Growing feijoa pineapple guava fruit trees is a great option for any garden. Not only do feijoa trees produce a delicious harvest of fruit, but they are also a really useful tree with multiple functions. They make an attractive edible hedge and an effective windbreak. Feijoa are also a low maintenance fruit tree once established and are rarely bothered by pests or disease. This is one fruit tree well worth growing in the home garden. So here are our tips for growing feijoa fruit trees and some ideas on how to eat feijoa fruit.
What Is Feijoa
The feijoa is a perennial evergreen shrub or small tree producing oval, green, egg-sized fruit. The green topside leaves with silver underside make feijoa an attractive ornamental plant as well as a productive fruit-producing tree.
Fejoa is also known as pineapple guava or guavasteen and its botanical name is acca sellowiana or feijoa sellowiana.
Originating from South America, feijoa are now grown all over the world. The feijoa species includes many cultivars with many being self-fertile but some that will produce a bigger yield if there is another variety close by to cross-pollinate. The variety called Unique is a genuine self-fertile feijoa plant and for this reason, makes an excellent choice for home gardeners who wish to grow only one tree.
Depending on the variety, feijoa can grow as tall as 10-16 feet (3-5 meters) and 6-10 feet (2-3 meters) wide. Though they can be pruned to the ideal size and into a hedge or tree shape. And growing feijoa in pots and large containers works well also.
How To Grow Feijoa
Although feijoa fruit trees are tolerant of less than ideal growing conditions, planting and caring for them with the right conditions will produce a very healthy plant and bigger fruit yields.
Feijoas are versatile trees and can be grown in a range of climates from cool all the way through to subtropical. This hardy fruit tree can tolerate heat and frost once established. In fact, feijoas can cope with extremes in temperatures from 19 to 104 F ( -7 to 40 C). Though ideally, feijoas grow best where they experience cool winters and milder summers of 77-92 F (25-33 C).
Cooler climates provide the chill hours favored by feijoa for the best flavor of fruit. Chill hours of 100-200 is best and less than 50 hours will negatively impact flower production.
Like many fruit trees, feijoa prefers full sun though they will grow in some part shade. Full sun of 8 hours or more a day will provide the tree with conditions favored to produce a bigger crop. Grown in part shade, fruit production may be smaller.
Pineapple guava feijoa are really very easy fruit trees and can grow in a range of soil conditions. For optimum growth, rich fertile soil that’s also well-draining will give feijoa the best start and continued healthy growth. Ideal soil pH is 5.5-7 and you can use a soil pH monitor to test the soil. But even in less than ideal soil conditions, soil can be amended with compost and well-rotted manure to provide ideal feijoa growing conditions.
During the first year of planting, water the feijoa regularly during the warmer season to help it establish. Then once established, feijoa is a somewhat drought tolerant fruit tree. However, to encourage good fruit yield, consistent watering once flowers appear and throughout the fruit growth is beneficial. Deep watering once or twice a week during the warm season would be ideal, depending on your climate and natural rainfall. And less during the cooler seasons.
Feijoa’s require very little fertilizer for the first 3 years while it is establishing. After this, use an organic fertilizer for fruit trees to feed this hungry tree.
A combination of compost and well-rotted manure is also excellent fertilizer for feijoas. Simply apply a top dressing every couple of months to support healthy growth. Compost and manure can be applied prior to planting to feed the soil as well as helping to establish the feijoa during the first few years of planting.
Feijoa trees benefit enormously from mulch which protects feijoa’s shallow roots as well as the soil from drying out. Using an organic mulch also feeds the soil and the feijoa fruit tree as it breaks down.
How To Plant Feijoa Tree
A great time to plant feijoa is in the fall (autumn) when the weather has cooled.
- Amend the soil with compost and aged manure prior to planting so the soil is fertile and perfect for supporting the new feijoa tree growth.
- Dig a hole a little deeper and twice as wide as the feijoa tree container.
- Place the feijoa in the planting hole and backfill with soil. Ensure the trunk is only buried to the previous level in the pot.
