Sunday, May 13, 2007

Pineapple Guava -- A Plant For All Seasons


I am a real fan of spring garden tours, sometimes traveling many miles to visit appealing gardens across Arizona. One plant missing in most of the gardens I have visited is Feijoa sellowiana, or Pineapple Guava. It is one of my garden favorites and with all its virtues I am surprised that it is not used more extensively in low desert gardens.

Pineapple Guava is an attractive, evergreen shrub with thick, leathery green leaves that are silvery underneath. It can take the shape of a small 15 ft by 15 ft tree, espaliered, pruned into a dense hedge or screen, or grown in a large pot. It is native to subtropical Southern Brazil, Paraguay, Uruguay and Northern Argentina but does amazingly well in the Phoenix area when planted in full sun, with just a bit of partial shade in the afternoon. My Pineapple Guava is located where the filtered shadow of a Palo Verde tree reaches it at the critical hour. It is cold hardy to 15˚F, and although young, my shrub sailed through the January freeze completely untouched.

Pineapple Guava is drought resistant once established, does not require much fertilizer and rarely has any pest or disease problems.

It flowers in late April or early May, with small blossoms that have bright red stamens and six white petals. The petals are somewhat sweet and make an interesting and attractive addition to salads. To produce fruit, Pineapple Guava requires 100-200 chilling hours below 45˚F, so don’t expect much fruit here. If you do want to try for fruit, you will need to buy cultivars selected for fruit production for this area, and those are not easily found. Pollination occurs with birds eating the petals, or by bees.

Also known as Acca sellowiana, Pineapple Guava is available at local nurseries, usually in five or 15-gallon containers. Some nurseries carry them already espaliered. I’ve talked with nursery people who say this plant is becoming more popular now that customers are learning that it really does do well here—come heat or cold.

I like this hardy, versatile plant so much I’ve taken to giving it as a gift to my gardening friends and relatives, who report they are as pleased with it as I am.


"A garden is never so good as it will be next year."~ Thomas Cooper

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

I planted the plant in a large planter in full sun, and it died within 2 months.


I llve in Las Vegas and was told that sun was no problem.

How often should you water this type of plant;the leaves started to curl up, so I assumed the plant needed more water. wrong, it died.

Aiyana said...

Sorry for the long wait to answer. It's vacation time, and I've been to cool country for awhile! I hated to come back to this oven.

Anyway, I've found that Pineapple Guava does not do well in direct sun, regardless of what the nurseries state. As I mention in my blog post, it really needs protection from direct sun in afternoon, and shouldn't be planted where it has a direct southern or western exposure. My plant is still living, but has struggled this summer because of extended record temps. It has many dry leaves and some stems are bare right now. It will recover in October. (I hope.) My Guava is acclimated, but does require supplemental irrigation. In summer, I water every three days to a depth of two feet for shrubs (the guava is still a shrub) and in the winter, every 10 days. Fall and spring--every 4 to 5 days.
Again, sorry for the late response.
Aiyana

The Sparks said...

I live in Oregon. I use to live on the southern Oregon coast. I now live in the Umpqua Valley of central southern Oregon. My previous experience on the Oregon coast proved (per my local nursery)- that it takes 3 years to produce fruit. True to form, 3 years after I planted two plants in the Umpqua Valley, I had blossoms this year - 2009!! Hooooray, I thought. However, although my two bushes were full of gorgeous blossoms, they never produced fruit. This summer we have had plenty of bees and hummingbirds, so I don't think that is the problem. Any thoughts on this? Is there a "male" and "female" bush?? On the coast, I had fabulous fruit - to die for!! I'm hoping next year is better.

Aiyana said...

The Sparks,

Many clones are not self-fertile and they need another pineapple guava to act as a pollinator. Green fruit will be abundant if the flowers have been pollinated properly. The'Nazemetz' is a self-fertile variety. Other than this, I'm not sure what could cause the lack of fruit. You may want to speak to a local master gardener, or perhaps a knowledgable nursery person in your area.
My pineapple guava has never produced fruit either, but I don't really expect it. It was so hot this summer that mine struggled just to stay alive. It can't take overwatering, so giving it more water wouldn't have helped. Summer has been brutal this year, for me and my plants!
Sorry I can't give you any more info on your lack of fruit.
Aiyana

Anonymous said...

My wife has a serious rash on her body. She was told to get guava leaves and put them in her bath. Do you know where I can find live guava leaves in Las Vegas.
Thank you,
Gene

Aiyana said...

Check with the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension Service and see if they are aware of Master Gardener who might grow tropical plants, or if there is a Tropical Plant Society in or around Las Vegas. You could also check with some of the independant nurseries around the area. That's the only possibilites I can think of. Good luck!
Aiyana

Anonymous said...

Hi,I Live in Corvallis Oregon and have 2 Feijoa trees,this year loaded with flowers.I get feijoa fruit,but they never get to ripening stage because of the frost.I was wondering if there is anything I could do to hurry the fruit growth along,I thought maybe plastic bagging them might work,does anyone have some ideas???

Gill said...

We have 2 pineapple guavas which were planted in March this year and have grown tall, but have not thickened, we had hoped this would provide a good screening between us and our neighbor, now I see that one of the plants is very bare and dry and I'm praying thats it hasn't died. We water regularly with an irrigation system for approx 6 mins every other day. Of course Houston has been exceptionally hot and dry this summer which has stressed a lot of plants. Is this typical behaviour for the Pineapple Guava?

Gill said...

We have 2 pineapple guavas which were planted in March this year and have grown tall, but have not thickened, we had hoped this would provide a good screening between us and our neighbor, now I see that one of the plants is very bare and dry and I'm praying thats it hasn't died. We water regularly with an irrigation system for approx 6 mins every other day. Of course Houston has been exceptionally hot and dry this summer which has stressed a lot of plants. Is this typical behaviour for the Pineapple Guava?

Aiyana said...

Gill,
The best way to test the bare one is to break off a branch and see if it's actually dry and brittle If so, then the plant is a goner if the main trunk is also brittle. You can also scratch the bark (skin) on the trunk and bigger branches to see if it's still green a layer or so down. If so, it may come back. I can't advise about your watering schedule as Houston is so different in temp and humidity compared to Phoenix. (I water 3 times a week for two hours--with one 1/2-gph emitter.) My Pineapple Guava stays leafed out all year--although in summer it does thin out some due to heat stress. This plant is drought resistant once established. Yours hasn't been in long enough to consider it established, so perhaps it didn't get enough water in the hottest part of the year while trying to establish. I'd wait for a while to see if it develops any leaves (if it still showed green.) Odd that one plant is doing ok but the other is ailing.
Aiyana

Abby Green said...

Hi, I live in Tucson AZ and have 2 pineapple guavas in our backyard that seem to be dying with the recent heat. Do you have any suggestions on revitalizing them?

Thanks!
Abigail@ryanhood.com

Abby Green said...

p.s. they were both well-established pineapple guavas. :) thanks! Abigail