Home / Pineapple Guava / Pineapple Guava Care: A Diamond In The Rough

Pineapple Guava Care: A Diamond In The Rough

Pineapple Guava

(Feijoa sellowiana or sometimes referenced as Acca sellowiana)

Pineapple Guava Tree Overview:

This is one of the best and under-appreciated fruit trees for Southern California.  The fruit is delicious and the flowers are also edible to boot!  Even if the Pineapple Guava tree did not bear fruit, this evergreen, drought tolerant and disease free tree would be a great addition to any garden.

Pineapple Guava fruit on branch

Pineapple Guava fruit on branch

 

Fruit Appearance:   

  • The Pineapple Guava fruit is ovoid in shape and flat/dull green in color.
  • When hanging on the tree the fruit is easily camouflaged by adjacent leaves.  The skin of the fruit has a flat dusky sheen that becomes shinny with a little handling.
  • Even though this fruit is not technically a guava, the fruit looks so similar to a guava that it has been given that common name.
  • The fruit size is variable but usually ranges from 1.5 to 3 inches long depending on growing conditions and variety.
Pineapple Guava size and cut fruit

Pineapple Guava size and cut fruit

 

Fruit Taste: 

  • The fruit emits a lovely perfume and smells delicious.
  • To me the flavor reminds me of juicy fruit gum with a bit more tang and less sweet.
  • However, the fruit gets its common name because many people think the fruit taste like pineapple.  I personally think this is a subtle similarity.  Others have added that they taste a bit of a strawberry flavor in the Pineapple Guava, which to me is a stretch.  Others have described a mint flavor, but honestly, I have never tasted a hint of mint flavor in the Pineapple Guava fruit.
  • The texture is smooth and a little gritty- like a pear, but not as soft. There are seeds in the fruit (which is likely part of that subtle gritty texture) but they are barely noticeable.
  • The skin is inedible; at least as far as I know.
Pineapple Guava flower and leaves

Pineapple Guava flower and leaves

Pineapple Guava flower and leaves.

Pineapple Guava flower and leaves.

 

Edible Flowers:

  • The flowers are also edible and quite tasty.
  • The flower petals are pink-red on the inside and white on the outside.
  • The petals are somewhat thick but melting to eat and have a mild sweet flavor with a dash of cinnamon.
  • Picking the petals will not affect fruiting.
  • Flowers have been blooming for me around June and July.

 

Fruit Season:  

  • One of the great things about this plant is that it fruits in the late fall-early winter when many other fruits are no longer producing.  Specifically, fruits have become ripe for me around October to December.
  • The fruits will drop to the ground on their own when they are ready.  If you pick them off the tree, it will likely be too early and the fruit will be unpleasantly sour and tough.
  • In my experience, the fruit often needs an extra day or two on the kitchen counter to fully ripen.  When the fruit is optimally ripe, it will give somewhat when pressed and sometimes the skin color will lighten. However, this color change is subtle and if you wait too long the fruit tastes terrible.
  • Plants will fruit from 3 to 5 years after sprouting from seed.  However, after transplanting the plant from a nursery grown potted plant, it usually takes about a year to fruit.  Fruit is born on young wood.

Tip:

  • I planted several Pineapple Guava trees on a curved slope just above a flat pathway.  The orientation is such that when the fruits drop from the different trees, they all roll to the same central location for a very easy harvest.

 

Pollination: 

  • Bees
  • Not all cultivars are self fruitful and some require another plant for adequate pollination and fruit set.

 

Landscaping use:

  • It seems that the Pineapple Guava’s natural tendency is to grow as a shrub.  Ok, the plant is actually categorized as a bushy shrub.
  • However,  I train all of my Pineapple Guava plants as medium sized trees, and that’s how I like to think of them.  Sorry to all you purists out there.
  • The Pineapple Guava can grow up to 20 feet tall and wide…  Which is a darn big bush if you are in that naming camp.
  • The plant has pale-gray and light brown flaky bark.  The leaves are dark green oval and leathery.  The leaves are smooth and glossy on the top and velvety-silver on the bottom.  It’s quite a lively looking plant.
Pineapple Guava Bark

Pineapple Guava Bark closeup

Soil: 

  • One of the most important factors for Pineapple Guava care is providing well draining soil.
  • Some have reported that the Pineapple Guava is not picky about the soil.  However, I have tried several different mixtures with my trees and it is clear that Pineapple Guava trees do much better when planted with organically augmented soil. Please see my earlier post on my best planting technique.

 

Water:

  • The Pineapple Guava tree is somewhat drought tolerant.  However, it will drop its leaves if it gets too dry.
  • This is especially problematic during a hot spell if the tree is not aggressively watered.
  • The best Pineapple Guava care will include regular-diligent deep watering, which will also improve fruit production.

 

Sun:

  • Full
  • Will tolerate partial shade, but fruiting will be compromised.

 

Fertilization:

  • I haven’t seen much literature Pineapple Guava care and fertilization.
  • However, I have been fertilizing the tree with about a half dose of what I give my citrus trees and it seems to be working well.

