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Growing Guava: Psidium guajava

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Overview
A member of the Myrtle family. The guava genus contains nearly 100 species, most of which bear edible fruit. Psidium guajava: Guava, is the most commercially important. Hundreds of cultivars have been developed world-wide in tropical regions.

Description
Form: Single to multi-stemmed shrub or small tree.
Lifespan: 30-40 years, but productivity declines after 15 years.
Leaf retention: Evergreen.
Growth rate: Moderate to rapid.
Mature Size: 6-12' high and as wide. In wet topics, can reach 30'.
Flowers: Five white petals, with hundreds of white stamens tipped with pale yellow anthers. Petals drop quickly, leaving hairy tufts of stamens.
Bloom: Spring and early fall. Under right location and weather conditions, may bloom nearly all year.
Self-fruitful: Yes, but some cultivars produce more fruit when cross-pollinated with another cultivar.
Years before fruiting: 2-4.
Fruit: Light green or lemon yellow when ripe, round, oval or pear-shaped, 2-4" long. Guavas are often categorized in two categories: white (or yellow) flesh and pink (or red) flesh. The white are sometimes eaten before fully ripe when crispy, the pink eaten when ripe. Seeds are numerous and small, hard and inedible in the white, softer and edible in the pink. Flavor varies tremendously among cultivars.
Months for fruit to ripen: 3-5. Ripe when strongly fragrant and the rind softens to be fully edible. Fruits ripen at various times, not all at once. Will continue to ripen after being picked.
Storage after harvest: 3-5 days at room temperature if ripe. Refrigerated without wrapping, after just ripening, up to 4 weeks.
Leaves: Medium green, ovate to lance-shaped, stiff and thick, downy on underside, aromatic when crushed.
Stems: No thorns. Bark is mottled reddish brown, peels off in flakes.
Roots: Commercially grown guava is usually grafted onto a specially chosen rootstock in order to maintain genetic consistency. In regions where hard freezes may happen every few years, however, non-grafted trees can come back from their roots after a freeze and are preferable for residential owners. Pink-fleshed guava are reportedly more cold hardy than white-fleshed varieties and will come back from roots quicker after a hard freeze. Guava roots are shallow, often producing suckers. Invasive in wet tropical regions such as Hawaii and Florida.
Wildlife: Attracts bees. Fruit attracts birds and mammals.
Toxic / Danger: No. However, a chemical compound in the leaves acts as a cardiac depressant and is contraindicated for some heart conditions.
Origin: Southern Mexico and Central America. Cultivated more than 2000 years.

Cultivation and Uses
USDA hardiness zones: 9b-11. Frost-tender. In USDA zone 9b and Sunset zone 13, protect from frost. Mature trees can withstand brief periods of 27°F.
Sunset climate zones: 13-24.
Chill hours: None.
Heat tolerant: Mostly. Does not like temperatures over 115°F for lengthy periods.
Sun: Full sun except western shade is best in regions with temperatures exceeding 100°F.
Drought tolerant: Yes.
Water after becoming established: Deep water using basin or flood irrigation. Depending on temperature, water as often as every two days during the hottest part of the summer, and every one or two weeks in winter. Fruit drop signifies insufficient water.
Soil: Well drained to some water saturation, better with high organic content, tolerant of soil types, pH 5-7 (strongly acidic to neutral).
Fertilize: Spread a 5-1-1 ratio fertilizer under the canopy in February, May and August. Keep fertilizer one foot from trunk. Use 1/3 to 1/2 cup of fertilizer per inch of trunk diameter with each of the three feedings. Water in immediately.
Mulch: Use aged compost under canopy and one foot from trunk to conserve moisture and eliminate weeds.
Planting: Avoid locations with winter freezes, or plant next to south-facing wall, away from low spots where cold air can collect.
First Year Care: Water every one or two days. Do not fertilize until new growth starts. Weeding is one of the most important tasks in caring for young guava plants.
Prune: In winter, remove dead, damaged and crossing branches.
Litter: Fruit if not harvested.
Propagation: Stem cuttings, air layering, grafting. Seed grow true 70% of time. Non-grafted trees can survive hard freezes and come back from the roots.
Uses: Edible fruit. Served raw in salads, cooked to make juice or jelly, canned for later eating, used for pies and cakes, ice cream flavoring, and more.

Comments
Other common names are Common Guava and Yellow Guava. Strawberry Guava: Psidium cattleianum, is a related species. It is more cold hardy but far less heat tolerant, and bears less tasty fruit.



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