The Ultimate Guide to Growing Breadfruit Trees

The Ultimate Guide To Growing Breadfruit Trees: Two Immature Breadfruits hanging on a tree

If you are interested in growing breadfruit trees, then you’ve come to the right place!

Unlike my mango and avocado grow guides, where there is a lot of established data to pull from, I have found very little practical information online for someone like me who wants to attempt to grow breadfruit in Florida.

So, I decided to buy a breadfruit tree and document my own first-hand experiences.

A Young Ma'afala Breadfruit in a container
My Ma’afala Breadfruit Tree!

Additionally, I went out and conducted exclusive interviews with tropical fruit experts who collectively have a ton of invaluable experience with breadfruit cultivation and care.

The end result is this guide, ‘The Ultimate Guide to Growing Breadfruit Trees.’

And while the information contained within this guide can be applied to wherever breadfruit trees can be grown, this ultimate guide will have a particular focus on growing breadfruit trees in Florida (where I am located).

A mature Ma'afala Breadfruit hanging on a tree, ready to be harvested
Image Credit: Grimal Grove

Furthermore, I also plan to continue documenting my first hand observations of growing breadfruit trees (from tree delivery to present) in Central Florida, Zone 10A at the bottom of this guide.

Warning: There is A LOT of information on this page. It’s not called the ‘Ultimate Guide to Growing Breadfruit Trees’ for nothing 🙂 That said, all the information on this page is practical and to the point.

So, whether you are here to get a quick answer or wanting to learn everything you can about growing breadfruit trees in Florida, please use the table of contents below to jump to whatever you care about the most 🙂

NoteTropicalTreeGuide.com is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, I may earn an affiliate commission. As an Amazon & Fast-Growing-Trees.com Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Meet The Experts

Before we dive in, I want to give a special ‘Thank You’ to the following experts for doing exclusive interviews with TropicalTreeGuide.com and heavily contributing to this guide:

Patrick Garvey, Owner & Operator of Grimal Grove

Patrick Garvey is the Owner & Operator of Grimal Grove, a 2 acre property in Big Pine Key, Florida that was originally designed by Adolf Grimal, an avid tropical fruit explorer. Despite the property having its fair share of struggles (i.e. destroyed by hurricanes, overgrown with invasive trees, vandalized and trashed, etc.), Patrick has worked relentlessly to bring Grimal Grove back to its former glory. After Hurricane Irma dealt yet another blow to Grimal Grove in 2017, Patrick repurposed part of the property to be the first breadfruit grove in the continental United States.

Mike McLaughlin, CoFounder of the Trees That Feed Foundation


Mike McLaughlin (along with his wife Mary) are the co-founders of the Trees That Feed Foundation, a non-profit whose mission “is planting fruit-bearing trees to feed people, create jobs, and benefit the environment.”
While the Foundation donates a variety of different fruit trees to those in need, they have a special fondness for breadfruit, due to the both tree’s pest and disease resistance in addition to the tree’s ability to produce a sizable and sustainable source of food. Since 2008, the Trees That Foundation has donated over 300K breadfruit trees to 20+ countries.

Jonathan Crane PhD, Associate Center Director, Professor, and Tropical Fruit Crop Specialist at the University of Florida

Jonathan Crane PhD, Associate Center Director, Professor, and Tropical Fruit Crop Specialist at the University of Florida


Jonathan Crane PhD is an Associate Center Director, Professor, and Tropical Fruit Crop Specialist at the University of Florida. Dr. Crane’s education has spanned both Horticultural Science and Soil Microbiology. Dr Crane has been working with tropical fruits (i.e. extension, research) and horticultural management systems since 1987. Today, the majority of Dr. Crane’s work includes collaborative research with other researchers, horticulturalists, plant physiologists, entomologists, plant pathologists, hydrologists, soil scientists and agricultural economists.

Russell Fielding, PhD – Associate Professor at Coastal Carolina University


Russell Fielding PhD is an Associate Professor at Coastal Carolina University and a Principal Investigator with the Nippon Foundation Ocean Nexus at the University of Washington. Dr Fielding has degrees in computer science and environmental geography with an emphasis/focus on sustainable fruit production practices, particularly in the Caribbean. Since 2018, Dr Fielding has traveled to various countries/territories in the Pacific and Caribbean studying breadfruit. In 2022, Dr. Fielding published a detailed paper evaluating the current state of breadfruit cultivation in Florida.

Why Grow Breadfruit?

Breadfruit is much more than just a beautiful tropical tree.

In fact, here is what Mike had to say about growing breadfruit trees:

We plant many types of fruit trees. However, we like breadfruit the best because it is a staple, energy rich food, similar in many ways to wheat or rice. Breadfruit contains carbohydrates, fiber, protein, vitamins and minerals with a medium glycemic index and is also gluten free. Additionally, once established, breadfruit trees bear prolifically and is very resistant to pests, diseases and fungi.

Mike McLaughlin

However, to really appreciate breadfruit’s nutritional value, using data from Diane Ragone (Director Emeritus, Breadfruit Institute at National Tropical Botanical Garden) and the United States Department of Agriculture’s National Nutrient Database, let’s compare breadfruit’s nutrient density to potatoes, white bread and white rice:

A data visualization comparing Breadfruit's nutrient density relative to Potatoes, White Bread and White Rice

Additionally, according to the Hawaii Department of Agriculture:

100 g of breadfruit (approximately ½ cup) provides 25% of the RDA for fiber, and 5–10% of the RDA for protein, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, thiamine (B1), and niacin (B3). Breadfruit also provides some carotenoids, such as β-carotene and lutein, which are not present in white rice or white potato.

So, if you are looking to grow a very nutrient dense fruit, breadfruit is an excellent choice.

Four ripe and freshly harvested Ma'afala breadfruit
Image Credit: Grimal Grove

Growing Breadfruit Trees in Florida (Overview & Statistics)

Addressing the Elephant in the Room

Before really diving into the meat and potatoes (or should I say, breadfruit? 😉) of breadfruit tree care and cultivation, I think it would be valuable to spend a few moments addressing the elephant in the room:

Can you even grow breadfruit in Florida?

And the answer to that question is “Yes, but with some very important caveats.”

While we will dive deeper into breadfruit’s formal climate requirements in a little bit, the truth is that there are very few places in Florida where one can just plant a breadfruit tree and have the tree grow without any further assistance (they are not like mangos or avocados where you can just ‘set it and forget it’.)

Brand new leaf growth on a mature ma'afala breadfruit tree
Image Credit: Grimal Grove

In other words, if you want to successfully grow a breadfruit tree in Florida, it will 100% require work on your end. I am saying this not to discourage anyone, but rather to tamper one’s expectations. Growing breadfruit trees in Florida will take more time and energy than your traditional tropical fruit tree.

However, before getting discouraged, I want to share a quote that Dr. Russell Fielding made during our interview:

When it comes to growing breadfruit as a crop in Florida, the map hasn’t been drawn. We are in the age of experimentation.

Knowing this, if you are still willing to give it a shot (my hat’s off to you), then this ‘Ultimate Guide‘ will provide you with a working framework for how to successfully grow breadfruit trees in Florida.

