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The lost plot: How to grow feijoas

Many households in New Zealand grow feijoas, and so unfortunately many of us will have encountered guava moths in recent seasons. The good news is the spread of guava moths can be reduced by care in feijoa cultivation.

Feijoas grow in most areas, tolerating all but the very driest and very water-logged soils, although they thrive more in fertile, free draining soil. The trees are hardy to around -12ºC so they can be planted in regions with very cold winters.

Choose a site with full sun and plant at any time of the year. Two are better for pollination, but a neighbouring tree may do.

Roots of feijoa trees are shallow and fibrous, so mulch lightly to keep soil moist and to help the tree thrive and crop more profusely. To discourage guava moths, remove and destroy leaf litter and any infected fruit that drops. Trees usually fruit 2-3 years after planting but should be fed regularly from spring to after harvest.

Prune in late winter, to open out the bush, as a ball shaped bush will only fruit on the outside. Prune any very low hanging branches to make harvesting easier.

Water well from mid to late summer when fruit is developing and ripening. Fruit drops when ripe, or you can ‘touch pick’ by cupping the fruit with your hand and lifting gently. If it comes away from the stem easily, it’s ready.

First published: Nov 2019