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berries Dr. Charlie Mitchell is this week’s Backyard Wisdom guest.  While his day job is as a soil scientist, Charlie is a certified Alabama Master Gardener and he’s passionate about growing fruits and vegetables.  In this week’s podcast, Charlie and I discuss the importance of doing your homework before you purchase fruit plants to add to your landscape. You can listen to our conversation here.  If you prefer an iTunes version, you can download it here.

One thing that he and I have both noticed that all too frequently the fruit plants and trees that will be offered in many large scale retail outlets are not well suited for growing in Alabama.  The heat and humidity of Alabama summers create a challenging environment so it’s vital to plant those varieties or species best suited to our state.

For example, blueberries are an incredibly easy to grow fruit.  But to be successful in Alabama, you need to plant rabbiteye blueberry varieties not highbush types. 

IMG_9052 Some fruits’ varieties are very limited in where they can be successfully grown, while others may be widely adapted. In addition, varieties that are adapted for the area's climate have a better chance of success. Make certain that the area where the fruit plant is to be grown receives at least the level of chilling characteristic of the variety. In other words, a variety of apple that requires 1,000 hours of chilling should not be planted in an area that receives only 850 hours or less. It is just as important to avoid planting low-chilling tree fruit and blueberry selections in a high-chilling area. For example, a 400-hour peach variety should not be planted in central Alabama. This variety will flower early and lose its crop because of freezes.