What are the best fruits to grow in Thailand?
Updated: Jun 1, 2019
Thailand offers budding fruit lovers a vast choice when it comes to having a go at growing your own . . . But growing tropical fruits for the first time can be a daunting prospect for many.
We have looked at the main fruits grown here in Thailand and come up with our Best Top 3.
In our opinion these 3 fruits would be a great addition to your own Thai homestead.
They were rated by:
Ease of growing
The time it takes to get your first crop
Associated health benefits
LIMES ( มะนาว ) Genus Citrus
Limes are often smaller than lemons, more rounded and have a diameter of 1 to 2 inches with green flesh and skin. They are mainly sour, but there are some sweet varieties. Sour limes contain more citric acid giving them a tart and acidic and taste, while sweet limes lack citric acid and are more pleasing on the tongue.
Growing limes in Thailand
Although lime trees come armed with sharp thorns they are well worth planting in Thailand.
Limes grow happily in containers, in fact, we recommend you grow yours in them. They can make fruit picking a lot easier on your back and make weeding, watering, and feeding more comfortable.
Lime trees require a lot of feeding. They will quickly deplete the soil around them, so be prepared to fertilize them frequently. Feeding them with a good quality fertilizer that is nitrogen rich will keep them happy (we use poultry manure). Expect to feed your trees every couple of months.
Mulching around the base of them will help to suppress weed growth and minimize water evaporation. Installing a simple water irrigation drip system is recommended, but care should be taken to prevent over-watering. Limes do not like their feet wet for too long.
Over-watering can lead to fruits on the tree splitting. Pick them when their skins begin to turn smooth. A simple twist is all that's required.
Space required to grow limes
Most lime trees reach a height between 15 and 20 feet when mature.
If space is at a premium in your garden, grow them in a container and keep them well pruned to about 8 feet. Doing this will make the tree much more manageable and more accessible to pick the fruit.
The time it takes for your first crop of limes
How soon your first crop of limes will take depends mainly on the tree you purchase. Many young lime trees sold in Thailand have fruit already developed, so you don't have to wait long at all. We recommend removing all limes and flowers for at least the first two months to encourage growth.
Many sour tasting Thai dishes use lots of fresh limes.
They are also used to make zingy dips, smoothies, and other drinks.
Health benefits of eating limes
Helps with weight loss
Lowers blood sugar
Reduces heart disease
Helps prevent cancer
Ease of growing limes 7/10
Space required to grow limes trees 8/10
The time it takes to get your first crop of limes 9/10
Versatility of limes 8/10
Associated health benefits of eating limes 9/10
Limes overall score: 41/50
Use short bamboo sticks to form a small table under the lower branches. A table will help to support the limes until they are ready for picking. Spray the leaves with a diluted mixture of vegetable oil and mild soap to keep bugs at bay without using harmful chemicals.
BANANAS ( กล้วย ) Genus Musa
There is evidence of banana cultivation as far back as 8000 B.C.
It is thought that the first bananas originated in Southern Thailand.
The country now boasts well over 25 species.The country now boasts well over 25 species.
The typical banana tree is, in fact, a plant and is botanically classed as a berry! A bunch of bananas is called a hand; a single banana is a finger.
Growing bananas in Thailand
Quick and straightforward growing make the banana an instead hit amongst fruit fans.
Although easy to grow there are a few things you can do to ensure a great crop. Rich, fertile soil. Plenty of mulch, the more, the better. Loads of nitrogen and potassium (we use our poultry manure). High level of moisture. Shelter from strong winds.
Once the hands of bananas are fully formed, cut off the flower. This will send more goodness back to the fruit and help them to develop.
Space required to grow bananas
Out of the 3 fruits here, the banana will take up the most space in your Thai garden.
Sweet tasting bananas varieties grow to a height of about 12 feet.
Varieties such as Ladies Fingers can grow to a height of 25 feet.
The time it takes for your first crop of bananas
The time until you can cut your first crop of bananas depends on the variety you are growing and where you live in Thailand. Usually, you can expect your first hands of bananas to be ready for cutting at about 8 to 9 months from planting.
Bananas are incredibly versatile and used widely across Thailand. Eaten fresh or cooked in a variety of ways.
Don't throw the banana flowers away. They can be used in lots of Thai dishes or eaten raw with a spicy dip.
