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Growing Custard Apple in Containers (Sitaphal)

Introduction to growing Custard Apple in containers (sitaphal/sugar-apple) at home: The Custard apple fruit is known scientifically as Annona squamosa is a member of the Annonaceae family. It is also known as Sugar apple or Cherimoya. Growing Custard apple in containers is very easy. The seeds are distinguished by their shiny black color. The fruits are the edible part of this plant. The seeds and plant leaves are poisonous. The Custard apple fruit is eaten fresh and it cannot be cooked. Custard apple fruits are eaten when soft and only the flesh is eaten. Planting a Custard apple tree is pretty easy, but you’ll need a sunny spot and well-draining soil. The color of Custard apple is different from the color of green; there is a creamy flash inside the fruit, which is delicious food in taste. The dark brown or black seeds inside the apple fruit that looks bright and shiny. In this article we also covered the below topics;

  • Can Custard apple grow in pots
  • How long does it take for a Custard apple tree to bear fruit
  • Watering Custard apple Plant
  • Custard apple tree planting
  • Custard apple plant care
  • Process of growing Custard apple from seed

A step by step guide to growing Custard Apple (sitaphal/sugar-apple) in containers

Fruit skin of the Custard apple fruit is dandruff skin dandruff sometimes part of the skin and sometimes sticking out the color of the skin brown and sometimes red and the inner color is brown or red. Custard apple grows from seed; the sugar apple will produce fruit within 2 to 3 years. Custard apple fruits have anti-oxidants such as Vitamin C, which helps to fight free radicals in our bodies. These are rich in potassium and magnesium that protect us from cardiac diseases.

A Guide to Suagr-apple growing in pots.
A Guide to Suagr-apple growing in pots.

Obtain Custard Apple seeds

You can get Custard apple seeds from your local garden center or, if you have a friend with a tree, you can get the seeds from the flesh of the apples. You could order seeds from an online retailer.

If you obtain seeds from the flesh of a Custard apple, you’ll have to wait one week after removing the seeds from the flesh before planting them. They don’t germinate well if you put them in the ground right away. Cut open your Custard apple fruit and pull out the big, black seeds. Place them in a seed envelope and wait one week before planting. If you purchased Custard apple seeds from a garden center, you don’t need to wait before planting.

Container for growing Custard Apple

Select an appropriate container for growing Custard apple tree. A 10-gallon size is fine to start with, but the trees will want to expand into about 20 to 25 gallons after the first couple of years. And a half wine barrel planter works well. Fill the container with potting soil and plant the tree so the top of the root ball is level with the top of the potting soil. The soil level in the pot must be about 3 inches below the rim of the pot. Add approximately 2 inches of mulch over the surface of the soil to help conserve moisture. Make sure the Custard apple tree is in the center of the container and stands with a straight trunk.

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Soil requirement for growing Custard Apple in containers

Custard apple fruit is adaptive to many different qualities of soil. It can grow well in sandy, clay or loam soil. Though, for a heavy delicious yield, it is recommended that you use fertile, loose, deep soil. You should avoid sandy soil and opt for well-draining soil. The drainage is crucial in preventing diseases from attacking plants. The growth of Custard apple depends heavily on the amount of organic matter in the soil. So, if you are looking for optimum growth, use a soil that is rich in organic matter.

Soak your Custard Apple seeds to speed up germination

Paper towel germination for Custard apple can be given below;

Although germination can take 30 days, you can speed up the process by soaking your seeds. Wrap up your Custard apple seeds in a piece of paper towel. Soak the seeds with a bit of water and place the seeds with the paper towel in a zip lock bag. Let your seeds soak for 3 days and then plant them.

Alternately, you can scarify the Custard apple seeds. Lightly sand the seeds and then, soak them in warm water for 24 hours. In this way, you can speed up the seed preparation process and improve seed germination time.

Custard Apple seed propagation

Seed propagation is the most common way to grow Custard apple. Although it has many disadvantages such as low and slow germination rates, taller plants and high genetic variability, it is the easiest way to propagate sugar apple fruit.

Seed propagation is the traditional process through which the sugar apple tree is grown. It is the most used propagation technique. Though this method has several disadvantages such as low germination rate, high genetic variability, late start of the harvest and the plants are taller and rather difficult to handle. Collect Custard apple seeds from fully ripe fruit from a tree that has excellent production, great taste, and good health. The seeds quickly lose their viability for about 6 months; they should be planted as soon as possible.

Seed should be planted horizontally, 2 to 3 cm deep at a distance of 1.5 cm in a good quality seed mix. Generally, the seed germination in Custard apple occurs within 30 days. Though its germination rate is low and time is slow due to the tough seed coating. For better results, use Custard apple seeds from trees that have produced heavy, tasty and healthy fruits. You could buy the seeds from your local garden center. Don’t take too long to plant the seeds. They are delicate and they lose their viability in 5 months.

