Feijoa in Zone 8a

KendraSchmidtSeptember 21, 2012

I would like to grow Feijoa in my Zone 8a climate.

I'm wondering if that's possible, if I did it in a pot and wanted to leave the pot outside during the winters, possibly next to the building where it's warmest, on the south side?

If not, can I do it outside in the ground in a zone 8a environment? I can't have it next to the building if i put it in the ground, but I CAN leave it at least on the southside...it just wouldn't be next to the building.

And last, it can be cloudy where I live. How much sun and superhot days does a Feijoa need to fruit?

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I only have experience growing feijoa in an indoor/outdoor pot situation in my colder climate, but based on what I've read, it should do fine outside in your zone, supposedly surviving down to 5degF.

Feijoa also grows well in partial shade, and does not like a lot of heat during certain growth periods. The challenging thing for you might be getting fruit, since the flower buds are apparently killed by temps in the teens. Also you need to consider pollination: I never got fruit from my supposedly self-fertile potted plant (variety Nazemetz) despite hundreds of flowers. I question whether any feijoa varieties are truly self-fertile in all cases.

I would choose planting in the ground over planting in a pot, since you typically lose a zone of hardiness in a pot due to the roots being closer to the cold air instead of tucked into the cozy earth. Also, potted plants require regular repotting, root pruning, etc... which is just more work.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 2:30PM
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Thank you Fabaceae, I'm growing the tree for fruit purposes, only, so maybe it's better if I keep it in a pot and take it out at the last frost? It's just that if I do that, the summer season for me is not very long.

I'd love to keep it in the ground if possible, but I'm worried about it not fruiting especially. How much time does a Feijoa need outdoors to develop fruit?

I appreciate any help you can offer GW'rs.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 5:27PM
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I wish I knew what locale you are in, zone 8a occurs in a lot of different climates.

The feijoa will survive fine in zone 8a minimum temperatures of 10-15 degrees. It will lose some leaves weeks after 25-degrees and most leaves after temps in the teens. Mulch heavily during winter for the first two years if a big chill is expected.

Agree with fab...native to plant this in the ground. The plant does not need heat to fruit; desert and other southern plantings are mostly for foliage and flowers. Good fruiting reported in coastal California and western Oregon; Seattle not as successful, perhaps too cool there.

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 11:08PM
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pokeberry(z7 GA)

I grow them in zone 7 (Dahlonega Georgia) but I have them planted next to our shop on the south side where the north west winds does not hit them. kind of like growing figs up north.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2012 at 4:29PM
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I grow them in zone 7b (Raleigh, NC) without any problems. If the weather calls for strong winds with below freezing temps I wrap them with Remay or frost cloth because their leaves will burn when it gets that cold and windy but even if they do the bushes regrow just fine the next Spring.

I have one planted up near the wall of the house in a flowerbed and six of them planted in a row out in the wide open. All of them do fine for me.

I have to hand pollinate in order to get fruit, even though my yard is full of bees and all of them are active during spring bloom. Even with hand pollination and a bee hive I do not get but maybe 6 fruits per bush.

    Bookmark   November 7, 2012 at 12:40PM
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In central South Carolina, after probably 15 years (or more) of growing just fine in 25-gallon pots (outside all year, but with excellent air drainage), I finally got a reasonable amount of fruit to taste this year. I have semi-ignored them in disappointment for years but will now pay more attention to them.

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 11:00AM
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What is air drainage, had the plants been blooming every year, and how large have they gotten in the 25-gallon pots?

    Bookmark   November 11, 2012 at 10:27PM
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feijoas(New Zealand)

Feijoa are bird pollinated in NZ; it's recommended to prune 'so a blackbird can fly through' for good pollination.
I find supposedly self-fertile cultivars aren't usually very productive on their own, and they really need to cross-pollinate for a good crop.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 2:15AM
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I've always wondered about that bird pollination. What do the birds want with the feijoa plant? Are they pecking at the flower petals? In nearly 20 years, I have never flushed any bird out of the feijoa bush or seen any bird poop on a leaf or under the bush. Otherwise, the yard is full of birds. My particular bush does not make a good bird perch.

    Bookmark   November 13, 2012 at 11:39PM
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Bird pollination is dependent on particular species (that we obviously don't have for feijoa in the PNW but they do have in NZ), just the same way you won't see hummingbirds at your nectar feeder in Europe.

Also, it can take birds many years to develop a taste for something new.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 10:06AM
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feijoas(New Zealand)

The main pollinators seem to be what we call 'blackbirds', which originate in Europe, while feijoas come from South America.
I'm not sure what attracts the birds, but the sepals are very sweet and I wouldn't be surprised if the birds eat those and move the pollen around while they're at it.

    Bookmark   November 14, 2012 at 3:30PM
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That's very interesting feijoas. Obviously a non-native bird is a very adaptable species open to taking advantage of a new food source. I knew that feijoas were from South America, but I also know that they are very commonly grown in New Zealand, maybe more there than anywhere else, and for many years as well. They really have not caught on here it seems...

p.s. I think what they call 'blackbirds' in Europe are in the thrush family, and look like what we call 'robins' here (European 'robins' are small birds related to warblers), except all black.

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 2:23PM
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Bur do commercial feijoa growers rely on these birds, as many other crops do on bees, or do the growers use other methods or rely on natural wind pollination between multiple cultivars?

    Bookmark   November 15, 2012 at 11:25PM
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feijoas(New Zealand)

Apologies to the OP for the extended hijack!
My family grows feijoas commercially, and they get good pollination by:
growing different cultivars in alternating blocks
encouraging birds by heavy pruning
using heavy chipped tree mulch for maintaining moisture, which stops blossom/fruit drop
it also breeds millions of worms, which blackbirds and thrushes adore...
they come for the worms, more than the feijoas.
I'm pretty sure wind, small birds and insects are poor pollinators at best.

    Bookmark   November 16, 2012 at 11:01PM
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skyjs(z8 OR, USA)

Mine mature well in Portland. I did have a variety that ripened in December here instead of November. Then we got to 15 in late November. No fruit off that plant that year. I agree with Larry Gene: Seattle-not enough sun, OR-WA coast not enough sun. Even in Portland, it better be in full sun. In ground better than in pot. I hand pollinate to get a lot of fruit. Since I transplanted a mature plant, not much fruit. I'm going to try to grow another seedling off of my fruit. FLowers are beautiful and very yummy. Native bird in Brazil eats the flowers, which don't affect pollination. Then it's tail feathers pollinate the fruit.
John S

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 1:15AM
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"What is air drainage, had the plants been blooming every year, and how large have they gotten in the 25-gallon pots?"

Steep slope, where the coldest air can drain away.

Been blooming for many years.

About 6-8 feet.

    Bookmark   November 18, 2012 at 9:24AM
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Thanks, my mind didn't register air drainage in the context of a potted plant, but I get it now.

Your plants are certainly large enough to fruit.
Glad to hear of other successful plantings in Portland, although we are not entirely trouble free: Recent heavy rain and high humidity at 60 degrees temperature has caused more blossom-end rot than normal on my fruits.
Just gave some fruit to a neighbor who lived in New Zealand for a year, so I didn't have to explain anything to him!

    Bookmark   November 19, 2012 at 11:31PM
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