A large and mature breadfruit tree in Puerto Rico

Some Hopeful Statistics Regarding Breadfruit Trees in Florida

Whether you are still skeptical about growing breadfruit trees in Florida or just want some more proof that it can actually be done before investing a ton of time and energy, I don’t blame you.

Fortunately, I’m happy to report that such concrete data does exist, courtesy of my friend Dr. Fielding.

A male and female flower on a Ma'afala Breadfruit Tree.
Image Credit: Grimal Grove

Between reading his published research (No Longer “Confined to the Lower Keys of Florida” : Mainland United States Cultivation of Breadfruit (Artocarpus altilis) in a Changing Climate) in addition to doing an hour long interview that consisted of asking a lot of follow-up questions, Dr. Fielding was able to provide some deeply valuable insights into how breadfruit trees perform across various counties in Florida.

And here were three valuable statistics that Dr. Fielding shared that really stood out to me:

Insight #1 – How Long Florida Growers have been Growing Breadfruit Trees

13% ( <1 year)
33% (1 – 5 years)
20% (6 – 10 years)
27% (>10 years)

Insight #2 – Breadfruit Trees That Have Successfully Fruited Outside the Florida Keys

47% of Breadfruit Trees outside Monroe County (The Keys) have successfully fruited.

Insight #3 – Average Age of Breadfruit Trees Grown in Miami-Dade County

The average age of breadfruit trees grown in Miami-Dade County was 7.6 years old.

A mature ma'afala breadfruit tree that is loaded with fruit
Image Credit: Sow Exotic

Basic Requirements for Growing Breadfruit Trees

Breadfruit Tree Climate Requirements

Breadfruit is considered an ultra tropical tree that can be grown in USDA Hardiness Zones 11B+

If you don’t know what your USDA Hardiness Zone is, you can input your zip code into the USDA’s Hardiness Zone Map (they recently changed in 2023). I have also included the latest and greatest map below:

And while the USDA Hardiness Map is a good start, we can get even more granular.

The National Tropical Botanical Garden (NTBG) actually developed a nifty tool called the ‘Global Breadfruit Suitability Tool’ that uses multiple environmental factors to determine whether a location is potentially suitable for growing breadfruit trees.

Using this tool, and zooming into Florida, we can see where breadfruit can potentially be grown:

And while this valuable tool gets us even closer to understanding where breadfruit can be grown, it is still purely a suitability index.

What would be really amazing is if we had real life examples across the state of Florida.

And as you’ve probably guessed, we do have concrete examples to look at, courtesy of Dr. Fielding in conjunction with the American Association of Geographers:

When looking at this map, I want to focus on two particular insights that Dr. Fielding was able to gather:

The northernmost breadfruit tree in Florida that has fruited, according this study, grows at latitude 26.7°N in Loxahatchee Groves.

As well as:

Breadfruit currently grows outdoors and without cold protection, in at least six Florida counties. The geographical range is likely to expand both northward and inland as average temperatures rise and extreme cold events become less frequent, causing the temperate zones of Florida to “tropicalize.”

With this data in mind, in addition to relying on his environmental geography background, I asked Dr. Fielding to speculate where he believes the northernmost latitude to grow breadfruit trees outdoors (in-ground) successfully was.

To which Dr. Fielding replied:

Terra Ceia, Florida is a very good place to watch. Not only is it protected by the land around it, but it is also surrounded by the water, sheltering potential trees from destructive storms. What the gulf coast lacks in the temperature advantage of growing breadfruit trees is made up for being more sheltered relative to other barrier islands on the Atlantic side.

A mature breadfruit tree in Puerto Rico producing fruit

Zooming out from specific locales where breadfruit is currently cultivated or could potentially thrive, let’s now hear from Dr. Jonathan Crane on the climate requirements required for growing breadfruit trees:

  • Year round temperatures averaging above 65°F – 68°F (best adapted to temps from 68°F – 104°F)
  • Relative humidity above 60% – 70% (below 60% humidity is like ‘desert conditions’ for breadfruit)
  • Nominally distributed rainfall of 80” to 100” per year
  • Full Sun (6+ hours a day)

Additionally, Dr. Crane further elaborates on the consequences for a breadfruit tree that consistently fails to experience its essential climate conditions:

Breadfruit is a tropical tree. With many tropical fruits, once the temperatures start getting below 60°F, the trees are not actively photosynthesizing. Instead, they are in a sort of suspended animation during that period. So, you run into this problem where when the temperatures are not in the 40s and are just below the 60’s, the tree is not doing anything… it’s just existing and burning up carbohydrates for energy to live. 

And while an area’s average annual temperature is crucial, it’s equally important to consider the extreme minimum temperatures specific to our location.

That is because even if our location is generally ‘tropical all year round,’ the possibility of an extended cold snap with temperatures dropping into the 30s or 40s can significantly impact our breadfruit trees, potentially leading to dieback or even tree death.

Two immature and unripe ma'afala breadfruits hanging from the tree
Image Credit: Grimal Grove

And when I asked Dr. Crane to speculate how a large, mature breadfruit tree might perform under certain prolonged ‘cold snap’ situations, he provided the following insight:

Assuming a one off cold snap of 30°F for 1-2 hours, the tree may be severely damaged but survive. If the same cold snap were to happen four or five times in a season, the tree has a much greater likelihood of dying. Additionally, if the tree is consistently experiencing long stretches of temperatures in the low 40’s, it is most likely going to die.

So now that we have a solid grasp of the climate needed to grow breadfruit in Florida, let’s now shift our focus to the tree’s other essential requirements: soil and water.

Breadfruit Tree Soil Requirements

All four of our experts concurred that breadfruit trees flourish in well-draining sandy loam soil enriched with abundant organic matter. They all also recommended a preferred soil pH range of 6.0 to 7.5 for optimal growth.

Florida's native sandy soil is perfect for growing breadfruit trees

And while breadfruit trees will obviously grow better in soils that have been amended and/or is fertile, what I found particularly interesting is that breadfruit trees also seem to thrive even when grown in calcareous or coralline soils that have a drastically high pH (think 8+). Although, this shouldn’t be too surprising given the fact that breadfruit’s native habit includes growing in the coral atolls of the south pacific.

Even Patrick Garvey mentioned that his 26 breadfruit trees in Big Pine Key, Florida don’t seem to mind:

Our breadfruit trees do fine in our South Florida high alkaline soil (the leaves are dark green and we get fruit!), the high pH soil doesn’t really impact production at all.

A breadfruit tree's canopy full of large breadfruit
Image Credit: Sow Exotic

In other words, breadfruit trees are extremely versatile and can easily adapt to the various types of soil found throughout the state.

However, as Dr. Crane points out, we should still observe how our individual trees react to our specific location’s soil mixture:

While breadfruit does tolerate a wide range of pH, you will have more susceptibility to minor element deficiencies (manganese, zinc, iron, boron) in high PH soils. That can be overcome by spraying minor elements on the tree, or with Iron specifically, applying a chelated iron to the root system.

