Today we'll teach you how to plant guanabana trees from seed! If you've ever seen a soursop fruit, you know they are some of the most peculiar looking fruits, and that's one of the things that makes them so special. Sourop, or guanabana (Spanish) is a tree that produces spiny oblong fruits with a white, fleshy inside.
Annona muricata can grow from 25 to 30 feet in height and is widely grown in many cultures such as Mexico, the West Indies, South America, China, Australia, Africa, the Caribbean, and now, in southern parts of the United States. Naturally, guanabana trees cannot survive frost, and are entirely a tropical and subtropical plant. It has been used for thousands of years to treat a number of ailments from skin diseases to cancer.
The white fleshy part that is found inside the fruit is the edible fruit, and is often used to make yogurt, smoothies, and ice cream but can also be eaten raw. The taste can be compared to that of a combination of pineapple and banana as well as bubblegum for some people. The evergreen can reach to about 30 feet and needs plenty of space, sunlight, and warmth.
How to Grow Guanabana Trees
The guanabana tree is found mostly in tropical climates, therefore needs a very warm environment. Guanabana, or soursop, will successfully grow in USDA zones 10 through 13 OR in a warm and humid greenhouse. Gunabana trees cannot take temperatures below 30F (-1C), and will often dye if temperatures dip below that.
Soursop seeds should germinate within 15 to 30 days. Keep the seeds warm and moist during this germination time to ensure healthy and adequate growth.
Time to Harvest:
Depending on the soil, climate, and other factors such as fertilizer, your guanabana tree should start producing flowers and then fruits within 3-5 years.
Planting Guanabana Seeds
Unlike most fruit trees, soursop is acutally planted from seed.
- Take the seeds from a guanabana fruit and soak them in warm water overnight. The next day, plant them 1/2 inch deep in sterile seed-starting mix.
- Keep the soil constantly moist by spraying it with water. It should germinate within 2-4 weeks.
- If you are planting outdoors, it's best to wait until the tree is at least 6 months old.
- Once the soursop has germinated, make sure you keep it in a partially sunny location, a well drained soil, and protected from strong winds.
- Keep at least 20 feet from other trees or plants and mulch heavily with compost as soursop has shallow roots.
- Once trunk diameter reaches 1/2 to 3/4 inch, prune the tree back to 30 inches in height.
- Once new shoots begin, choose the most vertical shoot to be the central leader.
- After cutting off any other growth, leave the central shoot (the most vertical one) and force all other shoots into horizontal positions. You can do this by using clothespins or twine!
Feeding Your Guanabana Tree
- Feed your guanabana tree twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall.
- Give it 1/4 pound of organic fertilizer twice a year in the first year.
- In its second year and thereafter, feed it 1/2 pound of organic fertilizer twice a year.
- It is also recommended to renew the compost every year to keep the soil moist and get rid of weeds.
Maintaining Your Guanabana Tree
- During the tree's second year, cut back the central leader by about a third.
- Then, wait for new shoots to begin beneath the cut, choose the best of these shoots and force them outward. This will create a second tier of horizontal branches (as we described above).
- The soursop tree's yellow blossoms should give away within 3-5 years. Although it may seem like a long time, be patient as it is absolutely worth it, and once it starts flowering, it will keep on going constantly!
When to Pick the Soursop Fruit
The fruits are ready to pick once they loose their shine, turn from dark to a yellowish green, and the spines stand up. You should also feel the soursop fruit as it will be ready to consume once it is no longer hard, but rather squeezable.
After picking the soursop fruit, you may enjoy them within 5 or 6 days, after which they will start to deteriorate.
Make sure to remove the black seeds as they are toxic! Enjoy soursop by itself, in smoothies, yogurts, salads, sherberts, or drinks!
Your tree will keep producing fruits, so make sure you maintain it properly by fertilizing, keeping an eye out for overgrowth, and removing any weeds!