Image by Santhan Naidoo
By Bonnie L. Grant
Guava fruit trees are not a common sight in North America and need a decidedly tropical habitat. In the United States, they are found in Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, Florida and a few sheltered areas in California and Texas. The trees are very frost tender and will succumb to a freeze when young, although adult trees may survive short periods of cold.
That said, the plants are attractive and produce deliciously rich, sweet fruits that are excellent fresh or in desserts. Given enough guava tree information, it is possible to grow these small trees in a greenhouse or sunroom and reap the benefits of their Vitamin C rich fruits.
Guava Plants and Guava Tree Information
The guava fruit grows on a small tree with a wide, short canopy and a sturdy single to multi-stemmed trunk. The guava tree is an interesting plant with mottled greenish bark and long 3- to 7-inch serrated leaves. Guava trees produce white, 1-inch flowers that yield to small round, oval or pear shaped fruits. These are more accurately berries and have soft flesh, which may be white, pink, yellow or even red and varies in taste from acidic, sour to sweet, and rich depending on variety.
The guava plants thrive in any soil with good drainage and full sun for best flowering and fruit production.
Guava fruit trees are tropical to sub-tropical and may achieve 20 feet in height. Growing guavas require cold protection and is not suitable outdoors in most zones of the U.S. They must have shelter from freezing winds, even in sunny warm climates where occasional icy temperatures occur.
Caring for a Guava Tree
If you are lucky enough to live in one of the regions where guava plants grow outside, the tree should be planted in well-drained soil where its roots have room to spread.
Fertilize growing guavas every 1 to 2 months while young and then 3 to 4 times per year as the tree matures. Guava trees need a high amount of nitrogen, phosphoric acid and potash, along with some magnesium for maximum fruit production. An example is a formula of 6-6-6-2, worked into soils just prior to the onset of the growing season and then evenly spaced out 3 times during the growth period.
Water frequently after planting and then keep mature trees moderately moist during the blooming and fruiting seasons. Once established, caring for a guava fruit tree is similar to any fruiting tree care.
Growing Guava from Seed
Growing guava from seed may not produce a fruiting tree for up to 8 years and the plants are not true to the parent. Therefore, cuttings and layering are more often used as propagation methods for guava fruit trees.
Growing guava seeds, however, is a fun project and produces an interesting plant. You need to harvest seed from a fresh guava and soak off the flesh. The seeds can remain usable for months, but germination can take up to 8 weeks. Boil the seeds for 5 minutes prior to planting to soften the tough outside and encourage germination.