When to prune guava trees?

Pineapple Guava

Feijoa sellowiana

by SCMG Stephanie Wrightson

Sonoma County Master Gardeners include pineapple guava in the Top Plants for Sonoma County. Fall is an ideal month to plant woody shrubs and trees.

Following a move from the the Mid-Atlantic to Sonoma Valley, I attended the local May lavender festival. The lavender farm’s landscape included large, attractive bluish-green shrubs covered with eye-catching inch-wide white flowers with large red stamens. The property owner identified it as pineapple guava (Feijoa sellowiana, AKA Acca sellowiana; not a true guava). Each flower gives the promise of a late fall/early winter fruit.

Three years after the lavender festival, I still remembered the attractiveness of this evergreen plant and decided to include it my re-landscape plans. The leaves complement the gray- and blue-green palate of the Mediterranean plants and olive trees that populate my sunny garden. It can grow 18 to 25 feet with an equal canopy spread. But with a relatively small yard, I decided on an espaliered specimen to use as a side “fence” to demarcate the garden. It does not like to be buried deep; the top most roots are positioned at the soil line. Its low multi-branched trunk is attractive and can be kept pruned along the lower limbs if aesthetically preferred. The pineapple guava tolerates almost any amount of pruning and can be used as a hedge or screen.

After the first growing season, I removed the nursery trellis and placed tree stakes about six feet apart on either side of the shrub and lashed two bamboo poles to the stakes that loosely lace through the guava’s branches. This provides support in the occasional strong winds and guides me as I lightly prune the guava to keep its espaliered shape. Once it reaches the desired height and width, heavier pruning in early spring will keep the guava in proportion to the scale of my yard. A hori-hori knife makes quick work of the light suckering.

While the pineapple guava is drought tolerant, I give it regular water (20 minutes, three times a week during the summer months) so that I can optimize fruiting. Despite getting full sun, the west end of the Sonoma Valley is affected by the coastal weather pattern and the guava appreciates some of this cool weather. If you live in a very hot inland microclimate, the plant will appreciate some protection from the hottest part of the day. An added bonus is that the small black-tailed deer who visit my garden ignore the guava. Only the new fawns take a taste and, then, ignore it. Additional positives: pineapple guava tolerates cold weather to 10-15 degrees and is virtually pest-free.

The pineapple guava fruit is sweet with the slight flavor of pineapple. The oval fruit is one- to four-inches long. You know it’s ripe when the fruit falls in late November/early December. When the first fruit falls, you can put a sheet underneath and give the branches a light shake every few days. Cut the fruit in half and use a teaspoon to scoop out two yummy bitefuls. Also, the late spring petals are sweetly delicious – add them to salads or use them to decorate a cake. If just the petals are removed, it does not interfere with fruit set. Note that the timing of flowering, fruiting and optimal pruning may vary based on your microclimate.

Most improved varieties are self-fertile but not all are. Ask the nursery about the variety characteristics if you plan to plant just one guava. In any event, you may wish to plant two if you desire a bountiful crop. If growing the plant for fruit, the Sunset Western Garden Book recommends ‘Apollo,’ ‘Collidge,’ ‘Mammoth,’ ‘Nazemetz,’ and ‘Trask.’

I am expecting next year’s fruit production to be plentiful enough to make a batch of guava jelly…and maybe guava ice cream. I can’t wait!

Pruning Guava Trees

SERIES 18 | Episode 33

The guava comes from South America and is a marvellous fruit-bearing plant. Most people know it as feijoa, but it’s really Acca, or as I prefer, the pineapple guava. And at this time of year it’s crying out to be pruned.

The first act is to skirt prune the tree. Often the branches bear against the ground and it goes rotten and diseases get into the tree. It’s best to remove the entire branch.

The pineapple guava bears its fruit on the tips of new growth. But on some plants this means masses of new growth and so it’s important to thin it out. Remove all the old half-dead stuff in the middle. It’s a question of thinning out the oldest growth and leaving the young stuff. It might look a little sparse but what’s left is the new growth and that means fruit next year. But remember you don’t have to prune pineapple guavas every year, just when they need it.

A different type of guava that is a much smaller bush is the strawberry guava or Psidium. When pruning this plant, find any parts of the tree that have been damaged and remove these completely, as well as any dead looking branches. These plants need pruning every four or five years to give a continuous supply of fruit.

Learn how to grow feijoa in this article. If you live in a mild temperate or warm subtropical climate, growing feijoa (Pineapple Guava) will be really easy for you.

