Here’s an awesome woody plant that is typically not used properly in Arizona landscape design and is beautiful when left in its natural form, but since it is slow growing the application is often totally incorrect. The purpose of shearing in your Phoenix or Scottsdale landscaping was never meant to be a method of beating a huge shrub into submission to fit your space. Many times what you see as manicured could be ten times more lovely with proper plant selection and planting placement. One such shrub is the Feijoa sellowiana, also known as Pineapple Guava.
The Feijoa is naturally a large evergreen shrub that can be trained into a small ornamental tree with both single or multiple stems. It also is an excellent candidate for espalier, making it a great selection for softening sunny courtyard walls or privacy walls around the backyard. This handsome plant has many attributes most homeowners look for in the Arizona landscaping, the fact that it is evergreen and low maintenance is just the beginning or it’s strong points.
Since it will one day reach maturity at 15 feet tall and 15 feet wide in anyone’s Scottsdale landscaping, this isn’t a shrub that should be placed close to the curb or used as a foundation hedge… thats where the shearing abuse comes into play. Its hard not to be attracted to this plant with the gorgeous flowers and handsome foliage. The suggested uses in Arizona landscape design for the Feijoa are as a hedge or patio tree. Hedge meaning a large element, as in someday it will be a privacy screen. For most homeowners in a development, someday is not fast enough, making this not the right choice for that application either.
The best way to enjoy the true natural beauty of the Pineapple Guava is in tree form or espaliered along a masonry wall. As a tree it adds a strong not to the landscape with a shape that is unique and very sculptural. The multi-stemmed form has gracefully twisting branches and trunks. Hiding beneath the thick foliage of the sheared hedge plantings one sees about town is attractive trunks that when exposed will peel and add an accent of cinnamon not found in most plants we use in our desert landscaping, much like you find with older specimens of Crape Myrtles. As a tree, it is just the right size for the front yard landscaping or to take a prominent location in your patio bed areas. Take care not to plant it too close to the pool or sidewalk though, as the fruit falls to the ground when ripe in autumn.
The Pineapple Guava fruit is indeed edible and very tasty, as are the lovely pink and red fragrant flowers that precede them. The Pineapple Guava fruit is great out of hand. I do not eat the skin though some people do. The Feijoa sellowiana flowers are also both edible and fragrant. The fruit sweet pineapple flavor is great for snacking and matures to 3 inches long and the green skin takes on a reddish hue when it ripens.
Even here in your Arizona climate, the highly versatile Feijoa prefers full to part sun. While it is drought tolerant, you will want to water it once a week. The soil is the one thing that is very particular with this handsome Scottsdale landscaping plant. In calciferic soils it will be prone to a health issue known a chlorisis, which is easily corrected with amendments. Its a great all around plant for many spots in the yard when situated properly to enjoy its true natural beauty and desirable for many reasons whether just to admire it or to enjoy the sweet fruit it will provide in October-November. Oh yes, and its bright, scented blooms attract hummingbirds too.