Barbados cherry have are sought after primarily because of their unusually high vitamin C content. Though not popular commercially, it is popular for home gardeners. Unlike other cherry tree varieties it will fruit in warm climates, most cherry trees need 100’s if not 1000 hours of cold to properly ripen. It will start to produce beautiful pinkish red flowers through to fall in the south. You can expect to be picking quarter sized cherries right until November. But can produce up to 5 crops in any given year given it is well cared for and has the right water and soil conditions.
There are only a couple of used types of Barbados cherry trees, the Florida Sweet and B-17 varieties. They are difficult to grow from seed to a tasty fruit, so it is better to look for a clone or graft from existing trees to ensure you get cherries you will actually want to eat. Another method to grow new plants is by air layering, a very simple technique uses a branch from an existing tree to grow a new one. The Florida Sweet, as its name implies is sweet while the B-17 is more acidic, giving it more vitamin C and have bigger fruit.
Since the Barbados cherry tree is a tropical tree, is doesn’t take cold very well. Grow in central Florida and south. They will grow well in various soil type but make sure the soil drains well to prevent against disease. The best time to plant or attempt to grow a new one from an existing tree is in the spring just before the heavy rainy season in Florida. If you are planting a number of them, allow fifteen feet of space between each as they do spread out quite wide.
As with most trees the use of mulch will help in weed control, preserving moisture, and reducing damage from pests. Fertilize at least 4 times per year starting using one quarter to a half pound of 6-6-6-3 for a year old tree. If you have planted before the raining season the water provided naturally with be enough. During the drier fall and winter months you will need to provide water to properly allow it to grow.
Pruning should be done in the fall. Be sure to cut any dead or diseased areas. Of course pruning is as much an art as it is for tree health, so trimming it to fit the look you like or landscape format. You should avoid pruning during the spring as this could hurt the production output. If you have other fruit trees than you probably are familiar with the various types of pests that attack your trees, keep an eye of the tree and spray accordingly with an organic pesticide or herbicide.
You will need to wait for year two to produce a decent amount of cherries with every year the yield increasing. For the home gardener, picking frequently is not unusual but necessary as you never know when fruit will drop. The time between almost done and done is very short, cherries don’t keep well once rip on the cluster. So be sure to pick as they are ready to avoid waste.
Barbados cherry trees have a great number of uses. The tree itself is beautiful enough to be used in landscape plans. Many are familiar with eating ripe cherries but cherries also make for good pie, jams, preserves, jams, and even wine. With an extra high dose of vitamin C, Barbados cherries make for a great addition for any home gardener.