Dr. Crane

And if your soil is more alkaline, you’ll want to use sulfur to lower your soil’s pH. On the other hand, if your soil is more acidic, you’ll want to use lime to raise your soil’s pH.

Alternatively, if you are interested in growing breadfruit trees in containers, I outline my recommended soil mixture in the “How to Grow Breadfruit Trees in Containers” section of this guide.

A large and mature breadfruit tree in Puerto Rico with a single fruit on the tree

Breadfruit Tree Water Requirements

The most effective way to water breadfruit trees is by deep watering” at longer intervals and allowing the soil to dry out in between waterings

A simple and effective trick to knowing whether or not your breadfruit tree needs water or not is by sticking your finger a few inches deep into the soil. If the soil feels moist, then your breadfruit tree doesn’t need to be watered. If you don’t want to get your fingers dirty all the time, you can also opt to use a moisture meter

Additionally, breadfruit trees are very good about telling us when they need more water: If the leaves are wilting, then the tree definitely needs water!

A wilting breadfruit tree leaf due to lack of water

And as Mike, who has been directly and indirectly involved in planting over 300,000 breadfruit trees in his lifetime pointed out, this is especially crucial when the trees are very young:

One of the most common mistakes we’ve seen with farmers is lack of water; young trees need a minimum of 30 – 40 inches of water a year. When trees are first planted from pots, they are very delicate… don’t fertilize, just water water water. This is the magic formula.

Therefore, at a minimum, newly planted breadfruit trees should be watered every 1 – 2 days for the first three months.

A wilting breadfruit tree leaf due to lack of water

And once a breadfruit tree flushes new foliage growth, it is considered established. That said, young breadfruit trees would still benefit from being watered several times a week for the first few years of their lives. This is especially important for areas that are currently experiencing drought conditions.

On the other hand, when it comes to growing more mature breadfruit trees, this is what Patrick had to say:

The secret to good breadfruit production is early morning waterings and lots of mulch. Breadfruit typically loves 80 – 120 inches of rain a year. Something the Keys does not get. We get about 35 inches. Even so, we have fruit production that is comparable to Hawaii and I think that has a lot to do with our emphasis on mulching heavily and focusing on water retention.

At the end of the day, it’s essential to remember that breadfruit trees are ultra-tropical with large, extremely thin leaves that experience higher rates of transpiration (water loss). While overwatering can be harmful, it’s crucial to consistently consider the significant water needs that these trees require to thrive.

A wilting breadfruit tree leaf due to lack of water

Florida’s Defacto Breadfruit Cultivar: Ma’afala

You have to really work to get a non-ma’afala tree in Florida.”

Dr. Fielding

For those who don’t know, Ma’afala is a cultivar of breadfruit with origins in Samoa and Tonga. What makes Ma’afala special is that the tree has a shorter and more compact canopy relative to other cultivars of breadfruit.

Therefore, Ma’afala’s denser canopy offers a major benefit: the more compact/dense canopy can better withstand the cold because their thick layer of leaves acts like a natural blanket, trapping heat and protecting the tree from chilly winds, much like how a heavy coat keeps a person warm in the winter.

Mature and ripe breadfruit in the canopy of a large ma'afala breadfruit tree
Image Credit: Grimal Grove

And this isn’t just a theory. Mike has seen anecdotal evidence of Ma’afala’s compact canopy providing a slightly increased cold tolerance:

We’ve found the Ma’afala variety to be more cold tolerant (down to 40 deg. F). We have practical experience with this and believe there is low risk to growing breadfruit trees in parts of Southern Florida on the Atlantic side. That said, they are still tropical trees and exposure to 32 degrees for 24 hours would probably kill a tree.

Therefore, it is reasonable to assume that Ma’afala’s enhanced cold tolerance is most likely the primary reason as to why Ma’afala has become the predominant breadfruit cultivar in Florida.

Additionally, despite some nurseries and growers labeling Ma’afala as a ‘dwarf breadfruit tree,’ the truth is:

There are no dwarf varieties of breadfruit. The variety Ma’afala has been incorrectly called “dwarf” because it’s a more compact tree, meaning with proper pruning it can have a more round shape, as opposed to tall and sprawling, making it better for urban areas (yards, private and community gardens).

National Tropical Botanical Garden

So while Ma’afala Breadfruit Trees don’t typically display a ‘dwarf’ growth habit like some other tropical fruit trees, it’s rare to find exceptionally large breadfruit trees in Florida.

That is because factors such as cold weather events and high winds during tropical storms and hurricanes significantly contribute to breadfruit trees not getting very large in many parts of Florida. In such conditions, exposed portions of the canopy are at increased risk of limb dieback.

A few clusters of mature and ripe ma'afala breadfruit still on the tree
Image Credit: Grimal Grove

How to Plant a Breadfruit Tree in 7 Steps

1. Choosing the Perfect Location for a Breadfruit Tree

The best time of year to plant a breadfruit tree is during your particular area’s wet season when night time temperatures are above 65°F. In Florida, this roughly translates to between May – October.

When choosing a location for our breadfruit tree, there are five primary considerations to keep in mind: 

  • Spacing: Does the tree have enough space to grow? (See below!)
  • Sun Exposure: Does the location receive full sun (6+ hours / day)?
  • Elevation: Will the location not flood in the event of a normal rain? 
  • Wind Exposure: Does the location provide sufficient protection from high wind gusts?
  • Soil Type: Does the location have a sandy loam soil with good drainage? 

If you answered “Yes!” to all the above questions, then it is likely a great location for growing a breadfruit tree.

However, I want to take an extra moment to talk about breadfruit tree spacing and wind protection.

A breadfruit tree outside the Truman White House in Key West, Florida

When I asked Patrick Garvey about his breadfruit grove’s spacing, he was able to offer the following insight:

We don’t have a ton of space in the grove. As a result, I did not plant a lot of trees in traditional rows but rather settled on more of an agroforestry planting style. That said, the breadfruit trees are about 25 FT by 20 FT in spacing, which is as small as you can realistically go.

Breadfruit tree roots also extend shallowly beneath the surface and spread extensively. It’s actually quite common to observe ‘root suckers’ emerging as far as 10 – 15 feet from the base of the mother tree (so be wary of planting near important structures!).

A cluster of breadfruit hanging from a breadfruit tree outside the Truman White House in Key West, Florida

Regarding wind protection, Dr. Fielding emphasized that successful breadfruit tree growers prioritize not only managing temperatures but also devote considerable attention to safeguarding against wind and storms.

And to understand why, I’ll let Dr. Crane explain:

Breadfruit trees are going to do much better in locations where they are not constantly barraged by the wind. Constant wind exposure will cause the tree’s stomata to close (because it’s losing too much water too quickly), which can inhibit photosynthesis.

Once we’ve identified the perfect spot meeting all these criteria, we’re ready to plant our breadfruit tree!

2. Dig a Hole & Prep the Surrounding Area

After settling on a location for our breadfruit tree, it’s now time to dig a hole and prepare the surrounding area.

According to the University of Florida, we should “dig a hole that is one and one-half to three times the width of the root ball (the roots and soil attached to the plant when you remove it from its pot). You can also dig a hole that is only slightly larger than the root ball and simply loosen the soil around it with a shovel.”

