Few can compare to the sweet and juicy guava when it comes to tropical fruit. But do you know you can grow them in your home garden? Here, we'll explore the difference between guava and guayaba, how to grow them, and where to buy them in the US and UK.
Basics on Guava
The guava is a tropical fruit that belongs to the myrtle (Myrtaceae) family. The small, round fruit has a thick green skin and pink flesh and is a popular ingredient in many tropical dishes and desserts. It is also often enjoyed on its own.
The popularity of this juicy fruit is immense, and it is widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions throughout the world. Scientifically known as Psidium guajava, guava is native to Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and northern South America.
The plant has quadrangular branchlets with oval to oblong leaves about 7.6 cm (3") in length. It features four-petaled white flowers about 2.5 cm (1") broad. The round or pear-shaped fruit can measure up to 7.6 cm (3") in diameter.
It is rich in vitamins A, B, and C and is commonly used in making many medicines. This delicious fruit is a popular choice among fruit lovers worldwide. So what about the guayaba?
Difference between Guava and Guayaba
Essentially, there's no difference between guava and guayaba, as these words point to the same fruit! The terms are often used interchangeably, hence the confusion.
The only difference that lies here is phonetics. Guava is the English term, while guayaba is the Spanish term for the same fruit. It is a derivative of the Spanish word "guayabo," which is the original word for the guava tree.
Brief History of Guava/Guayaba
The origin of the fruit is a little cloudy. Still, as per archeological evidence, guava has been in cultivation since around 2500 BC. It is believed that guava was first grown in Mexico and then spread to Central America, the Caribbean, and South America.
Other popular beliefs suggest that the Arawak Indians were the first people to cultivate the fruit. The term guayaba is derived from the Arawak word for guava, which further supports this hypothesis.
Spanish and Portuguese explorers are also held responsible for the spread of guava fruit to various regions of the globe. It is a common belief that around the 16th century, they spread the fruit to Europe, the Philippines, and other Asian countries.
Over the years, guava has become a popular fruit in many parts of the world and is extensively grown in tropical and subtropical regions. India is the leading producer of guava, followed by China, the Philippines, Mexico, Nigeria, Bangladesh, and Indonesia.
How is Guava Different From Guanabana?
Guanabana is a different fruit that belongs to the same family as guava, but its scientific name is Annona muricata. Commonly known as Soursop, it is native to the Caribbean, Central America, South America, and India but it's not very widely cultivated.
The fruit is large, green, or yellow in color, and has white flesh with black seeds. It has a sour taste and is often used to make drinks and ice creams.
Guanabana looks like a cactus from the outside, shaped like a pineapple with large green leaves and spikes all over it. The inside, however, is white with black seeds. It tastes like a cross between a strawberry and a pineapple with a hint of mint.
How to Grow Guava/Guayaba?
You can enjoy guava's true essence and nutrition even when you grow it in your own home. We'll cover everything you need to know about growing this delightful fruit right at home in this segment.
First, it's essential that the plant grows in favorable environmental conditions as guavas are sensitive to cold. Since they hail from tropical and subtropical regions, they will thrive in areas that mimic that setting. You need to make sure it grows in moderately warm and humid conditions.
Soil and Sun
Guavas need USDA zones of 8 to 11 and soil with a pH ranging between 4.5 and 7.0. for best results. They prefer full sun, but it's best to grow them indoors if you live in a cold region.
Guava trees are drought-tolerant, but they will produce more fruit if you water them regularly. The ideal watering frequency should be at weekly intervals or when the topsoil gets dry during the summer. However, make sure you don't overwater them as they are susceptible to root rot.
Propagating Guava Trees
Guava trees can be propagated via three methods: seed, grafting, or air layering. Let's explore the different methods of propagating guava plants.
- Seed Propagation: This is the most common and easy method of propagating guava trees. You can use both fresh as well as dry seeds for this purpose. The only thing you need to ensure is that the seeds are of good quality and have high germination rates. They typically take 2 to 3 weeks to germinate but can also go up to 8 weeks. To increase the germination speed, you can let the seeds sit in water for two weeks or boil them for five minutes.
- Grafting Propagation: Grafting is another standard guava propagation method used by commercial growers as it helps them produce uniform trees. The process involves taking a graft or scion from the desired tree and attaching it to the rootstock of another plant. Once it takes, you can then cut away the rootstock above the point of attachment.
- Air Layering Propagation: Air layering is similar to grafting, except, in this case, you don't have to remove the rootstock. This makes it a lot easier and is ideal for propagation if you want to grow a guava tree from a cutting. The process required you to bend the lower branches, still attached to the plant, and cover them with soil. You will need to keep the soil a little damp, and in a few weeks, the branch will have produced roots.
Spacing of plants
While planting guava trees, make sure to space them out at least 20 feet (6 meters) apart as they can grow quite large. Also, if you want to grow them in containers, choose one that's at least 18 inches (46cm) deep and wide.
Pests and Diseases
The guava plant is prone to various pests and diseases. Some include aphids, fruit flies, whiteflies, scale insects, and fruit borers. As for diseases, the most common ones are leaf spot, fruit rot, blossom end rot, and fungal infections. It is suggested to use less toxic methods to get rid of infestation and diseases.
Since guava trees are heavy feeders, you need to fertilize them every month during the growing season. It's best to use a balanced fertilizer; however, organic alternatives like compost or manure will do fine.
Where To Buy Guava?
If you don't have the patience to grow guava or gardening doesn't interest you, you can just buy the fruit.
Guavas are a tropical fruit; hence, they are not generally found in North America. That said, you can find them in the tropical United States regions, including the Virgin Islands, Hawaii, and Florida. Apart from there, a few sheltered areas in California and Texas have their share of guava production.
If you reside in metropolitan areas of the US, you can easily find them in departmental/grocery stores like Target, Aldi, Kroger, etc. There's also a possibility of getting them from local vendors.
It will be more challenging to find them if you live in smaller areas without these stores. You can also buy them online, and you can get them with online grocery delivery services like Amazon Fresh, Instacart, Walmart Grocery, etc.
Turning to the UK, guava is not a native fruit but is found in semi-tropical regions such as Cornwall. You can find fresh guavas in most big supermarkets and grocery stores like Sainsbury's, Waitrose, Tesco, Asda, Morrisons, etc. If you want to buy them online, Amazon UK is a good option.
What Guava Products Can You Buy?
If you want something different than the fruit, you always go for guava products. There are plenty of them, and you can easily find them in your local stores. Some of these include:
- Guava Jam
- Guava Juice
- Guava Jelly
- Guava Paste
- Guava Cheese
- Guava Tea
- Guava Soap
- Guava Shampoo
- Guava Lotion
- Guava Beverages
You can also find plenty of recipes that use guava as an ingredient. So, if you're looking for something different, you can go for that as well.
Guava is a delicious fruit with plenty of health benefits. It also has an exciting history that we covered in the above article. We also explained how you can grow them in your home garden and mentioned places to buy them.
Now that you know all about guava, it's time to try and grow some yourself!