The pineapple guava plant (feijoa, Feijoa sellowiana) is a slow-growing evergreen shrub native to southern Brazil, northern Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay. Unless pruned, it can grow to 15 feet high. The pineapple guava plant can be grown in warm to moderately cool climates and produces showy, edible white flowers and small, sweet fruits.
The fruits of the pineapple guava plant are from 3/4 to 3 1/2 inches long. Some cultivars produce round fruit; other varieties yield fruit shaped like an elongated pear. The skin color varies from blue-green to grayish-green; the skin surface is sometimes rough and pebbly, sometimes smooth. A sweet, translucent pulp surrounds 30 to 40 small, barely noticeable seeds. The flavor suggests a mix of pineapple and guava, sometimes with a hint of spearmint or winter green.
The fruits ripen in 4 1/4 to seven months, depending on the climate. Harvest feijoa by shaking a tree with mature fruit every couple of days; place a tarp or large cloth under the tree to keep the the fruit from bruising when they fall. If you pick them while they are still firm, they will ripen at room temperature. Tree-ripened fruit tastes better. Store ripe feijoas in a refrigerator; their quality will decline after a week.
Foliage and Flowers
Elliptical pineapple guava plant leaves are a soft green on top and silvery on the bottom; a gentle breeze will make them flash. The sweet, inch-wide, white flowers have six petals tinged with purple. The edible flowers grow singly or in a cluster from May through June and are often used to decorate salads in upscale restaurants.
Keep away from reflected sun. Pineapple guava plant can handle partial shade and a small exposure to salt spray. Plant in well-drained soil; saline soil will produce smaller yields. Feijoas have shallow roots; water deeply on a regular basis. Apply 8-8-8 fertilizer once very two months.
Pineapple guava plant can be grown from seed, but the seedlings will not always be true to type. To obtain seeds, squeeze the seedy pulp into a container, cover with water, and ferment for four days. Strain and dry the seeds; they will remain viable for more than a year. Germination takes three weeks, and the plant will produce fruit three to five years later.
Cuttings will root in two months. Cuttings of named varieties are best because you can train them in a variety of ways and maintain them as shrubs without being concerned about the development of rogue branches.
Prune lightly after summer harvest to encourage new growth and produce more fruit the next year. Thinning a feijoa makes harvesting easier. You can prune the pineapple guava plant plants heavily and grow them as a hedge, but they will yield less fruit.
Pests, Disease, and Cultivars
The the pineapple guava plant is ordinarily free of diseases. The black scale can attack it in California, and ripe fruit can attract fruit flies.
More than a dozen cultivars of feijoa are available commercially, giving a broad range of fruit types and plant growth characteristics. You can obtain more information from the California Rare Fruit Growers Association.