W. Sauls and Larry K Jackson

Florida Cooperative Extension Service
Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences
University of Florida
Fruit Crops Fact Sheet FC-57
Used with permission

People frequently want to grow some type of fruit tree in a container, usually because of poor soil, improper climate or lack of sufficient space as is often the case around apartments and condominiums. Fortunately, a wide variety of fruit trees can be grown in containers with some degree of success. However, such plants will rarely be as attractive or grow and fruit as well as those grown under optimal conditions in the ground.

One of the principal reasons for growing fruit trees in containers is portability. Thus, tropical and subtropical fruits can be grown in containers in areas where freezes might occur. The size and mobility of the containers allows the plants to be moved indoors during periods of predicated freezing temperatures. Many fruits which can be successfully grown in containers are listed in Table 1. Most will produce some fruit if given proper care. The list is by no means complete, as most fruit trees could be grown in containers if the size of the container were not a problem. [The wider availability of many types of dwarf fruit trees also greatly increases the choices that container gardeners have.]

Containers may be plastic, metal, clay, ceramic, wood or any others normally available at nurseries and garden supply stores. Used whisky barrels cut in half are excellent or wooden boxes may be built to order. The container should have adequate holes at the bottom for drainage of excess water.


The drainage holes of the container may be covered with pieces of screen mesh to prevent the soil from washing out. A layer of gravel 1-2 in. (2-5 cm) should be placed in the bottom of the container to facilitate drainage.

Any commercial potting soil should be suitable for growing fruit trees. However, a mixture of 1 part sand, 1 part peat and 1 part bark, perlite or vermiculite will also serve quite well. The potting medium should be loose enough to permit adequate but not excessive drainage.

Examine the root system of the plant. If it is pot-bound or has experienced severe root crowding in its previous container, judiciously prune some of the larger roots and loosen others to facilitate root proliferation in the new container.

The container should be partially filled with soil (large containers should be filled at the site they are expected to remain). Place the plant in the partially filled container of soil to its correct planting depth which is the depth at which the plant was previously grown. The final soil surface should be 1-4 in. (2-10 cm) below the rim of the container, in direct proportion to container size, to allow for watering.

Complete filling the container and firm the soil around the plant. Water thoroughly but do not fertilize until new growth commences. An attractive mulch of bark, gravel or other material can be added to improve the appearance of the container.


Most fruit crops grow best in full sunlight, but some will do well in partial shade. However, plants grow in direct proportion to the amount of light received, if other conditions are optimum, so container grown fruit trees should be placed where they will receive maximum sunlight.

It is important that rapid changes in light exposure be avoided, i.e. plants growing in partial shade should not be suddenly exposed to complete, direct sunlight. Any plants that are to be grown indoors part of the year should be acclimated by gradually reducing the light to which they are exposed for 2-23 weeks before moving them inside and vice versa for plants being moved outdoors. Such acclimation is not necessary for plants that are to be moved indoors for few days during freezes.


Tropical and subtropical fruit trees cannot tolerate freezing temperatures for very long. Some will be killed back to the soil by mild freezes while only small twigs will be killed on others. Some root damage can occur because the root system is not as well insulated from cold in a container as it would be in the ground.

Cold hardiness depends on the plant, the care it receives and many other factors. Protection from severe cold is essential for all tropical and subtropical fruits growing in containers. Plants may be covered temporarily with blankets, paper or other material as protection against hard freezes, but such material should be removed each morning to allow the plants to take full advantage of incoming solar radiation. Plants moved indoors during cold spells should be placed away from drafts caused by doors and heating ducts.


Most container grown plants that do not thrive are usually in poor condition due to faulty watering practices, usually overwatering. Plants growing in containers should be watered only as needed. The frequency of watering depends upon such variables as type and size of plant, type and size of container, temperature, humidity, potting medium and other factors. For most plants, the upper surface of the soil should be allowed to become dry to the touch before watering. Then water thoroughly by slowly filling the container. Good drainage of excess water from the container is essential.

