Understand the Basics of Murici Plant
Native to Brazil, murici are tropical fruit trees in the Malpighia glabra species. Murici trees can grow 10-20 feet in height. Murici have oval, leathery leaves and produce small pink flowers and yellow, edible fruit.
Murici trees thrive in tropical and subtropical climates and require full sun and well-drained soil with a slightly acid pH of 5-6. Murici should be planted in an area that is protected from strong winds and frost. Plant murici seedlings during the rainy season and keep the soil moderately moist while the seedling is establishing. Fertilize murici 3 times per year. Prune murici to shape the tree and improve air circulation and light exposure.
Choose the Right Soil and Location for Your Murici
Murici thrive in tropical and subtropical climates and require full sun and well-drained soil with a slightly acid pH of 5-6.The ideal location for murici has temperatures above 60 F, low chance of frost, and protection from strong winds.
Soil: Murici grow best in rich, loose, well-drained soil with high organic matter and a slightly acid pH between 5 to 6. Nutrient imbalance may lead to disease or reduced fruiting. Before planting, have your soil tested to determine the pH and nutrient levels. Adjust the soil conditions by amending with compost or other organic matter. Ideally, the soil should retain moisture but still drain well. Heavy clay soils should be avoided.
Sun exposure: Murici trees require full sun for at least 6 to 8 hours per day to produce flowers and fruit. Select a spot in your yard that gets plenty of direct sunlight throughout the day. While murici can tolerate some shade, too little sun will result in limited blossoming and fruiting.
Protection from weather: Plant murici in an area sheltered from strong winds, especially cold winds. While murici trees can withstand high heat and humidity, they are very sensitive to frost and cold damage. Select a spot that will protect them from extreme weather like frost and freezing temperatures. A fence, windbreak or planting them along a building can help shield them from damaging winds.
Temperature: Murici thrive in hot tropical and subtropical climates where the average temperatures are above 60 F. Growth and fruit production will be limited in cooler regions. Murici can tolerate temperatures up to 95 F, but may require some shade during the hottest parts of the day. Optimal growth occurs in areas where summer temperatures average around 77 F, and winter lows stay above freezing.
Pests and diseases: Murici can be susceptible to pests like scale, mealybugs, mites and fruit flies. They may also be affected by fungal leaf spots, powdery mildew, and bacterial canker. Select a site with good air circulation and proper spacing between trees to prevent disease. Pruning the tree to improve sunlight exposure and air flow can also help.
Planting and Caring for Your Murici Seedling
Plant murici seedlings during the rainy season and keep the soil moderately moist while the seedling is establishing. For the first two to three months after planting, water young murici saplings 2-3 times a week to keep the soil consistently damp. As the seedling grows, slowly adjust to watering once a week, as needed based on the rainfall in your area. Overwatering can promote root rot so check that the top few inches of soil are dry before watering.
Site selection: Choose a protected, sunny spot with fertile, well-drained soil and adequate spacing from other plants or structures. The ideal spacing is 10 to 15 feet apart for dwarf murici and 20 to 25 feet for standard sized trees. This allows for good air circulation around the mature tree and access for harvesting fruit.
Planting: Murici seedlings should be planted at the same depth as they were in their nursery container. For bare root trees, look for the root flare at the base of the trunk to determine how deep they were originally planted. Place some compost or other organic matter in the bottom of the hole before positioning the seedling. Backfill the hole with the native soil and tamp down gently with your foot as you go to remove air pockets.
Fertilizing: For the first year after planting, fertilize young murici trees every 6 to 8 weeks during the growing season. Use a balanced, all-purpose fertilizer with equal parts nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (such as 10-10-10). For mature trees, fertilize 3 times per year – in early spring, midsummer and late fall. Increase the amount of nitrogen for mature murici, using a fertilizer with a 2:1 or 3:1 NPK ratio. Follow the directions on the product packaging to determine the appropriate amount for the size and age of your tree.
Pruning: Once a year after the threat of frost has passed, prune your murici to improve the tree’s shape and structure. Remove any dead or damaged branches. Thin out overlapping or crossing branches to improve air circulation. Pruning also helps stimulate new healthy growth and maximize fruit production.
Mulching around the base of the tree will help keep roots cool and moist as well as preventing weed growth. Use about 2 to 3 inches of an organic mulch like wood chips, bark or chopped leaves. Keep mulch a few inches away from the trunk to prevent disease.
Pruning and Harvesting Your Murici Tree
Once established, murici trees can produce fruit for 50-60 years. Murici fruit usually ripens 8-12 weeks after flowering. Harvest murici fruit once they turn bright yellow and have a slight softness. Use pruning shears or scissors to cut fruit from the tree, leaving some of the stem still attached. Enjoy murici fruit raw or in preserves, juices, and desserts.
Pruning: Prune murici trees once a year in late winter or early spring before new growth starts. Remove any dead or damaged branches and thin out crossing or crowded branches to improve air circulation. This will also stimulate new productive growth and maximize fruit yield. For the first 3-4 years after planting, prune murici to establish a strong scaffold system with wide-angled branch attachments.
Harvesting: Murici fruit is ready to harvest once it turns bright yellow and yields slightly to finger pressure. For the best quality fruit, harvest yellow, fully ripe murici fruits daily as ripeness occurs. Leaving ripe fruit on the tree too long can cause them to become mushy or to drop off.
Use sharp bypass pruners or scissors to cut the fruit from the tree, leaving 1/2 inch of the stem attached. Be careful not to damage nearby branches when harvesting. Pick the fruit carefully when harvesting by hand.
As murici fruits approach full ripeness, the space between a fruit and the branch intensifies in color, and the little knob at the point of attachment (called the abscission zone) begins to swell. The ripening fruit also develops a slightly wrinkled appearance and yields gently to pressure. While still mostly firm, the flesh inside will have developed a bright yellow-orange color and a characteristic sweet aroma. Ripe murici has a melting, tropical-mango like flavor.
Yield: A mature murici tree can produce 200-500 pounds or more of fruit each year. The amount of fruit a tree will bear depends on factors like climate, health and age of the tree. Murici trees usually begin fruiting and reach full maturity and maximum yield after 3 or more years of growth. With a long harvesting season of several months, a single murici tree can provide an abundance of fruit for homeowners.
Harvested murici fruit will last 1 to 2 weeks stored at room temperature, and up to a month refrigerated. Freezing murici puree or juicing the ripe fruit are also popular ways to preserve the harvest.