The hole should be wide and shallow. When placing the tree (while still in the pot) into the hole, the rootball should ideally be about 1/2 – 1 inch above the ground.

Several large ma'afala breadfruit trees in containers
Image Credit: D’s Fruit Trees

While this may look silly at first, the rootball will eventually settle to ground level. This is a critically important with breadfruit because if we plant the tree at ground level, then the tree will sink and create a basin that will pool water during storms. While breadfruit trees love water, they do not like wet feet (constantly wet soil).

Once we’ve dug our hole, we should prepare the surrounding area. In a nutshell, this just means removing any grass or weeds within 2-3 feet of the hole. This will provide the following benefits:

  • Preventing plants with shallower root systems from stealing water from our young breadfruit trees
  • Preventing breadfruit trees from being harmed when landscaping (most landscapers don’t care)

3. Prepare the Breadfruit Tree for Planting

Before planting our breadfruit tree in the ground, we need to prepare the tree so that it has the best shot of becoming established with a healthy root system.

We do this by preparing the root system and canopy prior to planting.

Preparing the Root System

If our breadfruit tree looks as if it was recently potted up (small tree in a big pot), then it may be a good idea to keep the tree in a pot for a little longer. That is because the root ball could have lost some structure during it’s most recent transplanting. 

As a result, it’s better to be safe and allow the root ball to “heal” and develop some more structure prior to planting. Once the tree flushes new growth (and that growth has hardened off) it will be ready for planting. While we can still technically plant a recently potted up tree, we should take extra caution not to damage the young & fragile roots. 

On the other side of the spectrum are trees that have been in pots longer than they should have been and have become pot bound. Classic signs of a pot bound breadfruit tree include:

  • Thick roots coming out of the bottom of the pot
  • Circling roots when taken out of the pot.

If your breadfruit tree has circling roots, then the tree will need to be root pruned prior to planting

That is because planting a breadfruit tree with circling roots can lead to continued circular growth, restricting the roots from extending beyond the initial root ball to access essential nutrients and water. This, in turn, significantly increases the risk of stunting the tree for its entire lifespan.

A common mistake when root pruning is just grabbing and pulling the roots. Not only can this damage the roots, but this can also result in the roots matting up which can increase the chances for an infection.

Instead, we’ll want to use a pair of pruning sheers that have been sanitized with either alcohol or hydrogen peroxide. For root pruning, I like to use needle nose sheers. Because breadfruit soil from nurseries usually have a lot of sand (dulling the sheers), I make sure to periodically sharpen them with a blade sharpener.

To root-prune a breadfruit tree, simply remove the tree from the pot and lightly clip any roots that have touched the container. Whatever you do, do not cut into big feeder roots. After root pruning, it’s natural for the tree to experience some shock; this can be mitigated by keeping the tree well-watered.

If we end up cutting a lot of roots, then we’ll also have to prune the canopy back. That is because our tree now has a smaller root system that can no longer support the canopy’s original size. If we don’t cut the canopy back after root pruning, the tree can die. 

Preparing the Canopy

Prior to planting, we can prune the canopy into our desired shape.

As an example, if the breadfruit tree is long and skinny but we prefer a lower-branching tree, it’s perfectly OK to take off some of the top branches/trunk to promote that structure.

 I personally prefer promoting lower-branching trees because I have found that they are less susceptible to wind damage and are easier to control in terms of height.

A large ma'afala breadfruit leaf

Additionally, we shouldn’t plant a breadfruit tree with new/tender foliage growth. That is because the new foliage is more susceptible to wilting, due to increased rates of transpiration, relative to the more mature leaves. 

If we want to keep the new growth, that’s OK – we just need to keep the tree in the pot until the new leaves have hardened off. With that being said, it’s perfectly OK to plant a tree with swelling buds.

4. Place the Breadfruit Tree in the Hole

DO NOT PUT FERTILIZE (ORGANIC, CHEMICAL) IN THE HOLE!

According to the University of Florida:

Adding slow release fertilizer of any type at planting has never been associated with improved or reduced survival. There are only a few documented growth increases associated with fertilization applications made at or soon after planting (Gilman et al. 2000). Response to fertilizer applications at planting is most likely to occur in poor soils, and response is likely to be minimal. Application of slow release fertilizer is not likely to hurt the plant provided it is applied according to the directions on the product. On the other hand, adding soluble fertilizer to a newly installed plant could burn roots if too much is applied. Burned roots will injure the plant and could kill it under some circumstances”

University of Florida

That said, every fruit tree that I have ever planted has received three amendments at the time of planting:

  1. Absucular Mycorizhae
  2. Small handful of earthworm castings 
  3. Small cup of Azomite

For more information on why I use these specific amendments, see the ‘How To Fertilize Breadfruit Trees‘ section of this guide.

A young ma'afala breadfruit tree in a container

After placing the tree in the hole and making sure that it’s straight, backfill the hole with the original native soil. 

Afterwords, go around the diameter of the root ball with a screwdriver/stick to remove any air pockets. Then lightly stomp around the diameter of the new tree to help the soil get settled; do not make the soil super compact (roots still need air!).

5. Top Dress the Soil with Compost & Mulch

After the tree is planted, we can take 1 – 2 bags of our favorite compost and top dress the surrounding soil area that we prepared earlier in Step 2. Make sure the compost is at least 6 inches away from the tree trunk (not touching).

Using Oak leaf mulch for my Ma'afala Breadfruit tree that is in a container

At this point, we should put several inches of mulch on top of the compost. This will assist with soil moisture retention and temperature control that will make the soil more attractive for the roots to grow out into. 

Additionally, this will also create a mini mulch berm that we can use to more easily deep water our breadfruit tree.

6. Water the Tree Deeply

Using the mini mulch basin that we’ve created, we can now deeply water the tree. 

Do NOT rely on overhead water from an irrigation system

The technique that I like to use is filling the basin full of water and then letting the water slowly steep into the ground. I will repeat this 3-5 times to make sure that I know I got all the roots wet. It’s that easy 🙂

That said, here are some additional tips in regards to watering our tree for the first time:

  • It’s better to plant a smaller breadfruit tree because they require less water to get established.
  • The best time to plant a breadfruit tree (or any tree for that matter) is before a thunderstorm because all the surrounding soil will definitely get wet. 
  • If you are watering with a hose, make sure that you are not directly hitting the root ball with water.

7. Continue Watering Tree Until Established

After planting our breadfruit tree, we’ll want to continue watering frequently and deeply. 

A good rule of thumb for watering newly planted breadfruit trees is watering every 1 – 3 days for the first three months.

A simple and effective trick to knowing whether or not a breadfruit tree needs water is sticking our finger a few inches deep into the soil. If the soil feels moist, then the breadfruit tree doesn’t need to be watered. If we don’t want to get our fingers dirty all the time, we can also opt to use a moisture meter

Once the tree pushes out new foliage growth, it is established! However, if we live in an area with ongoing drought conditionsit is a good idea to continue deep watering our breadfruit trees at least twice a week.

