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Growing Guava: Psidium guajava

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Guava is a member of Myrtaceae, the Myrtle family, and Psidium, the guava genus, which 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.


Form: A 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 topical climates, it can reach 30' high.
Flowers: Five white petals, with hundreds of white stamens tipped with pale yellow anthers. The petals drop quickly, leaving hairy tufts of stamens.
Bloom: Spring and early fall. Under the right location and weather conditions, it 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 grafted, 8 from seed.
Fruit: Light-green or lemon-yellow when ripe, round, oval or pear-shaped, 2-4" long. Guavas are often placed in two categories: white (or yellow) flesh and pink (or red) flesh. The white are sometimes eaten before they are fully ripe when crispy, the pink are eaten when ripe. Seeds are numerous and small, hard and inedible in the white, softer and edible in the pink. The flavor varies tremendously among cultivars.
Months for fruit to ripen: 3-5. The fruit are ripe when strongly fragrant and the rind softens to be fully edible. Fruit on the plant ripen at various times, not all at once. They 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, aromatic when crushed.
Stems: No thorns. The bark is a mottled reddish brown color and peels off in flakes.
Roots: Commercially grown guava is usually grafted onto a specially chosen rootstock. 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 their roots quicker after a hard freeze. Guava roots are shallow, often producing suckers. Guavas are invasive in wet tropical regions such as Hawaii and Florida.
Cultivars of Note:
'Hawaiian Pink Supreme' – Excellent flavor.
'Mexican Cream' – Excellent flavor.
Wildlife: Flowers attract bees. Fruit attract 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, protect from frost. Mature trees can withstand brief periods of 27°F.
Chill hours: None.
Heat tolerant: Mostly. Does not like temperatures over 115°F for lengthy periods. Some leaves may turn yellow in the heat but will green up in cooler temperatures.
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: Tolerates a range of well drained to some water saturation; high organic content improves performance; pH 5-7 (strongly acidic to neutral).
Fertilize: Apply compost in February, May and August, spreading it under the canopy and one foot from the trunk. Water in immediately. A citrus micronutrient solution, applied once a year in February, will supply zinc which increases fruit productivity.
Mulch: Use aged compost under the canopy and one foot from the trunk to conserve moisture and reduce weeds.
Planting: Avoid locations with winter freezes, or plant next to a 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. Non-grafted trees can survive hard freezes and come back from their roots. Trees sprouted from seed can take 8 years to produce the first fruit.
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.


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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Guava: Psidium guajava - flowers

Guava: Psidium guajava - fruit

Guava: Psidium guajava - leaves

Guava: Psidium guajava

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Latest update: December, 2018