Health benefits of eating bananas
High in fiber
Good for heart health
Ease in digestion
High in nutrients
High in potassium
Good for blood pressure
Helps fight anemia
Ease of growing bananas 8/10
Space required banana plants 6/10
The time it takes to get your first crop of bananas 8/10
Versatility of bananas 9/10
Associated health benefits of eating bananas 9/10
Bananas overall score:40/50
Bananas give off several suckers that need the grower's attention. Remove all slow-growing water suckers (broad, rounded leaves.) The narrow sword-like ones can be split and planted on to form new plants. Don't allow more than three suckers to remain attached to the mother plants. Use the old leaves as mulch around the base of the plant. Shred the old branches and central plants to make additional plant feed for livestock.
PAPAYAS ( มะละกอ ) Genus Carica
Native to Mexico and northern South America.
Papaya plants grow in three sexes: male, female, and hermaphrodite. The growing of papaya uses only the hermaphrodites for superior fruit production.
Growing Papaya in Thailand
Its best practice to grow your papaya from seeds in the position of your garden that you want them to end up. Doing this will avoid the need to transplant them later on.
Papayas can be successfully transplanted, but much care of their delicate root system is required.
Papayas evaporate a lot of water in warm weather, so they need a lot of water. But unfortunately, papayas are very susceptible to root rot. Over-watering is the most common reason for problems when growing papayas.
Space required to grow papayas
Although the papaya tree is quite narrow in diameter, they can reach up to 30 feet in height.
Their root system is quite invasive, so careful planning of where to position a papaya tree in your Thai garden is required. Keep papaya trees well away from your house and walls!
The time it takes for your first crop of papayas
Growing from seed will usually take about 8 to 9 months before you can begin cropping green papayas.
Allow 9 to 10 months for ripened papayas.
The ripe fruit of the papaya is usually eaten raw, without skin or seeds. In Thai cuisine, papaya is used to make Thai salads such as som tam and Thai curries such as Kaeng som when still not fully ripe. The black seeds of the papaya are also edible and have a sharp, spicy taste. They can be ground and used as a substitute for black pepper. Papayas have a relatively high amount of pectin, which can be used to make jellies in the same way as apples are.
Health benefits of eating papayas
Rich in fiber, Vitamin C and antioxidants
Helps in weight loss
Good for diabetics
Great for your eyes
Protects against arthritis
Helps ease menstrual pain
Ease of growing papaya 9/10
Space required for papaya trees 8/10
Time it takes to get your first crop of papaya 7/10
Versatility of growing papaya 8/10
Associated health benefits of eating papaya 10/10
Papayas overall score:42/50
Green papaya leaves can be picked and eating the same as spinach. Old dry papaya leaves make a good mulch around the base of the tree. Shredded branches, green leaves, seeds, and skins make a great free livestock feed supplement.
There is no doubt that any of these fruits would make a welcome addition to your Thai garden.
If you have ample space, then growing all of them would be great. If however, you could only squeeze one in, then a well-trimmed lime tree would be our choice.
If space is not a factor and you keep livestock, then its hard to look past the impressive banana.
Those looking for a premium fruit that is super healthy, crops heavily, versatile, and helps to feed livestock, then its the papaya all day long for us.
Check out the video below where we collect wild growing bananas on the farm and use the old plants for feeding the poultry
Alternative fruits to grow in Thailand
If you have plenty of space and time to grow something a little bit more adventurous, take a look at the list below. All these fruits grow very well in Thailand and will give you a great crop.
Mangosteen มังคุค Garcinia mangostana
Has unique appearance & flavor, often revered as The Queen of tropical fruits (particularly in the South-East Asian regions.) This round, purple colored fruit is popular for its white, juicy, delicious flesh in all Asian countries.
Rambutan เงาะ Nephelium lappaceum
Rambutan has a bright red skin surrounds the fruit. The skin is full of soft green spikes that make the fruit look hairy. With the skin off, the fruit looks like a smooth off-white egg.
Inside the sweet flesh there hides a large seed that is slightly toxic to humans if eaten raw.
Durian ทุเรียน Durio
Durian is often called the King of Fruits, but it certainly divides opinion. There are those who love the incredible taste of its custard like flesh & those who are revolted by its putrid smell. They are covered by a spiny, yellow & brown husk. Inside, the fruit develops into five compartments from which the fruit develops.
Pomelo ส้มโอ Citrus maxima / Citrus grandis
The Pomelo is larger than the grapefruit, & also has a thicker rind. It tastes like a sweet, grapefruit but much milder. The flesh has very little of grapefruit's bitterness. The white membranous around the segments is bitter, considered inedible, & usually discarded.