 

Temp:

  • The Pineapple Guava tree does best in a non-humid Mediterranean type climate. Therefore, much of Southern California is rather perfect for the Pineapple Guava.  However, as you could imagine, coastal areas with a dominant marine layer are suboptimal.
  • The plant also prefers a region where the weather is cool for part of the year and needs at least 50 hours of chilling time.
    • Chilling time definition: Time away from work that is often spent with friends.
    • Chilling time is also defined as the number of hours when the temperature is below 45º F (7 °C).
  • The tree is relatively cold tolerant and can withstand temperatures down to 12º to 15º F (-11.11º-9.44º C).
  • For more information about the lowest temperatures that you can expect in your area, check out my article “Climate Zones: What can I grow in my yard?”

 

Pests:

  • This tree is basically (and amazingly) pest free.
  • However, scale has been reported to be a problem for some, but I have not noticed that yet.
  • Fruit flies apparently love the fruit, especially in Florida, but I have not seen that problem yet either.

 

Food Use:

  • The skin is inedible; I like to cut the fruit like a watermelon and bite out the inside.  Others like to cut the fruit in half (the other way) and scoop out the flesh with a spoon.
  • The surface of the cut flesh will quickly turn brown if not eaten right away.  However, this can be avoided by dipping in lemon juice.
  • Apparently, Pineapple Guava fruit is also used for all kinds of deserts including, puddings, pastry fillings, fritters, dumplings, fruit-sponge-cake, pies tarts, ice cream and soft drinks. The fruit is also made into chutney, jam, jelly, and relish.
Pineapple Guava cut like a watermelon

Pineapple Guava cut like a watermelon

 

Misc:

  • AKA:  Brazilian guava, fig guava, guavasteen, New Zealand banana
  • Native to the mountains of South America (southern Brazil, northern Argentina, western Paraguay and Uruguay).
  • Feijoa sellowiana Pronunciation: fay-JOE-uh sell-oh-wee-AY-nuh

 

About Thomas Osborne, MD

Dr. Osborne is a Harvard trained Radiologist and Neuroradiologist who loves to share his insight about medicine and gardening.

80 comments

  1. I need to plant one of these!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Yea thanks for the note.
      It is great tree.

      • I live in the south of France and my husband bought me this bush 3 years ago. We get lovely springs and summers but we have actually had a very bad winter -10c and the tree looked like it had gone but no we cut it back and it magically reappeared. The flowers are gorgeous. Not eaten the fruit yet but will from now on. As stated in this article , it is fabulous to have a bush that nothing else wants to attack. My apricot tree is infested, I have vine weevil in my bay leaves and my apple tree needs spraying all the time!

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hi Karen
          Thanks for the note.
          That must be wonderful living in the south of France.

          Thanks for the info about the cold damage recovery.
          They are great plants.

          Sorry to hear about all of your other garden pests.
          What do you use to treat the bug infections?

          Best,
          Tom

  2. Once again thanks for your tips. My guava tree produces lovely fruit which turn yellow and remind me of my guava fruit back in India where I grew up. It has a strawberry/pineapple flavour but the problem is that it has to fight its way up since it is somewhat overshadowed by the Magnolia Grandiflora. I guess I need to water it much more aggressively to get bigger guavas. Thnx for the tips. Keep them coming!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      No problem Sateesh
      Thanks for the comments!
      Yea, Pineapple Guavas are drought tolerant. However, they will grow and fruit better with regular deep watering.

  3. I have tried several guava varieties in my sunny yard 1/2 mile from the ocean. My favorite by far is Lemon Guava. The fruit tastes the best, is productive, and the skin is edible.

    Grocery Outlet sells this variety sometimes. They are bigger and not quite as good as the ones I grow, but still very good.

    My first one died because a gopher ate all of its roots, so be careful with that.

    They also taste good in different ways with various levels of ripeness. Early on they are more tart and firm, later on they are soft and sweet, but even when fully ripe they are not mushy like regular guavas when very ripe.

    The flavor is stronger than regular larger guavas.

    Eating a handful right off the tree is great, and the edible skin saves a few seconds hundreds of times per season.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey San Diegan
      Thanks for the comment and info.
      I also have a few lemon guavas,and I agree.. they are kindof awesome.
      Its on my list of things to write about… perhaps when I get around to it you can add in some more of your insight.
      Thanks!

  4. We just bought a house that had 9 Pineapple guavas planted by a landscaper about a year ago. 4 have died, the other 5 all have leaves that are turning red on top, but staying lighter green on the bottom. We’re on the gulf coast of Florida – next to/above Pensacola. I don’t want to lose the other plants. Soil is very sandy, and we don’t know what the landscaper did in the way of soil prep. What can we do to save these plants? Should we dig them up and put better soil underneath them? And you said “regular deep watering” – can you define that? Our soil drains well, but in rainstorms puddles to 2-3″ before draining. We have them on a Mister mister system – twice a day for 40 minutes. Are we overwatering? Could use any help you can give.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Nancy.
      Sorry to hear about your Pineapple Guavas.

      Growing zone:
      One of the first things that I think about when planting something is its growing zone.
      Lets check out your specific growing zone.
      If you are living next to above Pensacola FL… Say in the town of Crestview… Then your “USDA Plant Hardiness Zone” is 8b.
      This should be just fine for Pineapple Guava’s because most would consider the Pineapple Guava to be happy in Zone 8 to 10.
      Check out my recent article on growing zones for more info on that subject.
      http://tastylandscape.com/2014/06/04/can-grow-yard/

      Water:
      However, that is only part of the picture.
      For example water can be a big issue (too much or too little).
      I have a strong suspicion that this is the root of the problem (pun intended).

