||Feijoa, Pineapple guava
Feijoa is a very popular fruit for the home garden, and with its red pohutukawa-like flowers, many people have come to think that it is a New Zealand native plant.
It, in fact, comes from South America, but we shall adopt it as an honarary NZ native!
The flowers appear in late spring / early summer and are followed by oval shapped fruits that ripen in autumn / winter.
The showy part of the flower is made up of bright red stamens, much like a Pohutukawa, and it is in fact related to the pohutukawa, both belonging to the myrtle family (Myrtaceae).
Birds eat the fleshy edible petals and pollinate the flower.
Most feijoa varieties require cross pollination in order to set fruit.
Even self fertile varieties still require pollen to be transferred (from the same variety) to set fruit.
Seedling grown feijoa plants will not produce fruit that is the same as their parents.
In fact, the seedlings are quite variable, and in most cases only one in 1000 seedlings are worth keeping.
If grown for fruit, it is best to grow one of the named varieties.
The following table lists some of the varieties that are available in New Zealand.
This list is by no means exhaustive.
||Self fertile, very large fruit.
||Medium to large fruit, very sweet.
||Small to medium fruit, slightly gritty, acid flavour.
||Medium fruit, very juicy.
||Mid to late
||Medium fruit, good flavour, gritty.
||Medium fruit, acid flavour.
||Medium fruit, very sweet.
||Medium fruit, slightly gritty.
||Self fertile, medium fruit, very juicy, acid flavour.
||Large fruit, sometimes empty.
Grow feijoas in well drained soils, sited in full sun.
They have shallow feeding roots that need to be protected by a layer of mulch.
Water well and feed monthly with citrus fertiliser during the summer months.
Access to ample moisture in summer is the key to growing large full fruits.
When a tree is newly planted, pick off all fruits in its first year.
Then only allow a small handful of fruits in the second.
This allows the tree the opportunity to grow large enough to start fruiting from the third year.
Feijoa flowers are primarily bird pollinated.
Poor pollination will result in poor fruit set.
Furthermore, most varieties have to be cross pollinated in order to set fruit.
If the tree flowers well but sets very few fruits, hand pollination may be necessary.
The flowers are made up of many promininent stamens that carry pollen.
Use a brush to transfer this pollen to the stigma, usually located in the middle of the cluster of stamens.
In some varieties, the stigma and stamens ripen at different times.
The fruit drops when it is ripe.
Feijoa connoisseurs use nets to catch the fruit as they drop, to minimise physical damage and prevent contamination from soil.
Fallen fruit should be left at room temperature to soften slightly.
This is when it is most ripe, and sweetest.
Feijoa trees rarely need pruning.
Trees planted as a hedge will require annual clipping - after harvest.
Other trees only need the occasional clipping after harvest to encourage new growths.
Feijoa flowers on new growths, so do not prune the tree in late winter or early spring.