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Best uses

Great for use as informal edible hedges and in orchards. Also good in coastal situations, as feijoas will tolerate coastal winds and dry soil.

Physical characteristics

A bushy, evergreen shrub to small tree that grows to around 4m tall by 4m, wide depending on pruning.

Flowers and foliage

Produces flowers with fleshy red and white petals and pronounced red stamens in summer, followed by ovoid green fruit in April-May. Leaves are leathery green above and grey-green below and ovate in shape. The fruit is large, long, mild, sweet and juicy.

Preferred site

Full sun well drained site, they are more drought tolerant than most fruit trees. However, if they get too hot and dry this will result in smaller fruit of poorer quality which may drop prematurely.

Preparation for planting

Always choose healthy, well-grown plants. Plant after autumn rains. Before planting ensure the root ball is saturated and remove the planter bag or pot with minimal root disturbance. Trim any broken roots or branches and plant at the same level as in the container. Dig a hole twice the diameter of the root plant to plant in. Make sure plants are watered well until established if planting in a drier period. Plant with some general slow-release fertiliser and then every spring apply an organic-based fertiliser such as blood and bone at a handful per square metre as new growth begins. For windy positions, staking may be required. Planting success is often improved on clay soils by adding extra topsoil and forming raised beds. Incorporate coarse sand, bark, peat, compost or other organic material to improve soil structure. If planting as a hedge, plant at intervals of 2-3m.

Maintenance tips

Apply mulch annually to help suppress weeds and conserve moisture. Feed annually in spring with a balanced fertiliser such as blood and bone at a handful per square metre in spring as new growth begins. Watering is usually necessary during dry summer months to keep the roots moist. Collect fallen fruit daily, if they are harvested from the tree too early they may not have had enough time for the fruit to sweeten. If they are harvested once on the ground then you know they are ready. Picking by gently cupping your hand below the fruit and tipping it can also be done, it will only fall if ripe and this way the fruit doesn't get bruised and therefore keeps longer. Pruning can be done after fruiting, in autumn. Most of the time trees will only require pruning to keep them a good shape and at a height where fruit can be reached. Plants grown as hedges can be clipped annually, but they won't produce much fruit as the fruiting tips of last years growth will often be pruned off.

Ecological and biodiversity benefits

Attracts beneficial insects to the garden.

Pests and diseases

Watch out for fruit infected with Guava moth larvae (little maggots), these should be destroyed as they ruin fruit and can spread to other fruiting trees. Scale insects may also be a problem as they then lead to sooty mould on lower branches. Native caterpillars can damage leaves and fruit but generally isn't worth worrying about.

Location at Auckland Botanic Gardens


Interesting facts and tips

Both the flowers and fruit of the feijoa are edible. Only feijoa cultivars 'Apollo' and 'Unique' are self-fertile. All other cultivars need a second plant to help with pollination. Without this, it will not produce fruit. However, as a lot of people have a feijoa tree in their backyard you may get away with only purchasing one tree.