How Others Are Protecting Their Breadfruit Trees from the Cold

As I mentioned earlier in this grow guide, there are very few places in Florida where one can just plant a breadfruit tree and have the tree grow without any further assistance.

And the most common type of assistance that we need to provide is cold protection.

Drawing from my interviews, here are some the most common methods utilized by others to protect their breadfruit trees during cold weather events:

Cold damage on a Ma'afala Breadfruit Tree Leaf

  • For container grown breadfruit trees:
    • Roll them into a garage or other protected area.
  • For in-ground breadfruit trees:
    • Create a microclimate and make sure that the tree is in the warmest part of your yard. More specifically, plant your breadfruit tree in a location that naturally stays warmer during winter, such as on a south-facing slope or near a structure that retains heat (like walls or patios).
    • Plant a windbreak that can decrease cold gusts that can dry out your breadfruit tree’s leaves.
    • Use an electrical heat source such as a space heaters and/or Christmas lights.
    • Wrap a heavy blanket around the base of the tree
    • Apply a thick layer of mulch (4-6 inches) around the base of the tree
    • Use frost cloths, blankets, or burlap to cover the tree. Remove during the day to allow sunlight and airflow. Secure the covering at ground level to trap warmth.
    • Use plastic sheeting as an additional layer over frost cloths. Ensure plastic doesn’t touch the foliage directly to avoid freezing damage from condensation.
    • Water the tree heavily in the days preceding the cold front, then discontinue watering once the cold front arrives.
    • Place containers of water (painted black for better heat absorption) around the tree base. Water retains heat during the day and releases it slowly at night, providing warmth.
    • Avoid heavy pruning in late summer or fall. A fuller canopy provides better protection against cold. Remove dead or weak branches that are more susceptible to cold damage.
    • Wrap the trunk and major branches with tree wrap or burlap to protect against bark splitting and other cold injuries.

So whatever your budget or situation is, I hope that the above list can give you some inspiration on how to effectively protect your breadfruit tree from an inevitable cold snap. Dr. Crane says it best:

If you are not committed to having the money and resources to protect the tree, it is always going to be stressed. It may get somewhat acclimated – although I seriously doubt that breadfruit has that ability because of how tropical it is. The tree will likely not survive winter after winter if left unprotected.

How to Fertilize a Breadfruit Tree

Fertilizing Breadfruit Trees: General Considerations

Consider Getting a Soil Test

Before fertilizing our breadfruit trees, it would be a good idea to first get a soil test done in order to gain a better understanding of our current soil nutrient levels. We can get an inexpensive soil test done by contacting our local university extension office.

A soil test is a great investment because the results will give a more accurate picture of how and what we should be fertilizing with. That is because blindly applying fertilizers can result in excess levels of nutrients

While excess levels of nutrients sounds like a good thing, it can actually have a detrimental effect on the health of our breadfruit tree. That is because excess levels of specific nutrients can result in other nutrients being “locked up” and not being accessible to the tree.

Below is a table showing the impact of excessive nutrients on other nutrients:

In Excess…Ties Up…
NitrogenPotassium, Calcium
Potassium (raises pH)Nitrogen, Calcium, Magnesium
PhosphorousZinc, Iron, Copper
Calcium (raises pH, looses soil)Boron, Magnesium, Phosphorous
Magnesium (raises pH, tightens soil)Calcium, Potassium
IronManganese
ManganeseIron, Molybedum

Selecting a Complete Fertilizer with Micronutrients

When selecting a fertilizer, it’s very important to look beyond the 3 large numbers: N-P-K (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium). Ideally, the fertilize that we select should contain secondary nutrients (i.e., Calcium, Magnesium, Sulfur, etc.) as well as a healthy supply of micronutrients (i.e., Boron, Manganese, Iron, Molybdeum, etc.)

A Ma'afala Breadfruit Tree leaf with a nutrient deficiency

Florida’s native soil is deficient in a lot of these minor elements. As a result, selecting a more complete fertilizer will keep our trees better nourished and less prone to certain diseases and malformations.

In my fertilizer program below, I go over specific products that we can use in order to make sure that our trees are getting the essential nutrients needed for a healthy tree canopy and fruit development.

Breadfruit Tree Fertilizer Program

The following breadfruit tree fertilizer program was designed from a combination of my own horticultural knowledge in addition to the input that I received from the experts that I spoke with.

The goal of this program is to get our breadfruit trees’ root systems well-established, quickly develop a canopy that can support fruit production & controlling the long-term size of the tree without sacrificing fruit yields

Note: While this fertilizer program is designed for homeowners in Florida, that doesn’t mean that the program/specific products can’t be used elsewhere, but should be taken with a grain of salt. 

The program is split into two phases: 

  • Phase 1 – Newly Planted Breadfruit Trees
  • Phase 2 – Established & Fruiting Breadfruit Trees

After detailing both phases, I will provide an explanation of why I use or recommend the specific products I’ve chosen:

Let’s dive in!

Phase 1 – Newly Planted Breadfruit Trees

ProductApplication Rate Application AmountSpecific Products
Arbuscular Mycorrhizae PowderOne-Time Only
(In Hole)
Sprinkled InGreat White Premium Mycorrhizae
Arbuscular Mycorrhizae 
Soil Drench
One-Time Only
(Base of Tree) 
Follow Label Instructions 
(Watered In)
(Choose One):
Kangaroots OR Microbe Brew
Earthworm CastingsOne-Time Only
(In Hole)
Very Small HandfulEspoma Earthworm Castings 
(or fresh if you have available!)
AzomiteAt Planting
(6 Inches From Trunk)
1 CupAzomite
Mushroom CompostAt Planting
(6 Inches From Trunk) 
2 Bags / TreeOrganic Mushroom Compost

Phase 2 – Established & Fruiting Breadfruit Trees

ProductApplication Rate Application AmountSpecific Products
‘TTG Special’ 
Foliar Spray
Bi-Weekly
(Tree Canopy)
Min. 70% Canopy Coverage*Recipe in 
Component Description*
Fish EmulsionMonthly
(Base of Tree)
Follow Label Instructions
(Watered In)
Neptune’s Harvest
Granular FertilizerFollow Label Instructions
(Tree’s Drip Line)
Follow Label InstructionsCitrus Tone (Organic)
Mushroom CompostSemi-Annually
(Tree’s Drip Line) 
2 Bags / TreeOrganic Mushroom Compost
AzomiteAnnually
(Tree’s Drip Line)
1 CupAzomite

Breadfruit Tree Fertilizer Program (Rationale Behind Each Component Explained)

Below is an explanation for each of the specific products I’ve chosen for this program:

Arbuscular Mycorrhizae Powder + Soil Drench

Mycorrhizae are beneficial fungi that assist with nutrient uptake, increase a tree’s overall tolerance to environmental stressors and protects a plant’s roots from pathogenic fungi & parasitic nematodes.

According to Suzanne Simard, a researcher and professor at the Department of Forest and Conversation Sciences at the University of British Columbia: “mycorrhizas supply trees and other plants with up to 40 percent of the nitrogen they received from the environment and as much as 50 percent of the water they needed to survive.” 

