The starfruit tree, or carambola, is native to the tropical regions of southeast Asia. The tree was introduced to Florida about a century ago, and is now grown commercially in Hawaii and southern Florida. The starfruit tree produces tart fruit that isn't only delicious and nutritious, but lovely to look at, with waxy, orange-yellow skin. Starfruit trees can be grown in the home garden, and are low-maintenance trees once they're established, but extended periods of temperatures below 45 degrees F will kill them.
Water the starfruit tree regularly, and don't allow the soil to dry out. Starfruit should be watered not only in the summer, but during dry winter weather as well.
Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of organic mulch around the base of the tree to conserve moisture, enrich the soil and keep weeds down, and replenish the mulch as it decomposes. Leave a 6- to 8-inch ring uncovered around the trunk. If mulch is allowed to mound up against the trunk, the build-up of heat and moisture can cause rot, and can invite pests.
Keep a 4- to 5-foot distance between the starfruit tree and lawn grass. Grass will draw needed moisture and nutrients away from the tree. For the same reason, pull any weeds, or remove them with a hoe.
Protect starfruit trees from severe winds. Although starfruit trees often withstand even hurricane-strength gales, wind can cause stunted growth, reduced fruit size and distorted leaves.
Fertilize the starfruit tree every two to three months during the first year. After the first year, once or twice a year is adequate, unless the tree is planted in poor soil. Use a citrus fertilizer, applied in accordance with the package directions.