Evergreen, Edible fruit, Shrubs, Trees
These tropical American natives, known botanically as Psidium, bear white, brushlike flowers that develop into round to pear-shaped fruits that mature from late summer into fall, though some may be produced year-round. Guavas are self-fruitful, but trees may yield a heavier crop with another variety of the same species to pollinate them. Grow best in rich soil. Plants thrive in full sun in mild coastal climates, partial shade in hot areas. Take pruning well; can be sheared into a hedge (but at expense of fruit).
Fruit is best picked when skin is fully colored. Good eaten fresh or used in jellies, purees, or juice drinks. Fresh guavas don’t store well, so use them right away.
Common or tropical guava (P. guajava). Zones 23, 24, H1, H2 (a weed in Hawaii, where it is choking out native species). Grows to 25 ft. tall and nearly as wide, with strongly veined leaves to 6 in. long. Yellow-skinned, 1–3-in.-wide fruit has white, pink, or yellow flesh and a musky, mildly acid flavor.
Strawberry guava (P. cattleianum). Zones 9 and 14 (sheltered locations), 15–24, H1, H2 (has naturalized throughout Hawaii but is less invasive than common guava). In Hawaii, it is usually grown as a single-trunked tree to 20 ft. tall and wide; in California, it is more often seen as a shrub to 8–10 ft. tall and wide. Especially beautiful reddish to golden brown bark. Leaves are bronze when new, maturing to glossy green. Fruit is dark red (nearly black when fully ripe), 1 1/2 in. wide, with white flesh and a sweet-tart, slightly resinous flavor. Yellow strawberry guava or lemon guava (P. cattleianum lucidum) differs in its more open, taller growth habit (to 30 ft. tall by 15 ft. wide in Hawaii), greenish gray to golden bark, and larger, yellow-skinned fruit.
For the plant known as pineapple guava, see Feijoa sellowiana.
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