- Soursop Tree Care: Growing And Harvesting Soursop Fruit
- What is Soursop?
- How to Grow Soursop Trees
- Soursop Tree Care
- Harvesting Soursop Fruit
- Soursop Fruit Benefits
- Important Things to Remember About Planting Soursop Seeds
- Soursop Planting – Seeds Germination
- How to Care for Soursop Seedlings
- How to Grow Your Own Soursop Tree
- Soursop ‘Guanabana’ Tree
- The sweet and tangy flavors from this unique fruit are irresistible
- Planting & Care
- Annona muricata – Soursop, Guanabana, Graviola – GRAFTED
- The Soursop Tree
- The Fruit and the Leaves of Guanábana or Graviola
- What do we ship?
Soursop Tree Care: Growing And Harvesting Soursop Fruit
Image by Tatiana Gerus
Soursop (Annona muricata) has its place amongst a unique plant family, Annonaceae, whose members include the cherimoya, custard apple and sugar apple, or pinha. Soursop trees bear strange-looking fruit and are native to tropical regions of the Americas. But, what is soursop and how do you grow this exotic tree?
What is Soursop?
The fruit of the soursop tree has a spiny outer skin with a soft, heavily seed-laden pulped interior. Each of these cauliflorous fruit may attain over a foot in length and, when ripe, the soft pulp is used in ice creams and sherbets. In fact, this small evergreen tree produces the largest fruit in the Annonaceae family. Reportedly, the fruit may weigh up to 15 pounds (although the Guinness Book of World Records lists the largest as 8.14 pounds) and is often a lopsided heart shape.
The white segments of the soursop fruit are primarily seedless, although a few seeds are present. The seeds and bark are toxic and contain poisonous alkaloids such as anonaine, muricine, and hydrocyanic acid.
Soursop is known by a plethora of different names depending on its country of cultivation. The name, soursop is derived from the Dutch zuurzak which means “sour sack.”
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How to Grow Soursop Trees
The soursop tree can reach height of 30 feet and is soil tolerant, although it flourishes in well drained, sandy soil with a pH of 5-6.5. A tropical specimen, this low branching and bushy tree does not tolerate cold or strong sustained winds. It will, however, grow at sea level and up to elevations of 3,000 feet in tropical climes.
A rapid grower, soursop trees produce their first crop three to five years from seeding. Seeds stay viable for up to six months but better success is met by planting within 30 days of harvest and seeds will germinate within 15-30 days. Propagation is usually through seeds; however, fibreless varieties can be grafted. Seeds should be washed before planting.
Soursop Tree Care
Soursop tree care involves copious mulching, which benefits the shallow root system. Overly high temps from 80-90 F. (27-32 C.) and low relative humidity cause pollination issues while slightly lower temps and 80 percent relative humidity improve pollination.
Soursop trees should be irrigated regularly to prevent stress, which will cause leaf drop.
Fertilize every quarter of the year with a 10-10-10 NPK at ½ pound per year for the first year, 1 pound the second, and 3 pounds for every year thereafter.
Very little pruning is required once the initial shaping is attained. You should only need to prune out dead or diseased limbs, which should be done once harvest is over. Topping the trees at 6 feet will facilitate harvesting.
Harvesting Soursop Fruit
When harvesting soursop, the fruit will change from dark green to a lighter yellowish green tone. The spines of the fruit will soften and the fruit will swell. Soursop fruit will take between four to five days to ripen once picked. Trees will produce at least two dozen fruit per year.
Soursop Fruit Benefits
Besides its pleasant flavor, soursop fruit benefits include 71 kcal of energy, 247 grams of protein, and calcium, iron, magnesium, potassium and phosphorus — not to mention it’s a source of vitamins C and A.
Soursop can be eaten fresh or used in ice cream, mousse, jellies, soufflés, sorbet, cakes and candy. Filipinos use the young fruit as a vegetable while in the Caribbean, the pulp is strained and the milk mixed with sugar to drink or mix with wine or brandy.
Important Things to Remember About Planting Soursop Seeds
Are you thinking of cultivating and growing this tree? An essential requirement of cultivating and growing soursop is seed plantation. Following the right method ensures a flourishing fruit bearing tree — but what is the right method?
Soursop seeds produce bushy trees that grow up to 30 feet in height. But for that to happen, you need to pay special attention to the seeds after planting.
