Growing Guava in the Backyard – A Full Guide

Introduction of growing Guava in the backyard

The botanical name for Guava is Psidium Guajava. Guava is one of the wonderful fruits grown through the tropical and sub-tropical regions of the world. It is gaining very good popularity due to its nutritional facts and health benefits. Guava belongs to the family of Myrtaceae and originated from tropical America and spread across the globe.

When it comes to Guava tree characteristics, it is an evergreen tropical tree that can reach up to 20 to 30 feet. This tree stem is thick and grows into multiple branches. The Guava flowers have large stalks with 1 to 2 cm length with white petals. The Guava flowers are usually pollinated by bees. Nowadays we are also seeing seedless Guava fruits with high yielding capacity. Allahabad safeda and Taiwan fruits are excellent Guava varieties grown in India.

A step by step guide to growing Guava in the backyard

In the right conditions, Guava fruit trees are not difficult to grow. For warmer climates, this tree can provide attractive foliage, flowers, shade, and of course, delicious tropical fruits. If you have the garden space and right climate for it, you just need to understand what the different Guava tree varieties are before you make your purchase.

Varieties of Guava for growing in the backyard

Some varieties are named according to the shape of the fruit skin and pulp color, while several others after the place of origin. Basing on seed content in Guava there are two types– seedless and seeded varieties. Hence, seeded Guavas are more commercial, high yielder‘s with excellent quality.

Seeded varieties of Guava for growing in the backyard

Below are the seeded varieties of Guava:

Allahabad Safeda: Fruits are big in size, round, smooth skin, white pulp, soft, firm, light yellow, and on ripening develop very sweet taste, pleasing flavor, and have few seeds.  It is the most popular variety in India and the progenitor of many Indian varieties.

Allahabad Safeda: It is the most popular variety in India and occupies the largest area under cultivation. Tree vigorous, medium-tall, with dense foliage. Fruits round and medium in size with smooth skin.

Allahabad Surkha:  It is a selection from local red pulp type released at Allahabad Agricultural Institute, Allahabad. Fruits are round with uniform pink skin with deep pink pulp, sweet and strongly flavored

Lucknow: The tree Semi-dwarf, vigorous, with heavy branching habit. The fruit tastes sweet with good keeping quality.

Arka Mridula: Arka Mridula is a seedling selection of variety Allahabad Safeda. The fruit size is medium with excellent quality. The pulp is white with few soft seeds.

Red Fleshed: Tree attains 3-5m height. The branches which has yellowish skin with pink color flesh are spreading with roundish oval fruit.

Allahabad Surkha: Allahabad Surkha is an excellent variety of large, uniform pink fruits with deep pink flesh. The plants are vigorous, dome-shaped, and compact.

Seedless varieties varieties of Guava for growing in the backyard

Fruits are of irregular shape and yellow with thin skin, warty surface and swollen calyx end. The pulp is white, seedless, has good taste and aroma, and has 240 mg vitamin C / 100 g pulp.

Below are the seedless varieties of Guava:

Safed Jam:  This is a hybrid of ‘Allahabad Safeda’ x ‘Kohir’ (a local collection from Hyderabad Karnataka region).

Nasik: Fruits are medium-sized, round, white pulp, sweet with good flavor.

Apple color: Fruits are medium-sized, round, the skin is red like an apple while the pulp is white, sweet with good flavor.

Chittidar: Fruits are almost round, white pulped, smooth-skinned with red spots on the skin having vitamin C content of 240 mg/100 g pulp.

Benaras: Fruits are round, medium  to big, white pulp with  good taste

Propagating guava plants

Guava can be propagated in many ways, including by seed, cutting, and air layering. In commercial cultivation, most Guava is grafted onto an established rootstock, which helps the plant thrive and flower. The plant might not produce fruit true to the parent if you are growing Guava from seed. To increase the chances of germination (and reduce the time), let the seeds sit in a little water for two weeks, or boil them for five minutes, then plant. Germination will take between 2 and 8 weeks.

Seed Propagation: Propagating Guava by seeds is a usual method. Guava seeds remain viable for many months. They often germinate in 2 to 3 weeks but may take as long as 8 weeks. However, this method will not produce true-to-type plants. Variability in seedlings can be minimized by hand self-pollination. Honeybee is one of the major pollinators of guava. The amount of cross-pollination ranges from 25.7 to 41.3%.

Root cuttings: This is the oldest method of propagating guava. Cut about 12-20 cm long roots and induce to sprout by placing flat on the bed and cover them with about 2 inches of fine soil, which must be kept moist to promote germination.

