Have you ever thought about growing a new starfruit tree? These subtropical plants are hardy in USDA zones 10 through 12, but don’t worry if you live in an area that receives frost. You can still use methods of starfruit propagation to grow this amazing fruit as a container plant.
How to Propagate a Starfruit
There are three methods that are commonly used when propagating starfruit trees. They are seed propagation, air layering, and grafting. The latter is the most desirable method for large scale production.
Growing a New Starfruit Tree from Seeds
Starfruit seeds lose their viability quickly. They must be harvested from the fruit when they are plump and mature, then planted within a few days. Seed germination ranges from one week in the summer to two or more weeks during the winter months.
Seed propagation can produce variable results. Although this is not the preferred method of starfruit propagation for commercial orchards, it can be a fun way for home gardeners to grow a tree from store-bought fruit.
Propagating Starfruit Trees with Air Layering
This method of vegetative propagation is best if you already have a starfruit tree which you’d like to clone. It involves wounding one of the tree branches and encouraging it to root. Air layering can be difficult due to the starfruit’s slow root production.
Begin by choosing a branch which is at least 2 feet (60 cm.) long. Make two parallel cuts around the branch between 1 to 2 feet (30 to 60 cm.) from the branch’s tip. The cuts should be approximately 1 to 1 ½ inch (2.5 to 3 cm.) apart.
Cover this area with a moist ball of peat moss. Use a piece of sheet plastic to wrap it tightly. Secure both ends with electrical tape. Cover the plastic with aluminum foil to retain moisture and keep out light. It can take one to three months for an abundance of roots to develop.
When the branch is well rooted, cut it under the new roots. Carefully remove the wrap and plant the new tree in sandy loam. The new tree will be in a vulnerable state until it is well rooted. During this period, keep the soil evenly moist and protect the young tree from direct sunlight and wind.
Starfruit Propagation by Grafting
Grafting is a method of cloning which involves attaching a branch from one tree to the rootstock of another. Done correctly, the two pieces grow together to form one tree. This method is often used in fruit production to sustain desirable traits in new trees.
Several methods of grafting have been successful with starfruit propagation, including:
- Side veneer grafting
- Cleft grafting
- Forkert grafting
- Bark grafting
It’s recommended that the rootstock be at least one year old. Once planted, grafted trees begin producing fruit within a year. Mature starfruit trees can produce as much as 300 pounds (136 kg.) of delicious fruit annually.