For Artocarpus altilis (breadfruit) specifically, Arbuscular Mycorrhizal Fungi (AMF), particularly species in the genera GlomusAcaulospora, and Gigaspora, play a crucial role in their root symbiosis. These mycorrhizal associations are essential for nutrient acquisition and overall plant health.

Additionally, some ectomycorrhizal fungi like Pisolithus and beneficial endophytic fungi such as Trichoderma species can also interact positively with breadfruit trees, contributing to their resilience and growth. Glomus, Gigaspora and Trichoderma can all be found in Great White Premium Mycorrhizae Powder & Fox Farm’s Microbe Brew/Kangaroots (only one soil drench product is needed).

Earthworm Castings

Earthworm castings provide a small amount of nutrients to the tree as well as “[stimulates] microbial activity due to their high organic matter content.” Using regular compost during the planting process can lead to too much water retention and our breadfruit tree developing root rot

I prefer Espoma’s earthworm castings (due to affordability) but any fresh castings will also work!

‘TTG Special’ Foliar Spray

The ‘TTG Special’ Foliar Spray is comprised of 50% rainwater, 50% Aerated Compost Tea, 1 Low Dose Aspirin & 1 TSP of Maxicrop Liquid Kelp.

  • Rain Water
    • Rainwater is free of chloramines (found in city/tap water) that would otherwise kill the beneficial bacteria in the foliar spray. If you don’t have rain water readily available, you can leave the water uncovered at room temperature for at least 24 hours and the chlorine will evaporate.
  • Aerated Compost Tea Solution(Stump Tea)
    • Aerated Compost Tea has beneficial enzymes and bacteria that can boost the tree’s immune system and help protect from common diseases when over 70% of the canopy is sprayed.
    • I include Stump Tea in my foliar spray because I can get it for free/pre-made at my local gardening store. However, if you don’t want to make your own Aerated Compost Tea every other week (can be tedious) feel free to either add this in every few months or not at all. 
  • Low Dose Aspirin
  • Maxicrop Soluble Seaweed Powder (0-0-17)
    • Maxicrop soluble seaweed powder is derived from seaweed and supplies potassium, vitamins, enzymes and more than 60 different minerals that can assist with our tree’s response to environmental stressors including but not limited to: flooding, drought conditions and cold weather. 
    • Note: Buying the powder is much more cost effective than buying the pre-made liquid solution and doesn’t contain any added preservatives.

Fish Emulsion

Fish emulsion provides breadfruit trees with a low dose of immediately available nitrogen in order to speed up the canopy development process (and support those big leafs!). According to a research paper by Scientia Horticulturae, fish emulsion also acts as a “nutrient source for…beneficial microbes.”

Citrus Tone 5-2-6

Citrus Tone is a ‘complete’ slow release organic fertilizer provides a balanced amount of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium to Established & Fruiting Breadfruit Trees. This product is also 100% organic and also contains calcium/magnesium/suflur as well as a variety of micro-organisms.

Mushroom Compost

Compost (organic material) provides a slow-release food for both the breadfruit trees and soil microbes. I prefer organic mushroom compost because cow/horse manure can contain herbicides such as Grazon.

Azomite

Azomite is a rock dust containing trace minerals and elements that are typically lacking in soil, especially in Florida’s native sandy soil. Because we are adding these trace minerals and elements back to the soil for our trees to use, our breadfruit are going to end up being more nutritious as a result.

How to Prune a Breadfruit Tree

When it comes to pruning breadfruit trees, or pruning fruit trees in general, it can be easy to get overwhelmed.

Fortunately, Mike created this very straight-forward and easy to understand video on how to prune breadfruit trees:

How to Pick Breadfruit (What to look for)

When we decide to harvest our breadfruit will ultimately depend on how we want to use the fruit.

According to the Breadfruit Institute, here are some approximate harvest timelines to consider depending on how we want to prepare/consume our breadfruit:

Timeline (Weeks After Flowering)Culinary Use
0 – 16 Weeks (immature)Vegetable
16 – 20 Weeks (Mature)Starch
20+ WeeksDessert
Four freshly harvested and ripe Ma'afala Breadfruits at Grimal Grove
Image Credit: Grimal Grove

And when it comes to harvesting mature breadfruit, particularly the Ma’afala cultivar, the Breadfruit Institute goes on to suggest looking for the following visual cues:

  • Natural cracks in the skin begin dripping sap. 
  • Stem color changes from deep green to lighter green or green-yellow. 
  • Flesh immediately under the skin turns from green to white or cream color. 
  • Skin color turns from bright green to green-yellow. 
  • Skin texture changes from pointy or bumpy to flat and smooth. 

Additionally, similar to its cousin jackfruit, breadfruit contains a white latex-like sap.

White Latex Sap coming from a Ma'afala Breadfruit Tree

Fun Fact: Some historians believed that the Polynesians actually used the breadfruit’s latex-like sap as a sealant to waterproof their canoes/watercrafts!

And if you have ever prepared jackfruit, you know this latex can be a major PITA (if you know what I mean) and can ruin your knives and cutting boards. Therefore, after harvesting the fruit, one should cut off the stem and place the fruit so that the stem end is down to drain this latex-like sap prior to handling the fruit.

Freshly harvested Ma'afala Breadfruit placed in an ice bath
Image Credit: Grimal Grove

My last breadfruit harvesting tip is harvesting the fruit either in the early morning or late afternoon.

That is because breadfruit is notorious for its short shelf life, and harvesting in the heat will only continue to accelerate the post-ripening process. Additionally, what a lot of breadfruit groves (including Grimal Grove) also do to extend the fruit’s shelf life is place the freshly harvested fruit in an ice bath for 15 – 20 minutes:

Freshly harvested Ma'afala Breadfruit placed in an ice bath
Image Credit: Grimal Grove

How to Grow Breadfruit Trees In Containers

I am currently growing a Ma’afala Breadfruit in a container.

However, I’m considering taking the leap and ultimately planting my tree in the ground, with the understanding that I’ll need to provide the tree with adequate cold protection.

This decision stems from a valuable insight from Dr. Fielding’s study, which revealed the following:

0% of container-grown breadfruit trees identified in my survey have produced a fruit.

Several large Ma'afala Breadfruit Trees in containers
Image Credit: D’s Fruit Trees

Interestingly, Dr. Fielding also mentioned that the oldest container-grown breadfruit tree represented in his dataset was 15 years old at the time of his survey:

The tree grows “in a large pot” in Hillsborough County (south Tampa, specifically) and has not produced fruit, despite being approximately ten feet tall. The grower did not know the cultivar but reported that the tree was propagated as a root cutting from another tree. 

I even asked Dr. Crane: “Considering diligent root pruning, appropriate fertilization, adequate watering, and sufficient cold protection, do you believe it’s feasible to cultivate breadfruit in a container over the long term?

To which he replied:

I’m not saying that it can’t be done, but it would be a real struggle. There is such thing as a ‘container effect’ where root systems that are confined in containers can effect the tree’s overall physiology and some trees are more sensitive to that then others.

Therefore, you can likely get away with growing a breadfruit tree as a novelty. However, you should have tampered expectations to not expect prolific production.

