You may have seen jackfruit at one point or another at your local Asian grocer, but these spiny fruits are not really popular in North America. Related to breadfruit, jackfruit is a giant spiny fruit that is native to Asia and other tropical regions. Also called the jack tree, it can grow up to 80 feet tall, so if you’re curious about how to grow jackfruit, you first need to make sure you have enough space! A jackfruit weighs on average about 35 pounds (the largest fruits in the world, of ANY tree!), has a very thick, rubbery rind, and also has up to 500 seeds. But, the fruit can grow to 120 lbs in weight, and 35 inches long. Depending on who you ask, jackfruit can smell like a combination of grapefruit and bananas, OR can have a really nasty smell like rotting onions and gym socks! Keep reading to find out more about how to grow jackfruit.
The jackfruit (artocarpus heterophyllus) is part of the mulberry, fig, and breadfruit family. It originated from southern India and the rain forests of Malaysia. The tree prefers to grow in tropical lowlands, and is now widely cultivated in most tropical regions of the world. Because of the fruit’s meaty consistency, the ripe, immature fruit, is often used as a meat substitute for vegans and vegetarians. The fully ripe fruit is much sweeter and is often used in deserts.
Traditionally, jackfruit is used in South and Southeast Asian cuisines where both the ripe and the unripe fruit is consumed. These large fruits are also very healthy and are rich in vitamin B6, vitamin C, and potassium.
How to Grow Jackfruit
In order to grow jackfruit, you need to live in a tropical or subtropical climate. Jackfruit will only thrive in hot areas. Those that live in USDA zones 10-12 can grow the jackfruit tree.
- Plant jackfruit seeds in rich, deep, and somewhat porous soil.
- You can purchase jackfruit seeds at your local nursery or your local Asian markets. Additionally, seeds are also available for purchase online.
- If you have a ripe fruit, you can also harvest the seeds directly from the jackfruit. Do to this, rinse the seeds in warm water to remove any pulp. Allow the seeds to soak in lukewarm water for 24 hours. This will speed up the germination process.
- Fill a pot with potting mix and make sure there are drainage holes. Plant about 3 seeds 1 inch deep into the soil. Make sure seeds are evenly spaced.
- Soil must be moist at all times, but be careful, as they cannot stand wet roots. If your jackfruit tree receives too much water, it will dye completely.
- Keep the pot in a warm, sunny place where the plant can receive at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day.
- Germination should occur within a few weeks. Thin the jackfruit plant to one seedling after germination. You should choose the biggest and healthiest looking seedling.
- Once the plant has 3-4 true leaves, it may be transplanted outdoors.
- Keep the jackfruit tree away from high winds and other plants and keep the soil moist.
- Jackfruit will start bearing fruit within 3-4 years and will continue to give fruit for up to 100 years.
Caring for Jackfruit:
- Fertilize the tree in its growing stages with nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and magnesium. The young plants need fertilizer during this time.
- Apply these in a ration of 8:4:2:1 to 30 grams per tree at 6 months of age and double the amount every six months for up to two years.
- After two years, fertilize to a ratio of 4:2:4:1, 1kg per tree.
- Prune the jackfruit regularly for easier harvest.
- If temperatures drop below 35F (2C), mulch around the tree.
So now that you know how to grow jackfruit, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to planting!