      Pineapple Guava and water:
      As it turns out, Pineapple Guavas don’t do well when their feet (roots) are wet all the time.
      This is a bit atypical compared to a lot of the tropical plants that do great in Florida.

      My watering schedule:
      I only water my Pineapple Guavas 3 times a week in the summer.
      I have programmed my drip system to be on for about 10 min.
      The emitters that I typically use are the adjustable spike type that can go up to 16 GPH (gallons per hour).
      However, the two emmitters that I have placed around each trees root zone are going at about 10 GPH.
      Heres an example of the emitters that I use.
      Underhill ME-8SS MicroEase 8-Stream Spike, Bag of 25Adjustable Spike emitters.

      More specifically:
      So I have never really done the math on the exact amount of water they get, but lets give it a go:
      2 emitters on at 10 GPH = 20 GPH.
      That obviously means 20 gallons of water is going into the soil every 60 min
      That means…
      ( 20gallons / 60min x 10 min / 1 ) = ( 20 gallons / 6 ) = 3.33 gallons.

      So thats basically my watering schedule;
      Each tree gets a drink of water 3 times a week, and each watering is just over 3 gallons.
      This is what I would consider a rather deep regular watering.

      Even dryer:
      Note, I planted these specific Pineapple guava trees on a rather steep slope.
      Therefore, that soil dries out in that location faster than just about anywhere else in the yard.
      I also live in Southern California, which is typically a rather dry place.

      Mister mister system:
      I dont have any experience with the “Mister mister” watering system.
      However, the name makes me think that there might be a significant misting component to the setup.
      If so, you will need to make some adjustments here.
      You dont want to mist these plants the way you might mist an orchid.
      Keep the leaves and bark dry… just water the soil.

      Assessment:
      Your watering schedule of twice a day for 40 min seems way too much for the Pineapple Guava.
      While, most plants in Florida would love you for it, the Pineapple Guava is different.

      Recommendation:
      I would cut your watering way back to something more in range of my watering schedule.

      Other potential problems:
      The formations of puddles that you mentioned has me a bit concerned.
      If you get a lot of rain, for a lot of days, then your tree will be just as unhappy with its wet living conditions.
      The Pineapple Guavas don’t like to have their feet (roots) constantly wet.
      Florida’s wet weather as well as your planting location might be a bad combo as well.
      A potential solution is to transplant these guys on an elevated mound.
      That way they can be above the watery problems below.
      However, transplanting an already sick tree can be problematic.

      Solution # 2:
      If I was in your situation, I might consider this line of action:
      Leave 2 or 3 of the trees where they are but cut the watering way back as discussed.
      I would then carefully dig up the 2 or 3 other trees that seem to be in the wettest location of the yard.
      Then I would build up a mound of dirt in the same area and replant those trees in the mounded area.

      How big of a mound to build? The bigger the better.

      Good luck and keep us posted on what happens.

      Best,
      Tom

  5. Dr osborne ,
    I am thinking of planting some pineapple guava trees. I wanted to know what variety you have. I was thinking of going for. Trask and nasmetz instead of Coolidge?
    Thank you,

    Amit

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Amit

      Thanks for the great question.
      However, this is not an easy question to answer.

      Where you grow:
      The biggest issue is that the flavor and size of pineapple quava fruit will be different based on where you grow. The soil and temp growing conditions play a big part on what you get. So a single specific variety of Pineapple Guava grown in different locations may produce fruit that seem like they have come from a different variety of plant.

      Most important consideration:
      Therefore, from my perspective, the most important thing is not necessarily a specific variety, but that you get more than one variety. On one hand, this will increase your chances of getting one that does really well in your specific area, and/or produces something you like based on your growing conditions. However, most importantly, all pineapple guavas should produce more-larger fruit if you have at least one other different variety nearby as a pollinator.

      To your specific question:

      Coolidge:
      This is reported to be the most commonly grown pineapple guava in California and 100% self-fertile. Size and flavor, well it depends on where it is grown.

      Trask and the Nazemetz:
      I have seen specific reports that these varieties grow very well on hillside locations in the hills of San Diego. However, all varieties should do well in the hills of San Diego.

      Reference material:
      Below is a link to an article that details several other varieties.
      However, read this with a “grain of salt”
      The amount of fruit, size of the fruit and flavor of the fruit may vary significantly from location to location and growing conditions.
      As stated, this is particularly true for pineapple guava… and this is also part of the reason why I don’t really recommend a specific variety.
      https://www.hort.purdue.edu/newcrop/morton/feijoa.html

      Best,
      Tom

      • Thank you for the detailed response. I was leaning towards nasmetz and trask as CRFG information on them suggested that they were better tasting than Coolidge. But after reading your response that taste could vary based on location then may be I could begin with Coolidge and proceed from there.

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Happy New Year Amit
          As you know, another factor is that taste is rather subjective.
          It might also fun for you to do a taste test beforehand… if you can.
          However, as you said, there are differences in taste based on growing conditions.
          Whatever your choice you will win. Pineapple Guava are awesome hearty plants.
          Best,
          Tom

          • Happy new year Tom. I was hoping to taste pineapple guavas too a couple weeks ago at exotica in San diego. But the fruit seemed over ripe and hence was not possible at that moment.

            -amit

      • Is there a dwarf variety of Pineapple Guavas?

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Hey April
          Good question.
          However, I am not aware of any “dwarf” varieties of Pineapple Guava.
          However, they do seem to handle shaping/pruning very well and can be kept to a good height that way.