Air layering: low branches of guava are bent down, with about 12-15 cm of the branch is roofed with soil and kept damp to induce root formation.

Suitable soil for growing Guava in the backyard

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Suitable soil for growing Guava in the backyard.
Suitable soil for growing Guava in the backyard.

Guava can be grown in almost all types of soil but the best soil for growing guava is well-drained clay loam to sandy loam soil. A soil pH of 5.0 to 7.0 is ideal. Guava trees are well adapted to a wide range of soil types including sands, loams, rock-based soils, and muck. A soil pH of 4.5 to 7 is ideal but plants do well in high pH soils (7–8.5) if supplied with chelated iron materials. Add lots of compost and manure to the soil and some river sand to make it free draining. Guava growing in the Florida Home Landscape 3 trees produced by air-layering or cuttings generally have a shallow root system with most roots within 12 to 18 inches (30–45 cm) of the soil surface.

Best climate for growing Guava

Guava can be grown in both humid and dry climates; the optimal temperature for growing Guava is 20°C to 30°C. Temperatures between 23-28°C are ideal for flowering and fruit set. Plant Guava in full sun; in dessert regions plant Guava in partial shade or protect plants from the midday sun. Temperatures below 15°C or drought cause growth to slow or cease.

Water requirement for growing Guava in the backyard

Guava is a hardy plant and generally, it doesn’t require much water. But the yield and quality improve markedly by watering in summer. Watering young Guava plants at weekly intervals during summer is needed. Watering is also essential to check excessive fruit drop during summer. Normally watering is not required in Guava plantation. Lifesaving hand watering is necessary in the summer season in dry areas and on light soils. Watering during winter improve fruit size and reduce fruit drop of winter crop. Watering frequency may be reduced or stopped once the rainy season arrives.

Fertilizers for growing Guava in the backyard

The guava tree is a heavy feeder. So it should be fertilized every one to two months when it is young. Thereafter, fertilize three to four times a year. Guava trees need a fertilizer high in phosphorus, nitrogen, magnesium, and some potash for maximum fruit production. Mix 6-6-6-2 fertilizer into soils at the beginning of the growing season and then 3-4 times during the growth period. To increase fruit production, a fertilizer high in potassium is the best fertilizer for Guava trees. Always water your Guava plant after fertilizing to minimize the risk of burns.

Spacing of Guava plants

Consider the size of the tree at maturity when spacing Guava in the garden. Guava trees in the home landscape should be planted in full sun. Depending upon ultimate tree size, trees should be planted 15 to 25 ft (4.6–7.6 m) away from other trees and structures and power lines.

How to plant a Guava tree

The best time to plant Guava is during the rainy season. The first step is to get a healthy nursery tree. Prepare a planting site in full sun that is sheltered from a wind. Before planting, place compost in holes. The field should be deeply plowed and properly leveled before planting. Dig a hole half again as deep and twice as wide as the tree’s roots. Add a cupful of all-purpose fertilizer to the bottom of the hole. Before planting, put a tree stake in place. Drive the stake into the ground to the side of the hole to at least 2 feet deep. Set the plant in the hole. Re-fill the hole with half native soil and half aged compost or commercial organic planting mix, firm in the soil so that there are no air pockets among the roots. Water in the soil and create a modest soil basin around the trunk to hold water at watering time. With tree ties secure the tree to the stake. Water deeply, once or twice a week, depending on weather conditions.

Growing guava tree in container

With proper care, a Guava tree can be grown in a container.

Guavas can be planted in pots and ground as well. If you are planning in a container, then select a big pot, at least 30 cm (12 inch) pot, bigger is better. The potted Guava plant can be pruned in early summer to keep the size compact. Transplant the young plant every spring into a larger pot. The pot should have good drainage holes at the bottom, which is important to protect the roots.

The Guavas planted in-ground grows faster into big trees, up to 30 feet in height because its roots can spread widely. The fruits in these trees become difficult to pluck as they grow to very high branches. So I am growing Guava in the container, it is quite easy.

Guava plant care, nutrients, and water

  • Keep the soil evenly moist for best fruit production and allow the top 2 or 3 inches of soil to dry before watering again.
  • If the soil goes completely dry, flowering may be delayed or fruit may drop. Reduce water in winter.
  • Guavas are heavy feeders, so make monthly applications of an organic balanced fertilizer such as 5-5-5.
  • Protect Guavas from cold weather and frost, so that cover plants with a plant blanket if frost threatens or place a frame around the plant and cover the frame with clear plastic sheeting.
  • A string of electric lights can be placed inside the frame for added warmth. Move Guavas in containers to a protected and warm spot

Training and pruning of Guava Tree

The main objective of training a Guava plant is to provide a strong framework and scaffold branches suitable for bearing a heavy crop without damaging the branches. Care must be taken to prevent crisscrossing of the primary branches in the initial years of planting. 

