By Richard Flowers ACCNPro-Green Thumb Nursery Ventura
Guavas are an excellent source of both vitamin A and C. The Vitamin-C content in Guavas is four times higher than the levels found in Oranges . The Guava is one of the richest sources of dietary fiber. Eating Guavas can help you increase brain function. Studies show that Guavas also help reduce cholesterol.
Guavas prefer a frost-free location; in my personal landscape in Ojai, CA. both the Pineapple and Strawberry Guava do reasonably well with minimal frost protection. Guavas will tolerate many soil conditions, but will produce better in rich soils high in organic matter. They are evergreen, shallow-rooted shrubs or small trees; growth in California is rarely over 10 – 12 feet. The bark is attractively smooth, mottled green or reddish brown and peels off in thin flakes revealing a distinctive and unique “bony” aspect of its trunk. .
Though they can survive dry summers with no water in California, Guavas do best with regular deep watering. The ground should be allowed to dry to a depth of several inches before watering again. Lack of moisture will delay bloom and cause the fruit to drop. Guavas are fast growers, heavy feeders, and benefit from regular applications of fertilizer, which we advise applying monthly. I suggest using EB Stone Fruit, Berry, and Vine Food according to directions. Guavas can take considerable neglect and very high temperatures.
All types of Guavas listed below can be either grown as an attractive multi-stemmed shrub or as a decorative patio tree. The Guavas described can be used for fresh eating, jams, and juice. [* indicates aromatic]
Tropical or “Tropic” Guavas
Psidium guajava and its cultivars listed below are Guavas that ripen September-December (sometimes more often in mild areas). The tropical Guava is best adapted to the warm climate of Florida and Hawaii, although it can be grown in coastal Southern California and with some protection in farther inland areas. These Guavas can actually thrive in both humid and dry climates, but will survive only a few degrees of frost. The tree will recover from a brief exposure to 26°F but may be completely defoliated. Young trees are particularly sensitive to cold spells. Older trees killed to the ground can send up new shoots and fruit a few years later.
‘Beaumont Red’- is a medium to large, roundish fruit weighing up to 8 ounces. The flesh is pink, mildly acid, and seedy. This variety is vigorous, wide spreading, and very productive.
‘China White’-* is considered to be a large yellow-green selection that has white flesh, is sweet, and heavy bearing.
‘Red Malaysian’- This is a real ornamental treasure with red leaves, stems, and tasty fruit. An added bonus is its bright pink flowers.
‘Mexican Cream’-* (Tropic Yellow) is described as a small to medium roundish fruit. Skin is light yellow, slightly blushed with red. The flesh is creamy white, deliciously sweet, fine-textured and excellent for dessert. The seed cavity is small with relatively soft seeds.
‘Tropic White’-* consists of white flesh that is succulently sweet. The skin is light yellow, sometimes blushed with red.
‘Tropical Pink’-* is comprised of pink flesh that is smooth to grainy in texture, with a mildly sweet flavor; as it ripens the skin turns green to yellow.
‘White Indian’-* provides you with a small to medium-sized, roundish fruit. This Guava has thick, white fruit that is moderately seedy. Excellent, sprightly flavored. The tree is somewhat of a shy bearer.
Pineapple Guava or Fejoia
Pineapple Guava is botanically called Feijoa sellowiana. Feijoas prefer cool winters, moderate summers (80° to 90°F), and are generally adapted to areas where temperatures stay above 15° F. The Pineapple Guava is the hardiest of the Guavas. From my personal experience, Pineapple Guava ‘Coolidge’ variety does well in Ojai and is my favorite Guava to eat, although fruiting is sometimes inconsistent.
The flower petals are mildly sweet, edible, and can make a refreshing addition to spring salads. Two or more bushes should be planted together for cross-pollination unless the cultivar is known to be self-fruitful. Usually named varieties are the types that fruit more regularly, unnamed or seedling types need pollination. The fruits range in shape from round to elongated pear shape. Feijoas are sweet, suggesting a combination of Pineapple and Guava or Pineapple and Strawberry. In southern California the fruits ripen 4-1/2 to 6 months after flowers appear.
‘‘Coolidge’ Pineapple Guava – has small to medium-sized fruit. Being 100% self-fruitful, Coolidge is a fairly reliable and heavy-bearing Guava. This is the most widely planted cultivar in California. Fruit ripens October- December.
Strawberry Guava (Psidium cattleyanum)
This Guava bears small red or yellow edible fruits. Strawberry Guavas taste like a passion fruit mixed with strawberry. The leaves may be brewed for tea.
Red Strawberry Guava – This type has an excellent strawberry-like flavor. Fruits are small, to 1.5” round, red to nearly black when fully ripe, and the pulp is translucent and very juicy. In some varieties, the flesh can taste pleasantly spicy.
Lemon Guava – boasts yellow fragrant fruit, similar to the Strawberry Guava except fruits are slightly larger (1-2″). The flesh is yellow, with the suggestion of a lemon-guava flavor, hence the common name.
Please call your favorite Green Thumb for exact availability of these wonderful fruits.