Growing Soursop In Containers, and Backyard

Introduction to growing Soursop in containers

Soursop is also called guanabana, graviola, or Brazilian pawpaw, tree of the custard apple family, grown for its large edible fruits. The Soursop belongs to the family Annonaceae, which is also known as the Annona family. Soursop is known for its prickly exterior and its bittersweet taste. People have taken to the Soursop fruit and are planting the tree in their backyards.

Soursop trees are commonly propagated by seed, germinating 15 to 30 days after sowing seed. Their rapid growth rate allows them to bear fruit 3 to 5 years after planting. Once established, the Soursop tree will thrive with minimal care. In this article we also discuss below topics;

  • How long does it take a Soursop tree to bear fruit
  • Can you grow a Soursop tree indoors
  • Growing Soursop in containers
  • How long does it take for a Soursop tree to produce fruit
  • How to grow Soursop indoors
  • Soursop plants growing tips

A step by step guide to growing Soursop in containers

Conditions for growing Soursop in containers

Soursop trees are sensitive to their growing conditions and should be planted in a suitable site to ensure fast growth and good fruit production. A sunny planting site is ideal, but light shade during midday is best in areas with hot and dry summers. Organically rich, well-drained soil will provide the right nutrient and moisture balance for Soursop trees, mainly if it is mildly acidic with high sand content. Also, select a growing site that allows at least 12 square feet of space for each Soursop tree because overcrowding causes competition for resources, which may decrease the trees’ fruit yield.

The Soursop tree can reach a height of about 30 feet and is soil tolerant, although it flourishes in well-drained, sandy soil with a pH level of 5-6.5. Always plant a Soursop tree in rich well-drained soil. A healthy Soursop tree in this environment will thrive and products leaves and fruit, both of which can be harvested for consumption.

Soursop seed germination for growing in containers

Soursop trees grown from seed are reportedly highly likely to produce good quality fruit. Wash Soursop seeds and prepares a warm, shady indoor spot for germination. Germinated a couple of seeds by soaking them overnight, then placing them in a moist paper towel in a Ziploc bag, while storing it in a dark, warm place.

The seeds took about 3 to 4 weeks to germinate than transferred them to cups with a soilless seed starter mix until the seedling starting producing some leaves.

After a few months, it was large enough to transfer to a larger pot and moved outdoors. Plant the seeds in peat pots filled with potting soil, less than 30 days after harvesting from fruit. Keep the soil moist to the touch. Soursop seeds will germinate in 15 to 30 days if they are viable.

Soursop tree propagation

Propagation of the Soursop is through seeds, but it can be propagated through grafting and air layering techniques. Seeds usually germinate in 15 to 30 days. The seeds must be sown in seed trays or small containers and kept moist and in a shaded area.

Plant the propagated seedlings in the ground when the plants are about 1 foot in height. The plants should be watered during dry periods. For ease of harvest, Soursop trees can be pruned before flowering and fruiting.

The process of growing Soursop in containers

Step 1) Choose a planting location for the Soursop tree on the south side of a house. The area should have well-draining soil and at least 6 hours of direct sun exposure per day.

Step 2) The Soursop tree is relatively small, growing up to 10 meters, which makes it ideal for a home garden orchard. The young branches and trunk of the Soursop tree bear unusual pale yellow, conical flowers which later turn into the large fruits. The glossy, evergreen plant leaves have a peculiar odor and have proven to be valuable as natural medicine.

Step 3) You can start your Soursop trees simply by saving the seeds from a fruit you buy in the market. Plant 1 seed per pot filled with fertile soil. Germination often takes 2 weeks or more, so be patient and water the container several times a week to prevent it from drying out. When the seedlings emerge, wait until they grow about 30 centimeters tall, and then transplant them to a permanent place.

Step 4) Dig a hole with a shovel that is twice as wide but no deeper than the root ball of the tree. Remove the Soursop tree from the nursery container, separating the exposed roots from the root ball by hand. Set the Soursop tree upright in the center of the hole and backfill with the native soil until it is even with the top of the root ball. Do not tamp the soil while backfilling.

Step 5) These Soursop trees do well on a wide range of soils with good drainage. Additions of organic compost fertilizer will help to keep the Soursop trees growing well. When a Soursop tree reaches 5 years, it can begin to produce fruit.  It’s important to protect the Soursop trees and fruits from disease and insect attacks. Citrus seed oil extracts are effective for preventing some diseases and bagging the fruits with recycled plastic bags can protect the fruits from fruit flies without using harmful chemical insecticides.

Step 6) Water around the base of the tree with a watering hose set on a slow trickle at transplant time and water to a depth of 12 inches. Supplement water for up to 3 years after planting to a depth of 12 inches. Water at least twice a week during the growing season in the morning and additional watering may be needed during periods of drought.

