West Central Florida’s warm and sunny climate provides an ideal environment for cultivating a variety of edible plants. One underused tropical shrub that not only flourishes in this region but also adds a burst of flavor to your landscape is the Barbados Cherry (Malpighia glabra). Barbados Cherries, also known as Acerola, can be an attractive and productive addition to your home garden in West Central Florida.
The Barbados Cherry is native to the Caribbean and well-suited to Florida’s subtropical climate. The slow growing shrubs grow to a mature height of 10-12 feet and flower sporadically from April to October. The small, vibrant red fruits produced pack a powerful punch of vitamin C and other antioxidants, making them not only a tasty treat but also a healthful addition to your diet. If you are looking to enhance your landscape or grow an edible delight, the Barbados Cherry stands out as a versatile and visually appealing option.
Planting and Soil Conditions: When planning to grow Barbados Cherries, selecting the right location is crucial. These plants thrive in well-draining soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH. West Central Florida’s sandy soil can be amended with organic matter to improve fertility and water retention. Plant your Barbados Cherry in an area that receives ample sunlight, as they require full sun to produce an abundance of fruit.
Watering and Maintenance: While Barbados Cherries are relatively low-maintenance, proper watering is essential, especially during dry spells. A regular watering schedule, ensuring the soil stays consistently moist but not waterlogged, will contribute to healthy plant growth and fruit production. Mulching around the base of the plant helps retain moisture and suppress weeds.
Pruning and Shaping: To encourage a well-shaped and productive Barbados Cherry tree, occasional pruning is beneficial. Remove dead or crowded branches to improve air circulation and light penetration. Shaping the tree when it’s young can also contribute to a more aesthetically pleasing and manageable size for your landscape.
Harvesting the Bounty: One of the most rewarding aspects of growing Barbados Cherries is the bountiful harvest. The fruits ripen quickly, typically turning from green to a bright red hue. Harvest them when fully ripe for the sweetest and most flavorful experience. Barbados Cherries can be enjoyed fresh, added to salads, or turned into delicious jams and beverages.
Header photo: Eric Gaba – Wikimedia Commons user: Sting
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