If you want your tree to produce plenty of fruits pruning a Guava tree is important. If you want your tree to produce plenty of fruits pruning a Guava tree is important. Prune the new Guava plant at 1-2 feet length to produce new lateral branches. Allow such 3-4 branches to grow to 2-3 feet. Then cut the tips of these branches to grow more branches. Remove the weak branches. The tree in this way will become dense with a good canopy.

Guava tree flowers and pollination

  • The Guava tree blooms in early spring, but may bloom all year in mild climates
  • Guava tree will have a perfect flower with male and female parts in each flower
  • Honeybees pollinate the Guava flowers
  • If there are no bees in your area, then you may hand pollinate the flowers
  • Spray your Guava tree a 5 % solution of urea mixed with a wetting agent just before flowering. When the urea spray dries, then water the plant. This will increase the duration of fruit production.

Pests and diseases on Guava

Pests and diseases on Guava.
Pests and diseases on Guava.

Below mentioned are the pests and diseases attacked by the Guava tree:

Pests and control

Aphids: Feeds on young growth causing the curling of leaves. They are also parasitized by minute parasitic hymenopterans.

Control: Spray with appropriate insecticides (like Malathion) to control the pest.

Fruit fly: Fruit fly is a serious pest of Guava fruits during monsoon. The fly lays eggs on the surface of fruits. On hatching, the maggots enter into the fruit and in most of the cases, fruit drop occurs. 

Control: Spray Malathion 0.1% and burn the infected fruits. Destruction of infected fruits and clean cultivation

Spiraling whitey: Severe infestation initially gives silvery appearance on the ventral side of Guava leaves. Affected leaves turn yellow, crackle and fall.

Control: Spraying of Neem oil of 5ml/lt of water or Dichlorovos of 1ml/lt or Triazophos of 2ml/lit of water

Bark eating caterpillar: The caterpillars feed on the bark under webbed galleries of silk, chewed wood, and excrete during night. The infected plants show the presence of such galleries on the main stem and branches. 

Control: Field sanitation and removing excreta of the caterpillar. It can be killed by injecting 5ml or petrol into holes infested with the caterpillar and closing the hole with clay.

Fruit borer: Larva bore into the fruits and feed the pulp.

Control:  Collect and destroy infested fruits. Spray Carbaryl at 3g/lit of water

Tea Mosquito Bug: The nymphs and adults puncture fruits of all sizes, tender shoots, and leaves to suck sap. Severely infected fruits become hard and corky which cracks and finally drop. 

Control: Collect all infected and fallen fruits and destroy. Grow moderately resistant varieties like Sardar (Lucknow -49) and Saharanpur Seedless.

Diseases and control

Fruit Canker: Cancerous growth on fruit leading to cracking of fruits.

Control: Apply Dithane Z-78 (2g) or Cuman L (4ml/lit) and Rovral (2g/lit) during the rainy season.

Red Rust: This is caused by Caphaleuros virescence algae. Red color pustules 3-5 mm size appears on leaves both on the upper and lower surface. Later the red pustules change to grey color. 

Control: Spray COC at 3g/l twice at an interval of 10 days.

Anthracnose: It is the most common and important disease of Guava in India, particularly in U.P. Punjab and Karnataka.

Control: Apply Carbendazim 1gm/liter during June-September.

Wilting: Caused by Glomremella is another disease known to attack Guava. The disease causes mummification and the blackening of immature fruits.

The Guava fruit harvesting

Guava fruit harvesting
Guava fruit harvesting.

Guava fruits mature after 4-5 months of anthesis for harvesting. However, it depends upon the climatic conditions and variety. To avoid possible damage to fruits instead of shaking the tree hand picking at regular intervals is suggested. Harvesting Guava requires care and usually handpicked. Harvesting of ripe Guavas should not take more than 2 to 3 days during the height of the season because of potential losses from insects and over-ripening of fruits. 

Storing the Guava fruit

After harvesting, fruits are then placed at room temperature and allowed to ripen (soften) before consumption. White Guava intended to be eaten fresh is usually picked when full-sized and green to light green and eaten before becoming ripe (yellow peel and soft). Both ripe and green Guava may be stored in the refrigerator for 5 to 7 days before consumption.  Mature green fruit can be stored for 2 to 5 weeks at 10°C to 12°C and 85 to 95 percent humidity.

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