  6. Pineappleguava lover

    I planted a pineapple guava shrub in my yard in October (in San Francisco), a block away from the ocean in sandy soil. I have noticed some new growth and new buds, but it has been shedding green leaves like crazy. I am confused by the new growth / losing leaves combination. What does it mean? Is the shrub doing well or not?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Pineappleguava lover
      Thanks for the note

      Interesting question:
      You have posted an interesting and important question.

      Massive leaf drop:
      On one hand, a small degree of leaf shedding is normal throughout the year for a pineapple guava.
      Of course it is difficult to know the details of your plants problem from just a short note…. However, what you described does not sound like it is a normal rate of leaf shedding.

      Leading theory:
      Based on your note I would try to connect the sequence of events.
      Since you recently planted in October, I would think that there is a likely connection there.

      Transplantation shock:
      Transplantation can be a very stressful time for a plant.
      A lot of people refer to this as transplantation shock.
      Some people think it is the new lighting or slightly different soil conditions that are to blame… which I do think think may play a more minor role.

      However, in my strong opinion, (after personally planting hundreds of trees by hand), the main issue with transplantation shock is root damage from the transport/planting process.
      Root damage can happen easily, because those little microscopic hairs on a root that do most of the work are very sensitive/fragile.
      If those little rootlets get sheared off then the rest of the plant/leaves cant get the water/nutrients that it needs.
      When that happens, the leaves fall of at an alarming rate.

      If the plant is on the verge and wants to survive, then plant often pushes out smaller leaves shortly after a massive leaf drop.
      The smaller number of smaller leaves are more able to be supported by the compromised root system.

      So based on what I know from your note, this sounds like this is a strong option for what is going on for you.

      Similar consideration:
      On one hand, sandy soil provides excellent drainage, and pineapple guava plants do not tolerate chronically wet roots.
      However, these plants do need some moisture and if the soil is excessively sandy, then they could get bone-dry very quickly.

      Even though these plants are drought tolerant, they do much better with regular deep watering and rich well draining soil.
      So just having sandy soil may be a bit extreme and predisposes to root dry out.
      This in turn will cause a tree to easily get water stressed.
      Water stress manifests in a similar way to transplantation shock because it is basically the same end problem…. there is just not enough water available to support the leaves.
      Water stress is the biggest concern for young plants that have not developed an extensive root system yet.

      Big picture strategy:
      I do have some general planting tips that should help you to prevent both of these issues described above.
      For more info please see my previous article on best planting techniques.
      Planting tips

      Hope this helps.

      Best,
      Tom

      • Pineappleguava lover

        Tom, thanks for the detailed response. That makes sense a lot of sense. I read your tree planting tips article, and wish I could go back in time and replant the tree. So I was wondering, should I dig the tree back up and amend the soil (which is super sandy, but it did rain quite a bit up here), or just dig some compost into the first few inches of the soil and then mulch?

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Your very welcome
          This is actually a very common problem for newly planted tropical and subtropical plants.

          What to do next?
          You bring up the most important next question.
          However, there is no “best” answer here.

          +/- options:
          If you transplant again, you have the opportunity of getting your plant the foundation for a healthy future.
          This new improved soil environment also means less fertilization, less disease and less watering needs.
          However, transplanting now can also kill a plant that is already struggling to survive.

          Most extreme option:
          Transplanting to another location is the most dangerous b/c it has the biggest chance of root disruption.
          If you want to take that risk of digging up the plant and starting over, give your self a lot of time.
          Moving a root ball and trying to keep the roots undisturbed without a pot is not easy at all.
          Dig slowly around the root ball, to make a big hole so you can move the root ball without disturbing it.
          Using a burlap bag around the roots can help keep things together in the move.
          This can be an awkward procedure and may require the assistance of a strong friend.

          Then, after you get the plant back in place with lots of organic soil, you need to pamper the heck out of it.
          Watch it daily and make sure the soil stays moist.

          I have done this a few times myself and it has gone both ways; some have gone on to be very healthy and others have just died.

          Less risky option:
          If you just want to improve the soil and keep your plant in the same place, that is less risky.
          You dont have to move the root ball, just a dig big trench directly around the new root ball.
          But dig carefully b/c the root ball can fall apart when not supported by surrounding soil.
          If the root ball falls apart, then the already compromised roots will be further injured.
          In addition, this is also an awkward procedure, and when digging it can be easy to miss a few times and hit the root ball.
          Again, give yourself a lot of time so you are not rushed.
          Once you have dug a big swath around the root ball, you can now back fill with soil that is mixed with organic material and your native soil.

          Least risky option:
          The option you mentioned is the least risky.
          Excavate around the root ball a few inches deep. Back fill with rich soil and water in.
          While this is the least likely to stress your plan out, it is also the least likely to have any significant positive impact.

          Good luck!

          • Pineappleguava lover

            Got it. Again thanks for the quick, detailed response. I opted for option 3. I picked up a bag of mulch/compost, dug it into the first few inches of soil, and watered thoroughly. I didn’t want to disturb the root ball and I’m hoping that some nutrients trickle down. I’m going to deeply water a couple more times this week to get the ball rolling.

            I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks!

