Introduction to growing sapota in containers: Sapota or Chikoo is a delicious tropical fruit that belongs to the Sapotaceae family that goes with the scientific name Manilkara zapota. Sapota has a grainy texture and a mildly musky flavor. The soft fleshy Sapota fruit is scooped out to make smoothies, jams and delectable desserts. Sapota fruit is high on calories providing 83 calories per 100 grams. A good source of dietary fiber, the pulp of this Sapota fruit functions as an excellent laxative. It is loaded with a rich array of vitamin A, vitamin C, niacin, folate and pantothenic acid and minerals iron, potassium, and copper.
A step by step guide to growing sapota in containers
Sapota is also known as Chicku, Sapote, Sapodilla, and Lamut. Sapota is a tree that can grow to more than 30 m tall with an average trunk diameter of 1.5 m. Sapota is sweet like a peach. If you want to enjoy it in the house then you can develop it by propagation the Sapota plant. You can germinate Sapota seeds or grafting also.
Sapota trees do not grow very well in cold weather, however mature trees tolerate the cold, as long as the temperature is not falling regularly. The fruit of the sapodilla is yellowish-brown and its leaves are shiny evergreen, and the flowers are white. Mature sapodilla generally produces fruits twice a year. After 4 to 6 months of flowering, mature Sapota fruits are obtained. Sapota plant requires well-drained sandy soil.
Different varieties of Sapota
The important and widely adopted Sapota varieties are Kali Patli and Cricket Ball (Calcutta Large). The other Sapota varieties are pili patti, Bangalore, Baramati, Dwarapudi, and Chhatri, etc.
Cricket Ball – Also called as ‘Calcutta Large’ bears large round fruits. The pulp is gritty and granular and sweet.
Kalipatti – It has dark green broad and also thick leaves. These fruits are oval-shaped with sweet pulpy pulp.
Pala – It is a very popular variety in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. The fruits are very small to medium with oval or egg shape borne in clusters.
Kirthibarti – It is a popular variety in Andhra Pradesh. The fruits are medium-sized, oval and the peel is rough and thick.
Baramasi – It is a popular variety in West Bengal, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh. The fruits are medium-sized and round.
Pilipatti – This variety has unique small fruits found in Maharashtra and Gujarat. These fruits are oblong, elongated with soft sweet pulp.
Gutthi – Fruits are small-sized and oval, with apex broadly pointed. The pulp is sweet and fruits are borne in clusters.
Jonnavalasa – This fruit variety if from Andhra Pradesh has medium to large ovate fruits with light-colored peel and pulp which is sweet.
The commercially cultivated Sapota varieties are CO1, CO 2, CO.3, PKM 1, PKM 2, PKM 3, PKM-4, PKM -5, Kallipatti, Cricket Ball, Pala, Guthi, Kirtibarathi, and Oval.
Soil for growing Sapota in containers
Sapota is grown in a variety of soil but deep alluvial, sandy loam soil and black soil having good drainage are ideal for doing Sapota farming. Soil pH having 6.0-8.0 is optimum for growing Sapota. There are two ways to grow the Sapota plant. One way is from seed but by planting seeds it takes 6 to 7 years for fruits to come and the quality of fruit depends on the seed quality so it is a time taking process. The other method is to purchase a grafted Sapodilla (Sapota) plant from a nursery. Grafted Sapota plant starts to bear fruits in 2 to 3 years. Growing Sapota is not particular when it comes to water requirements. They may do equally well in arid or humid environments, although more severe conditions can result in a lack of fruiting.
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Planting Sapota in a contaoner or pot
Sapota trees grow well in containers as long as you provide an adequate size pot for root development. Select a pot 18 to 24 plus inches in diameter and 20 plus inches in height, with adequate drain holes. Glazed pots need far less watering than raw terracotta pots due to their porous nature.
Light requirements for growing Sapota in containers
Indoor light – A bright and sunny solarium or window location with more southern exposure is best for plant growth and fruit production. Many customers have reported fruit harvesting from trees that live-in home and patio environments.
Outdoor light – Sapota trees prefer bright light and direct sun. If possible 12 hours of bright sunlight is best for plant growth and fruit production.
Planting method of Sapota
- You can easily plant the Sapota trees in the container if you give enough room to expand the roots of its plant.
- For this, use a large size pot at least 18 to 24 inches in diameter and 20 inches deep.
- Sapota plants prefer rich and well-drained soil. Prepare a mixture of soil, sand, and perlite for the pot, which can cause proportional drainage, as its roots do not like wet.
- If the water stops in the pot, it can cause rotting roots in the sapodilla plant. Shiny containers are good to use, it will take less water and terracotta pot absorbs more water.
- The Sapota tree looks indoor then chooses a window where the sunlight is coming, it is the best southern window for which fruits and plants will get development.
Propagation of Sapota plant
Sapota trees may be propagated by seed or vegetatively. Seeds must be planted within 3 weeks of harvesting from the fruit, and seedlings may begin to bear in 7 to 8 years. Sapota varieties do not come true to seed and should be vegetatively propagated by grafting or budding onto seedling rootstock. Grafting and budding are most successful during the warm season when trees are actively growing.
Growing techniques of Sapota
- The ideal season of planting Sapota is spring and early summer. The growth of the Sapota plant is also good in a pot. For planting Sapota, the pot must be at least 10 to 12 inches. It can be planted in any type of soil but prefer well-drained soil. Also, garden soil and mix some coarse sand in it. It consists of 70% soil and 30% coarse sand. Mix them well but for good growth of young plants, fertilizer is needed. So mix a little bit of organic compost.
