Choose the Right Location for Your Feijoa Tree
The location you choose for planting your feijoa tree is critical to its health and productivity. Feijoas need full sun for at least 6 to 8 hours per day to produce abundant flowers and fruit. Plant the tree in an area that is sheltered from strong winds, which can damage the tree and fruit. The soil should be fertile, well-drained, and slightly acidic with a pH between 6 and 7. Heavy clay soils do not provide adequate drainage and should be amended with compost or other organic matter before planting.
As a subtropical plant, the feijoa tree can tolerate light freezes but will be killed by hard freezes. In areas where temperatures drop below 25 F, plant the tree in a location sheltered from north and west winds and consider using frost protection. A north- or east-facing wall can provide additional warmth and protection. Mulching around the base of the tree with bark chips, sawdust, or leaves will also provide insulation for the roots during winter.
Proper site selection and preparation is key to successfully growing a healthy feijoa tree. By choosing a spot with fertile, well-drained soil and full sun exposure, providing frost protection if needed, and mulching around the base of the tree, you’ll give your feijoa the best start for abundant growth and fruit production.
Prepare the Soil for Optimal Feijoa Growth
The soil in which you plant your feijoa tree will have a significant impact on its health and productivity. Feijoas require soil that is fertile, well-drained, and slightly acidic with a pH between 6 and 7. Heavy clay soils do not provide adequate drainage and should be amended before planting.
To prepare the soil, incorporate compost, peat moss, or other organic matter to improve drainage and add nutrients. For every 100 square feet of planting area, add:
- 3 to 5 gallons of compost, peat moss or aged manure
- 1/2 pound of bone meal for phosphorus
- 1/4 pound of kelp meal for potassium and other trace minerals
Turn the organic matter and fertilizers into the top 6 to 8 inches of soil. For poor or clay soils, you may need up to 1 cubic yard of compost or other amendments per 100 square feet.
Soil drainage is critical and feijoa trees will not tolerate sitting in water. In areas with poorly-draining soil, you may need to create raised beds or install drainage tiles to divert excess water away from the root zone. Providing the proper soil conditions before planting will encourage strong root growth and a healthy, productive tree.
Soil testing is recommended to determine the pH and nutrient levels in your soil. The ideal pH range for feijoas is between 6 and 7. Soil that is too alkaline (above 7.5) can be acidified by adding elemental sulfur. Soil that is very acidic (below 6) can be raised by adding lime. Soil testing will also identify any deficiencies in nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium so the proper amendments can be added before planting.
In addition to preparing the soil before planting, feijoa trees benefit from mulching around the base of the tree. A 3- to 6-inch layer of mulch such as bark chips, sawdust, or leaves will help retain soil moisture, prevent weeds, and provide insulation for the roots. Replenish the mulch every few years as it decomposes.
With fertile, well-drained soil; the proper pH; and regular mulching, your feijoa tree will be well-positioned to produce abundant flowers and fruit for years to come. Providing these optimal soil conditions is a key step towards successful feijoa cultivation.
Feijoa Tree Planting and Care Instructions
Once you have prepared the soil and chosen an optimal planting location, you are ready to plant your feijoa tree. Space feijoa trees at least 15 to 20 feet apart, as they can grow up to 25 feet tall and wide. Dig a hole that is at least two feet deep and two feet wide. Partially fill the hole with the soil you removed, then place the tree in the hole to check that it is sitting at the proper depth. The top of the root ball should be slightly above the surrounding soil.
Remove the tree and finish filling in the bottom of the hole with soil. Place the tree back in the hole and backfill around the roots with the remaining soil. Water thoroughly after planting to settle the soil around the roots.
Newly planted feijoa trees require regular watering for the first few years. Water young trees about 1 inch per week. Once established, watering can be reduced to about 1/2 inch per week during dry periods. The soil should dry out slightly between waterings. Overwatering can cause root rot and kill the tree.
Fertilize feijoa trees in early spring before buds open and again in early fall after harvest. Use a balanced fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium such as 10-10-10. Follow the directions on the product’s packaging for the proper rate. Fertilizing in fall helps the tree recover nutrients to prepare for winter dormancy.
Pruning feijoa trees is primarily done to improve air circulation and light penetration in the canopy. It should be done after harvest when the tree is dormant. Remove any dead, crossing, or damaged branches. Thin out crowded branches, especially in the center of the tree. Pruning feijoa trees annually helps maintain their productivity and overall health.
In addition to watering, fertilizing, and pruning, mulch around the base of the tree is recommended. A 3- to 6-inch layer of mulch such as bark chips or sawdust will help retain moisture in the soil, prevent weeds, and insulate the roots. Replace mulch as it decomposes over time.
With regular planting care like watering, fertilizing, pruning, and mulching, your feijoa tree will establish quickly and produce abundant fruit for years to come. Maintaining the proper conditions after planting is key to the health, longevity, and productivity of your feijoa tree.
Feijoa Tree Pruning and Training Techniques
Pruning feijoa trees helps maintain their shape and improve air circulation and light penetration within the canopy. It should be done after harvest when the tree is dormant. Annual pruning will keep your feijoa tree productive and help it live a longer, healthier life.
The primary objectives of pruning feijoa trees are:
- Remove any dead, damaged or crossing branches.
- Open up the center of the tree by thinning crowded branches.
