One of the lesser known fruits that grow well here in South Carolina, the Pineapple Guava, Acca sellowiana, is a large, evergreen shrub in the Myrtle Family, Myrtaceae. Native to South America, it is becoming more popular within the nursery trade due to its excellent ornamental features. It is a relatively fast-growing shrub with beautiful bluish-green leaves and gorgeous flowers opening this month and eventually producing unique fruits which ripen in the late summer. The undersides of the leaves have a silvery look to them, and the stems contrast this well with its brownish-orange bark. If planted in full sun, these produce an abundance of flowers in spring that have white petals and dark red stamens in the center. These shrubs make excellent additions to most landscapes and tend to have few issues once established. This is also an ideal plant along the coast due to its moderate salt tolerance and semi-tropical appearance.
Pineapple Guavas are easy to grow throughout the state but can be damaged by frost in the upstate. They prefer well-drained soils and plenty of sun. They are tolerant of some shade if fruit is not as much of a concern. Though not heavy feeders, it may be necessary to fertilize them for the first few years after planting to ensure good growth and development; after this, fertilizer is rarely needed unless a soil test indicates it. As a large shrub, Pineapple Guavas can grow up to fifteen feet depending on pruning and possible frosts. Usually grown as a shrub, it makes an excellent evergreen hedge that produces dense foliage if pruned consistently but can become rather loose as it grows. The best time to prune and shape Pineapple Guavas is late winter, like most summer flowering shrubs though you can really prune at any time as flowers are produced on the current year’s growth. Both the flowers and the fruit are enjoyable to eat, with the flowers tasting of marshmallows.
For more information on growing Pineapple Guavas, visit https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/publication/st249 or reach out to your local extension agent.