So with expectations established, let’s now talk about growing breadfruit trees in containers!

Growing a Ma'afala Breadfruit Tree in a container

1. Purchase an Appropriate Container

When selecting a container, the only hard requirement is for the pot to have sufficient drainage.

If you are planning to keep your breadfruit tree in a container permanently or for a long time, I would encourage you to opt for an airpot. While they can be a little more expensive, they can help substantially decrease the amount of time that we have to dedicate to root pruning (more on this soon).

2. Create the Perfect Breadfruit Soil Mixture

Unfortunately, there are no good options when it comes to “ready to use” soil that we can purchase for growing breadfruit trees in containers. That is because most soil mixtures are designed around maximum water retention.

However, breadfruit trees need a very well-draining soil. 

Below is my recipe for the perfect breadfruit tree soil mixture:

   ComponentSoil %  Recommend Products
Sand50%Native Sandy Soil From Your Yard
OR Silica Sand 
Peat Moss / Coconut Coir40%Coco Loco OR Happy Frogs
Earthworm Castings10%Espoma Earthworm Castings 
(or fresh if you have available!)

3. Root Prune

When growing breadfruit trees in containers, we’ll have to root prune every so often to make sure that the root system remains healthy. Otherwise the roots can become circled and girdled.

For more info on how I root prune, please go to the ‘How To Plant a Breadfruit Tree‘ section of this guide. 

Personally, I do not enjoy root pruning.

That is because I don’t particularly like removing large and heavy trees from containers while trying to minimize root ball disturbance. Unfortunately, root pruning is a necessary evil to maintaining a healthy root system when it comes to growing breadfruit trees in containers. As a result, I usually will opt to spend a little more money for an airpot to minimize the amount of time that I have to root prune. 

The science behind airpots is simple: as the tree’s root tips hit the edge of the container and encounter air, the tips will naturally dry out instead of continuing to grow and circle around the pot. The breadfruit tree will then respond by producing more fibrous lateral roots, resulting in significantly less circling roots. 

Using airpots has significantly reduced the amount of time that I have spent on root pruning. Which is good for me because I’m usually lazy when it comes to that type of care 🙂

4. Fertilize Appropriately

For specific fertilizer product recommendations and timelines, see the ‘How to Fertilize Breadfruit Trees‘ section of this guide 🙂

Where to Find Breadfruit Trees for Sale

Sourcing my breadfruit tree was much more difficult than I would have liked.

However, the nursery that I finally landed on was Montura Gardens.

And let me just say…

From the superior customer service, crystal clear communication, free tree delivery service, and allowing me to select the specific tree that I wanted, they were absolutely phenomenal!

So if you are in South Florida, reach out to them on Facebook!

That said, if you are not in South Florida, they are available for sale on FastGrowingTrees.com, which is an online nursery that provides a wide selection of tropical trees, shrubs and plants. 

Not only does FastGrowingTrees ship quickly, but they also offer an optional 1 Year Warranty (which is always nice).

Frequently Asked Questions about Growing Breadfruit Trees

Are breadfruit trees easy to grow?

When the breadfruit tree’s climate, soil, and water needs are aligned with the recommendations provided in this guide, growing breadfruit trees is straightforward and hassle-free. In fact, I would even define breadfruit trees as a ‘hard to kill’ and ‘0 maintenance tree’ for those who are able to provide the tree its ideal climate.

How fast do breadfruit trees grow?

Research by Diane Ragone, Director Emeritus of the Breadfruit Institute at the National Tropical Botanical Garden, indicates that under favorable growing conditions, breadfruit trees can grow between 1.5 – 5 feet annually.

When is breadfruit season in Florida?

Breadfruit can be harvested year-round in Florida, but most of the crop is typically gathered during the summer season, from June to September.

Do you need two breadfruit trees to produce a fruit?

No, you don’t need two breadfruit trees to produce fruit. Breadfruit trees can produce fruit on their own without the need for a second tree for pollination.

How long does it typically take for breadfruit trees to bear fruit in Florida?

Patrick Garvey of Grimal Grove states that most breadfruit trees start fruiting within 2.5 – 3 years. In terms of height, these trees begin producing fruit when they are approximately 6 – 10 feet tall.

How much breadfruit can one tree produce in a year?

A single breadfruit tree can produce 150 – 200 fruits per year, depending on its age, health, and growing conditions.

How can I increase my breadfruit tree’s fruit production?

To boost your breadfruit tree’s fruit production, ensure it gets plenty of sunlight, water regularly (remember, they love water!), provide well-drained soil, and fertilize with balanced nutrients. Pruning can also help maintain a healthy structure and encourage more fruit.

Why is my breadfruit tree dropping fruit?

In Florida, breadfruit trees often drop fruit due to exposure to cool, dry, and windy conditions, which occur more frequently during the winter months.

How resilient are breadfruit trees to extreme weather events (i.e. hurricanes, etc.)?

Here is what Patrick Garvey of Grimal Grove had to say in regards to breadfruit’s resiliency to extreme weather events:

Breadfruit is a disaster resilient tree. They have soft, flexible wood that will bend in the wind and break off in very bad storms. It’s the only tree that I planted that survived Hurricane Irma (which was particularly dramatic for Grimal Grove) and frankly was one of the main reasons that helped me not give up on the grove.

Additionally, Mike McLaughlin from the Trees that Feed Foundation offered a similar story in regards to Hurricane Dorian:

We know a farmer in the Northern Bahamas that was hit particularly hard by Hurricane Dorian. The storm destroyed everything on his farm except his two Ma’afala Breadfruit Trees. What was particularly impressive was the fact that they were not very old trees.

How salt tolerant are breadfruit trees?

Breadfruit trees exhibit moderate salt tolerance, able to withstand some salt exposure in coastal areas, but excessive salinity may adversely affect their growth and productivity.

How drought tolerant are breadfruit trees?

Breadfruit trees possess moderate drought tolerance, meaning they can withstand periods of limited water availability, but the trees thrive best with consistent moisture.

Are there any common pests or diseases that affect breadfruit trees in Florida?

As of this writing, Patrick Garvey from Grimal Grove has reported no issues with pests or diseases affecting his breadfruit grove.

Do breadfruit trees shed a lot of leaves?

Breadfruit trees can exhibit moderate to excessive leaf shedding. Additionally, generally speaking, leaf drop rates tend to increase during the fall and winter seasons.

Does breadfruit have a good shelf life?

Fresh breadfruit does not have a long shelf life. However, you can prolong its shelf life by harvesting the fruit when it’s cooler outside in addition to immediately placing harvested fruit in an ice bath to slow down the ripening process.

Does breadfruit freeze well?

Raw breadfruit doesn’t freeze well, but if you steam or bake it prior to freezing, the fruit preserves much better.

According to Mike McLaughlin from the Trees that Feed Foundation:

Breadfruit has no seeds and can be a challenge to propagate. The main methods in current use are root culture, air layering, grafting and tissue culture. We rely on all of these methods. 

Can breadfruit trees be planted near septic tanks?

One should avoid planting breadfruit trees near septic tanks due to the tree’s extensive root system.