- Mulch with an organic mulch to protect the soil and roots and water well to help settle the roots.
Pruning feijoas is not strictly necessary but without pruning, feijoas can become unruly. So, the best time to prune feijoas is after fruiting, at the end of fall and you can also prune through to early spring before flowering. Prune anytime to remove dead or broken branches.
Feijoas naturally form multi trunks as they spread out to create a bushy plant. Though they can also be pruned into a tree with a single truck by pruning away the lower branches.
Pruning out some of the canopy is beneficial to allow more light in to help bees and birds pollinate the flowers as well as for the fruit to ripen.
Time To Fruiting
Feijoa trees usually take between 2-6 years to fruit – the time taken depends on the variety. And from flowering to fruit harvest the time is usually 6 months.
Time to fruiting really depends on the feijoa. Some unknown variety of seedlings have been known to take up to 10 years to fruit, whereas known grafted cultivators are more predictable and faster to produce fruit.
Seedlings are cheaper so if a feijoa tree hedge is your main goal, then they may be a good option. Otherwise, for faster fruit production, a grafted cultivator is better.
When To Harvest Feijoas
The feijoa fruit is usually ready to harvest in the fall. After producing gorgeous pink flowers in spring, the fruit will be ready over a two month period in the fall. And a mature feijoa can produce large harvests of fruit in one season!
Feijoa flowers are also edible and are described as tasting like sherbet! Petals can be carefully removed for eating so that fruit can still develop. If the whole flowers are removed – including the stigma and stamen (the inside of the flower), the fruit will not form.
Feijoas conveniently drop to the ground when they are ripe and reading for harvesting. During this time the fruit will smell amazingly sweet. This scent is technically called methyl benzoate.
The feijoa fruit will also be slightly softer when gently squeezed when it’s ripe. If fallen fruit is still hard, they can be left on a kitchen bench for a few days to fully ripen.
Once ripe, feijoas will keep for only a short time of around 7 days.
What Does Feijoa Fruit Look Like
Feijoa fruits are oval-shaped and a dark green color that grows egg-sized. Distinguishing ripe from unripe fruit is a little harder but the best way to tell feijoa is ripe and when it drops to the ground. This really does take the guesswork out of when to harvest feijoas!
Inside the fruit, feijoa is a creamy color with small edible seed in the center where the texture becomes more gelatinous.
What Does Feijoa Taste Like
Feijoas taste very sweet with a small amount of tart. The taste can be described as a cross between pineapple, strawberry and guava.
How To Eat Feijoa
Although feijoa skin is edible, it’s not enjoyable to everyone and sometimes described as being overpowering or strong. Instead, the feijoa can be sliced in half and the flesh scooped out and eaten fresh. Feijoa can also be quartered and sliced into segments.
As feijoa yields can be prolific, it’s a good idea to find some recipes to use them up. Feijoa jam is delicious and helps preserve the harvest to enjoy during the year.
Other ways to eat feijoas include:
- Juiced and made into other beverages
- Made into ice-cream, yogurt and sorbets
- Made into sweets including lollies and chocolate
- Baked into cakes and muffins
- Made into chutneys, savory sauces and pastes
Pest And Disease
Although a very hardy tree, Feijoa can be susceptible to scale and fruits flies and occasionally cercospora leaf spot or downy mildew.
Scale and downy mildew can be treated organically with horticultural neem oil.
Fruit fly can be controlled by removing any fallen fruit and the addition of organic spray or sticky traps.
Cercospora leaf spot and be treated organically with a copper fungicide.
As with any treatment, be sure to read the directions carefully and avoid chemicals that are harmful to beneficial insects.
Growing a feijoa tree or pineapple guava makes a versatile and very useful addition to the home garden. Enjoy it’s attractive ornamental properties while benefiting from the delicious harvest of feijoa fruit.
Organic Potting Mix – for planting feijoa trees in pots and containers.
Horticulture Neem Oil – control feijoa tree pests naturally with neem oil.
For articles on growing more fruit at home please see our articles: