Introduction to growing Carambola in containers (star fruit): The Carambola tree, Averrhoa carambola, is a woody plant in the Oxalidaceae family grown for its fruit known as star fruit. The star fruit tree makes a distinctive focal point in a yard with its attractive flowers and distinct star-shaped fruit. Plant star fruit tree in a fully sunny spot for optimal plant growth and fruit production. In this article we also discuss below topics;
- Carambola plant care
- Star fruit tree dropping leaves
- Tips for growing Carambola
- Grow star fruit from seed
- Star fruit tree growing conditions
A step by step guide to growing Carambola in containers
Carambola is a juicy tropical fruit with a delicious tart flavor. The yellow fruit is 3-4 inches long with waxy skin and 5 prominent ridges. A cross-section of the cut fruit mostly looks like a 5-pointed star. Carambola is low in calories and low in sugar so it’s an ideal fruit for the whole family to enjoy. The advantage of growing star fruit in a pot is that you can bring it inside in a greenhouse during winters. Star fruit can also be grown in cold climates in pots, where they survive winters indoors or in greenhouses.
Soil requirement for growing Carambola in containers
Carambola grows in a variety of soil types but soil that is well-drained, loamy and rich in organic matter is suitable. Carambola can be grown successfully in many soil types, from heavy clay to sandy soils but will perform optimally in a rich, well-draining loam with a pH level between 4.5 to 7.0.
Gathering seeds for growing Carambola in containers
Each star fruit has 10 to 12 seeds, which are slender and light brown and 1/4 to 1/2 inch long. They are very easy to see when you slice a star fruit for eating and can be popped out without damaging or wasting the fruit. Put the seeds on a sheet of cheesecloth and lightly rinse them with cool, distilled water before sowing them to remove the aril and any sugary juice residue from the flesh. Once clean, sow the seeds immediately, dry them overnight for long-term storage or place them in a plastic bag inside the refrigerator for intermediate storage.
Growing habit of Carambola
Carambola tree can be between 6 to 10 meters tall and it is a slow-growing evergreen tree. Carambola leaves are about 20 to 50 cm long. The Carambola tree bears tufty pink flowers that are directed towards the leaf axils or at the trunk or branch.
Conditions for growing Carambola tree in containers
Only large and thick seeds are suitable for plant propagation. Even seeds that were already removed a few days from the Carambola fruit are inviable. Fruits that you’ve bought from the supermarket generally have no viable seeds.
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If you decide to plant this tree in your yard and want to eat the fruit, make sure the Carambola tree comes from a nursery or a similar source. Carambola fruit trees grown from seeds can be extremely tart and take years to produce any sweet fruit. Star fruit tree grows best in a warm-humid climate but you can grow it in cold climates in pots. In a pot, the Carambola still needs full sun and warm temperatures.
If growing in a cold climate, your potted Carambola tree can be outside, but during the winter it should be brought into safety. Freezing temperatures cause this Carambola tree to lose its leaves, however, the leaves return once the cold weather subsides.
Soil with high pH levels or salt is not ideal for the Carambola tree. Alkaline soil makes Carambola leaves susceptible to chlorosis. This means a condition in which plant leaves turn yellow or pale due to lack of chlorophyll. One more Carambola growing requirement is proper air circulation; this fruit tree prefers some spacing to grow well.
Different types of the planting of star fruit
Planting Carambola can be done in three ways;
Growing a Star fruit tree from seeds – Carambola seeds lose their viability quickly. They should be harvested from the fruit when they are plump and mature, then planted within a few days. Carambola seed germination ranges from one week in the summer to two or more weeks during the winter months. Then, start the fresh star fruit seeds in damp peat moss. Once seed sprouted, the seedlings can be transplanted into pots using a sandy loam soil. Attention to tree care will help ensure their survival. Carambola seed propagation can produce variable results. Although this is not the preferred technique of star fruit propagation for commercial orchards, it can be a fun way for home gardeners to grow a tree from store-bought fruit.
You can use seeds; here the key point is to keep the Carambola seeds moist and warm. Then sow the seeds about 1 to 2 cm deep into the soil. Alternatively, you can place the seeds in a moist paper towel in a plastic bag and place them in a warm dark place. In optimal conditions, seeds can germinate in a week.
Growing a Star fruit from cuttings – For cuttings, get an existing Carambola tree, cut off branches which have buds. Ensure to cut the stems are at an angle, put them in a rooting hormone, and then into well-prepared polythene packs with potting soil. Ensure to water the cuttings and roots will establish after several weeks.
Propagating star fruit trees with air layering – This process of vegetative propagation is best if you already have a star fruit tree that you’d like to clone. It involves wounding one of the tree branches and encouraging it to root. The air layering process can be difficult due to the star fruit’s slow root production. And begin by choosing a branch that is at least 2 feet long. Make two parallel cuts around the branch about 1 to 2 feet from the branch’s tip. The cuts must be approximately 1 to 1 ½ inch (2.5 to 3 cm.) apart. Remove the ring of bark and cambium (the layer between the bark and wood) from the branch. If desired, a rooting hormone could be applied to the wound. Cover this area with a moist ball of peat moss and use a piece of sheet plastic to wrap it tightly. Secure both ends with electrical tape and cover the plastic with aluminum foil to retain moisture and keep out light. It can take 1 to 3 months for an abundance of roots to develop. When the branch is well-rooted, cut it under the new plant roots. Carefully remove the wrap and plant the new tree in sandy loam and the new tree will be in a vulnerable state until it is well-rooted. During this period, maintain the soil evenly moist and protect the young tree from direct sunlight and wind.
Alternatively, you can air layer the branches of trees involves thinly debarking 3 to 4 cm of the lateral branches to expose the inner layer, after clean the scraped area and then smear a rooting hormone on to the exposed part, put a ball of moist soil and wrap in a transparent polythene sheet. Secure tightly with a string at both ends of the wrap and after several weeks the roots will form underneath the soil ball. Cut off the rooted branch from the mother tree at 3 to 4 cm below the wrap, then transplant into polythene bag for further hardening and growth.
Process of growing Carambola tree from seed in containers
- Start by buying a few ripe Carambola fruits from the grocery store.
- First, carefully cut the fruit take care not to cut the seeds. Eat some of the Carambola fruit to see if it’s sweet and worth planting. You’ll want to plant Carambola seeds from the fruits that are the sweetest.
- Remove all of the seeds. Put some seed starter soil (peat moss mix) in cups and wet it with warm water (it is important to wet the soil before you plant the seed to keep the water from pushing your seed to the bottom of the cup). You may use Jiffy Pellets to prepare them by wetting them with warm water, also.
- Plant one seed per cup. Then, water thoroughly with more warm water and cover with plastic to keep the soil moist.
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Grow Star fruit in containers
First off when contemplating growing star fruit in containers, for optimal results, this tree needs high temperatures, at least 15°C for flowering and successive fruit set. Given consistent temperatures and sun, the tree will flower throughout the year.
There are a variety of cultivars obtainable, but two of them seem to do their best when grown in containers. ‘Maher Dwarf’ and ‘Dwarf Hawaiian’ will both fruit and flower for many years in about 10-inch pots.
- Maher Dwarf – ‘Maher Dwarf’ bares small to medium-sized fruit on a three-foot-tall tree.
- Dwarf Hawaiian – It has a sweeter, larger fruit but bares fewer than the preceding.
Potted star fruit is not too picky when it comes to the soil they are grown in although; the star fruit tree will grow more quickly and bear heavily in rich loam that is moderately acidic (pH 5.5-6.5). Do not over water, as the tree is sensitive but its root system is resistant to many of the root diseases that afflict potted fruit trees.
Carambola trees prefer full sun but will tolerate partial sun. Container grown star fruit trees must have an application of balanced fertilizer in the spring through the fall. Slow release or organic granular fertilizers are recommended and applied every few months.
Star fruit trees show signs of iron chlorosis during the winter, which appears as interveinal yellowing on young foliage. Treat the Carambola tree with chelated iron in the form of a foliar spray or, if warm weather is nigh, wait for a bit and symptoms will often clear up. Relatively pest free, trees will often begin blooming right away when only a foot and half tall and you may even get a few fruits. The flowers emerge off older wood and, allows for pruning and shaping that will not retard fruit production.
Gardening tips for growing Carambola in containers
The Carambola tree prefers hot weather and stops growing at around 18°C. Carambola can easily be grown in pots and containers. Seeds can be ordered online or obtained from grocery bought star fruits. Carambola is sensitive to strong winds and drought. Carambola tree needs to be planted in a wind-protected place with well-draining soil.
Star fruit seedlings grow rapidly and transplanted into gallon containers filled with sandy, loam-based potting soil as soon as they produce two or more sets of leaves. Provide them with;
Regular water – Water deeply when the soil surface looks dry and avoid letting them wilt.
Fertilizer – Carambola trees are moderately heavy feeders. Water weekly with 1/2 teaspoon of about 15-15-15 fertilizer diluted in a gallon of water.
Grow Carambola plants indoors near a south-facing window, or move them outdoors to a bright, sheltered location.
The Carambola plant should be regularly watered when it’s young. Mature trees must be fertilized at the beginning of the growing season. Additionally, you can apply compost or manure to develop the soil texture.
Applications of a balanced fertilizer during the spring to fall growing season are required for optimum fruit production. Slow release or organic granular fertilizers are a good choice and added to containers every few months.
Star fruit plants can show iron chlorosis, especially during the winter months. This exhibits as the interveinal yellowing of the young growth and this can be corrected with the addition of chelated iron as a foliar spray. The symptoms disappear in the warm weather of summer.
Pests and diseases affected in Carambola
Star fruit is somewhat a pest-free tree. Though, fruit flies and scales may attack it. Common insect pests that attack a star fruit tree include mites, scale, fruit flies, caterpillars, and different beetles. Mites, scale, and caterpillars feed on the tree’s foliage, and other pests attack its ripening fruit. Fungal diseases for example anthracnose, sooty mold or leaf spot develop with poor tree care and incorrect cultural conditions. Pests and diseases affect a stressed star fruit tree. Proper Carambola tree care and maintenance is the best preventative measure. Treat a pest-infested Carambola tree with a combination of horticultural oils, insecticidal soaps, and predatory insects. Spraying the Carambola tree with fungicides early in the season may prevent disease development.
Carambola fruit does not ripen off the tree and harvested when fully mature. Carambola fruits are ready to harvest when they have turned from green to yellow, with the tips of the ribs remaining green. Fully ripe fruit naturally falls from the tree but picked earlier if desired.
Some questions about growing Carambola tree in containers
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How long does it take Carambola to bear fruit?
Carambola trees grown in wind-protected areas can begin to produce fruit within 10 to 14 months after planting. Generally, 10 to 40 lbs of fruit per year per tree can be expected during the first 2 to 3 years.
Why does star fruit leaf turning yellow?
Carambola trees develop iron, magnesium, and manganese deficiencies when grown in soils with a pH above 7. Symptoms of iron deficiency are interveinal chlorosis (green veins with yellowing in between), reduced leaflet size, and, with severe deficiency, leaflets could become almost white. Symptoms of magnesium deficiency contain a mottling of green and yellow areas. Also, symptoms of manganese deficiency include reduced leaf size and yellowing.
Can you grow star fruit indoors?
Your indoor star fruit will be just as sweet as fruit grown outdoors on larger trees. Grow Carambola trees in full sun in any good, well-drained potting soil. Feed occasionally with an indoor organic fertilizer while the Carambola plant is actively growing.
How big does a star fruit tree get?
The star fruit tree will grow to heights of about 20 to 30 feet tall if not pruned. These trees have a multi-branched bushy, rounded canopy.
Can you grow star fruit from cuttings?
In optimal conditions, seeds can germinate in a week. For cuttings, get an existing Carambola tree, cut off branches which have buds. Ensure to cut the stems are at an angle, put them in a rooting hormone, and then into well-prepared polythene packs with potting soil. Then, ensure to water the cuttings.
Conclusion of growing Star fruit or Carambola in containers
It is one of the wonderful fruits to grow. It is a commercially viable and profitable business. You may also like the Papaya Flower and Fruit Drop Causes, Control Methods.