What do you have to gain with proper planting and caring of this plant? The trees produce juicy and tender fruits, used mostly for making preserves, desserts and delicious beverages.
Soursop Planting – Seeds Germination
The first step towards soursop cultivation is collecting good quality soursop seeds. Experts suggest the seeds should be soaked in water for a few hours to trigger the germination process.
One thing farmers should know about soursop seedlings – many don’t always survive especially if climate and soil conditions aren’t ideal. It is a good idea to plant more than one seed.
What to Do
Fill a small pot with rich potting soil and plant each seed at a depth of half an inch. The pots should be kept in a warm, shady spot in a proper designated area (such as a greenhouse).
Regular watering of the plant is recommended as the soul must remain moist at all times.
How to Care for Soursop Seedlings
Once planted, soursop seedlings are highly sensitive to changes in the climate. The planted seedlings need to be kept indoors for at least six months. If possible, increase the humidity levels in the greenhouse seeing you are growing a tropical plant.
Transplanting the Seedlings
This is the most important step. You need to plant seedlings in the ground with enough room to grow without being overcrowded. Plant the seedlings with at least 12 feet apart by digging a large hole to accommodate root ball of each seedling.
Fill the hole with potted soil, then a three inch mulch layer around the plant base. The addition of mulch will help with moisture retention and protect roots from cold weather.
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How to Grow Your Own Soursop Tree
Unlike most fruit trees, this one is usually grown from seed. If you want to try that, take the seeds directly from a soursop fruit, soak them in warm water overnight, and plant them 1/2 inch deep in sterile seed-starting mix. Keep the mix damp and they should germinate in two weeks to a month. It’s best to wait until your tree is at least six months old before moving it outdoors in zones 10 to 13.
Plant your soursop seedling or purchased sapling in an area with full to partial sun and slightly acidic, well-drained soil, where it will be protected from strong winds. Place it about 20 feet from buildings or other plantings, and mulch it heavily with compost to keep the soil damp, as it has shallow roots. If your site is subject to flooding, choose a specimen that has been grafted onto pond apple (Annona glabra), since soursop won’t tolerate standing water.
Once its trunk diameter reaches 1/2 to 3/4 inch, prune the tree back to 30 inches in height. When it begins to send out new shoots, choose the most vertical shoot to be the central leader, and three or four other shoots evenly spaced around the trunk to be the branches.
After cutting off any other growth, leave the central leader vertical and force all the other branches into more horizontal positions. You can accomplish that by wedging spring-style clothespins into the crotches between them and the trunk.
Feed your soursop twice a year, in early spring and early fall, giving it 1/4 pound of organic fertilizer per feeding its first year, 1/2 pound per feeding the second year, and 1 1/2 pounds per feeding every year thereafter. It’s a good idea to renew the compost each year also to smother weeds and keep the soil moist.
Cut back the central leader by about a third during the tree’s second year. Again, wait for new shoots to begin beneath the cut, choose the best of those shoots, and force them outward to form a second tier of horizontal branches above the first. Soursop will sometimes drop its leaves when stressed by overly dry or cold conditions, so try to prevent such extremes if you can.
The tree’s greenish-yellow blossoms may begin to form anywhere on the trunk or branches in the third to fifth year. Pollinate those flowers by hand for the best production.
You should wait to pick the fruits until they lose their shine, turn from dark to yellowish green, and the spines stand up. Enjoy them within five or six days after the harvest, or their flavor will deteriorate. In addition to eating soursop raw, you can also add its pulp or juice to fruit salads, drinks, sherbets, jams, and gelatins. The seeds are toxic, though, so remove them before juicing the flesh. Like bananas, soursop fruits will often turn black if refrigerated, but the flesh may still be good.
Cropped thumbnail and sliced fruit photos are by Muhammed Mahdi Karim, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons and this license. Antique image is from Francisco Manuel Blanco’s Flora de Filipinas, courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. Soursop flower photo is by Tom Rulkens, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons and this license. Soursop seeds photo is by AndyBonsai, from the Dave’s Garden PlantFiles.
Soursop ‘Guanabana’ Tree
The sweet and tangy flavors from this unique fruit are irresistible
Soursop Trees produce remarkable fruit with a unique look and flavor. Those who have never seen a soursop before are often amazed by its elongated shape with bright green skin that has a soft prickly appearance.
