Fruitful Feijoa: Sonoma County Garden Doctors tell you how to make pineapple guava thrive

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Maria asks: I’ve had a Feijoa for ten years and it has never produced fruit. What could be the reason?

Pineapple guava, Feijoa sellowiana, frequently requires two plants to ensure cross-pollination. However, when given that “rule of thumb” one will often see a single pineapple guava tree that is loaded with fruit.

Feijoa sellowiana should be located in an area that receives full sun. Fertilize with a complete fertilizer, such as 15-15-15, in early spring and again in early summer. Follow the directions on the fertilizer package for the recommended amounts that correspond to the size of your shrub/small tree. Don’t forget to water before you fertilize; incorporate the fertilizer into the soil and thoroughly water again.

Prune BEFORE any flowers appear again (late spring).

Additional facts to consider when planting a Feijoa in the garden:

Requires little water once established.

Because of fruit drop, it is best to plant away from walkways.

It is very desirable to plant where it is easy to harvest and enjoy the fruit.

Mature growth is 18-20 feet high by 12 feet wide.

It can create a hedge/screen when planted in multiples.

It is a broadleaf evergreen that is fire resistant.

Deer resistant (most of the time).

Attracts birds and bees to its showy white flowers with its red stamens.

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Leah asks: What is the botanical difference between vegetables and fruit? Why are tomatoes and peppers considered fruit?

Peppers and tomatoes develop from a flower. Anything else that develops from a flower is a fruit. Vegetables, like turnips, radishes, and broccoli are examples of vegetables.

Now, botanically a fruit is a seed bearing structure that develops from the ovary of a flowering plant. Vegetables are all the other plant parts such as roots, leaves and stems.

The subject of fruit and vegetable differences is always a good conversation piece. Chefs and gardeners may disagree on the definition.

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What is the name of the invasive aquatic pondweed found growing in our local Laguna de Santa Rosa?

The botanical name is Ludwigia peploides. It is commonly called a floating primrose or creeping water primrose. It is native to the United States and is very invasive. For more information contact the Laguna de Santa Rosa Foundation.

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Barbara asks: What is the name of the bulb that is suddenly blooming even though the weather has been cold and rainy? It has white flowers with green spots on its petals and the blooms have a delicate drooping form.

The name is Leucojum aestivum, commonly called summer snowflake. It is from the Amaryllidaceae family, and the common name leads one to assume that it only blooms in the summer, but the plant can bloom in late fall through winter.

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Eduardo asks: Are luffa gourds easy to grow in our area?

Yes. The botanical name is Luffa aegyptiaca, or commonly called vegetable sponge, dishrag sponge, or bath sponge (as the common names suggest). It is fast growing 10 to 15 feet with cylindrical fruit that are 10 to 24 inches long. It requires a sturdy trellis for support.

Luffa needs rich soil, a sunny location, and fertilizer 5-10-5. Seeds are planted two to three weeks before the average last frost. Seeds should be planted one inch deep and two to three feet apart. The soil should be warm (think about the same time you would set out tomatoes).

The fibrous interior is dried out to obtain a semi-rough sponge.

Here is the process: The outer part starts to turn brown; they are picked and then immersed in water until their outer wall disintegrates. Next they are bleached in a solution of 1 cup of bleach to 5 cups of water, and then dried out in full sun.

Allow 90 days for plants to reach maturity from germination. Luffas were thought to have originated in tropical Asia and then reaching China in 600 ad.

One of vendors, Rene Kiff, at the Sunday Windsor farmer’s market sells Luffa during the latter part of the summer.

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Tip: Looking for a handsome easy care floribunda rose that has an AARS award and is disease resistant and fragrant?

Search out Easy Does It rose. It has luscious swirls of orangey-apricot to honey-pink ruffled petals and is 3 to 4 feet in height.

Dana Lozano and Gwen Kilchherr are garden consultants. Send your gardening questions to The Garden Doctors, at pdgardendoctor@gmail.com. The Garden Doctors can answer questions only through their column, which appears twice a month in the paper and at pressdemocrat.com.

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