Where are breadfruit trees native to?

Breadfruit is native to the South Pacific and was spread throughout the tropics by early Polynesian voyagers.

Where does the name ‘breadfruit’ come from?

The name ‘breadfruit’ comes from the fruit’s ability to develop a texture resembling bread when roasted.

What is the difference between white breadfruit and yellow breadfruit?

White breadfruit varieties, like the Ma’afala, are often starchier and larger, rendering them more suitable for flour production than for culinary enjoyment. In contrast, yellow breadfruit varieties, such as the renowned Yellow Heart in Jamaica, boast a creamier texture and more delectable flavor profile.

Final Thoughts

This ultimate guide to growing breadfruit trees took a very long time to write, edit and fact-check. 

If you found anything in this guide helpful,  please consider sharing. It helps support the website 😊

Thank you for reading 😃

_

Growing Breadfruit in Central Florida: First-Hand Observations & Data Log

In this section of the grow guide, we transition from the textbook to the real world.

Below you’ll find a chronological account of my first-hand observations and relevant data associated with growing Breadfruit in Central Florida / Zone 10 A. Additionally, for context, I live 1-2 miles away from the Atlantic Ocean.

Enjoy 😊

February 2024

February 24, 2024 – Delivery Day!
A ma'afala breadfruit tree in a container

Observations

  • Today, I received my 15 Gallon Ma’afala Breadfruit Tree. The tree is an air-layer.
  • Currently, the weather forecast for the next week is showing temperatures ranging from the low 50s to the low 70s. As a result of the tree being on the younger side, I will be moving the tree into the garage at night (~ 5 – 10 degrees higher than outside temperatures) and back outside (close the house for a warmer microclimate) during the day once daytime temperatures reach the mid 60s.
    • This schedule will allow the tree to get plenty of direct sunlight from approximately 10 AM – 6 PM.
  • Because the tree’s soil mixture is a very sandy loam, my plan is to deeply water the tree every 2 days with 1 – 2 gallons of water.
  • Some of the leaves have fungal issues including Rust and Anthracnose.
    • The fungus was likely result of the tree receiving overhead irrigation.
    • Going forward, between watering the tree at the base and adding re-mineralizing the soil, my hope is that the new foliage will develop disease free. If the fungal infections continue to persist, then I will go ahead and spray with copper at a later date.

Tree Data

  • Height: 24.5 Inches
  • Trunk Diameter: 3.25 Inches
  • Branches: 4
February 28, 2024

Observations

  • I watered the tree with a 2 Gallon Mixture of Fish Emulsion (1/4 Cup) + Kangaroots (4 TSP).
    • The fish emulsion will provide the tree with Nitrogen to assist with new leaf growth while the Kangaroots will add some microbial activity to the potting-mix soil.
    • In the future, I’ll likely reduce this mixture down to 1 gallon due to a good amount of solution leaking out of the pot due to the very sandy loam mixture. My plan is to apply this solution every 2 weeks during the Spring/Summer to build up the tree’s size prior to the weather starting to cool down.
    • I am open to the idea of eventually planting this tree directly in the ground with a frost-protection structure. However, I would like to see the tree size up significantly to better handle the cold.
  • I also applied half a cup of Azomite for trace minerals and nutrients.
  • I checked the weather forecast and it appears as if we are in the clear for any more cold snaps for the next 10-14 days (think the worst of winter is over). Night-time lows are expected to go down no lower than low 60’s. As a result, I moved the Breadfruit (still in a pot) out to the backyard where it will get 10 – 12 hours of direct full sun a day. Additionally, I have a large retaining pond in the backyard that is probably 10 feet away from where the breadfruit tree is located, providing an excellent microclimate. Finally, because I am located 1-2 miles away from the Atlantic, this location in the yard will receive plenty of coastal breeze to also decrease disease pressures.

March 2024

March 10, 2024

Observations

  • Nighttime temperatures are forecasted to drop down to low to mid 50’s for the next 4 days. I will be moving the young tree back into the garage at night and back outside during the daytime.
March 20, 2024

Observations

  • When I moved the tree outside during the day (a location between two residential homes), I thought nothing of it. Turns out it was quite windy that day. At the end of the day, there was a wind tunnel effect that moved a lot of cooler / dry air on the tree. The tree developed some minor cold damage on one of the newer leaves. There appears to have been no further damage to the older leaf. I need to be more mindful of wind chill when dealing with the lower end of the temperature range that breadfruit can take.
March 22, 2024

Observations

  • I added 2 cups of earthworm castings to the container. Currently, the mixture is very sandy… so hopefully the addition of some light organic material can help with some additional nutrients and minor improvements to the soil retaining a little more water. I’m going to try and add an additional one cup of earthworm castings every month to the container for a minor nutrient boost while the tree is young and growing.
March 27, 2024
A ma'afala breadfruit tree leaf wilting due to warm temperatures

Observations

  • Between the tree’s sandy loam soil, increasing temperatures as we enter spring (daytime highs of low to mid 80s) and the ‘heat island effect’ I’m noticing (potted tree is on my driveway) – I’m beginning to notice more and more leaf wilt, especially on the younger leaves.
  • Based on this leaf wilt, the short-term solution is going to place the tree not in a primarily concrete based location and transition to once a day watering (1-2 gallons). The longer-term solution will be purchasing an air pot and create a soil mixture that can retain a little more water. Regardless, I foresee myself having to water the tree everyday as the temperatures continue to rise.

April 2024

April 19, 2024
A ma'afala breadfruit tree in a container by a retaining pond

Observations

  • With the night-time temperatures now consistently above 60, I have moved the tree back out into the yard where it should receive close to 8-10 hours of sunlight daily. The location is also within 10 feet of a retention pond, assisting with providing adequate humidity levels. The only downside of this spot in the yard is that when it gets windy, there is very little to no protection. I may consider moving this to the other part of the yard where it will get slightly less sun but more wind protection.
  • I have transitioned to watering the tree once a day minimum (twice if I pass by it).
  • My plan this weekend is to really crank up and test the fertilization program that I have designed for the tree

June 2024

June 10, 2024
A ma'afala breadfruit tree in a container with wind protection

Observations

  • I recently moved the tree to a section of the yard that has much better wind protection. While this location receives slightly less hours of sun (still in the range of 6-8 a day), this location has much better wind protection compared to the previous section of the yard where the tree was located. In the few days after moving the tree, I have noticed slightly less leaf wilt (I continue to water the tree every day unless there is a rain/thunderstorm event).
  • After measuring the tree (see below) I am very happy to see the tree’s positive reaction to the fertilizer program.
  • Because I’m planning to have this tree in a container for at least another year, I also recently ordered some air pots. So my next update will likely include some photos of how the root system has developed.

Tree Data

  • Height: 32 Inches
  • Trunk Diameter: 3.5 Inches
  • Branches: 8
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Matthew Rowlings

I have an Associates Degree in Biology from the University of Florida and am also an active Florida Master Gardener. I am located in Central Florida (Zone 10A) and have 6+ years of experience with growing 20+ types of tropical trees. You can learn more about me and why I started Tropical Tree Guide on my about page.

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