by SCMG Stephanie Wrightson
Sonoma County Master Gardeners include pineapple guava in the Top Plants for Sonoma County. Fall is an ideal month to plant woody shrubs and trees.
Following a move from the the Mid-Atlantic to Sonoma Valley, I attended the local May lavender festival. The lavender farm’s landscape included large, attractive bluish-green shrubs covered with eye-catching inch-wide white flowers with large red stamens. The property owner identified it as pineapple guava (Feijoa sellowiana, AKA Acca sellowiana; not a true guava). Each flower gives the promise of a late fall/early winter fruit.
After the first growing season, I removed the nursery trellis and placed tree stakes about six feet apart on either side of the shrub and lashed two bamboo poles to the stakes that loosely lace through the guava’s branches. This provides support in the occasional strong winds and guides me as I lightly prune the guava to keep its espaliered shape. Once it reaches the desired height and width, heavier pruning in early spring will keep the guava in proportion to the scale of my yard. A hori-hori knife makes quick work of the light suckering.
While the pineapple guava is drought tolerant, I give it regular water (20 minutes, three times a week during the summer months) so that I can optimize fruiting. Despite getting full sun, the west end of the Sonoma Valley is affected by the coastal weather pattern and the guava appreciates some of this cool weather. If you live in a very hot inland microclimate, the plant will appreciate some protection from the hottest part of the day. An added bonus is that the small black-tailed deer who visit my garden ignore the guava. Only the new fawns take a taste and, then, ignore it. Additional positives: pineapple guava tolerates cold weather to 10-15 degrees and is virtually pest-free.
Most improved varieties are self-fertile but not all are. Ask the nursery about the variety characteristics if you plan to plant just one guava. In any event, you may wish to plant two if you desire a bountiful crop. If growing the plant for fruit, the Sunset Western Garden Book recommends ‘Apollo,’ ‘Collidge,’ ‘Mammoth,’ ‘Nazemetz,’ and ‘Trask.’
I am expecting next year’s fruit production to be plentiful enough to make a batch of guava jelly…and maybe guava ice cream. I can’t wait!