USDA Zones— 8 to 11

Difficulty— Easy

Soil pH— Slightly acidic to slightly neutral

Feijoa or pineapple guava is a large and attractive evergreen shrub that is native of South America. It belongs to the myrtle family (Myrtaceae) and is widely known with the name of guaiabo, pineapple guava, guavasteen. However, it is not real guava and generally grown for its ornamental values and sweet, aromatic fruits that taste like a combination of guava, pineapple, and mint.

Growing Habit of Feijoa

If you’re growing pineapple guava, you should know it is a slow growing shrub that can grow up to 5.5 meters (18 feet). Its edible and mildly fragrant white flowers bloom in summer. Fruits mature in 5-6 months after the flowers.

These fruits have the shape of an oval, similar to chicken egg and they look like guavas with a combined flavor of pineapple, guava, and mint.

Feijoa lives long between 50 to 70 years. Despite its subtropical origin, it is resistant to some freezing temperature, although below 12 ° F (-11 ° C) the plant suffers.

How to Plant Pineapple Guava

  1. Plant the shrub in slightly acidic soil that is rich and well drained. Pineapple guava can grow in a variety of soil types, but the plant does best in slightly acidic soil.
  2. Dig a hole that is twice in depth and width of the previous pot in which you’ve bought the plant from the nursery.
  3. Mix one part of soil with one part of compost and peat.
  4. Remove the plant from the container, loose the root ball and place the plant in the hole. Plant the plant in the depth of or slightly higher than it was planted in its previous pot.
  5. Pour the soil into the hole and gently pat the soil over the roots and around the plant.
  6. Water the growing medium around the plant carefully so that air bubbles are removed and the soil settles.

Growing Feijoa in Pot

If you live below USDA Zone 8 or in a more cooler climate, growing feijoa in the pot is the best option. All the growing requirements and caring tips are similar as we’ve recommended for planting on the ground.

Also Read: How to Grow Dragon Fruit

Requirements for Growing Feijoa

Location

Make sure your plant is exposed to full sun, at least 6 hours. Grow other plants around it, to shade the base of your tree. It is resistant to some cold, drought and heat but it doesn’t grow well in a windy spot so don’t hesitate to plant it near a wall to protect it.

Soil

It prefers sandy soil that is rich in organic matter–loose, light and gritty. Soil should be well-drained but not too dry. While planting, add some perlite or sand in your garden soil.

Fertilization

Feijoas grow slowly and require the application of 8-8-8 NPK organic fertilizer once every two months to speed up growth. The fertilizer you use should contain trace elements like copper, boron, magnesium, zinc, manganese, iron, and molybdenum.

Watering

Water the plant frequently, especially during the plant’s first year of growth. Established and mature plants are drought-tolerant. Still, the plant should receive an inch of water every week. Water clayey soil once a week and light soil twice a week on the ground. Reduce the amount of watering in winter and rainy season.

Pineapple Guava Care

Pruning

It is not necessary to prune feijoa, except if you want to give it a shape that suits you. You can prune your tree only at the time when there are no fruits hanging on the plant. In fall when the harvest is done, it’s an excellent time to prune it.

Mulching

Do mulching at the base of your tree with organic matters like straws, grass clippings, and twigs. You can also use coffee grounds. Mulching conserves the moisture content in soil, prevent weeds and insulate the plant in winter.

Also read: Growing Guava in Pots

Pests and Diseases

Few pests and diseases affect mostly a young plant. It can be invaded by aphids, mealybug, and scales. You can spray insecticidal soap mixed in water to kill these soft-bodied enemies.

Guava Tree Pruning – How Do I Prune My Guava Tree

Guavas are a group of tropical trees in the Psidium genus that produce delicious fruit. Guava paste, juice, and preserves are important in the cuisines of Caribbean and Southeast Asian countries, and the fruits are eaten fresh or cooked. Today, the common guava (Psidium guajaba) is grown in places as far apart as Florida, Hawaii, India, Egypt, and Thailand. Properly pruning a guava tree is an important part of its care. If you’re wondering how or when to prune guava trees, this article is for you.

How Do I Prune My Guava Tree?

Guava is a shrubby tree that grows densely and will attempt to spread horizontally along the ground. You can, therefore, choose to prune guavas into the shape of a tree or a bush, or even grow them as a hedge.

If you prune your guava in bush form, branches will emerge from near the ground. If you train your guava into a tree shape by selecting a single trunk, the fruiting limbs will emerge from 2 feet (0.6 meters) off the ground and up. In either case, it’s best not to

allow your guava to grow taller than 10 feet (3 meters), or it could blow over in strong winds.

Now, let’s learn how to prune a guava properly to encourage its healthy growth and maximize fruit production.

