Garden Oracle / Drought and Heat Tolerant Gardening / Tucson - Phoenix - Arizona - California

Growing Guava:
Psidium guajava

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Botanical Overview

Guava is a member of Myrtaceae, the Myrtle family (Myrtaceae), 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, hundreds of white stamens tipped with pale yellow anthers. The petals drop quickly, leaving hairy tufts of stamens.
Bloom: Spring and early fall. In the right location and weather conditions, it may bloom nearly all year. A second crop usually does not mature in regions where temperatures drop below 50°F in winter.
Self-fruitful: Yes, but some cultivars produce more fruit when cross-pollinated with another cultivar.
Years before fruiting: 2-4 grafted, 5-8 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.
Storage after harvest: The fruit will continue to ripen after being picked and last 3-5 days at room temperature if ripe. After just ripening, if refrigerated without wrapping, they will last up to 4 weeks.
Leaves: Medium green, ovate to lance-shaped, stiff and thick, aromatic when crushed. They may develop purple blotches on top in cold weather, a normal condition.
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 occur 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:
'Allahabadi' – Deep pink flesh, excellent flavor and aroma, developed in India. The skin turns from green to red when ripe.
'Hawaiian Pink Supreme' – Excellent flavor.
'Mexican Cream' – Excellent flavor, smaller fruit size.
Wildlife: The flowers attract bees. The 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.

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Cultivation and Uses

USDA hardiness zones: 9b-11. Young plants are frost-tender and must be protected from freezes. Mature trees can withstand brief periods of 27°F. Trees three years and older can sustain some dieback in regions with freezes, but will recover. Guava plants stop growing when temperatures drop below 50°F.
Chill hours: None.
Heat tolerant: This plant has difficulty over 110°F and is severely stressed over 115°F. It needs daily irrigation to survive high temperatures. Some varieties will also require afternoon shade over 100°F to keep their fruit. A few leaves may turn yellow but will green up in cooler temperatures.
Drought tolerant: No. In high temperatures, guava will need irrigation every one or two days.
Sun: Full sun except first year plants and certain varieties need afternoon shade when temperatures exceed 100°F. More than afternoon shade causes the plant to become spindly.
Planting: Locate in full sun next to a south-facing wall, with afternoon shade, away from low spots where cold air collects in winter. These plants cannot be grown in containers due to their rapid growth and need for an extensive, shallow root system. They can be grown as bonsai, which involves pruning their roots every year.
Soil: This plant tolerates a soil moisture range of well drained to some water saturation. High organic content in the soil improves performance; it tolerates pH 5-8.2 (strongly acidic to somewhat alkaline).
Fertilize: Apply organic fertilizer in February, May and August, spreading it under the canopy and one foot from the trunk. A plant micronutrient solution, applied once a year in February, in irrigation water, will supply zinc which increases fruit productivity.
Water after becoming established: Because of their shallow roots, Guava need shallow watering as often as every one or two days during the hottest part of the summer, to every one or two weeks in winter. Fruit drop signifies insufficient water. A bubbler irrigation system on a timer may be best.
Mulch: Use organic mulch under the canopy and one foot from the trunk to conserve moisture and reduce weeds.
First Two Years Care: Water every one or two days in the first year. Provide 50% afternoon shade. Do not fertilize until new growth starts. Remove weeds within 3' of the plant to avoid competition for nutrients. Pull weeds by hand rather than using tools to avoid damaging the guava's shallow roots. Protect from freezing.
Prune: After the first two years in the ground, guava produce more fruit when heavily pruned every winter. Flowers and fruit appear mostly on new growth.
Litter: Fruit if not harvested.
Propagation: Cuttings or buds grafted onto seedling rootstock. Softwood cuttings, treated with rooting hormone, and planted in starter mix in a mist enclosure. Air layering with rooting hormone. Seed is variable and does not grow true to the parent.
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 names are Common Guava and Yellow Guava.
Strawberry Guava: Psidium cattleianum, is a closely related species. It is more cold hardy but far less heat tolerant.
Pineapple Guava: Acca sellowiana belongs to a different genus. It is more cold hardy, deep rooted, and easier to grow. It has smaller, delicious, exotically flavored fruit.

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Guava: Psidium guajava - flowers

Guava: Psidium guajava - fruit

Guava: Psidium guajava - leaves

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Latest update: February, 2021