Native to South and Central America and the Caribbean, delicious guava fruits are the epitome of tropical flavor. But guava trees can become invasive. Are you up to the challenge?
Cousin to clove, allspice, eucalyptus, and evening primrose, guava trees (Psidium guajava) are a low maintenance, drought tolerant, highly productive tropical fruit tree. If you enjoy eating guavas, growing your own is certainly worth some thought.
Guava plant description
Guavas are an evergreen tree or shrub with shallow roots. Under ideal conditions, trees can reach 12 to 20 feet in height. Elsewhere, they remain more shrublike. Guavas grown in containers will remain small. Attractive, one inch flowers are white. Leaves are thick and fragrant. Fruits generally have green or yellow skin and white flesh, but there are cultivars with red skin, and pink or red flesh. Fruits can range in size from 2 to 5 inches in diameter.
Types of guava
There are many varieties and cultivars of guava. You may have heard of apple guava, strawberry guava, and pineapple guava. While the first two are actually guava varieties, pineapple guava is a different species altogether. In the world of guavas, plants are sorted by fruit skin and flesh color, skin thickness, and sweetness. To find the best variety for your microclimate, contact your local County Extension Office.
Guavas are extremely drought tolerant, but plants require up to 39 inches of water each year to produce a good crop. Feeding roots only go down 9 inches, so top dressing with aged compost is an excellent way to keep guava trees fed.
Guava pests and disease
Guava wood is naturally resistant to insects and fungal disease. They are, however, susceptible to attack by weevils, mites, and guava fruit flies, and they are a host to the Caribbean fruit fly. Many moth and butterfly caterpillars will also feed on guava leaves, and the Erwinia psidii bacteria can cause rot diseases.
Guavas contain a lot of pectin, so it is easy to make guava jams, jellies, and marmalades.
You can grow a surprising amount of food in your own yard. Ask me how!