Plant of The Month
Feijoas or Pineapple Guava (Feijoa Sellowiana) are an abundant producing fruit tree with green sweet tasting fruit. The trees are evergreen with dark green and silver foliage. Feijoas are easy to grow and due to their thick foliage, they make a great screening tree or edible hedge!
This fruit tree is a prolific producer and can grow in a range of climates from temperate to subtropical but grows best from zones 8-11.
What parts of Feijoa are edible?
Plant in Spring or Autumn
Warm sunny location at least 6-8 hours of sun
Prune for size in autumn. Keep well watered in summer when fruiting.
Feed with compost and keep well mulched.
Rats, fruit flies, birds, guava moth, possums, scale.
Ripe when they fall from the tree. Collect daily.
Can grow from seed but best results are from grafted plants.
Why Grow Feijoa?
Here are some of the many reasons to grow Feijoa
- It produces in abundance!
- It is self-fertile
- Evergreen – ornamental all year round
- Delicious juicy fruit that are sweet with a perfumey flavor
- Green fruit which is harder to see from pests
- Hardy tree – easy to grow
- The whole fruit is edible!
- Flowers are edible
- Foliage is said to have fire-retardant qualities
- Drought tolerant
- Dense foliage can be pruned to a hedge for screening areas
Popular Feijoa Varieties
Feijoas are commonly sold as seedling plants under the name Pineapple Guvava or Feijoa Sellowiana these will perform with mixed results and can take 6+ years to start fruiting. Choosing a grafted or named variety will offer a quicker-producing tree that will be true to type. Varieties will vary from country to country.
Duffy – Medium – large sized fruit. Popular all round variety.
White Goose – Large fruit with juicy white flesh. Early season fruiting that can last quite a long time.
Mammoth – Large round fruit with thick wrinkled skin. Can benefit from a pollinator tree. Tall upright tree.
Apollo – Medium – large oval fruit. Smooth light green skin. Tall upright tree. Semi-self-fertile – benefits from another pollinator tree.
Unique – Medium-sized fruit. Smooth, juicy, and sweet. Starts fruiting from a young age.
Triumph – Medium-sized fruit. Slightly gritty but good flavour. Late season bearing.
Nazemetz – Large oval/pear-shaped fruit. Smooth skin with sweet flesh. Self-fertile but will bear heavily with cross-pollination.
- Choose a named variety (x2 different ones for bonus pollination)
- Choose a sunny location
- Add plenty of compost
- Ensure plenty of water during fruiting (summer)
- Fruit is ready in Autumn
When to Plant
Plant your Feijoa plants in Spring or Autumn to avoid added stress from summer and winter temperatures.
How to Grow
To plant your feijoa pick a sunny spot they like full sun for 6-8 hours at least. And quite a bit of space as these trees will grow quite large (2-5m). You can prune them back heavily though so it’s not a major issue. They will also grow well in a large pot.
Dig a hole twice as big as the pot and mix a little compost in with the soil. If your plant has tightly bound roots make sure you free them up before planting it out. Firmly pack the soil back around and cover it with mulch. Just pull back the mulch from the trunk so you don’t rot the trunk. Feijoas have shallow feeder roots so keep weeds and plants at a minimum under the tree line.
Give it big water! Now you basically don’t have to do anything for the first couple of years except keep it watered, especially during the dry season. You may get flowers in the first year or it makes take a couple of years until it is established enough to put out flowers. It flowers in spring and the fruits are usually ready and ripe in Autumn.
Once your tree is established and starting to flower and fruit you can look at more fertilizing and watering. You can feed your plants near the end of winter, spring, and summer with compost or worm teas, or liquid seaweed. I don’t do a lot of feeding but I do chop and drop the prunings and add layers of mulch each year.
Another key tip is to ensure your plants get plenty of water during summer and late summer as the fruits are developing. This is something we struggle with here in Perth because we basically get no rain in summer. This last summer was so so dry and my trees were loaded with fruit. I obviously didn’t water them enough for the amount of fruit they had and the results are a strange hollow center. The fruit still tastes delicious just not quite as juicy as it should be.
So I will have more mulch and more water next season. From memory, I was only hand watering max twice a week and it was extremely hot here so I’m not surprised really.
Once your feijoas have finished fruiting and you have picked up all the dropped fruit. It can be a good time to prune your trees if you want. I like to prune mine each year so that the fruit is always within reach. Otherwise, it ends up over the neighbor’s fence or is bruised from falling so far to the ground. Feijoas love a prune and it can actually improve fruiting. I cut back about 20-30% each year and I find that it grows back about that much so my trees stay relatively the same height by doing this.
Plus by cutting back 20% of the tree I get a whole lot of green material to compost. In my food forest-style garden, I don’t remove anything so all prunings go directly back into the garden. So with the feijoas, I prine using hedge shears or loppers for larger branches and chop them into small pieces then lay them around the trees. This breaks down and feeds the plants. If I had a mulcher I would definitely use that but it works fine for me too. then I often add mulch on top.
You may notice lots of small birds in your trees when they are flowering. Don’t worry as they are helping pollinate the flowers. They harvest the nectar and also eat the petals but generally allow the main flower to stay put and fruit. Bees and small birds are the main types of pollinators.
One tree will still perform amazingly as they are self-fertile but having multiple just increases your harvests. It can also extend your season. Meaning different varieties take longer or shorter to flower or ripen and you can get extended harvests.
One thing to note is feijoas ripen quickly and in bulk. So they come in hard and fast.
Pests / Disease
Rats and possums will love your fruit and also parrots and birds. You may want to net or bag fruits if you are worried. I definitely have rats and parrots but so far I haven’t needed to bag fruit as they are doing minimal damage to my large harvests. Fruit flies and guava moths are also a problem in other areas. Again this would need to be bagged when the fruit is young before they get stung.
How/ When to Harvest
Now comes the fun part – harvesting. How do we tell when the fruit is ripe if it remains green? Well, it falls off the tree. So each morning you can go out and pick up all the fruit from the ground. It is important to pick all the fruit up because otherwise, you will attract pests like rats and possums, or fruit flies. Feijoas do continue to ripen off the tree so you want to eat them quite quickly or use and preserve them. I like the tartness of fresh feijoas and they get sweeter and more perfumy as they ripen which is why I never like feijoas from the stores as I find them too overripe.
Most people will cut the fruit in half and scoop out the inside to eat but you can eat the whole fruit. Especially when they are quite ripe the skin is sour and the inside is sweet it has a nice balance.
Ripe feijoas may have small brown seeds inside. These can be planted in moist soil. Feijoas do not grow true to type from seed so they may produce fruit different from the one you saved the seeds from.
Cooking and Using
Feijoas are delicious eaten fresh off the tree. You can eat the whole fruit or cut it in half and scoop out the insides. Once they fall from the tree they may still be a little tart. Allow to ripen for a few days and they will become softer, sweeter, and juicer. However, they will continue to ripen and become over-ripe. Fruit flies may also find them on the bench so I like to keep them in the fridge.
Feijoa flowers are beautiful and the petals are edible. I saved a bunch to add to teas. Just carefully remove the soft white and pink petals without removing the whole flower.
Feijoa pairs well with: Ginger, Coconut, Apple, Cinnamon, Chilli, Citrus, Pear, Nuts, Dark chocolate, Yogurt
Preserving the Harvest
Feijoa trees once mature will produce bucketloads of fruit! They can be frozen to use in smoothies and juices or baking or preserved in jams, chutney, alcohol infusions, and bottled.