The açaí (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) is a tall, slender palm tree, eight species of which are found in flood plains from Belize south to Brazil. It is widely grown in the Amazon Basin for its hearts of palm and its juice, which is high in antioxidants. Alternative health proponents tout numerous purported health benefits of both the açaí berry and root. In the United States, the tree can only be grown outdoors in the United States in southern Florida, although it can grow from 45 to 90 feet tall.
Each round, purple fruit from ¼ to ¾ inch in diameter produces a single seed. One seed can grow a plant that provides 25 individual shoots. In the tree's natural habitat, birds and rodents spread açaí seeds in their feces. Numerous Web sites sell them.
Soak açaí seeds in warm water two days before you plant them in warm, wet soil. Keep the planted seeds enclosed in a container to prevent heat and humidity from escaping. Keep the container outside in the sun or indoors near a source of heat. Seedlings should appear as red sprouts in about two weeks.
The açaí likes rich soil. You can plant açaí directly in the soil if you live in a warm, moist climate or indoors in a pot. Keep the soil moist and warm. Do not let it dry out. You can grow açaí in a greenhouse or outdoors if the temperature does not drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. The soil should be from pH 6.6 to 7.5, which is neutral.
The açaí likes full sun but can tolerate shade. If you grow them indoors, use filtered light; this mimics rainforest light. The açaí likes an occasional breeze.
The açaí doesn't produce fruit until it's four or five years old.