- Put a small piece of gravel in the pot and put the mixture in the pot. To remove air pockets in the soil, tap the pot and planting grafted plant, keep in mind that its grafted joint must be 2 to 3 inches above the upper layer of soil. Always place the plant in the middle of the pot and water immediately after planting. And if any branch is coming out below the grafted joint then cut that branch.
- It blooms twice in a year that means one in February-March and other in October-November. It takes 6 to 7 months from flowering to maturity of fruits. The young Sapota plant is likely to damage due to the high sunlight, dry and hot wind. Sapota can grow in both arid and humid environments. In summer, the Sapota plant can live up to 6 to 7 days without water and in winter water it in 20 to 25 days.
- Unripe Sapota fruit is very hard and gummy. When the fruit is ripe then it becomes soft and its seeds are black and shiny. One Sapota fruit can yield 2 to 5 seeds. To know if the Sapota fruit is ripe or not, scratch gently if the skin beneath is green, the fruit is not ripe. But if it is pale yellow and soft to the touch, it is ripe. When you picked an unripe fruit, it releases white latex from its stem and its latex is very sticky and is used for a preparation of chewing gum. If you picked an unripe Sapota fruit then do not throw it. To ripe it, wrap it well in paper and maintain it at room temperature for 3 to 4 days.
- This plant is generally invincible of insects and diseases. Plant damages due to overwatering. It has a brown spot on its leaf. White fuzz and webbing in the lower portion of the leaf are because of leaf Webber insect. Leaf Webber lays eggs on leaves. Larva feeds on leaves by sucking the juice from plant leaves. And it damages flowers, fruits, and buds. If your plant has the same problem then collect the insect infected plant parts and destroy them. To protect the pest attack in the Sapota plant, use neem cake on plants during the spring season.
- When watering Sapodilla trees make sure to lightly soak the soil and then do not water again until the top about 2 inches are dry. Depending on light conditions, location and foliage watering can be required weekly or daily. Be sure to not overwater, the soil will almost always cause decay and ultimately kill the tree.
Conditions for growing Sapota in a containers
To plant the Sapodilla tree, select a healthy tree from a nearby nursery that looks insect free and strong. Select a large container for this. In the container, make a hole equal to 3 times the length of the root ball. Make the Sapota tree straight in the center and Push down on the dirt slightly to fill the hole. After dirt fills a thin layer of compost, then it works as a fertilizer and mulch for the young tree. Then fill surrounding soil on the root ball. Choose the full sunny place of the container. Its plant requires about 6 to 8 hours of sunlight.
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Water the roots after planting, save tree trunk and plant leaves from wetting. Also, the water completely dries out, otherwise, there is a root of the rot. Give water to every other day for 2 weeks, and then water it once or twice a month for 3 months. Provide extra water in the dry period. After this, add fertilizer to the young plants, whether you wish to give fruit according to the instructions given in the compost.
Growing Sapota from seed in containers
- Seed propagation of Sapota is common; however, Sapota trees grown from seed can take up to 7 years to produce fruit.
- Choose a ripe Sapota fruit and cut it open with a knife. Extract the Sapota seeds and rinse them of all pulp.
- Crack the coat of each seed before planting to increase the chances of the germination process. Then place a seed between two wooden boards and apply light pressure to the top board. A hairline crack in the Sapota seed is ideal.
- Plant Sapota seeds in the soil-free potting medium, no more than 14 days after harvesting, because Sapota seeds do poorly in storage. Make sure that the pointed side of each seed faces up about 1/2-inch from the surface of the soil. Water each seed deeply.
- Continue watering deeply throughout germination, which occurs in 2 to 4 weeks, and through seedling growth. Once seedlings outgrow their pots, transfer them to larger containers.
- Choose an outdoor planting space once trees grow between 2 and 4 feet tall. Select an area with well-drained soil that receives full sun, and with no nearby structures.
- Water each tree thoroughly before planting. Dig holes 30 feet apart that are 3 to 4 times wider than the root ball and three times as deep as the tree’s container. Tamp down soil once trees are planted.
- Mulch newly planted Sapota trees with about 2 to 6 inches of wood chip mulch, staying 8 to 12 inches away from the trunk of each tree. Water each tree about 1 to 2 inches of water.
Fertilizer used in growing Sapota in containers
It is recommended that you fertilize at the same time as you water using a time-released fertilizer 8-3-9 or similar to help your Sapota trees grow and produce a substantial crop. These Sapota trees are moderate feeders and require multiple feeding during the growing season. It is very important to follow the fertilizers labeled instructions as to not burn or kill the tree.
Pests and diseases affect Sapota plants
Sapota is almost insect resistant but it is compulsory to save it from the cold. There are some insects that trouble sapodilla such as Banana spotting bugs, Caterpillars. This problem can be tackled by pesticide spraying and there are no major diseases of Sapodilla, the rust of a leaf, which causes the small leaves to be destroyed.
Harvesting techiques of Sapota
Sapota is difficult to say that seeing cropped, that crop is ready for the time of harvest. However, the maturity of the crop is about 8 to 10 weeks. To know the maturity of the crop scratch the skin, the pulp color should be brown like cinnamon. Sapota should be kept at room temperature for 5 to 10 days to ripen sapodillas. The fruit must be eaten when it is a slightly firm, not mushy. Good condition of fruits can be kept in the fridge for one week.
Conclusion of growing Sapota in containers
You may apply the above information for growing chikoo on terrace, growing chikoo fruit in backyard, growing chikoo fruit in balcony, growing chikoo fruit indoors, growing chikoo fruit outdoors, and growing chikoo fruit in polyhouse. You might be interested in Growing Vegetables in Winter.