Article from the Tropical Fruit News magazine of the Miami Rare Fruit Council International
by Gene Joyner


The guava, Psidium guajava, is a popular fruit native to tropical America and found throughout most regions of the world in tropical areas. The guava tree is not very large, usually only reaching a height of about 25 feet and so is well suited for smaller landscapes. It can even be kept as a large bush and produce adequate amounts of fruit. Leaves are large, coarse, light to dark green. The bark is reddish brown and flakes off reveling a smooth gray bark beneath. In many people's opinion this peeling bark characteristic is one of the attractive features of the tree.

There are many named varieties of guava available and the following are a few you may encounter: PINK INDIAN, RUBY SUPREME, WHITE CROSS, RED CROSS, PATILLO.

Trees grow very quickly, often three to four feet in a single growing season and are commonly propagated by seed, rooting of cuttings, air layers or grafting. When grown from seed, seedling trees take about two years to reach fruiting size. The best growth is attained in full sun, trees will grow in heavy shade but produce few fruit. Most trees grow well over a wide variety of soils, but prefer an acid pH for best growth. Trees should be fertilized about every three to four months with a citrus or fruit tree-type fertilizer and periodic pruning to improve the shape of the tree is recommended. Trees will take some salt spray, but are not recommended for highly exposed locations on seaside or Intracoastal areas.

Fruit in guava can be quite variable but are usually either round or pearshaped. In all but one or two varieties, the fruit skin at maturity is a bright yellow and internal pulp is yellow, white, pink or almost red. The pulp usually contains large numbers of small hard seeds which can be eaten along with the pulp. Pulp quality is quite excellent and guavas are well appreciated for fresh eating and also for use in preserves, jellies, jams or beverages. The white fleshed varieties tend to be slightly more acid than the pink or dark colored varieties. Fruit season in the tropics is year round but in Florida most of the fruit is produced from early summer through early winter. When cold weather occurs, trees generally stop flowering for a few months before resuming in the spring. Flowers on your guava are quite attractive, over an inch across. You can find all stages of fruit on the tree from newly set to full maturity, often at the same time during the warm months.

Trees will be injured by cold weather and will freeze at about 28 degrees F but will come back from the lower portions once the damaged areas are pruned out.

Problems of guava include insects such as caterpillars that attack foliage, scale insects, and the caribbean fruit fly which attacks maturing fruit.

Some nutritional problems, particularly a lack of minor elements, often occur on highly alkaline soils and trees benefit from periodic applications of nutritional sprays.

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Joyner, Gene. "Guava." Tropical Fruit News, Miami Rare Fruit Council.  Feb. 1994. Web. 2 Feb. 2017.

Published 2 Feb. 2017 LR
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