Guava Tree Pruning Techniques

Three types of cuts are used on guava trees: thinning cuts, heading back, and pinching. Thinning helps counteract the tree’s dense growth to let light and air in to the inner branches, which helps them stay healthy and productive. It also makes the fruit easier to reach. To thin, simply remove some of the branches by cutting them at their base.

Pinching means removing the growing tip of shoots. Heading back means pruning individual branches to reduce their length. These techniques allow you to control the horizontal spread of the tree. Guava flowers on new growth, so these cuts also induce the tree to produce more flowers and fruit.

It is important to prune established trees regularly to prevent them from spreading away from the original planting location. Guavas have become invasive trees in some regions of Florida, Hawaii, and elsewhere. Remove any suckers that appear at the base of the tree or above the roots, and cut back branches that spread too far.

When to Prune Guava Trees

Prune guavas 3 to 4 months after planting to train them to the desired shape. If you are pruning yours to a tree shape, select a single trunk and 3 or 4 lateral (side) branches. Remove all other shoots. Pinch back the tips of the selected side branches when they are 2 to 3 feet (0.6 to 0.9 meters) long. This will encourage them to produce additional branches.

After this, prune your guava tree annually to maintain its symmetry and remove excessive growth. Guava tree pruning should be performed in late winter or early spring. Diseased branches and suckers can be removed at any time of year.

Commercial growers also conduct severe “crop cycling” pruning to delay fruiting on individual trees in the following season. This practice allows a planting to produce fruit over a longer period.

INTRODUCTION
LOCATION AND PLANTING
WATERING
CARE AND FROST PROTECTION
FERTILIZING
SOIL
MAINTENANCE
SUN AND HEAT
FRUITS/HARVEST
INTRODUCTION
Guavas are primarily self-fruitful, although some strains seem to produce more fruit when cross-pollinated with another variety. Guavas can bloom throughout the year in mild-winter areas, but the heaviest bloom occurs with the onset of warm weather in the spring. The exact time can vary from year to year depending on weather. The chief pollinator of guavas is the honeybee.
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LOCATION AND PLANTING
Like other tender subtropicals, guavas need a frost-free location, but are not too fussy otherwise. They prefer full sun.
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WATERING
Guavas have survived dry summers with no water, although they do best with regular deep watering. The ground should be allowed to dry to a depth of several inches before watering again. Lack of moisture will delay bloom and cause the fruit to drop.
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CARE AND FROST PROTECTION
Overhead protection and planting on the warm side of a building or structure will often provide suitable frost protection for guavas in cooler areas. A frame over the plant covered with fabric will provide additional protection during freezes, and electric lights can be included for added warmth. Potted plants can be moved to a more protected site if necessary.
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FERTILIZING
Guavas are fast growers and heavy feeders, and benefit from regular applications of fertilizer. Mature trees may require as much as 1/2 pound actual nitrogen per year. Apply fertilizer monthly, just prior to heavy pruning.
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SOIL
The guava will tolerate many soil conditions, but will produce better in rich soils high in organic matter. They also prefer a well-drained soil in the pH range of 5 to 7. The tree will take temporary waterlogging but will not tolerate salty soils.
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MAINTENANCE
Shaping the tree and removing water shoots and suckers are usually all that is necessary. Guavas can take heavy pruning, however, and can be used as informal hedges or screens. Since the fruit is borne on new growth, pruning does not interfere with next years crop.
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SUN AND HEAT
Guavas actually thrive in both humid and dry climates, but can survive only a few degrees of frost. The tree will recover from a brief exposure to 29° F but may be completely defoliated. Young trees are particularly sensitive to cold spells. Older trees, killed to the ground, have sent up new shoots which fruited 2 years later. Guavas can take considerable neglect, withstanding temporary waterlogging and very high temperatures. They tend to bear fruit better in areas with a definite winter or cooler season.
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FRUITS/HARVEST
Guava fruits may be round, ovoid or pear-shaped, 2 – 4 inches long, and have 4 or 5 protruding floral remnants (sepals) at the apex. Varieties differ widely in flavor and seediness. The better varieties are soft when ripe, creamy in texture with a rind that softens to be fully edible. The flesh may be white, pink, yellow, or red. The sweet, musky odor is pungent and penetrating. The seeds are numerous but small and, in good varieties, fully edible. In warmer regions guavas will ripen all year. There is a distinctive change in the color and aroma of the guava that has ripened. For the best flavor, allow fruit to ripen on the tree. The can also be picked green-mature and allowed to ripen off the tree at room temperature. Placing the fruit in a brown paper bag with a banana or apple will hasten ripening. Mature green fruit can be stored for two to five weeks at temperature between 46° and 50° F and relative humidity of 85 to 95 percent. Fruit that has changed color cannot be stored for any extended periods. It bruises easily and will quickly deteriorate or rot.
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