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How to Care for Brazilian Cherries

berry picking image by Renata Osinska from Fotolia.com

The Brazilian cherry (Eugenia uniflora), also known as Surinam cherry, is a fruiting shrub that grows to 25 feet at maturity. It has aromatic foliage and produces ribbed, dark-maroon edible fruits that resemble tiny pumpkins. You can grow Brazilian cherry shrubs in full sunlight and in any soil type. Native to South America, they are best grown in the ground outdoors in tropical and subtropical climates where temperatures don’t drop below 22 degrees Fahrenheit. In climates that have frosts and sustained freezing temperatures in winter, Brazilian cherries can be container-grown and brought indoors during the colder months.

Water your Brazilian cherry deeply and thoroughly once or twice each week throughout the flowering and fruiting season, to supplement rainfall. Soak the soil down to, and around, the root zone. Watering the shrub during this period will encourage the fruits to grow larger and sweeter.

Feed the shrub four times each year with a balanced, complete fertilizer, such as 10-10-10 NPK (nitrogen-phosphorous-potassium). Apply the fertilizer in January, April, July and October, according to the dosage instructions on the label.

Prune Brazilian cherries for shape, if you’re growing them as a hedge. But if you want to promote timely or early fruiting, wait until the third or fourth year to prune the shrubs.

Harvest cherries three weeks after the flowers open. In most regions where Brazilian cherries are grown, you can harvest the first crop in spring and the second crop in fall. In Brazil, the fruits are harvested in autumn and again in December or January.

Control Caribbean and Mediterranean fruit flies that may infest your Brazilian cherries by spraying the shrub with an appropriate insecticide. Follow the instructions on the insecticide label exactly.

Tip

You don’t need to water Brazilian cherries during most of the year, because they are rather drought-tolerant and require little water in addition to rainfall. The only times of year when they benefit from extra water are before and during fruit development.

Warning

Be careful where you plant Brazilian cherries. These shrubs self-propagate easily by spreading seeds and can overtake other plants.

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