Poke a hole of 2 to 3 deep in the garden and plant the seeds horizontally. Leave a space of at least 2 cm between each seed and the seeds will germinate slowly. However, they must germinate within 30 days from planting.

Find a sunny spot to start your Custard Apple seedlings

Since Custard apple is a tropical tree, you’ll want a sunny spot to start your seedlings. You’ll want to put your seeding tray in front of a south-facing window so the seeds get plenty of warmth and light. If you don’t have a south-facing window, you’ll want to install grow lights.

Custard Apple Seedlings.
Custard Apple Seedlings.

Put potting soil in a seeding tray. You’ll need a seeding tray that is at least 2 or 3 inches deep and has drainage holes, which you can obtain at a garden center. Fill the seeding tray with fresh potting soil from the garden center, as opposed to the soil from the garden. You’ll want to moisten the soil a bit before planting the seeds. Custard apple trees do well in most soil types as long as there is good drainage. They will not tolerate any water-logging, therefore avoid getting the potting soil sopping wet at this stage. It must be moist but not soaking.

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Process of growing Custard Apple in containers

Big size container is appropriate for casting custard apple. After selecting the container, see if there is a drainage hole in its bottom. Fill the container with well-drained soil; fill sandy loam and peat in equal quantity. Place the seed in a 1-inch deep hole and cover it with soil. Then giving water to maintain humidity. Before planting a Custard apple tree in a container, understand the environment very well.

For this hot soil, humidity and also the windless environment are appropriate. Avoid dry areas, where relative humidity can be less than about 70% during the fruit set. The frost young tree and Custard apple fruit can kill. The Custard apple tree is not possible to grow inside the house.

Select a heavy container that is wider than deep to accommodate the sugar apple tree’s shallow roots. A half wine barrel with drainage holes works well with this tree. Plant the tree in a mixture of potting soil and shredded bark, which provides excellent drainage and this tree, does not survive wet soil.

Put the container in an area with full sun exposure and protection from wind. The temperature range for the best growth is from 73 to 94°F. If locating the Custard apple tree in a heated greenhouse, keep a close eye on the heat and cool the greenhouse with a large fan. Keep the humidity high around the Custard apple tree while it is actively growing. Place trays filled with rocks and water around the Custard apple tree to increase the humidity.

Custard apple trees can be kept at 8 to 12 feet tall with pruning. Cut back extra long branches and trim the ends of other branches to obtain the desired shape and do not trim the tree at any other time of the year since this can kill the tree.

Then pour water into the top of the container until it runs out the bottom. Water the Custard apple tree every week or whenever the soil starts to dry out while the tree is actively growing. During the winter, water every 2 to 4 weeks to keep the soil from drying out completely.

Feed every 6 to 8 weeks with water-soluble fertilize designed for fruit trees or 2-8-8 formula. Start feeding the Custard apple fruit tree when it starts to grow in the spring. Stop fertilizing after the Custard apple fruit is picked in the fall. Pick the Custard apple fruit when the white, yellow or red tint appears between the rind segments. The flavor is best when the Custard apple fruit is picked while it is still immature. Put it in a paper bag to ripen the rest of the way. If the Custard apple fruit is picked too early, it turns black and dries out. If the Custard apple fruit ripens on the tree, it falls apart.

Watering Custard Apple plants

Water regularly when the Custard apple trees are actively growing and flowering. Underwatering the Custard apple tree can cause the fruit to burn in direct sunlight, while over-watering can lead to root rot. During the winter, when the tree becomes dormant, they do not need regular watering. And fertilize well after fruit set with organic fertilizer. Regular watering commencing at flowering to harvest is very important.

Pests and diseases of Custard Apple tree

The Custard apple tree is very vulnerable to pests. This reduces its fruit production.

The pests and insects infest the fruits and cause destruction. The best practice is to protect the Custard apple fruits using fruit covers. Plastic bags, paper or polyethylene can be used to wrap the fruits as the initial stage of development. The bags should cover the fruit throughout their development but must be open at the base and have micro-perforations to allow gaseous water leakage as the excess moisture causes fruit rot. Chemical control measures are difficult, thus it is better to prevent the pests by keeping the tree healthy also remember the use of insecticides destroys friendly insects and pollinators. Some of the common and major pests you need to look for are the moths, aphids, mealy bugs, and scales.

Among the most common diseases in the Custard apple tree are anthracnose and leaf spot. These diseases occur with severity in times of rain, high and stable temperature.

Custard Apple harvesting

Harvesting this apple plant can be tricky as not all fruits ripe at the same time. So, don’t harvest randomly but rather choose the mature and ripe fruits. You can recognize them visually through their size and color. The seed color is another indicator of the fruit’s maturity. If the seeds are almost black color, it means that the fruit is completely ripe and ready to be harvested.

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