          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            Sounds good.
            Looking forward to your successful follow up news.
            Thanks,
            Tom

          • Pineappleguava lover

            This is an update on my pineapple guava tree. Like I mentioned earlier I amended the soil with a mix of compost/mulch recommended at the local nursery (where I purchased the tree). There is still some new growth and the tree is still losing leaves, but I took a closer look at the pencil diameter shaped branches and they are losing their bark. The bark is coming off as if it was peeled by a potato peeler, and the bark underneath looks woody. The bark that’s been coming off had a gray sheen to it but the new wood looks tan and woody. Putting that together with losing leaves, any idea what could be going on?

            Thanks.

          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            Interesting
            Pictures might help.
            Any chance you could post pictures somewhere?
            Best,
            Tom

          • Pineappleguava lover

            I don’t have a smartphone, but my plant looks like a cross of these two photos:

            http://dangergarden.blogspot.com/2013/04/caught-in-moment-of-weakness.html (scroll down about 10 photos and you will see a pineapple guava shrub shedding bark in a peeling fashion)

            and

            http://en.allexperts.com/q/Plant-Diseases-715/2010/6/wrong-pineapple-guava.htm (photo indicates leave loss – mine has a bunch of almost bare branches)

            hope that makes sense.

          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            Thanks for the links.

            As I am sure you know, it is tricky to extrapolate on what might be going on via pictures of other plants.
            However, the good news is that normal pineapple guava bark does peel and shed, so perhaps what you are seeing is normal.
            The leaves falling is another story, but I think we have a good theory on that cause via our previous notes.

            Best,
            Tom

          • Pineappleguava lover

            Okay thanks. I’ll let you know how it does in the next couple of weeks.

  7. Pineappleguava lover

    Is this thread still active?

  8. I live in Sarasota, Florida (Gulf coast) and don’t know what growing zone that is.
    I would love to plant a pineapple/guava tree but not sure if this is a good spot.
    Please advise.
    Thanks

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Bobbi

      The USDA climate growing zone for Sarasota Florida is Zone 9b.
      Therefore, from a freezing perspective it is no problem.
      For more info on that ck out my article on the subject.

      However, Pineapple Guava prefers a region where the weather is cool for part of the year and needs at least 50 hours of chilling time.
      (Chilling time is also defined as the number of hours when the temperature is below 45º F (7 °C).

      The Pineapple guava is also not a big fan of high humidity which might be a big issue for your area.
      For this reason, I would check with local growers/nurseries to see what your chances of success are.

      Best,
      Tom

  9. i also have one I planted some years ago but the darn birds get to the fruit here in modesto california before I can get it, I bought me a fake owl this year and might try to net my tree to keep them out. They even set up there nest in it. It’s goi g to be a battle this summer as I see fruit appearing now but very small . Man the best Wo man win lol

  10. Hi Thomas,
    I accidentally stumbled upon this shrub and after eating the fruit became an addict. My issue is how to turn this into a tree form. Seems you may have got this down. Any advice for another p.guava fan.
    Thanks
    Jordan

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Jordan
      Thanks for the great question… And I totally agree, this fruit is awesome.

      Making a shrub grow like a tree is a bit of a process.
      As you know, each plant is a bit different.
      Some people talk about the process in an almost existentialist way-trying to find the inner tree-soul of a plant.
      Others an artistic or architectural stance.
      From there, the suggested technical component of the process is also a bit variable depending on who you talk to.
      The following is my take on the technical process.

      Making a bushy plant look like a tree is perhaps best started when the plant is young.

      Pick a main straight trunk and cut out all of the other main trunks.
      Trim off all of the lower side branches off that main trunk, (leaving the approximate top 1/2 of branches for the top canopy of the tree).
      As the plant grows, continue this process.

      Since the plant wants to grow like a bush, it will continue to put our side branches from all parts of the main trunk.
      Therefore, regular maintenance is needed to keep it looking like a tree and not reverting back to a big shrub.
      This basically means checking things out on a regular basis.
      If you walk around the garden frequently it is really no problem; the young little branches that grow in the interval between walks just pop off with your fingers.

      Converting a mature Pineapple guava bush into a tree can also be done.
      However, I would recommend that that you do not try to do too much at once, (unless the tree is very healthy and very mature).
      I would start by finding a main trunk candidate that demonstrates a good balance between being the largest and straightest of them all.
      The straighter the better because this will define the tree.
      You can also bend a main trunk a bit with staking. However, too much bending can stress the vasculature of the trunk and too much bending can obviously break a trunk as well.

      Hope this helps.

      Best,
      Tom

  11. Hi
    I’ve had a feijoa tree for about 30 years. Never any problems. This year it had an abundance of fruit, and I was so excited to go out each day and gather a dozen or so guavas. However, almost every single one when cut open had brown ugly flesh inside with a bad taste. This has never happened before, and I was so disappointed that the biggest harvest of late couldn’t be enjoyed. Any ideas why this happened?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Larry
      Thanks for the note.
      I have seen similar things and I have noticed a correlation with 2 factors.

      Over ripe:
      Overly ripe fruit that has fallen on the ground often has this appearance and I rarely see it in fruit that has just fallen off the tree ripe.

      Stress:
      Drought stressed trees may sometimes have misshapen fruit that has unpleasant tasting flesh.

      Other:
      I wouldnt be surprised if there were other factors at play as well.. but those are the ones I have noticed.

