The cainito fruit tree (Chrysophyllum cainito), also known as star apple, is not really an apple tree at all. It is a tropical fruit tree that grows best in warm zones without frost and freeze. Possibly originating from Central America, it grows well throughout the tropical West Indies, the Pacific and Southeast Asia, and even thrives in Hawaii and parts of Florida. Read on to learn more about this interesting fruit tree.
All about Star Apples
– A tropical plant, Chrysophyllum cainito usually only grows in its native lands as well as Hawaii and southern Florida. If you live in zones 10-11, this tree may be the perfect fit for you. Unfortunately, it’s not suited for growing indoors.
– Full-grown trees can reach 25 feet or higher. With proper pruning, they can be trained to grow a bit smaller. The canopy is round and dense, making it an excellent source of shade.
– In late summer and fall, it produces cone-shaped clusters of purplish-white flowers. The harvest is ready by late winter or early spring. These trees are self-fruitful, meaning that they do not need a second tree to cross-pollinate.
– Cainito is said to have a distinctive aroma at night when it attracts nocturnal pollinators. The scent is alternately described as “earthy” or “unpleasant”. This lures in the right kind of insects to handle its pollination.
Requirements for growing Star Apples plants
– Planting Cainito
When planting your star apple, make sure it has a stable environment where it can thrive. If you give it the special care it needs as a young tree, you’ll be rewarded with delicious fruit!
– When to Plant
This species is commonly grown from seed, but can also be bought as saplings. If you purchase a sapling, choose one that’s healthy and young. It can be planted anytime from spring to fall, and even in the winter in the warmest regions.
– Where to Plant
Zones 10-11 have the right climate to grow this plant. It needs an outdoor location with little wind. Strong wind can strip the leaves and damage the plant, especially young saplings.
Choose a location that’s in full or partial sun. Cainito can be planted in a large, sturdy container as an ornamental, but won’t produce many fruits. If planted in the soil, they can be quite large and require lots of space.
How to Plant
Dig a hole as deep as the current root ball plus extra 20-40%, put in the hole organic matter, hummus and dried leaves and mix it with some soil, put the tree and loos little bit the root ball above the hole, plant the tree and cover it and don’t push the soil too much strong but not too much lightly because it won’t be stable, after this put mulch to keep moist on soil, put water, for the next two weeks put every day (better in the morning) , better to take that the tree will be stable, and if not support it with bamboo or a stick that it won’t fall.
– Light & Temperature
As a tropical plant, cainito needs full sun and heat. The temperature should always remain above 40° F. Anything colder may cause leaves to drop.
– Water & Humidity
After planting, water your baby tree at least every week for the first 6 months, and more if the soil dries out quickly. After that, you can water less frequently, but still deeply. Hold back on watering during late fall and early winter while the tree prepares to flower. Once it does bloom, frequent watering is required to boost fruit production.
Fertilize every other month for the first year of the tree’s life. After that, only fertilize once per season. A standard fruit tree fertilizer should work just fine for this plant.
Harvesting and Storing
Mature plants bear fruit from late winter to early summer. Fruits don’t fall off on their own very often, so it all has to be hand picked. Star apple fruit only ripens on the tree, so pick them when they’re ready!
When it’s ripe, the produce will be dull in color, slightly soft, and a little wrinkled. If the skin is shiny, it’s not quite ripe yet.
In one season, these trees can produce up to 150 pounds of fruit.
Star apples are best eaten when fresh but can be stored short-term. They refrigerate well for about 2-3 weeks. The cold air slows the ripening process, making the fruit last longer, but doesn’t stop it. Fruit that’s slightly unripe may not fully ripen if refrigerated.
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