Guavas are common tropical fruits cultivated and enjoyed in many tropical and subtropical regions.Psidium guajava (common guava, lemon guava) is a small tree in the Myrtle family (Myrtaceae), native to Mexico, Central America, and northern South America. Although related species may also be called guavas, they actually belong to other genera, such as the “pineapple guava” Acca sellowiana.The term “guava” appears to derive from Arawak guayabo “guava tree”, via the Spanish guayaba. It has been adapted in many European and Asian languages, having a similar form.Another term for guavas is peru, derived from pear. It is common in countries bordering the western Indian Ocean and probably derives from Spanish or Portuguese. In parts of the Indian subcontinent and Middle-East, guava is called amrood, possibly a variant of armoot meaning “pear” in the Arabic and Turkish languages.
HOW TO GROW
- Spread 2 to 3 inches of mulch, such as bark pieces or wood chips, around your guava tree. Guava trees respond well to mulch because it blocks weeds while keeping the soil moisture levels high. Additionally, as the mulch decomposes, it adds nitrogen and micronutrients to the soil.
- Water the guava tree once a week, applying enough water to moisten the soil to the depth of 1 foot. Guava trees are drought-tolerant plants, and infrequent watering helps encourage deep, extensive root networks that result in healthier trees.
- Fertilize the guava tree once a month during its first year of growth, using a complete fertilizer product labeled for use on trees and applying it according to the label instructions. After the tree is more than 1 year old, fertilize every other month.
- Regularly apply mulch and hand-pull any weeds to keep the area around the tree free of weeds. Weeds steal soil nutrients and water from your guava tree and may also harbor insect pests.
- Prune the guava tree throughout the year, using pruning shears to cut off any new limbs that appear at the base of the plant. This encourages a stronger central trunk and a healthier, more stable tree.
- Mature guava trees don’t need pruning, but you can occasionally trim trees back every other spring to help keep the branches from getting too high and pushing the fruit out of reach.
- Prune trees as needed to open the canopy and remove dead branches or suckers. Use a pruning saw to remove entire branches just outside the branch collar. Pruning shears or a pruning saw can be used to shape the canopy, cutting partial branches 1/4 inch outside a bud, leaf node or lateral branch. Branches that grow inward, across other branches or vertically should be removed.
- Cover the guava tree with a blanket if there is a danger of frost. Stringing lights in the tree canopy during cooler months can also help keep the tree warm. Temperatures below 28 degrees Fahrenheit can injure the tree, although it may grow back from the roots even if the tree is killed to the ground.
- Treat with insecticidal soap or horticultural oil if signs of mealy bug, scale or whitefly appear. Ants attracted to the sticky fruit can be controlled with boric acid.
Common Pests and Diseases
Orange to red pustules appearing on leaves, young shoots, flowers and/or fruit; leaves distorted; defoliation of tree; reduced growth; circular lesions on fully expanded leaves with dark borders and yellow halos caused by fungus
Primary method of controlling disease is usually the application of appropriate fungicides; cultural practices that may reduce the incidence of the disease include good sanitation practices and adequate fertilization, irrigation and pruning of trees
Sunken, dark colored lesions on mature fruit which may become covered in pink spores; lesions coalesce to form large necrotic patches on surface of fruit caused by fungus
The primary method of controlling the disease is to plant resistant guava cultivars; both systemic and non-systemic fungicides are effective at controlling the disease and are usually applied shortly before flowering and during fruit develpment
Algal leaf spot
Orange, rust-colored, dense, silky tufts on both upper and lower surfaces of leaves which turn reddish-purple in color as they mature; if tufts are scraped away, a thin gray-white or dark-colored necrotic spot remains on the leaf; bark on twigs and branches may be cracked; young stems and fruit may also be attacked caused by Alga
Ensure trees receive adequate fertilization, irrigation and and are properly pruned to avoid stress on the plants and promote air circulation through the canopy; periodic applications of a copper based fungicide is usually enough to control the disease
Pseudocercospora leaf spot
Small irregularly shaped or roughly circular dark brown lesions with darker brown border on upper surface of leaves; lesions may also be present on stems and fruit; under humid conditions, fungus may sporulate and gray tufts of mycelium may be visible in the center of lesions; lesions may coalesce to form large necrotic patches caused by fungus.
In areas where environmental conditions are conducive to the development of the disease, chemical control using appropriate fungicides is necessary to control the disease; copper-containing fungicides are most effective
Thrips (Redbanded thrips)
If population is high leaves may be distorted; leaves are covered in coarse stippling and may appear silvery; leaves speckled with black feces; insect is small (1.5 mm) and slender and best viewed using a hand lens; adult are dark brown to black in color and female has red pigmentation on abdominal segments
Avoid planting next to onions, garlic or cereals where very large numbers of thrips can build up; use reflective mulches early in growing season to deter thrips; apply appropriate insecticide if thrips become problematic
Fruit flies (Guava fruit fly, Caribbean fruit fly)
Depressions in fruit with dark colored puncture wounds; soft, mushy areas on fruit caused by larvae feedign on fruit; development of secondary rots often cause fruit to drop from tree; insects are small flies – the guava fruit fly is approximately 5 mm in length and is black and yellow in color; the Caribbean fruit fly may reach 12-14 mm in length and is yellow-brown with long patterned wings
Infested fruit should be removed and destroyed; plowing around bases of trees infested with guava fruit flies exposes pupae to damaging heat from the sun and to natural enemies; pheromone traps are used successfully in some regions to control guava fruit flies; millions of sterile Caribbean fruit flies are introduced yearly in Florida to control populations on citrus
Root knot nematode
Galls on roots which can be up to 3.3 cm (1 in) in diameter but are usually smaller; reduction in plant vigor; yellowing plants which wilt in hot weather
Plant resistant varieties if nematodes are known to be present in the soil; check roots of plants mid-season or sooner if symptoms indicate nematodes; solarizing soil can reduce nematode populations in the soil and levels of inoculum of many other pathogens
- It’s no wonder guava is called a super fruit. Compared to the same amount of pineapple, guavas contain 30 more calories per serving, but three times the protein and more than four times the fiber. All that fiber makes guavas a great “regulator,” while helping to protect the colon by reducing the risk of cancer-causing toxins and chemical build up; the fiber actually binds to the toxins and helps move them out of the body.
- While pineapples provide 131% of the daily value of vitamin C in a serving, guavas offer 628%. Guava should be eaten with the skin, like an apple, imparting even higher concentrations of vitamin C. Eating fruits rich in this vitamin helps the body build up resistance to infection, including infectious diseases, while scavenging free radicals that could cause serious illnesses.
- Guavas contain: vitamin A (21% of the daily value), essential for maintaining healthy mucus membranes and skin; folate (20%), great for pregnant women to help prevent neural tube defects. Flavonoids include beta-carotene (a known cancer inhibitor); lycopene, which in pink guava has been found to protect the skin against UV rays and help prevent prostate cancer; lutein and cryptoxanthin, both antioxidants. Guavas have potassium, too – more per serving than even a banana – which is important as heart rate and blood pressure regulators.
- Smaller amounts of other vitamins in guava deserve mention: pantothenic acid, niacin, vitamin B6 (pyridoxine), vitamin E and K, and the minerals magnesium, copper, and manganese, the latter imparting the enzyme superoxide dismutase.