Step 7) Spread an even 4- to 6-inch layer of organic mulch around the base of the tree by hand, starting 3 inches from the trunk and stopping at the outer edge of the canopy’s drip line. Reapply as necessary.

Step 8) Apply 10-10-10 granular fertilizer, sprinkling it by hand around the base of the tree in springtime at a rate of 1/2 pound per tree the first year after planting. Apply the same granular fertilizer, sprinkling it by hand around the base of the Soursop tree, at a rate of about 1 pound per tree the second spring after planting and at a rate of 3 pounds per tree the third spring and thereafter. Follow all labelling instructions on the fertilizer container.

Step 9) Remove dead, weak, and diseased branches from the Soursop tree with pruning shears in the spring before the leaf buds begin to open. Then, cut at a 45-degree angle, 1/4 inch above an outward-facing bud. If the entire branch needs to be removed, make the cut flush with the trunk of the Soursop tree.

Soursop plant care

While typically low-maintenance, Soursop trees need slightly more upkeep when grown outside their native range. Routine irrigation is vital because it will encourage deep root production, helping the Soursop tree survive drought conditions. Spread a thick layer of mulch directly under the Soursop tree’s canopy to preserve the soil moisture and protect the plant roots during hot, dry weather. To encourage greater fruit production, feed Soursop trees with 10-10-10 ratio fertilizer 4 times a year. Apply 1/2 pound of fertilizer around the base of one-year-old trees, 1 pound to two-year-old trees, and 3 pounds for trees 3 years of age and older.

Soursop tree care involves copious mulching, and which benefits the shallow root system. Overly high temperatures from 27-32°C and low relative humidity cause pollination issues while slightly lower temps and 80% relative humidity improve pollination. Soursop trees must be irrigated regularly to prevent stress, which will cause leaf drop. Fertilize every quarter of the year with a 10-10-10 NPK at ½ pound per year for the first year, 1 pound the second, and 3 pounds for every year thereafter. Very little pruning is required once the initial shaping is attained. You should need to prune out dead or diseased limbs, which should be done once harvest is over. Topping the trees at 6 feet will facilitate harvesting.

Soursop tree growing problems

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Soursop tree growing problems.
Soursop tree growing problems

Several factors affect the growth and development of trees, including weather and insect pests. Drought and cold will both cause these trees to drop their leaves, slowing their growth and delaying fruit production. They may be afflicted by pests such as scale and the Mediterranean fruit fly, although such infestations are rare if good cultural practices are used. Another potential problem associated with growing Soursop trees in the backyard is their fruit, which may cause a foul-smelling mess if allowed to ripen on the tree and fall to the ground.

The fungus affects the Soursop in two ways. They are fruit became mummified, as the fruit turns black, fall, and stops developing; and secondly, a black stain can appear on its shell during any part of its development, and the fruit will rot once it’s mature. The leaves develop a dark brown or black stain.

Several diseases can affect the growth and development of the plant. Diseases attacking the leaves or roots can cut off the nutrient supply to the Soursop plant. Fungal diseases like anthracnose, root rot, and pink disease are among the common diseases of the Soursop. Proper Soursop tree care and upkeep of the Soursop tree is the best protection against disease problems. Spraying the Soursop tree with fungicides early in the season may prevent disease development. Because of the varying nature of the diseases and pests that can harm Soursop trees, it’s hard to highlight one method that can help fend them off.

Root rot usually occurs when the roots of the Soursop tree are not able to get sufficient water. As a result, the soil becomes dry and the roots are not able to obtain the essential nutrients that they need to survive and grow.

Root grubs are insects that feed on the roots of the Soursop trees. They usually prefer trees with fibrous root systems and they prefer to stay in locations where there is moisture. These pests can cause problems like discoloration of the Soursop plant, wilting, and abnormal plant height.

How do you harvest Soursop fruit?

When harvesting Soursop, the fruit will change from dark green color to a lighter yellowish green tone. The spines of the fruit will soften and the Soursop fruit will swell. Soursop fruit will take between 4 to 5 days to ripen once picked. Soursop trees will produce at least two dozen fruit per year. You should wait to pick the Soursop fruits until they lose their shine, turn from dark to yellowish-green, and the spines stand up. Enjoy them within 5 or 6 days after the harvest, or their flavor will deteriorate. 

The young Soursop fruit is dark green and covered in soft spines. As it matures, the color changes to a lime-green color and the fruit appears to be puffy. The Soursop fruit is harvested when fully mature and still firm. If allowed to ripen on the tree, it will fall to the ground and become squashed. The fruit takes about 3 to 5 days to ripen after picking.

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