Grow it yourself: feijoas

The ubiquitous feijoa

The ubiquitous feijoa

There are a number of plants we have embraced with such gusto in this country that we have all but made them our own – Pinus radiata, yams, kumara, kiwifruit… and feijoas from South America. Every family should have at least one feijoa tree. They are wonderfully easy to grow, requiring no special care at all once established. Find a position in full sun and preferably not in the full blast of the prevailing wind for best cropping.

It is usual to harvest feijoas as windfalls

When it comes to buying a feijoa, choose a named cultivar (“Unique” is probably the most widely available). If you buy a range of different varieties, you can extend the fruiting season and solve pollination issues. “Unique” is self fertile but most others need a pollinator, though feijoas are so widely grown that often a neighbour’s tree will do the job. Don’t fall for cheap seedlings, even for hedging. They may never fruit well, or indeed at all. Breeding and selection has given much larger fruit and better cropping. If you are going to give garden space, you might as well grow a good variety. The other important thing to know is that the advice sometimes given that you can use feijoa as a clipped hedge plant (I have even seen it suggested as a replacement for buxus) is particularly ill-informed if you want a harvest. You are likely to cut off most fruiting shoots. When it comes to pruning, it is better to thin the canopy, cutting branches off right back at the trunk, rather than trying to clip all over. Generally, a feijoa does not need pruning but allow for them to reach about four metres in height. Keep the ground beneath clear if possible, to allow for easy collection of fruit as it falls.

Feijoas are not particularly easy to strike from cutting but if you have a home propagation unit, it is worth a try. Use new season’s growth which has hardened off – in other words, the branch tips.

First published in the Waikato Times and reproduced here with their permission.

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