The soil in plastic, metal and ceramic containers generally stays wet longer than it does in wood or clay containers, which allow water to evaporate through the sides. Cool weather generally slows plant growth and this reduces the plant’s need for moisture, so watering should be less frequent during cool weather.


Good nutrition is essential to the success of container-grown fruit trees, but excess fertilizer can result in overgrowth, poor fruit and possible dieback due to salt accumulation. Water-soluble fertilizers are widely available and should be used according to label directions. If mature foliage is deep green in color, adequate fertilizer is being used.

Many fertilizers can be used successfully, provided they are complete and balanced. The fertilizer should contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in balanced proportions and should include lesser amounts or traces of magnesium, iron, manganese, zinc and copper. The ingredients and quantities of each nutrient contained are listed on the fertilizer label.

Salt accumulation may sometimes be a problem and is often indicated by a white crust on the soil or container and may be due to excess fertilization and/or water containing considerable soluble salts. Should this occur, the container should be thoroughly leached by slowly running water through the container for several minutes. This will carry excess salts down through the soil and out the drainage holes.


With few exceptions, fruit trees will develop and maintain their natural shape with little or no training or pruning. They will occasionally become “leggy” when grown indoors or in poor light for too long. Leggy branches should be partially cut back to force branching and bushiness.

Frequently, the top will grow rather large and begin to exceed the capability of the root system. Consequently, some leaf shed and twig dieback will often occur. Such plants should be pruned back heavily to rejuvenate them. When plants area heavily pruned, less fertilizer and water will be necessary to compensate for the reduced plant size.


Most fruit crops will produce fruit in containers, given time, good care and adequate size and age. However, naturally large fruit trees will require larger containers to bear much fruit, as the amount of fruit produced is proportional to the plant’s size, so large yields should not be expected. Many fruit plants need to be large in order to fruit at all, so their size can quickly become limiting in containers. Many fruit crops also require the presence of pollenizer cultivars and pollinating insects. Flowers can be pollinated by hand.

It must be emphasized that even under the best of conditions, fruit production in containers will not equal the quantity produced on trees in the ground, as fruit trees grown in containers are usually growing under sup-optimal conditions.

Tropical fruits
Avocado Jaboticaba
Banana Kei apple
Capulin cherry Miracle fruit
Cattley guava Natal plum
Ceylon gooseberry Papaya
Coffee Pineapple
Guava Pitanga
Grumichama Pitomba
Citrus fruits
Grapefruit (dwarf)
Key lime
Orange (dwarf)
Temperate fruits
Apple (dwarf)
Stonefruit (dwarf)

Table l. Some fruit crops which can be successfully grown in containers.
Tree size will normally be limited by the size of the container.

California Rare Fruit Growers, Inc.
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Fruit Cultural Data — O


Chill Hours between 32°F and 45°F, less hours above 65°F
Water D = dry, W = wet, M = medium
Genus Species Common Name Harm Kill Chill Water Soil/pH
Olea africana Wild Olive
Oncoba spinosa Fried Egg Tree
Opuntia ficus-indica Indian Fig -45°F 100-500 D
Osmanthus fragrans Sweet Olive

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Fruit Cultural Data — Z


Chill Hours between 32°F and 45°F, less hours above 65°F
Water D = dry, W = wet, M = medium
Genus Species Common Name Harm Kill Chill Water Soil/pH
Zamia integrifolia Coontie 10°F 5°F
Zanthoxylium piperitum Japanese Pepper Leaf
Zingiber officinale Ginger 32°F -10°F W
Ziziphus jujuba Jujube, Chinese Date -30°F low W/D >=7.0
Ziziphus mauritiana Indian Jujube 25°F
Zizyphus mucronata Buffalo Thorn
Zizyphus vulgaris Chinese Date Palm




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