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Feijoa trees in an orchard
A hardy, attractive small tree with gorgeous foliage that’s super pruneable, has stunning flowers and delicious fruit. What’s not to love about feijoas?

What you need to know about feijoa

Name: feijoa, pineapple guava, guavasteen (Feijoa sellowiana, syn. Acca sellowiana).

Plant type: moderately vigorous evergreen fruit tree.

Height: 2–5m but can be contained by pruning. 

Foliage: thick, smooth leaves, light olive green on top and silver-grey beneath. 

Climate: grows best in warm temperate to sub-tropical climates but can tolerate tropical and cold temperate climates with protection.

Soil: grows best in rich, free-draining soil but tolerant of clay and both dry and wet soil.

Position: full sun to part shade; very wind-tolerant even in coastal situations. 

Flowering and fruiting: flowers in early summer; fruit ripens in late autumn to early winter. 

Feeding: annual applications of controlled release fertiliser.

Watering: drought-tolerant but reliable watering is preferred during fruit development.

The feijoa story

There’s no denying that some fruit trees take a lot of TLC to get them to perform at their best. The feijoa is not one of those trees. In fact it’s quite likely the easiest fruit tree you could grow, right up there with mulberries. Originally from South America, the feijoa wasn’t discovered by Europeans until the 1820s and it has seesawed in popularity ever since. Interestingly, the feijoa has been very popular in New Zealand for generations. It was a moderately common garden plant in the 1960s and over the last 10 or so years has been rediscovered by home gardeners and commercial fruit growers.

Appearance and characteristics of feijoa

The natural form is widely spreading, with trees potentially as wide as they are high. With age and no pruning they can become very dense and twiggy, however feijoas take very well to pruning so are most often seen in neat, compact forms. Feijoas tend to be reasonably long lived and will remain productive for 30 years or more.

Their foliage is very distinctive – light olive-green above, silver-grey beneath – and oval-shaped with a thick, almost leathery texture. 

The real beauty of the feijoa is in its hardiness and versatility. It’s an attractive and useful garden plant and it produces an abundance of mouth-wateringly delicious fruit. The taste of feijoas is described in different ways, with comparisons to pineapple, passionfruit, strawberry, lemon and guava!

Close-up of a feijoa tree with flowers

 

Feijoa fruiting and harvesting

Feijoa fruit are often quite irregular in shape, varying from rounded to oval or pear-shaped. The skin is waxy, sometimes rough other times smooth, and bluey-green to grey-green in colour. As the fruit ripens it takes on a slightly yellow hue and becomes very aromatic.

Fruit should be left to ripen on the tree. Wait until it falls and harvest immediately or pick when they come away at the lightest touch. Fruit picked early and ripened off-tree tend to have less flavour. 

Many people don’t like the taste of the skin, just scooping out the juicy, jelly-like flesh. The fruit can also be made into a feijoa jam or chutney with many recipes using it in sweet cakes.

Uses for feijoa

  • Ornamental fruit tree.
  • Feature plant with gorgeous foliage and flowers.
  • Excellent hedge.
  • Can be pruned to topiary forms or espaliered (trained to grow along a fence).
  • As they are very wind tolerant they make an ideal windbreak for all garden areas, especially your veggie patch or less hardy fruit trees.

How to plant and grow feijoa

Soil

The best results will come from trees grown in fertile, free-draining soil, however they will grow in coarse, rocky soil or even quite heavy clay. They can tolerate wet conditions for short periods, provided they are not waterlogged for an extended time. 

Before planting, improve the soil by blending through a quality compost or well-aged manure and adding a controlled release fertiliser.

Feijoas take very well to growing in pots. Use a premium organic potting mix or a mix blended for fruiting and edible plants.

Sunlight

Unlike most fruit trees, feijoas will thrive in anything from full sun to part shade.

Aspect

Feijoas tolerate virtually any position including coastal situations, however growth will be slower and fruiting may be reduced in exposed spots.

Temperature

Feijoas like cool winters and long, warm summers. They will tolerate cold down to around –10˚C. In very hot conditions the fruit may split and flavour may be reduced. Ideally they need around 75 chill hours (time below around 8˚C) to set fruit well.

How to care for feijoa

Feijoas are a very easy-care fruit tree.
  • Feed annually in spring with a controlled-release fertiliser.
  • Avoid liquid feeding through the foliage as they can react badly. Apply organic or seaweed-based liquid products at the root zone.
  • Ensure adequate watering as flowers and fruit are developing.
  • Large specimens should be staked with at least two stakes until established, especially in windy locations.

How to prune feijoa

  • Regular tip pruning will keep the plant dense and bushy, and the tree will fruit sooner.
  • Thin out the framework to improve air circulation and reduce twiggy growth.
  • Younger plants with a single central shoot should be tip pruned to encourage side branching.
  • The best time to prune is after fruiting has finished.
  • Older trees benefit from annually removing older wood, as this will encourage strong new growth.

Pests and diseases affecting feijoa

Feijoa are very resistant to pests and diseases but may be troubled by wax scales, leaf-rolling caterpillars and fruit fly. Use an appropriate organic treatment.

How to propagate feijoa

Growing feijoa from cuttings

  1. Take semi-hardwood cutting of around 10 to 15cm in length in late summer. 
  2. Dip the cut end into a cutting hormone and then place in a pot of propagating mix.
  3. Keep warm and slightly moist.

Growing feijoa from seed

  1. Collect, wash and dry seeds and sow them into seed raising mix.
  2. Keep warm and moist. Plants are variable when grown from seed so its unlikely they will be true to the parent plant.
  3. Seed grown plants can fruit in less than 4 years.

Did you know?

It’s not just the feijoa fruit that’s edible. The flowers are sweet and delicious too, but remember – eating a flower means one less fruit!

If you like this then try

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Start growing today

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