However, aside from being famous for distinct fruit, Soursops are also known for their amazing health benefits. The fruit and leaves contain a number of vitamins and nutrients like potassium, calcium, iron, vitamin C and Vitamin A for healthy skin and energy.
Boil the leaves in water and make Soursop tea for even more nutrients and natural healing properties. Soursop leaves are believed to boost the immune system to help bodies fight off infections and viruses, as well as providing pain relief.
Those who are prone to back pain and illnesses commonly turn to soursop leaves for relief. Even those with eczema use the leaves to aid their skin.
Once you cut past the vibrant skin you will find the soursop’s soft white and creamy flesh. Its zesty tropical aroma will fill the room and you’ll have to give in to your urges to bite into to soursop’s tantalizing flesh that is filled with exotic flavors like mango, pineapple, and banana.
Soursop flesh is like a blended fruit smoothie with sweet and sour juices. You can’t find this tropical blend of flavors anywhere else. Soursops are great for snacking as well as pairing with desserts like ice cream or pies.
Aside from producing tons of delectable fruit soursop trees also provide an exotic look with their lush green foliage and bright yellow flowers. The flowers pop against the soursop tree’s long and slender leaves and draw the eye to their striking beauty.
Soursop trees will turn any space into a tropical getaway indoors or out. This low maintenance tree is perfect for containers. If you live in an area that gets too cold for this tree simply place it in a pot and bring it indoors once the weather starts to get cold.
Soursop trees are hard to find, so they are often in limited supply. Be sure to order yours before they’re all gone.
Planting & Care
The Soursop Guanabana tree is a low maintenance evergreen tree with an exotic look to its lush green foliage and bright yellow flowers. This variety is known as “Annona Muricata” is also known for its amazing health benefits and cancer-fighting properties (antioxidants). Soursop Guanabana trees are moderate growers, maturing to a height of 25-30 feet tall and 8-10 feet wide. This tree performs its best in USDA growing zones 9-11 and on the patio (potted) in zones 4-11.
Location: When planting the Soursop tree, find a location that receives full sun and moist, well-draining soil. The tree will tolerate a wide range of soil types but prefers one that’s slightly acidic.
Planting Instructions (in the ground):
1) Dig your hole 3 times the width and slightly shallower than the root ball.
2) Loosen the soil, in and around the hole so the roots can easily breakthrough.
3) Use your fingers to separate the roots of your Soursop and gently position downward in the hole. The top of the root flare (where the roots end and the trunk begins) should be about an inch above the surrounding soil.
4) Hold the tree straight as you begin to backfill the site, tamping down the soil as you go.
5) Backfill the hole, apply water to settle the soil and remove any air pockets that may have formed.
Planting Instructions (potted): The Soursop is also good for container growth if you happen to be in a zone too cold to add it to your landscape.
1) When selecting a container for your Soursop, be sure it has plenty of holes in the bottom as drainage is essential. The pot size should be at least 2 times larger than the pot it initially came in.
2) Fill the container halfway with soil, gently remove the tree from its original pot and position into the new one.
3) Fill in around the tree with the potting soil but be sure not to cover the grafted area of the tree. Leave about an inch from the soil surface to the rim of the pot for easy watering.
4) Lightly pack down the soil as you fill and then give your tree a deep watering until it flows from the holes in the bottom of the pot.
5) Choose a location on the patio, back yard, front/side of the house providing it will receive full sun.
6) If bringing indoors for the winter, keep by a sunny window and water as needed. Also, avoid exposure to both drafts and heat from a window or vent.
Watering (in the ground): Be sure to give your tree a deep watering so that it can penetrate into the root system. After watering, allow the top 2-3 inches of the soil to dry out completely before watering again as Soursops do not like wet feet. Yellowing and droopy leaves are a common sign of overwatering while brown, dry leaves are a sign of under-watering. Mulching can help retain the soil moisture and also combat competing grasses/weeds.
Watering (potted): Stick your index finger into the soil down to about 2 inches. If there is moisture present, hold off on watering until it feels drier at that depth. When ready to water, stop once you see it escaping drainage holes at the base of the pot.
Pollination: Our trees are self-fertile but can pollinate your indoor trees by hand. Simply take a small, fine-tipped paintbrush and stick it into the center of the bloom. Swirl it around and collect the pollen on the brush. Go to the next bloom and repeat the process until every bloom has been treated. The bloom will fall off naturally and the fruit will begin to form.