      Best,
      Tom

  12. Hi, Dr. Osborne! I have 2 pineapple guavas, planted about 5 feet apart, that are trained as trees, with my birdbath between. (They are perfect for shading it.) One has always been super of fluffier and thicker, with a lot more branches and leaves. The other is a little more sparse, but they make a nice pair. Well, we had a little dry spell this spring here in Tampa, and the sparse one dropped a bunch of leaves; I hadn’t known ahead of time about watering these babies, so I didn’t, and now my poor tree is kind of bare on the inside. The outer leaves stayed, however, and he’s growing new ones on the ends.

    My question is, will he ever fill in in the middle? Or will he remain see-through forever?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Mary
      Great question.
      Yea, I know what you are talking about.

      However, if given time and TLC, these guys will send out leaves and branches from nearly every possible location.
      The fact that they tend to hold on to the most peripheral leaves is a great adaptation, because those outer leaves get the most sun and provide the most value from an energy standpoint.

      Good luck!
      Tom

  13. We just purchased two Pineapple Guavas. We live in Lusby, MD (Zone 7b). The plant nursery where we purchased these said they can survive in zone 7. However, I’ve read on other sites that their lower range is zone 8. Do you think our two plants have a chance to survive?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Dean
      Good question.
      In general, these are tough plants but their major weakness is cold.
      My personal growing experience is limited to Southern California, which is well within their range and I have not seen any issues.
      Sounds like it is a bit risky in Lusby, MD.
      When on the cusp of a growing zone optimizing a few factors can make the difference.

      Ex:
      * Avoiding the North side of your house (which stays shaded and therefore cooler longer, esp in the winter).
      * Avoiding geographically cold regions in your yard (depressions in the yard where the heavier cold can settle).
      * Likewise planting in higher regions of the yard (top of a hill) that warms up faster with the morning sun and that doesnt collect cold air.
      * The Southern wall of a home is always warmer and will both radiate heat in the evening and reflect more light/heat in the daytime. This is obviously good in some ways, but during a hot midsummer day it may be too intense.

      Good luck.
      T

  14. “Chilling time”…awesome.

  15. I removed a big palm, Phoenix Reclinata, from the landscape area behind my pool. It was a striking focal point but getting too large. I’m considering planting a Pineapple Guava there. It will be about 10 feet from the pool so not too close. I’m thinking this will provide another beautiful focal point. I believe it won’t be messy, and I’m hoping to amend the soil and make sure all the palm roots are gone. What do you think? Thanks.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Janet
      Pineapple guava trees are awesome.
      They take will to trimming/shaping which is an added bonus.
      However, they so drop leaves like any other tree.
      Considering your situation, I would be cautious about planting immediately in the exact same spot as another tree.
      As crazy as it seems, I have read that roots from a newly removed tree may continue to absorb nutrients from the soil before they eventually break down. I actually dont know how much of a problem this is b/c I havent tried it myself, but to err on the side of caution, it is probably best to plant in an adjacent location or be diligent about removing as much as the old roots as possible.
      Best,
      T

      • Thanks T. I just got back to your reply. Others warned me about the roots of the other tree (a Phoenix Reclinata), but I didn’t find any nearby so I’m hoping this will work. I talked to the prez of our San Diego Hort Society, and he thought this kind a tree would work out fine. I planted it pretty far from the pool, so any leaf drop shouldn’t be too much of a problem. I think these are such pretty flowering trees, and hope it loves the spot I chose for it. I also planted it in a 15 gal wire cage to protect from gophers. Thanks again for all your advice and this great site.

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Thank you for your great feedback.
          Look forward to hearing how it goes.
          And yea great idea about the cage, those gophers get everywhere and are relentless.

  16. I live in Northern California, in zone 8, and planted three pineapple guavas (two of one variety and one of another as suggested by the nursery) about 15 years ago. They were already pruned into a tree form and my primary intention was to use them to provide a little more screening above my fence line. They have done very well but I have two questions: 1) There seems to be less fruiting, now, than what they used to produce. Any ideas why? Should I be providing some feed that stimulates fruit production? And, 2) these trees keep growing and growing! How severely can these trees be pruned back? I notice that the leaves tend to cluster on the ends of branches and worry if the branches are pruned back lower than the leaves, that the trees will not recover. I have a gardener prune them, annually, back (about 1/4) after last frost in spring but I, also, lightly prune, to shape, during the summer and early fall. But, I am interested in pruning back more severely every few years, just to maintain them to a more manageable height. What do you suggest? Thank you!

    • Hey Lily

      Thanks for the questions

      1. Less fruiting:
      Hard to know for sure what the cause is but here are some thoughts.

      Although these plants are very drought tolerant, they do seem to require deep watering during flowering and fruiting time to ensure a decent yield. I bring this up because this last year has been exceptionally dry and therefore may be a factor.

      Another possibility is temperature. Being up in Northern California, you will get some frost. These plants can tolerate some frost just fine, however, frost can do damage at that critical time right after new growth has sprouted.

      The main pollinator for this plant is bees. Bees are being hit hard in different areas… Hopefully this is not a problem for you but it could negatively impact fruit production.

      2. Pruning:
      Most of the pruning that I do is to prevent sucker growth and to keep them looking more like trees than the bushes they want to be. The plants take light pruning in stride with no noticeable problems.

      Related story:
      Irrigation to one of my young pineapple guava (Feijoa) plants clogged up in the middle of summer last year and I didnt notice the ill effects b/c the plant was in a corner of the yard and work was crazy at that time. When I found it I thought it was doomed. Leaves gone, branches dead. I kept cutting back dead branches looking for green wood and cut the plant from 5 feet tall to 1.5 foot tall. I then dug it up too (not necessary but it looked so bad I thought something had gotten to the roots. After that I put it in a 15 gallon container and pampered it. I was not expecting much but I wanted to give it the same chance that I would want given to me. Anyhow, it came right back and now looking very healthy. So yea, these guys can take a beating and heavy pruning. However, flowering and fruiting will be negatively impacted.