- Ensure good air circulation through the canopy. Feijoa trees are susceptible to fungal diseases in humid, poorly ventilated conditions.
- Maintenance of tree shape and size. Without pruning, feijoa trees can become quite large (up to 25 feet tall and wide), so pruning helps to control size and make harvesting more convenient.
When pruning, use sharp, clean pruning shears and make cuts just outside the branch collar. Remove no more than 25% of the tree’s branches and foliage at one time. Thinning cuts, removing shoots and stems back to their point of origin, are preferred over heading cuts which shorten branches. Heading cuts can stimulate excessive regrowth.
As a guide, you can remove:
- All shoots and stems less than 1/2 inch in diameter.
- Any stems that are crossing or rubbing other stems.
- Selectively thin out some 1- to 2-inch stems where needed to open up the center of the tree.
- Remove any downward-growing shoots.
Once the tree has been pruned, all trimmings should be removed from under the tree and properly disposed of to avoid disease infection.
In addition to pruning, corrective training may be needed to establish good branch structure on young feijoa trees. Espaliering involves training trees to grow flat against a wall and can be used to maximize space. Young shoots can be tied to trellises or wires to gently direct their growth into the desired shape. Be sure to remove the ties once the branch has hardened and can support itself.
With regular pruning and occasional corrective training, you can keep your feijoa tree productive, healthy, and well-maintained year after year. Developing a good pruning system is key to the successful long-term cultivation of feijoa trees.
Feijoa Tree Pest and Disease Prevention
While feijoa trees are relatively low-maintenance, they can be affected by certain pests and diseases if conditions are favorable. The key to prevention is providing optimal growing conditions and monitoring your trees regularly for any signs of infestation or infection. Common pests of feijoa trees include:
- Moths such as the feijoa pink moth can feed on flowers and fruit. Cover trees with netting when fruits start to ripen.
- Scale, mealybugs, and aphids suck sap from leaves and shoots. Spray trees with horticultural oil or insecticidal soap.
- Slugs and snails feed on leaves, flowers, and fruit. Apply slug bait around the base of trees, especially after rain or watering.
- Birds peck at ripening fruit. Use bird netting to protect fruit when ripe.
Some diseases to watch for include:
- Anthracnose, a fungal disease causing dark spots on leaves and fruit. Improve air circulation and sanitation. Apply fungicides at bloom and petal fall.
- Root rot from excess soil moisture. Improve drainage and allow soil to dry slightly between waterings.
Good garden sanitation can help prevent pest and disease problems. Clear weeds from around the tree, rake up fallen leaves and debris under the canopy, and remove any mummified or spoiled fruit remaining on the tree or dropped to the ground. Space trees adequately when planting to allow for good air circulation.
Regular monitoring and inspection of your feijoa trees is key to identifying any potential issues early. Look for signs such as leaf spots, fruit spots or rot, damaged or distorted new growth, scale on leaves or shoots, or damage to ripening fruit. Take appropriate action, whether manual pest removal, pruning for air circulation, or applying pesticides/fungicides when necessary to nip problems in the bud and protect your harvest.
With vigilant monitoring, optimal growing conditions, and prompt action when needed, pest and disease problems in feijoa trees can largely be prevented. Keeping your trees healthy and productive for many years to come requires an integrated approach to managing threats and effective preventative practices.
Harvesting and Storing Feijoas
Feijoa fruit matures 6 to 8 months after flowering. They are ready to harvest once fully ripe in late fall when slightly soft but not mushy to the touch. Unripe fruit will not ripen properly after harvesting and lacks the characteristic flavor and aroma feijoas are known for.
The fruit drops from the tree easily when fully ripe, so check ripening fruit daily and harvest as they become ready. Twist or clip the fruit from the tree rather than pulling them to avoid damaging the fruit and branches. Use secateurs or pruning shears and cut the stem about 1/2 inch from where it attaches to the fruit.
After harvesting, feijoas can be stored for up to 2 weeks at room temperature. For best quality, store them in a single layer in a shallow container. Do not stack them on top of each other, as they may develop black spots where they contact other fruit. Check stored fruit regularly and remove any spoiling feijoas immediately to avoid spreading to other fruit.
For longer storage up to 6 months, feijoas can be frozen, dried, or made into preserves. To freeze feijoas:
- Wash, peel, and chop fully ripe fruit. Discard seeds.
- Pack into an airtight container or ziplock freezer bags. Press out excess air before sealing.
- Feijoas will last up to 6 months frozen.
To dry feijoas:
- Wash, peel, and chop fully ripe fruit into slices 1/4 inch thick. Remove seeds.
- Place in a single layer on dehydrator trays or baking sheets.
- Dehydrate at 130 to 140 F for 6 to 14 hours until leathery. Flip halfway through.
- Allow to cool, then pack into an airtight container or bags. Properly dried, feijoas can last 6 to 12 months.
Feijoas also make excellent chutneys, jams, and candied fruit – all of which can be preserved for long term storage. When processing feijoas, be sure to use fully ripe fruit for the best flavor and texture. Unripe feijoas are quite hard and acidic, lacking the sweet tangy taste that comes through only when ripe.
With proper harvesting and storage techniques, you can enjoy the unique flavor of feijoas for months after the short harvest season ends. Learning methods to preserve your feijoa harvest will allow you to savor this exotic fruit year-round.