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Growing Pineapple Guava / Feijoa: Acca sellowiana

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Overview

Belonging to the Myrtle family and not true guavas, the Acca genus contains three species, of which Acca sellowiana, Pineapple Guava, is the most well known. Several dozen cultivars have been developed.

Description

Form: A multi-stemmed shrub or small tree.
Lifespan: Up to 50 years.
Leaf retention: Evergreen.
Growth rate: Slow to moderate depending on fertilization and water.
Mature Size: 3-20' high and as wide.
Flowers: Four to six fleshy, edible, white petals curled inward at the sides, tinged with purple, surrounding long bright red stamens with yellow tips. 100-200 chill hours needed for best flowering. Poor fruit yield is often caused by lack of pollination. Hand pollination is very successful. The petals can be removed for eating while leaving the rest of the flower intact for fruiting.
Bloom: Mid-spring.
Self-fruitful: Usually no. Two plants should be placed together for cross pollination.
Years before fruiting: 3-5 years from seed.
Fruit: Egg shaped, blue-green, waxy skin, fragrant, edible. Size varies from 0.75" to 4" in length. The flavor is said to be a cross between pineapple and another fruit, such as strawberry, apple and mint, or banana. Eat like an avocado, scooping the flesh out of the skin. The skin is edible but sour.
Months for fruit to ripen: 4.5 to 7. Ripe when drops from branch after plant is shaken. Check every two days.
Storage after harvest: One week for best quality. Dip in lemon juice after peeling to prevent turning brown.
Leaves: Green and smooth on top, silvery underneath, elliptical, thick.
Stems: No thorns.
Roots: Shallow, non-invasive.
Cultivars of Note: for regions with hot summers. Most plants sold by retail nurseries today do not have a cultivar name.
'Apollo' self-fruitful, ripens mid to late season
'Gemini' needs 'Apollo' for cross-pollination, ripens late summer to early autumn before 'Apollo'
'Pineapple Gem' self-fruitful but does better with hand pollination, ripens mid to late season.
Wildlife: Attracts bees and birds. In some regions, birds eat flowers and pollinate plant. Avoided by rabbits and deer.
Toxic / Danger: No.
Origin: South America.

Cultivation and Uses

USDA hardiness zones: 8-10. Hardy down to 12-15°F.
Chill hours: 50-200 hours depending on cultivar.
Heat tolerant: Yes, once established. Extra water is needed to maintain appearance over 90°F. Heat stress may cause fruit drop and leaf browning. If the tips of leaves turn brown, 30-50% shade should be provided most of the day.
Sun: Full sun to part shade. Avoid reflected sun or hot zones. When temperatures are over 90°F, afternoon full shade to all day part shade will reduce heat stress.
Drought tolerant: Yes, but prolonged lack of water, especially in high temperatures, results in loss of fruit and ratty appearance.
Water after becoming established: Once or twice a month when not fruiting. Deep water weekly when fruiting. Water weekly when temperatures over 90°F to maintain appearance. Do not overwater.
Soil: Well drained, tolerant as to soil type, but better if planted with organic soil amendment. Best in pH 6.1-7.5 (slightly acidic to neutral) soil.
Fertilize: Treat like citrus, applying organic fertilizer and citrus micronutrients three times a year in late February, late May and late July, or at least once late winter. Do not fertilize after August to avoid triggering new frost-prone growth. Spread fertilizer evenly under the canopy but 6" away from the trunk. Water immediately on a mist setting. Avoid chemical fertilizers.
Mulch: To protect shallow roots from summer heat and winter cold.
Prune: Lightly to shape after fruit harvest. Handles shearing but this reduces flower production. Dense branches may need thinning to expose flowers and fruit. Can be shaped to any form.
Litter: Moderate fruit and leaf drop.
Propagation: Seed, cuttings or layering. Seed may not breed true to type.
Uses: Ornamental, edible flowers and fruit, hedge. Flower petals are used in salads.

Comments

Former botanical name Feijoa sellowiana.



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Pineapple Guava: Acca sellowiana - flowers

Pineapple Guava: Acca sellowiana - fruit

Pineapple Guava: Acca sellowiana - leaves


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