You can’t beat the aroma and flavour of fresh feijoas! This hardy and robust fruit is easy to grow and provides you with an abundance of fruit from autumn to early winter. If you're keen to grow your own, find out everything you need to know from Waimea Nurseries fruit expert Kate Marshall.
Naturally forming a medium to large shaped bush, feijoas can be incorporated into garden beds, can be clipped into formal topiary standards, grown in large pots, trained into an espaliered fan shape against a wall or planted in a row as an edible hedge. For a hedge, plant a mix of varieties around a metre apart to spread the crop over a few months.
Feijoa trees grow well in almost all areas of the country, tolerating all but the very driest and very water-logged soils – though definitely thrive more in fertile, free draining soil. Despite their South American heritage and tropical appearance, the trees are hardy to around -12 degrees so can even be planted in regions with very cold winters like Canterbury, Otago and Southland.
Feijoas grow best in sites with full sun and can be planted at any time of year. Prepare the site by mixing Tui Super Sheep Pellets and gypsum with soil from the planting hole. Adding these products increases organic matter and nutrients in the soil, as well as improving drainage.
CHOOSING A VARIETY
Kiwi gardeners are the envy of overseas feijoa lovers, having such a wide range of varieties to choose from, ranging from early ripening varieties which are harvested in February/March (depending on the location) through to later season varieties that can be harvested into June or July in warmer regions. It’s best to plant at least two different varieties to cross pollinate, plus these varieties can be selected so that the harvest season is spread (i.e. one early, one mid and one late variety). The flowering times will overlap even though the fruiting times are different.
Feijoa trees are one of the easiest fruits to grow in a home garden, as there are usually very few problems and the trees fruit prolifically without much intervention.
Feijoa trees usually fruit 2-3 years after planting, and should be fed regularly from spring to after harvest to ensure a healthy tree and bumper harvest. It’s important to provide a balance of Nitrogen (N, for leafy growth), Phosphorus (P, for root development) and Potassium (K, for flowering and fruit production). Use Scotts Osmocote Fruit, Citrus, Trees & Shrubs or Tui NovaTec Premium fertiliser for best results.
Pruning & staking
Feijoa trees usually naturally form a bushy tree, and generally only need clipping to maintain a nice looking shape. Similar to citrus trees, the habit should be relatively open – so that a small bird could fly through it. If trees get too large, the branches can be pruned back hard. It’s best to prune in late Winter, as the flush of new growth in spring is where the flowers will form.
Stakes aren’t usually required for feijoa trees unless the site is particularly exposed to wind.
Mulch with Tui Mulch & Feed in mid to late spring to keep the roots moist. The roots of feijoa trees are naturally shallow, dense and fibrous, so protection from evaporation will help the tree to thrive and crop more profusely.
Feijoa trees will struggle during long dry periods if not supplemented with watering. It is especially important to water deeply and regularly from mid to late summer when the fruit is developing and ripening. Don’t over water as it will plump up the fruit but lose the flavour.
- Feijoas will ripen a little once picked but are best left on the tree to ripen naturally. The fruit will fall from the tree when completely ripe, and can be picked up off the ground, though don’t leave them too long.
- For best results, ‘touch pick’ from the tree which means cupping the fruit with your hand, and pull very gently. If the fruit comes away from the stem easily, it’s ready. If the fruit remains attached to the tree, it’s not ready just yet. If ‘touch picked’ the fruit should last for a week in the fruit bowl. Fruit picked up off the ground might only last a few days.