Fertilization: Feed your Soursop tree every 3 months with a 10-10-10 formula at a half pound per year for the first year. Increase to 1 pound the following year and 3 pounds for every year thereafter.
Pruning: Soursop trees don’t require much pruning once the initial shaping is attained. Only prune off dead branches or limbs once the harvesting is over.
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Annona muricata – Soursop, Guanabana, Graviola – GRAFTED
The Soursop Tree
Guanabana, Graviola or Soursop is a tropical evergreen tree native to the Caribbean, Central and South America. Annona muricata can reach up to 10 m (33 ft), with long oblong leaves and solitary flowers growing along the stem. The tree prefers warm climates and grows very fast in hot temperatures. It can be grown in pots and will stay as a shrub but will seldom fruit. Protect from cold weather. It should be kept above + 6 C. It is very sensitive to frost.
The Fruit and the Leaves of Guanábana or Graviola
It is a very large fruit, popular in in Tropical American countries. Its fruit has a thin, leathery dark green skin covered with soft spines. Its flesh is white, juicy and aromatic, with a slightly acidic flavour. Guanabanas are about 20 cm (8 “) in long and could weight 250 g (0,5 lb). The fruit is picked before ripening and is available almost all year-round. Annona muricata is widely grown for makling juice for drinks and is also used in desserts as meringues and mousses. Leaves are used to make a tea with a tasty flavour. Many parts of the plant are used medicinally but the seeds are toxic, as in most annona species.
What do we ship?
We offer a grafted potted plant, 30-60 cm tall, 14-18 months old. In this case, an adult scion of Annona muricata is grafted on a seedling of Annona muricata, in order make a plant that will flower and fruit sooner. We ship worldwide.
Visit this and see pictures of our fruit trees on the packing desk and learn more about what we ship.
Soursop (Annona muricata) is a tropical fruit tree that occupies a promising position in todays Brazilian fruit market. The growing demand and interest by the processing industries of sorbets and juices for the soursop pulp justifies the increasing production areas in northeast Brazil. Nevertheless, most of soursop plants have been propagated by seeds which bring as a consequence highly heterogeneous orchards. Therefore, vegetative propagation of elite trees has been recommended to produce uniform and more productive orchards. Among the existing cloning methods, stem cuttings is one that presents simplicity, speed, low cost and has been preferred by commercial nurseries. The objective of this work was to improve the vegetative propagation of soursop by cuttings and to study the effect of length, number of leaves and leaf area on the rooting process of soursop soft minicuttings. Thus, the feasibility of propagating the soursop by means of soft stem cuttings has been investigated on an entirely randomized 2×3 factorial experiment with four replicates and 10 cuttings per plot. The soft cuttings were collected from apical branches of eight-year-old trees with 12 cm and maintained with 2 or 4 leaves left entire, halved or with a quarter of their original length. All cuttings had the base treated with 2000 mg/kg acid indole-3-butyric acid (IBA) powder. After 6 weeks the percentage of rooted cuttings, number and length of roots, and number of remaining leaves on cuttings were examined. Soft stem minicuttings revealed high capability to root. The percentage of rooted soft cuttings was about 70% on two leaves cuttings. The length of the minicuttings did not influence rooting ability. The lower number and size of the leaves significantly improved rooting percentage and number of roots. Rooting percentage was about 70% on soft cuttings with a pair of trimmed leaves.
Uniquely odd-shaped large yellow-green fruit with tropical flavor. Some describe the taste as a mix of pineapple and mango! Also known as the Guanabana or Graviola tree.
USDA Hardiness Zones: 9-11
Chill Hours: –
Plant Type: Perennial
Pollinator: Cross pollination greatly increases production of fruits, but is self-fertile
Years to Bear Fruit/Edible Qualities: Establishes in first year and typically produces 2 dozen fruit in the second year. Allow fruits to ripen 4-5 days after harvesting. Easy to propagate from seed & fruits 3-5 years from seedling.
Full Size: 20′-25′ high tree
Cold Tolerance: Not cold hardy, protect tree around 40-42 degrees.
Light Requirements: Very productive tree even in the shade, though we recommend full sun with wind protection
Drought Tolerance/Watering: Allow for dry period during Florida winter months, this encourages flowering.
Soil & Site Requirements: Provide slightly acidic, well drained sandy loam soil and do not allow for flooding.