Cherry guava

George asked why his cherry guava was not setting fruit although it produces plenty of flowers, and why the growing tips were dying. He didn’t mention which area he lived in, or what fertiliser and watering program the tree has received. There is a variety of causes for these problems.

Perhaps the tree is too young to set fruit. Cherry (or strawberry) guava trees (Psidium cattleianum) are slower growing than tropical guavas, and do not start to produce fruit until about 3 – 4 years after planting out –

Or, maybe frost has affected the flowers. Frost can also cause dying back of young tips, even though mature cherry guavas are reasonably frost hardy.

Although cherry guava are not too fussy about soil, they do grow very well in fertile soil. A lack of calcium will cause both dying of young tips, and premature shedding of blossoms – in other words, soil may be too acid to provide enough calcium. I’d advise testing soil around the tree and, if necessary, raise the soil pH.
Some trace element deficiencies can also cause die back of growing tips, but an application of seaweed extract tea to the soil around the tree should solve this problem.

If the soil is fertile and soil pH is suitable, perhaps the soil has become water repellent and the tree is unable to absorb the nutrients it needs. Or, watering may have been erratic and the tree may be water stressed.

8 thoughts on “Cherry guava

  1. Hi Lyn
    I have purchased a Cherry Guava tree and live in the Sydney area. I would like to create a guild for this tree/shrub and want to know what you might suggest planting to form it? I also have a dwarf lemon tree which again I would like to create a guild with. Your suggestions are appreciated. Thanks Carla

    ‘Guilds’ are a Permaculture concept that I know nothing about. This link may be of more help to you: Piecing together a guild of your own.

  2. When is the best time in Sydney to prune our cherry guava? Do you have suggestions or tips about how to best prune it? Thanks.

    As sometimes harvesting is not completed until June, and cherry guava usually blooms in late spring, late winter would be a good time to prune it in your area.
    First remove any dead or damaged growth, inside and outside the tree. Then remove any branches touching the ground as these can transmit disease to the tree. Then tidy up any unwanted growth.

  3. When do guava trees actually bear fruit in the Sydney area
    Grafted trees can take 3–4 years after planting to produce fruit. Trees grown from seed can take much longer. Flowers that appear in spring are self-pollinating and fruit can ripen anytime from early summer to early winter, depending on growing conditions. I hope this answers your question. – Lyn

  4. I live in Queensland and bought my cherry guava from a local nursery but don’t recall if it is seed stock or grafted. We have had a lot of drought so water stress could play a part as all my citrus trees are having troubles fruiting also. The cherry guava tree is green with very healthy growth but still loads of hard and woody brown fruit. Such a tease! The tree is absolutely loaded with fruit but I would say 60% of it is inedible.
    Hi Rhonda, drought conditions make growing food crops very challenging and I sincerely hope your rain patterns return to normal very soon. Plants can only absorb the nutrients they need to produce juicy sweet fruit as water-soluble ions. When water is in short supply, watering trees by this method through mulch can help fruit reach maturity with a minimum of water. See: Watering in drought conditions
    Because the cherry guava grows so easily from seed, there are many variations in the colour of the ripe fruit which should be ripening about now (late summer-autumn). Some types of cherry guava are reddish-brown when ripe. Cut and taste some of the brown fruit to see if it looks as though it may ripen. If not, I would remove the hard, brown fruit and only leave the fruit that may be usable on the tree. Leaving all the fruit on the tree will only weaken the tree in stressful conditions.

    PLEASE NOTE: Cherry Guava is considered to be an environmental pest in Queensland and New South Wales and cherry guava trees need to be netted to prevent birds (or bats?) spreading the seed. Do not leave fallen fruit on the ground. Dispose of unusable fruit by burying it in the compost heap where birds can’t see it or disposing of it in a sealed garbage bag. A responsible approach to gardening allows us to enjoy the delicious produce from this tree while also protecting the environment. – Lyn

  5. Hi Gordon and Ann, The cherry or strawberry guava is normally an undemanding shrub regarding soil, position, pruning and fertiliser and is also resistant to most diseases and pests (except for fruit fly). Cherry guava grown from seedlings may produce non-edible fruit or erratic fruiting because there is no way to control the results of fruit plants grown from seed. Grafted trees are grown from stock from productive plants. Another possibility is that there is some obstruction to water conduction within parts of the plants but guavas are normally resistant to these types of diseases.
    Are there any symptoms of unhealthy growth in the leaves or twigs of the affected plants? Have you cut open the fruit or stems that have produced the affected fruit to look for discolouration? As you haven’t advised whether your shrubs are grafted or seed stock, given any other symptoms, or given any information on cultivation, irrigation or fertilising that may provide clues, it is difficult to get a precise diagnosis of the cause of your problem.

  6. We live on Atherton tablelands North Qld. We have been having trouble with our cherry Guavas for years now, they produce heaps of fruit which stay very small and very brown and hard only an odd branch gets usable fruit on it. Have tried heavy pruning without success. Can you make any suggestions..

  7. Can you please tell me the reason why our fruit is hard and woody?
    Our tree is only not quite 3 years old. We have had really good fruit off it up until 12 months ago. I did put Dynamic Lifter for fruit trees on the tree. It seems now we have this problem. Can you help? Thank you.

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