Rose Apple ชมพู่ Syzygium malaccense
The Rose apple looks like a small pear with a waxy skin. They can eaten skin & all. The texture is similar to a watermelon & an apple, as its taste. They can have a bitter after-taste, but rarely unpleasant. The Thai Rose apple has a light green skin & is available all year round.
Lychee ลิ้นจี่ Litchi chinensis
The Lychee fruit is from the soapberry family. The trees can reach over 30 feet in height, & produce red fruits with a tough, bumpy skin that is easily peeled. The flesh is white & has a single, large seed that is inedible. Lychee is very juicy with a fragrant flavor, similar to grapes.
Coconut มะพร้าว Cocos nucifera
Coconuts have very hard shells & sweet, flaky white flesh inside. The large brown Coconuts must be cut or sawed open. Inside is the meat, & clear coconut water. Used in baking, it has to be grated &, often, sweetened.
Custard Apple / Sugar Apple / Soursop น้อยหน่า Annona reticulata
The Sugar apple is a heart-shaped, rounded fruit with sweet, custard-like flesh & a pleasant flavour. A lot of seeds is produced. The fruit has a scaly or lumpy skin, 5–10 cm in diameter & 100–200g in weight. The Thai Sugar apple contains a lot of seeds. The flesh turns very soft after the onset of ripening & the fruit carpels begin to split during ripening.
Plum Mango มะปราง Bouea macrophylla
The Plum mango (Maphrang) is native to Thailand. It is one of most popular fruits which is always in demand. It is very high in vitamin C that is good for your health. Its fresh is really soft & juicy. There are 2 fantastic varieties of Plum mango in Thailand, the sweet Maphrang and the sour Maphrang.
Star Gooseberry มะยม Phyllanthus acidus
Few people eat raw Star Gooseberries due to its pungent, overwhelmingly sour & astringent taste.. Most Thai people eat them pickled or with a sugar, chili & salt dip. The flesh is juicy, watery, crisp & compact. Use caution when eating, as the stone waiting in the middle of the fruit is very hard.
Guava ฝรั่ง Psidium guajava
Guava has a sweet, musky odor when ripe, may be round or pear-shaped. Next to the skin is a layer of white granular flesh, that is juicy, acidic or sweet & flavorful. The central pulp, is more juicy & normally filled with very hard, yellowish seeds.
Jackfruit ขนุน Artocarpus heterophyllus
The Jackfruit is unusually large in size. It is the largest tree fruit in the world & can easily reach over 80 pounds (35 kg) in weight.
Jackfruit has a subtle sweet & fruity flavor. It has been said to taste similar to a combination of fruits, including mangoes, apples, pineapples, & bananas.
Jujube พุทรา Ziziphus zizyphus
Jujube trees grow to about 40 feet with shiny green leaves, & quail-egg-sized fruits containing one large seed. The trees are tolerant to drought. Before ripening, jujubes have a yellow-green hue with a few brown spots. They get the distinct red shade upon maturation. Many people eat them as a dry fruit, others prefer eating before they are fully ripe, when the flesh is still crisp & sweet.
Langsat ลางสาด Lansium domesticum
Langsat are a small, translucent, round shaped fruit. They can be sour in taste when unripe, but perfectly sweet when ripe. Their taste is similar to a bitter-sweet grapefruit.
Langsat grow in large bunches along the trunk & branches, they are often cultivated by shaking the tree. The riper the fruit, the easier they shaken free.
Longan ลำไย Dimocarpus longan
Very popular in Thailand, the Longan fruit has very thin, brittle, yellowish to brown rind, that is quite rough to the touch. The flesh is whitish, almost translucent, musky, & sweet in taste. The seeds are jet-black & rock hard, take care when eating.
Mango มะม่วง Mangifera
The Mango is one of the most popular fruits across the world. You will see them everywhere in Thailand. Mainly eaten green, unripened with a sugar, chili & sugar dip. Mango & sticky rice is also a winning combination in our book. In addition to tasting fantastic, mangoes are great for your health too.
Pineapple สับปะรด Ananas comosus
Pineapples have a taste that is both sweet & tart. Available all year- round in Thailand.
Eaten fresh on its own or with a spicy Thai dip. The Pineapple is great in the kitchen too, making the perfect addition to any sweet & sour dish.