How to Grow a Sugar Apple Tree

by Brian Barth

Sugar apples (Annona squamosa) are one of the most delectable tropical fruits that can be grown at home. They are easily grown in the humid, frost-free areas in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 10 to 12, including Hawaii, southern Florida and possibly southern California, though the trees do not produce well in arid conditions. Tree can reach 15 to 20 feet in height and width, so select an appropriate site where it can grow freely to these dimensions or plan to prune the tree to keep it smaller.

1. Planting

1 Choose a planting area in full sun and with good drainage and wind protection. Avoid areas where water collects after a rain.

2. Planting

2 Dig a hole three times the size of the root ball in both depth and width. Backfill a portion of the excavated soil until it is at a level that allows the top of the roots to be even with or slightly above the surrounding soil level once planted.

3. Planting

3 Remove the tree from its pot and place it into the planting hole to check the level of the roots compared to the surrounding soil level. Gently loosen the roots on the outside of the root ball. Make sure the trunk is straight.

4. Planting

4 Refill the hole, being sure to cover the entire root ball, but do not pile soil up against the trunk of the tree. Break up any heavy clods and tamp the soil firmly around the roots by hand.

5. Planting

5 Water immediately and repeat until there are no air bubbles percolating up from the loosened soil.

6. Planting

6 Spread a 2-inch layer of compost over the planting area and add another 2 inches of mulch on top. Leave a 12-inch-diameter area around the trunk free of compost and mulch to reduce the chance of fungal disease in the root crown.

7. Care

1 Fertilize young trees with a complete, balanced fertilizer every 6 to 8 weeks during the growing season. A balanced fertilizer means the three numbers on the container are equal -- for example, 6-6-6 or 10-10-10.

8. Care

2 Water deeply once each week unless there has been a soaking rain. Irrigation should begin when flowers emerge in spring and should continue until the fruit has been harvested in fall. Winter irrigation is not necessary.

9. Care

3 Maintain a grass-free area of at least 5 feet in diameter around the trunk of the tree to prevent competition for moisture and nutrients.

Items you will need

  • Spade shovel
  • Compost
  • Mulch

Tips

  • Planting against the south wall of a house is a good idea in USDA zone 10, where temperatures occasionally dip into the lower 30s.
  • The amount and quality of fruit may be limited by poor pollination. Sugar apple trees lack the appropriate pollinating insects in North American landscapes. If fruiting is poor, consult with a professional arborist for help in hand-pollinating the flowers in spring.