Continuing with this month’s theme, I’d like you to consider adding edible fruiting shrubs, vines, and trees to your landscape. In the previous entry, I mentioned “cross-over” edibles—vegetables, herbs, and fruits that offer sustenance and beauty. In the Southeast, we have several cross-over fruiting plants that can be tucked into flower beds and shrub borders in well-drained, full sun locations. I prefer species that are well-adapted to the South (even native), low maintenance, and re resistant to pests (insects and diseases). A few of my favorites that I’ll discuss in more detail in future entries this month are blackberry, blueberry, pawpaw, fig, persimmon, pomegranate, pineapple guava, and muscadine grapes.
In your consideration of edible species and cultivars, consider the appropriate chill-hour requirements for your region. Chill hours are the number of hours below 45 degrees F accumulated by temperate fruiting plants during the winter to overcome dormancy. Cultivars that were developed for the northeastern U.S. or for Florida may have chilling requirements that are too high or too low, respectively, and will perform poorly for you. In my home state of South Carolina, the Upstate (Foothills and Mountains) typically accumulates 1,000-2,000 chill hours per year. The central Midlands normally receives 700-900 chill hours. The Coastal Plain and Coast may average as few as 400-600 hours. Georgia gardeners (I’m writing in Savannah) can calculate the chill hours accumulated in their region.
By simply choosing the right fruiting plants and planting them in the right location, you can create an edible landscape that tastes as good as it looks.