Cherimoya is the fruit of the tropical evergreen tree commonly known as Chirimoya (Annona cherimola), native to South America, but quickly naturalized across the world in other tropical and subtropical regions, it has become quite legendary. In this article we will discuss how to propagate, grow cherimoya and its care.
- Common name: Apple Cinnamon
- Botanical name: annona cherimola
- Family: Annonaceae
- Plant type: tropical evergreen
- adult size: 30 feet high, 30 feet wide
- Sun exposure: full sun
- Soil type: Loamy soil rich in compost
- Soil pH: 6.5 to 7.6
- Flowering period: spring summer
- Flower color: Green, Pink
Ideal location for growing cherimoya
Cherimoyas need a sunny location and adapt to almost any type of soil as long as it is well drained.
The plant likes the sea air and cool nights. In hot climates, trees tend to get sunburned when growing on arid slopes and against walls.
In cooler regions, cherimoyas benefit from heat reflected from a wall, which speeds up budding and helps the fruit ripen.
Strong winds can damage the tree and prevent pollen from settling on receptive flowers.
The cinnamon apple is a bit particular in its temperature requirements. Areas with extreme heat, extreme cold, or humidity are not good places to grow cinnamon apple.
The ideal temperature range for the tree is between 18 and 26 degrees C in summer and 0 and 12 C in winter. Strong winds can interfere with the pollination process.
Custard apple propagation
Soaking the seeds in a pot of water for one to four days softens the seed coat and hastens germination. It also helps to separate the good from the bad: the bad float on the surface of the water while the good sinks to the bottom.
Sow the seeds directly into the garden soil in the spring at a depth of about 2 cm, cover them with soil and immediately water abundantly.
Planting several seeds a few centimeters apart allows you to choose the strongest seedlings and remove the inferior ones when they are 30 centimeters high. If you are growing more than one tree, space them 7 meters apart.
Cuttings generally produce sturdier trees and superior fruit than those obtained from seed, but they are difficult to root. The ideal time to take cuttings of the custard apple is winter, when the tree is dormant.
Take cuttings of mature wood that measure between 15 and 30 centimeters. Make a cross cut at the base just below a node to promote strong roots. Remove all the leaves but leave a few at the tip.
Use a pot deep enough to hold the cutting and bury it about 5cm deep. Water immediately and make sure the soil never dries out but is not waterlogged either.
Leave the pot with the cuttings in a place protected from the cold and where it receives sunlight but not direct, at least until you see new leaves starting to grow. If everything went well, you can transplant them in the spring.
For best results, you can cover the cuttings with transparent nylon, this will create an ideal microclimate.
Custard apple care
If you are lucky enough to live in an area that supports cherimoya, you can plant by grafting or direct seedbed knowing that fruiting will not occur until 3-5 years after maturity.
Patience is always a virtue when planting fruit trees. If you want fruit, you will have to learn how to pollinate its flowers by hand. The beetle that is known to pollinate cherimoya is not found everywhere, so hand pollination is the way to go.
You will collect and disperse the pollen with an old brush. The custard apple is monoecious, that is, it has both male and female flowers. The first step is to collect the pollen from the anthers of the male flowers and scatter it over the open female flowers.
Sometimes the male and female flowers do not open at the same time. If so, collect the pollen and store it in an airtight, airtight container in the refrigerator and pollinate the female flowers when they open.
Repeat the process often while the tree is in bloom to ensure pollination, and you’ll be enjoying the fruits of your labor in no time.
The cherimoya needs full sun, but tends to scorch its leaves. To avoid this, consider placing your tree in a location where it will receive a good amount of sun in the morning followed by shade in the afternoon.
Soil and compost
It is a good idea to test the soil before planting the tree. Custard apple likes rich, clay soils with good drainage and a pH between 6.5 and 7.6.
Adding a good compost or manure can help increase the richness of the soil, and amending it with perlite or sand can increase the soil’s ability to drain water.
During the growing season, it is good to fertilize the plant often. Every three months is about right, with a 10-10-10 general purpose fertilizer on the drip line.
While the tree is in its growing season, you will want to keep the custard apple soil moist but not wet.
Cherimoyas are susceptible to root rot if the soil remains soggy, so avoid overwatering.
In summer, water it once or twice a week and in winter about every two weeks.
temperature and humidity
Although the cherimoya is a tropical tree, it does not like hot, dry climates, preferring the cool summers that occur on the coasts.
If custard apple is to be grown for fruit, it should be planted in an area that cools during winter to allow fruit set.
It may also be interesting to read: How to grow a Gayabas tree and its care.
It will not bear fruit if it does not spend between 50 and 100 hours below 6 degrees but above -3 degrees. The tree will suffer damage with temperatures below 3 degrees below zero.
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