The monkey nut tree is a very close relative of the cashew and has similar cultural requirements. It is a tropical tree from Brazil that bears edible fruit and nuts. The monkey nut tree is a large shrub and generally only grows 5 to 6 feet tall, but it can be pruned into a single-stemmed tree. The plant grows in infertile, acidic soils and needs little external nutrient addition.
The monkey nut tree has thick leaves on twisted branches. The leaves have 13 to 14 very prominent veins and a wide midrib. They are rose colored at the opening and mature to a greenish yellow. The flowers are long and slender, slightly tube-like and lavender to pink. They become quince- to apple-shaped fruits that append with a nut or external seed that is kidney shaped. Monkey nut trees thrive in poor locations as long as there is sun and well-drained soil.
All plants have similar nutrient needs, it is just the amount of each one that varies. Plants get oxygen, hydrogen and carbon from the air. The macro-nutrients are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K), among others. These three are found as components of fertilizer, and the amounts of each are indicated on the package in an N-P-K ratio. Additional nutrients are considered trace minerals or micronutrients. These include iron, manganese, boron, molybdenum, copper, zinc and chlorine. Monkey nut trees can derive most of the micronutrients needed from the soil because they are needed in such small amounts.
Monkey Nut Tree pH
The monkey nut tree requires acidic soils. This means the pH must be below 7 to become the correct pH for the tree. A tree is not able to take up the correct nutrients if the pH is incorrect. This can be amended prior to planting or by using an acid-lover's fertilizer. This will help keep the pH low and is formulated for easy release of the nutrients. Minor nutrients do not need to be added to soil unless the pH is incorrect. Improper soil pH can cause a deficiency, which will usually show up as discoloration in the leaves. Once the soil pH is back down, the deficiency usually goes away and the monkey tree will not need any additional micronutrients.
Monkey Nut Tree Fertilizer
The basic nutrients the monkey tree needs are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Nitrogen helps form leafy and vegetative growth, and phosphorus encourages flowers and fruiting as well as good root formation. Potassium helps produce a strong immune response and drives photosynthesis. During its seedling years, the tree can use a nitrogen fertilizer. This can come in the form of manure, seaweed fertilizer or compost. These natural sources are well received. Young trees need a fertilizer with a ratio of 4:3:2. When it comes time for the plant to bear, a fertilizer with a ratio of 4:3:4 will encourage all types of growth. As a rule, the trees don't require additional fertilizer, so a soil test is recommended to see if pH and nutrient levels are sufficient.
Prior to planting a monkey nut tree you need to do a soil test. This will indicate if the soil pH is above 7. If it is, then you need to add sulfur to lower the pH and make the soil more acidic. Monkey nut trees will respond to good soil conditions even though they are not found in such conditions in the wild. Add a generous amount of compost or leaf litter to the planting zone. After planting, use an organic mulch to prevent weeds and leach nutrients slowly into the soil. Use compost tea as a natural and easy-to-uptake general fertilizer.