The guyabano tree, or soursop tree, is a low-branching, bushy fruit tree that is native to the West Indies and northern South America. Also referred to as the guanabana and huanaba, this tropical evergreen produces glossy, dark green foliage and blooms pale yellow flowers on its twigs, as well as on its branches and trunk. Its large, heavy fruit is a heart-shaped syncarp with an aromatic pulp and cream color. A truly tropical tree, the guyabano requires ideal temperatures and care for successful growth and fruiting.
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Grow your guyabano tree in a warm, sunny location that is free of frost and cool drafts. Choose a southern location that provides protection from high winds while providing at least 10 hours of full sunlight. Ensure that you choose a location with well-drained, nutrient-rich soils.
Plant multiple guyabano trees at least 12 feet apart to allow ample room for growth and development. Dig a planting hole that is just slightly larger than the width and depth of the root ball. Fill the hole to the top, before planting the tree, with tepid water. Position the soursop tree in the center of the hole and backfill the hole so that the planting surface is slightly elevated from the surrounding surface.
Irrigate the guyabano tree deeply and infrequently to maintain a slightly dry soil. Increase watering during the hot, dry summer periods to prevent the complete drying of the soil.
Line the base of the guyabana tree with a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch. Keep the mulch at least 1 foot from the base of the trunk to prevent trunk rot and extend the mulch under the entire canopy of the tree. Replenish the mulch throughout the growing season to maintain a constant, protective layer.
Feed your soursop tree regularly throughout the growing season. Use a well-balanced, slow-release fertilizer such as an 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 combination. Apply the fertilizer monthly at a rate of about 1 to 2 lb. of feed per tree.
Allow the young guyabana tree at least three to five years to develop its first set of fruit. Expect continuous fruit development from this evergreen tree after the first fruits are produced.
Harvest the guyabana fruit when it becomes firm and displays a slightly yellow-green complexion. Handle with care as it bruises easily. Store the fruit in a cool, dry environment, such as a refrigerator or cool cabinet. Use the fruit within one week of harvesting for best results.