Thursday, September 10, 2009

Guava airlayers are "taking"

I like my variegated guava so much that I decided to clone it. Here in South Florida, we have every kind of bug imagine-able. The guava was one of my very last fruits I planted because during my research it became clear that guavas are the hosts of more than one type of fruit fly, amongst others the dreaded Caribbean fruit fly. Once I had planted all my "big" trees and had no more space, I searched for more small exotic fruits to plant.

On one of my last trips to Excalibur Rare Fruit Trees Nursery, one of the guides recommended this variegated guava because its relatively pest free. To prove his point, he picked a ripe guava, broke it open, showed me it was worm-free and let me eat it. I was convinced, the only problem was they didn't have any small trees for sale and the big one in the huge container was $800 ! So I had to wait almost a year for their air layers to grow and when I went to buy it around Christmas 2007, the owner said I could buy one if I could find one without air layers. That meant I got the smallest one ! And it was quite pricey.

Well, its now 1 year and 8 months later, the tree has produced about 15 guavas so far and they are delicious. It normally turns into an argument whose turn it is to have the ripening fruit ! It recently started another flowering cycle and we'll have more guavas in a month or two - if the raccoons don't get them before I do !

Another reason I like this plant, besides the yummy fruit, is the beautiful peeling bark of different colors that are so typical of the Myrtaceous fruits. Not only does it bear one of the tropical fruits with the most active anti-oxidants, its highly ornamental with its variegated leaves and attractive peeling bark.

It hasn't been without any problems though, as with almost all my trees, I have an argentine ant infestation and they are "farming" and protecting white flies, mealybugs and aphids. The white fly infestation got so bad so quickly, before I realized, the whole tree was infested and the reason I noticed was due to the leaves being covered in sooty mold from the honeydew the white fly nymphs secrete. It took a few sprays of sevin to get it under control and even now, I have to constantly inspect and spot treat a new white fly outbreak. The only way that worked for me was to put on some heavy duty vinyl gloves, take a hand held sprayer, lift each branch and make sure I sprayed underneath every single leaf !

I have tried air-layering once before on some cocoplums and bouganvillea and both failed - I later learned you have to do it during the active growing season, I tried during the "winter" months. This time, I started my layers late July and about 6 weeks later, I see roots starting to grow through the plastic wrap. Soon I will be able to sever the branch just below the air-layer, plant it in its own pot and keep it in shade and keep it humid until new growth appears (perfect timing as Sept is our rainiest month). Then I have to find a spot in my already crowded garden for it, or I'll probably give it away before then .....

1 year 8 moth old variegated guava tree

Air layer covered with aluminum foil

Foil removed, root growing out at the bottom

Beautiful peeling bark

Developing fruit


  1. This is off-the-wall, but do you know where I can buy guavas in Palm Beach County? I've tried regular grocery stores, El Bodegon, and fruit & veg stands such as the Boys in Delray.

  2. Hi,

    I've seen those big white guavas at Marias on Military trail between Hypoluxo and Gateway. I personally don't care mor them, they're not really sweet like the pink guavas I like.

    If you have space you could grow your own, you can easily grow it in a container on your patio.

    I found my guava at Excalibur Rare Fruit Trees on Fernley road, off Lantana. I also recently found a guava at Home Depot, don't know what variety, only said "guava". Guava's also grow readily form seed, I'm busy growing an orange fleshed version from seed.

  3. Update: I was too hasty, I removed the cuttings too early and probably during the hottest part of summer and they both died. Will try again in the spring.