Help me rescue a Jaboticaba tree please!!

harryhansenMarch 2, 2010

Hi, I acquired a very nice looking Jaboticaba tree, (well, it would be nice if it were healthy)

It's leaves are almost all dead and have fallen off, but it has started shooting out some new leaves.

The previous owner had it in a large pot (the tree is about 7 feet tall) and said it used to fruit a lot, but his wife got sick and he stopped watering it. Like I said, it was in a large pot, and must have only stayed alive from the rain.

I am afraid I don't really know what I am doing, and would be grateful for some advice.

I hope I have not done too much harm, by taking action before posting here.

Here's what I have done so far.

I brought it home, and dug a hole, took it out of it's pot and planted it. I have fairly decent soil but it retains a lot of water, so I have to be careful about not watering too much.

After planting it, I cut back most of the dead branches, but I left the ones that are shooting new leaves alone. I cut quite a bit off the tree, and I'm hoping I didn't harm it but stressing it out too much (first it was almost starved of water, then transplanted into the ground, and then a lot of it's branches were cut off!!

I also think I may have accidentally left a pocket of air right under the tree.. if I did, will this naturally compress? Will it cause a problem?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks so much


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I'm sure almost everyone on this list will have to google it, like I did, since I had never heard of it. Below is the CRFG page on growing them. It says they do not like salty air, which could be a problem in Hawaii. Maybe the prior owner kept it more sheltered?

Hopefully there will be someone here who is more familiar than I am and will have more than speculation to offer you.

Carla in Sac

Here is a link that might be useful: crfg jaboticaba

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 2:23AM
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Hi, thanks for your reply.. Actually these trees do very well in Hawaii.. The previous owner just neglected to water it, and it dried out pretty bad..

What is the rule of thumb? for any tree.. I heard of people pruning their perfectly healthy trees back so they take off almost all of the leaves and smaller branches when they transplant them from pot to the ground..

I took off all of the dead, dried out twigs and branches, but left the ones where new shoots were sprouting.. should I have taken off more?



    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 1:42PM
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Jaboticaba are pretty tough, I would think yours will be fine but I doubt that it wants soggy feet. I think they seem happier in slightly acidic and organic rich soil, but I've grown them in moderately mulched neutral poor sand in the ground. I had one in a 25 gallon pot (about that same 7 feet tall) that I moved 600 miles north bare-root in winter, wherein I had to trim it rather severely and then put into another pot where it sat at about 40-60 degrees for months in an unheated glassed porch. Not the best transplanting conditions at all but it survived fine and then when it went outside in spring it grew fine and I ate a few fruit. That was last year. It looks in reasonably fine shape now in its second winter of confinement.

BTW: after it has recovered fully, the secret to making a branch fruit well if it is balky is girdle it. DON'T remove a strip of bark but run a sharp knife around a branch at its base. This supposedly retains the manufactured plant sugars out in the branch. By whatever means, it does trigger fruiting. The thin cut will heal up later. Mine fruited decently before it was moved (i.e., when back in the subtropics). This spring will tell if it needs it in its new home.

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 2:36PM
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Thanks for your reply! I have heard they are pretty tough too.. I think once it comes back, it should not have too much trouble fruiting, as it was fruiting a lot before it was neglected.. But great advice with the girdling..

So, should I trim it back even more? Should I give it some fertilizer? What about the air pocket that I think I may have left underneath it. Do you think I need to dig it up and try to flatten out the underneath?

Thanks again
- Harry

    Bookmark   March 2, 2010 at 5:32PM
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I have a jaboticaba growing in a pot that I move from full sunlight to an indirect sunlight location kept at 45 - 60F during the winters. So far it has not fruited but has grown vigorously into a dense bush about 5 feet tall. This plant requires a lot of water and seems to do best when watered frequently and plentifully. When I have it in direct sun, I keep a tray under the pot holding a couple of inches of standing water. I once tried (unsuccessfully) to restore one that had failed because of insufficient watering; if I had to do it again I would be more aggressive about assuring regular water delivery to the roots.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 1:12AM
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Beeone(4 N. Wyo.)

A couple general thoughts regarding your questions since I know nothing about jaboticaba.

As to your pruning, you say you removed dead, dried wood. This would be the same as getting your hair cut. So, what was removed will not stress the plant. If you prune into living tissue, then you would need to consider information on how well the plant tolerates pruning. The link to the Calif. Rare Frui t Growers article suggests it can be pruned, but with its recent drouth stess, you might want to let it grow for a while to recover before pruning into live wood to make cosmetic changes or correct any structural problems. The transplanting itself should result in minimal stress if you didn't break up the root ball.

The possible air pocket underneath the tree is probably significant only to its size relative to the tree. Normally air pockets can be damaging to newly planted bare root tre es due to dessication of the roots. Since you planted a root ball, the danger to the roots would be at the exposed bottom of the rootball and the other 99% of the root ball shouldn't be at risk. If the pocket is relatively small compared to the size of the rootball, it shouldn't be of concern. Also, once you water the plant in well, the water will tend to move soil into the air pocket and the rootball will tend to sink into the soil underneath, closing the pocket. As a result, I don't think the air pocket would be of concern for more than a short time after planting and will disappear naturally in fairly short order.

Just my thoughts.

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 2:31AM
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Thanks for your advice! The tree seems to be doing okay.. there are no signs of wilting in the few new leaves it had. Unfortunately I did prune into the live wood, and quite a bit. When I said I removed the dead wood, I removed it all the way, meaning I cut into the live tissue. I also cut a couple of branches off that I thought were unnecessary. I really hope I didn't kill the tree :( I do tend to be a bit impatient, and excessive in most things I do. I couldn't wait to get the tree to look better! It was so unkempt looking and raggedy. It now looks very neatly pruned, and like I said, the existing leaves all seem to look fine.
How long do you think it would take to be sure it's going to be ok, or die? Would the leaves wilt straight away if I had hurt the tree too much?
Thanks so much again.
- Harry

    Bookmark   March 3, 2010 at 2:50AM
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Hi everyone. I just wanted to come back here to let you know my Jaboticaba tree survived, it's in the ground in my yard, and is very happy! It's been about 16 months since I rescued the tree.

It has been a slow recovery however, and because it grew from bare (no leaves at all) to sprouting leaves all over, it had a lot of young leaves which aphids love, so it was savagely attacked by aphids. I was able to deal with them and watch the tree make a full recovery. As of now, she's thick and bushy.

I know she was fruiting in the pot when the previous owner had her. I still have not seen any sign of flowers or fruit.

Can anyone please tell me if she'll fruit again soon? Is there some way I can induce her to fruit?

Thanks again for all of your wonderful advice!


    Bookmark   August 13, 2011 at 5:59AM
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I know this is a very very late reply...

Congratulation on the success of this plant! Wish I could see the before/after picture of your tree to see the transformation.

What you can do is to water Jobaticaba frequently than before. From the research I did on this plant, I learned that most people says that it needs a lot of watering to encourage to fruit. Have you mulch this tree? I would because it loves moist soil. Mulch it with good compost is my recommendation.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 2:58PM
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