A perennial tree or shrub, guava is a heat and moisture loving plant that produces rounded fruits that start out green but generally mature to yellow or red when ripe. Trees can reach 30′ both in height and diameter but are mostly kept pruned to under 12′ tall for easier harvesting. The nutritious inner pulp of mature fruit can be white, pink, or yellow when ripe and is sweet or sour in flavor, depending on the variety. Trees produce small, white flowers, and in fall, foliage will turn yellow to red in cooler climates. Even with minimal care, trees will be highly productive, making this a great fruit tree for the beginner gardener. First mentioned in 1526 in the West Indies, they are now grown widely in India, Florida, and Hawaii.
Mexican Cream is a Central American guava variety, also known as Tropical Yellow. The fruits are small and round and have yellow skin with a slight reddish tint and white inner fruit. The taste is very sweet when ripe, and each fruit has a small amount of seeds. Fruit is produced in clusters in the fall and winter in tropical regions.
Seed: Although possible to propagate from seed, the resulting plants will not remain true to type: fruits will not be the same as the original, and it’ll take 3–8 years for production. However, the plants will be very long lived. Let us know how it goes if you give it a try!
Seed Depth: 1/4–1/2″
Space Between Plants: 12″, thin or transplant to 11–30′ apart as they mature.
Space Between Rows: 24–36″, thin or transplant to 11–30′ apart as they mature.
Germination Soil Temperature: 70–85°F
Days for Germination: 28–84 days
Sow Indoors: 4–8 weeks before average last frost date.
Sow Outdoors: 4 weeks after average last frost date or once soil has warmed to 65–70°F.
Vegetative: Commonly propagated by air layering, mound layering, taking stem cuttings, grafting, and budding. Stem cuttings of 6–8″ with 2 or 3 leaves will root in soilless media.
Grows best in a tropical or subtropical climate, from sea level to 5000 feet in altitude. Grow indoors or in a greenhouse if you live in a cooler region. Native to the tropical Americas, it prefers temperatures between 70–85°F for best growth, and a distinct winter season with cooler nights will improve fruit quality. Not highly frost tolerant, mature trees can survive temperatures down to around 25°F for short periods of time. High temperatures over 110°F will also cause damage. Guava trees will tolerate windy conditions, particularly if kept pruned to under 10′ tall. Guavas grown in northern India have the best reputation worldwide.
Natural: Full sun. Tolerates partial shade. In dry and sunny climates, provide late afternoon shade or plant on the east side of a building.
Artificial: Grows best under HID lamps. High pressure sodium bulbs will promote flowering and fruiting.
Soil: Tolerant of a wide variety of soil types (including sandy, loamy, and clay) with high levels of organic matter, particularly in the top 2 feet where most roots grow. A well-drained soil is ideal, although it will tolerant some periods of flooding if they are relatively short. A pH of between 5.4 and 7.0 will keep plants healthy, but plants can also survive in pH up to 8.5 if provided with chelated iron and micronutrients.
Soilless: Grow container plants, or root stem cuttings, in a soilless mix containing coco coir or peat moss and perlite.
Hydroponics: Thrives in a variety of hydroponic systems if given adequate space.
Aeroponics: Cuttings will root easily in an aeroponic system.
Water: Requires low to moderate levels of water. For young plants or if growing in a dry climate, provide regular, deep waterings. During winter, you can reduce irrigation. Don’t allow water to pool around the roots of plants for more than 1–2 weeks, as this will lead to damage. Plants can survive drought periods, although they’ll stop vegetative growth and reduce flower and fruit production. We recommend using drip irrigation since it creates basins around the roots to catch and hold rainwater.
Nutrients: Requires low to moderate levels of nutrients. Provide a balanced organic fertilizer 1 or 2 times per year. Be sure that your fertilizer includes nitrogen, calcium, magnesium, and other micronutrients.
Foliar: Will benefit from foliar feedings providing copper (copper sulfate), zinc (zinc sulfate with slaked lime), manganese, and boron (boric acid). Apply 3–4 times during the growing season. Foliar copper sprays will also help protect leaves from some diseases.
Pruning: You have a variety of pruning options with the guava, depending on if you want a tree with a single main trunk or a shorter, bushy plant. Plants will remain productive even without pruning, but smart pruning will result in a stronger tree structure. Tips of young trees can be pruned once they reach 1–2′ in height to promote branching. Select 3 or 4 healthy looking branches to keep as the main stems and prune their tips again once they have reached about 2–3′ in height. Keep trees under 12′ in height to make harvesting easier and to prevent wind damage. Remove any dead or unhealthy branches and prune to keep the plant structure open once per year. Pruning can also be used to force flowering and fruit production out of season. Don’t water plants for 2–3 weeks. Then, prune plants to promote new lateral growth and flowering.
Mulching: Use mulch to maintain soil moisture, suppress weeds, and provide organic matter for the soil. Keep mulch 8–12″ away from the trunk.
Deficiency(s): A zinc deficiency will cause yellowing of leaves between the veins and reduced leaf size. Bronzing can result from boron, zinc, nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium deficiencies. If soil pH is too low or too high, plants may be unable to uptake nutrients from the soil, particularly iron and phosphorus.
Rotation: Since guava trees can live for up to 40 years, you will not be practicing crop rotation. You can intercrop with pest host plants that will serve to distract the pests from your guava trees. You can then remove the host plants before pests have reproduced.
Companions: Grows well with citrus, as they favor similar growing conditions. Use sorghum, sesame, marigold, or tomato as pest distractions or suppressors that will usually be removed before harvesting.
Harvest: Pick guava either green or ripe. When ripe, the skin of the fruit of most varieties will turn from green to yellow or red, although some remain green. Fruit will continue to ripen after picking. Pick younger leaves or use the leaves from parts of the plant you remove when pruning to make a tea.
Storage: Fruits will keep for 5–7 days in the refrigerator or 3–4 days at room temperature. After freezing, you can store guava for up to a year.
Other Names: Guava is also called pera, amrood, gawafa, goiaba (in Portuguese), and guayaba (in Spanish).
Preserve: Make guava paste, jelly, or freeze in water or syrup.
Prepare: Guavas can be eaten ripe and fresh, or green (try adding salt for a savory snack!). Both can also be used raw in salad recipes. You can add guava to dessert recipes, make a syrup and top your ice cream or pies, add it into smoothies, or make juice. You can also incorporate it into savory recipes as part of a glaze or sauce. A tea can be made from the leaves.
Nutritional: Provides a large amount of vitamin(s) A and C. Also a good source of potassium, copper, manganese, protein, and dietary fiber.
Medicinal: Guava has been known to be beneficial for the treatment of digestive issues, dysentery, coughing, colds, scurvy, and high blood pressure. Guava (and guava leaf tea) may also help to decrease or moderate blood sugar levels, meaning it might be useful for diabetics. Because it contains antioxidants, it is beneficial for overall health.
Make this simple fruity treat with a peppery kick: Guava Chaat.