      Hope this helps.

      Best,
      Tom

      • Thank you for your reply. First, I suspect that it may be the lack of bees that is preventing more pollination. I do give the trees ample water. That the trees are still growing more vigorously than what I had anticipated (and with healthy leaves) gives me confidence that lack of water is not contributing to less fruit production. And, second, wow, your experience with pruning your Feijoa certainly is stunning. Again, thank you for our advice. I used to go to a wonderful plant nursery in my area but it (along with other independently owned ones) have closed because of the proliferation and competition of the big “box” stores (Home Depot, Lowe’s, etc.) where there they do not have the skilled and educated nursery staff that can answer questions.

        • Thomas Osborne, MD

          Thank you Lilly and your very welcome
          I know exactly what you are saying about the big boxed stores. Really too bad.
          But more sad than that is the terrible hit that bees are taking around the world.
          Next time your Pineapple Guavas are flowering, try hand pollinating. Success rate is near 100% with hand pollinating.
          Thanks,
          Tom

          • I haven’t looked at your entire site but hope that hand pollinating method is listed there. What is odd is that all three trees are right next (and touching) to each other. I have the two same varieties planted on the end with the one different variety in the middle. I thought that wind would help pollinate. Of course, I also wonder if some of this may be attributable to weather changes. At least, I ended up with about two dozen fruit this month but, with three trees kept pruned at 15 feet, I would have thought I would have gotten more. Perhaps, I also need to think about when the trees are pruned. Usually, I have the more aggressive pruning done in late fall, after the fruit has been picked and, yet, before winter storms can batter the trees. Freezes and frosts have not been that much of a problem. The trees are at the top of a sharp slope, about 10-15 feet above the lower elevation. What one think that cold travels downhill and that helps keep the trees in a microclimate that is warmer.
            Again, thank you.

          • Thomas Osborne, MD

            Hey Lilly
            I dont have a dedicated article for hand pollination… but perhaps I should bc this comes up quite a bit.
            Perhaps ill do that next.
            In the mean time, you basically want to move the pollen (at the ends of those hair like things) from the outside of the flower to the center. A soft watercolor brush or q-tip seems to work well.
            Otherwise, good thoughts you bring up.

  17. I have a long hedge of these on the coast of Fl. They were extremely damaged in Hurricane Mathew. Most branches lost all their leaves and now have become brittle, on the backside from the wind they are not as bad. Can I put them down to about a foot above the ground and get them to start over? I wan to save them, but I want them full and even again.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hi Chris
      Good question.
      I have trimmed one of my pineapple guavas very aggressively and it bounced back very well. However, 1 foot is pretty severe… not sure if that will be too much. In general, cutting out the dead, diseased or broken branches is a good first step. Perhaps start there and see what you have left to work with.

  18. Hi Thomas, I’m wondering if you know about companion plants for the Feijoa and also plants that might inhibit the growth if they’re too close? Thank you!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Meg
      Good question.
      I have read a lot about companion gardening but have not come across anything about how it relates to pineapple quava.

      • I understand that they are in the Myrtle Family so I’m going to look into the other plants in the family and see if there are companion plants for those.
        Thank you for your response!

  19. Dr. Osborne. We have 6 fejoa trees. One is 44 yrs old & one is 10 yrs old. the other 4, planted to gether are 34 yrs old. We have had huge crops, which we love. We are in coastal LA county in Palos verdes at 600 feet & half a mile from the ocean as the crow flies. There is a golf course on the shoreline which is probably 150 ft above sea level. My observation is that the main 5 trees produce many walnut sized guavas. The oldest one stops producing Nov first & 3 of the 4 together stopped mostly at thanksgiving this year & last. But the 4th tree, smaller, but the same age dropped over 200 small fruits last year & this year in DECEMBER on a windy week.. I’m wondering how we can amplify the size of these hundreds of fruits. I eat them & they are delicious, but it is easier to eat 10 big ones than 30 little ones (like grape size). thank you.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Giuseppe
      That sounds like a beautiful spot you have.

      Regarding the variation:
      There are a few possible reasons.
      There are several varieties of fejoa, and therefore the variation you are seeing may be part of that.
      Of course health of a tree as well as conditions (soil quality, watering etc, will impact the crop).
      I suspect age may also play a part, but honestly, I dont have experience with trees as old as yours.

      So basically, there are a lot of potential confounding variables.

      Regarding the size:
      I really dont know if this would work for pineapple quava…. however. for a lot of fruit trees (such as apples, peaches, etc) thinning out the fruit early in the season will cause the remaining fruit to grow bigger. I might give that a try on at least one of your trees to see what the results are. And when/if you do, let us know, I am curious of the results.

      Best,
      Tom

  20. I have 2 Pineapple Guava plants that I planted last spring.
    I just went to our garden to start spring preparations and noticed that the leaves are very brown and brittle
    Is this normal?
    We have one more frost coming and went through a couple weeks of snow and low temps.
    Will they come back?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Pam
      Thanks for the question.

