There are a lot of heat-tolerant edible plants that thrive here in the tropics, but after years of growing a lot of them, I found a few that I like the best.

Heat-tolerant edible plants should be the priority foods for any tropical homestead. They will thrive in your garden and require less attention than plants in temperate climates. This list has everything: fruits, greens, root vegetables and more!

Want to know which item on the list can keep spiders out of your house? Or which one you shouldn’t rush to harvest as soon as it’s ripe?  This list has more than just names of heat-tolerant plants, but helpful information about each one, too.

Heat-Tolerant Fruits to Grow on Your Homestead

Fruit Trees

Citrus Fruits: including oranges, tangerines, grapefruits, lemons, limes and kumquats.

Since most readers are familiar with most of the fruits on this list, I’ll just mention a few details about the less well-known kumquat.

Kumquat: Small, potted kumquat trees are a typical gift given for the Chinese New Year. Kumquat trees have been grown in Hawai’i for around 200 years (starting back in 1825, according to records).

Kumquats grow well in hot, sunny locations but are not drought (or flood) tolerant – so be careful that where you plant them has good drainage, and you don’t let them dry out.

It’s best to grow from seedlings, not from the seeds.

Pomegranate: Pomegranate trees are sometimes used as ornamental trees, as they are nice-looking for a front yard, don’t grow too tall (usually maxing out at 16 ft – but you can certainly prune them shorter if you want). Also the flowers and later, the fruits, are pretty, too. 

Pomegranate trees actually do very well in hot and dry locations, and some varieties are native to North Africa and parts of the Middle East. They will still grow in a tropical environment, they just do better in the dry tropics, which means they’re drought tolerant.

Just know, you might be fighting the birds off for the fruit, so be ready to pick the fruit as soon as it is ripe. It will turn deep red and might even crack open a little.

Avocado: Not only are avocado trees easy to grow in hot climates, but they grow very well and these shady trees can grow to massive sizes (like 75-80 feet tall!), offering shade to your orchard.

You may, however, choose to prune yours or grow a dwarf variety that only grows 10-15 ft in height to make harvesting the tasty avocados much easier.

Lychee: I have a whole post about growing your own Lychee Tree, check it out. Here’s a little teaser: I don’t recommend growing from seed.

Figs: I also have a post about growing your own Fig Tree. This is not usually a tree that comes to mind for hot climates, but fig trees can flourish in the tropics if they don’t sit with wet roots. It’s usually a good idea to plant at higher elevations, if you can.

Other Fruits

Banana: I don’t care if you call it a banana plant or a banana tree: what matters here is that they are heat-tolerant plants. The stems also make for some great mulch and will improve your soil health over time. 

Lilikoi: Also known as passion fruit, this climbing vine loves the heat. Make sure you plant it near a trellis, fence, or a mature, strong tree. If Lilikoi climbs on a young or small tree, it can very quickly smother it and prevent adequate sunlight.

Other types of Trees

Macadamia Nut: I have a great post about growing your own macadamia nut trees– and as an even better incentive – they are the most expensive nuts in the world!

While they aren’t especially difficult to grow, they are fragile for the first few years, so give them a bit of extra care and attention.


Rosemary: Rosemary is one of those hearty herbs that seems to grow fine just about anywhere – in a pot at your kitchen window, or in a dry spot at the edge of your garden. This plant is drought tolerant and evergreen, so you should always have some delicious-tasting leaves to add to a meal, any time of year.

But it doesn’t like rain.  I have found it hard to grow in East Hawaii unless it’s in a pot.

It’s a good idea to plant rosemary around your house, especially near a door. Why? Because, apparently, spiders hate the smell of this herb! It can prevent spiders from coming into your house. 

Lemongrass: Since I just mentioned one herb that can keep pests away, let me tell you about lemongrass and mosquitoes. Yep, lemongrass is in the same family as citronella and it naturally keeps mosquitoes away. 

Lemongrass is also great to make into tea and has been used for centuries in parts of Asia as a natural remedy for a host of common health problems, including headaches.


Malabar spinach: This is an edible vine, so make sure to grow this near a trellis or location that allows it to climb. While Malabar spinach loves the heat, it grows best in the shade.

New Zealand Spinach: this is an awesome green to grow because it thrives even in dry conditions. If you have very heavy, clay-type soil, mix in some sand (to help with drainage) before planting New Zealand spinach.

Root Vegetables

Cassava: This has many names, including yuca and manioc. Cassava is very easy to grow and loves hot climates. 

Here’s a tip though – don’t harvest your cassava unless you plan to cook with it within 2 days. Otherwise, let it stay in the ground. It takes about 9 months to be ready to harvest, but you can safely leave it until 18 months to 2 years if you’re not intending to cook with it right away.

Kalo: Also known as Taro Root, this is an easy heat-tolerant plant to grow. I have a whole video about how to propagate and grow your own Kalo. But if you just want the quick highlights, here are a few:

  • Don’t dig a deep hole to plant your kalo, instead plant just on the surface, enough to stand up on its own.
  • New corms develop from a re-planted base with in around 9 months
  • The leaves and the roots are both edible, and it provides one of the best forms of healthy starches for human consumption.

Which plants on this list do you already grow in your garden? Which ones are you ready to start planting on your tropical homestead?