A little like the NZ Yam, the story of the feijoa in New Zealand is quite unique. Kiwis embraced the fragrant feijoa back in the 1920s; it would be fair to say it’s become an iconic fruit here.

It’s generally agreed that feijoas were selected and popularised by Hayward Wright, of Avondale Nurseries. He went on to do the same job for the Kiwifruit, with a huge export industry being built from his early breeding work. But while the rest of the World woke up to kiwifruit decades ago, the feijoa hasn’t really caught on. Outside its native territory (Southern Brazil and Uruguay), feijoas aren’t widely grown. They certainly are here in NZ!

Feijoa fruits are green and oval shaped, with soft creamy yellow sweet and perfumed flesh, with a distinctive pear, passionfruit and pineapple-like taste, and a slightly gritty texture. They’re very attractive evergreen shrubs or small trees, growing up to 5 m tall and 3 m wide, with gorgeous pink and white edible flowers in spring and summer. Feijoa trees are a familiar sight in kiwi gardens; they also make a great choice for an edible hedge.

The delicious fruit can be eaten fresh (cut the fruit in half and scoop out the flesh with a teaspoon) and they’re also perfect for using in cakes, muffins, jams, cocktails, desserts, fruit salad and smoothies. The small seeds inside the fruit are edible.

Different Feijoa Varieties

There are many different varieties of feijoas available, with different sized fruit, that fruit at different times during autumn and early winter. They can be grafted, or grown from seed. Grafted plants will usually fruit much sooner (2-3 years) than plants grown from seed (they take up to seven years).

How to Grow Feijoa in a Garden

Step 1 – Choose a Location

Choose a spot in your garden that’s in full sun or partial shade (at least six hours of sun is ideal) with well-drained soil. Feijoas can be grown in cool to sub-tropical climates, but they are frost-tender until established.

Step 2 – Improving the Soil & Planting

Prior to planting, improve the soil with Yates Dynamic Lifter Organic Plant Food. It’s a rich source of organic matter to help improve soil structure and water holding capacity, as well as attract earthworms and beneficial soil microorganisms.

Dig the planting hole twice as wide and to the same depth as the root ball. Remove the plant from the container, gently tease the roots and cut away any circled or tangled roots. Place the plant in the hole and backfill around the roots with soil. The final level of soil should be at the same level as the original potting mix around the plant. Water in well to settle the soil around the roots.

Step 3 – Early Feijoa Care

Keep the soil moist as the plant establishes. Applying an organic mulch like bark chips, around the root zone will help keep the soil and roots moist. Mulch also helps protect the feijoa’s shallow root system.

Step 4 – Watering & Feeding Feijoas

Once established, feijoas are drought tolerant, but they’ll be much healthier and more productive if watered regularly. In extended hot and dry periods, feijoas will benefit from a good deep watering once or twice a week. 

Once plants are established, feed regularly from spring to the end of harvest with Yates Thrive Citrus & Fruit Granular Plant Food to promote healthy growth and lots of flowers and fruit.

Step 5 – Harvesting

The green fruit is ripe when it falls naturally from the tree. Harvest season is usually from early autumn to early winter. Fruiting time can vary based on the climate and the variety.

There are many different varieties available that are early, mid or late maturing, so Feijoa lovers can spread out the harvest season by growing different varieties. If you do this, it’s wise to pair up varieties that flower at the same time, so you get maximum cross-pollination.

Growing Tips

How to Prune Feijoas

While the plant is still young, pinch out the tips of the stems, to promote bushier growth. Prune mature plants immediately after harvest (during winter) to help keep the plant tidy and more compact.

Do I Need to Grow More than One Feijoa to Get Fruit?

Most feijoas are self-pollinating, so they only require one tree to produce fruit. However, plants will produce more fruit if there’s another variety of feijoa flowering at the same time. Also, flowers still need to be pollinated, so encourage pollinators, like bees, into your garden by planting lots of flowering plants. Double-check the label of your chosen feijoa to see if it needs cross-pollination with another variety.

Are Feijoa Flowers Edible?

Yes, they are. The flowers are edible and have a mild marshmallow and strawberry-like taste. Feijoa flower petals can be added to cocktails, as well as sweet and savoury salads.

What’s the Best Fertiliser for Feijoas?

To promote healthy leaf growth as well as lots of flowers and fruit, feijoas should be fed from spring to autumn with a potassium-rich fertiliser like Yates Thrive Citrus & Fruit Granular Plant Food.

Can You Grow Feijoas as a Hedge?

You bet. Feijoas make great hedges. To promote bushy growth, pinch out the tips of young stems and trim mature plants to shape once the fruit are picked.

How Long Does It Take for Feijoas to Fruit?

It can take up to three years for grafted feijoas to start to produce fruit, longer for plants grown from seed.

Can Feijoas be Grown In Pots?

Yes! Choose a pot at least 500 mm in diameter and use a quality potting mix like Yates Premium Potting Mix. Potted feijoas may need assertive pruning to help keep them to a manageable size. Prune each year, immediately after harvest.

Common Problems of Feijoas

Feijoas can be affected by several pests, including scale, mites, caterpillars and birds.

  • Scale is a sucking insect pest that can infest leaves and stems and cause a decline in plant health.
  • If leaves are yellowing, mottled or drying out and if they have fine webbing on the underside, mites will be the culprits.
  • Leaf-roller caterpillars (Epiphyas postvittana) eat leaves and the surface of fruit, producing webbing that sticks leaves together.
  • Birds enjoy eating the fruit as it ripens.

How To Get Rid of Pests on Feijoas

As soon as scale are noticed, spray plants with Yates Nature’s Way Citrus & Ornamental Spray. It’s an oil-based spray that smothers the scale. If your tree has scale, you may also see sooty mould fungus developing on leaves, or ants crawling up and down the stems. The ants and sooty mould will disappear once the scale is controlled.

Mites can be eliminated with Yates Mavrik. Ensure complete coverage of leaves, including the undersides.

If leaves are being eaten or you see webbing between leaves, you can control leaf-roller caterpillars with Yates Success Ultra Insect Control.

If birds are eating the fruit, plants can be protected with bird netting or wire mesh.

Why is My Feijoa Not Fruiting?

It can take up to three years for grafted feijoas to start to produce fruit, and up to seven years for seed-grown feijoas. So, if your plant is younger than this, more time may be required. Plants will also fruit best when grown in a position that receives at least six hours of sunshine a day. Regularly feeding with a potassium-rich fertiliser, like Yates Thrive Citrus & Fruit Granular Plant Food will help promote flowering and fruiting.

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