      The symptoms you mentioned are not normal.
      Sounds like it could be frost burn.
      Covering with frost cloth during the coldest nights may help.
      The following article may help.
      cold snap protection

      Thanks,
      Tom

  21. Hi,
    We are about to plant 8 Pineapple Guave trees as a screen. We need them to grow as high as possible. What do you suggest. Also, how quick growing are they?

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Melanie
      Great question.
      Like many plants, growth rate depends on environmental conditions.
      However, in my experience, these plants tend to grow at a slow to moderate rate… which will = patience for a screen.

    • ours are 8-10 feet high after 30 years with watering every 1-2 wks. some friends had a 20 foot high tree after decades. we eat > 1000 guavas from sept to December in coastal so. cal

  22. Hi I have a young Pineapple Guava here in Eugene Oregon. Its been in the ground a year now and has dropped its leaves due to some heavy freezes. I noticed today that the growth tips and top buds are covered in a grayish fuzz.To the eye it looks like a fuzzy gray mold. I looked at it under a scope and it doesn’t really look like mold. Any thoughts? Thanks

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Interesting…
      and awesome you have a microscope you can take pictures with.
      Hopefully it is just the fuz on a young leaf.

  23. I have photos from the naked eye and from under a scope if that helps!
    Cheers

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Pictures would be great.
      If you can, post them on some social media site (twitter, Instagram, whatever) and send us the link.
      Thanks!

  24. Hi, I live in Southern California , I have two pineapple guava planted last summer in big wooden containers , one of them its leaves are turning yellow with brown spots. Both receive same amount of sun and water twice a week, I know something is wrong because the other one is healthy and beautiful. Any advice? Thank you!

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Claudia
      That is interesting… esp b/c they sound like they are growing in the same environment.
      Do you happen to have some photos to share?
      Thanks,

  25. Recently moved to SC on the coast and have 4 of these growing beside the west side of the house…. really in poor condition when we moved in, but with some pruning the 1st spring they seem to fill out and were filled with blooms and I didn’t notice any fruit. But after Hurricane Matthew most tree life here seem damaged somewhat with browning…. about a couple of month ago I noticed the leaves seems to have black spots on them and now one has dead branches, brown leaves, the remaining three still have the somewhat dark spots on leave but no brown leaves or dead looking branches…. is this a fungus or disease? I really love these shrubs/trees with their beautiful flowers and don’t want to loose them. Any help would be appreciated.

    • Thomas Osborne, MD

      Hey Ann
      Your description does sound like it could be fungal… or perhaps some branches were damaged by the wind and died. Hard to tell from here. If it was me, I would consider cutting back to healthy wood. Do you have any pics?>
      Thanks,
      T

  26. Hi Doc,

    I recently bought 3 pineapple guava trees. 2 of them are about 2-3 ft tall, and the other one is small,about 1 ft. They are all in 5 gallon container, I am planning to plant them on the ground once we move to our new house in 2 weeks.
    They all put in full 6 hours sun facing East. The small one starts showing a lot of flower buds.
    The big ones only show very few flower buds. All of them show a lot of new leaves.
    But one of the big ones starts to shed leaves more. The leaves are still healthy green, not yellowing
    and not dry at all.
    It is not shed crazily (about 10-20 leaves a day),but it worried me because the other 2 don’t seem like they shed any leaf at all (maybe 1 or 2 only a day).
    I water them all 2 times a day,since it’s been really hot here in Los Angeles. The soil always look moist.

    Is it normal for the tree to shed leaves when it has plenty of new growth?
    Is it possible I’ve been watering them too much? Their containers have good drainage as I know.

    The 2 big ones are Nazemet and Coolidge. The small one is Nazemet too. I just found out that Tropical Oasis Farms have a New Zealand variety, which I think is Mammoth. According to your experience, if I also get the Mammoth, will it help the cross pollination so the trees will bear bigger and tastier fruits?

    Thank you so much for writing this blog! I enjoy it very much.

    • I have 5 pineapple guava trees (Feijoa Sowelliana (sp?) in a coastal area of LA, planted from 1973 to 1982. I only water in winter during droughts. The rest of the year I water weekly in heat waves & bimonthly in average temperatures. I have never in 40 yrs tried to keep the soil moist. Each tree produces 100s to a 1000 fruits, from grape size to walnut size. I don’t recall seeing large numbers of leaves falling. The beautiful red flowers fall in the spring time, in bunches,however. They have full sun most of the day.

      • Hi Giuseppe,

        Thank you for sharing your experience.
        Have you been watering them the same way since they were young trees just planted on the ground?
        Do you give them any fertilizer? I checked on the other forum from New Zealand feijoa growers that with additional fertilizer you can get bigger fruits.

        • I did not water the trees frequently in the first years, but perhaps my wife did. (I was working long hours then, so would not have been the one). I fertilized every 2-3 months in growing season with steer manure &/or store bought fert. bags marked for citrus fruits & some years pounded nutrient stakes around the periphery. Last year one tree continued to drop delicious but small fruits in December (> 500 fruits). My grandchildren are voracious guava eaters, but they tapered off with those smaller than a grape. Perhaps I should fertilize more often

  27. I’m hoping you can help me. We have two PIneapple Guavas in our front patio that were trained as ‘standard’ trees. They were 15 gallon when they were planted about 8 years ago. One of the trees is losing it’s leaves from the tips of its upper branches, leaving 5-10 inches of bare branch. Help!!! The other tree is fine and a great patio tree. Thank you so very much!

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