I had a Century Guava (世紀芭樂) shipped over from Taiwan to zone 9 California. It is nearly 6 feet tall. I planted it in the biggest container that IKEA sold, 20 inches wide, 2 feet deep. I drilled many holes on the bottom and ensured that water drains out. While the nighttime temperature was below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, I kept the guava inside near a south facing porch door. When the nighttime temperature stabilized to 50 degrees, I moved it outside so that it would get 10 hours of sunlight everyday. Daytime temperatures are averaging 75 degrees. The lower leaves have been slowly becoming yellow. The yellow leaves are dropping slowly at the rate of 2 per week. There are no pests above ground level. However, there are many small black flies living underneath the mulch, which all my other potted plants have, but those flies seem innocuous to those other plants.

At first, I thought I was underwatering it. Although the upper leaves were big and green, they had a crispy feeling, as if it would snap in half if I bent it. I increased watering to 1 gallon twice a week, enough to make water drip out of the drainage holes. However, I think tropical guava leaves are naturally drier than other fruit trees. I visited a local nursery and also felt the same dry crispiness on their tropical guava.

I only put a tiny bit of slow-release tea leaf fertilizer that my florist gave me. I also put a tiny sprinkling of Job's 4-4-4 organic powder fertilizer. I was scared of root burn on a newly planted tree, so I just put a dash of each.

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It's supposed to bear fruit like the photo below. The flesh is white and crispy.

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  • what size pot was the tree supplied in? Or at least, how big was the rootball, or how much room was round the outside and below for the rootball in the pot you bought at Ikea? – Bamboo Apr 28 '14 at 12:12
  • @Bamboo The original pot was pretty darn small. It looked like a gallon. The roots were not well established. When I pulled the tree out of the original pot, only half the soil came up with it. I didn't see any roots circling about as I usually see from freshly bought plants from nurseries. When I transplanted it to my huge IKEA pot, I'd say the roots have a ton of room to grow. However, the canopy is already much wider than the pot. I couldn't find a bigger pot without busting my back or wallet on one of those $150 behemoth ceramic pleased pots. – JoJo Apr 28 '14 at 18:32

Okay, you say it was in a smaller pot and the roots hadn't filled that pot. I'm afraid putting it in a much larger pot was the worst thing you could have done if you wanted to keep the tree small. If the rootball that was present originally hadn't completely filled the pot, it would have been best to leave it in that pot until it actually needed repotting, then potted up one size, and again the following year until it ends up in the biggest pot you could find. Plants don't cope well in a pot that's much too large for them - the unoccupied planting medium tends to sour and the plant doesn't do well.

I think I'd be inclined to turn it out of the pot and check the roots, see how they're progressing and if its possible, repot into something more appropriately sized. The trouble is, you may find it now has fewer, longer roots all over the place, so you'll have to see. I'd also not use that bark topping if its encouraging fungus gnats or whatever you've got going on with the insects. Take the mulch out of the equation altogether - this will also mean the plant gets a chance to dry out a bit between waterings - they like to be well watered, but do like to dry out between waterings, not such that the compost shrinks from the side of the pot, but it should feel a bit dry to the touch when it wants watering again, and when you do water, water thoroughly.

If you repot into something smaller, I'd cut it back by a quarter or third to encourage new growth lower down the stems. As an aside, I had no idea IKEA is in the States, we have the same pots out front here in the UK - but I think you're going to need a larger one later on, at least 3 feet deep.

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    Can I un-sour the soil by putting in compost? I have a bag of this pre-made compost. Although the container is the biggest I could find at IKEA, the canopy is already 3 times wider than the container diameter. Wouldn't the roots want to grow as wide as the canopy? – JoJo May 2 '14 at 5:22
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    The point is not the compost, although you don't say what you potted it up in originally - the point is, whatever compost/potting medium you use, the plant needs to be in something that's just a little bit bigger than the original root ball each time you pot up, or whatever you've used is likely to sour. Considering this plant wants to get 16-20 feet minimum, finding a pot big enough to accommodate that size canopy isn't possible, so you will need to work out how to keep it smaller. – Bamboo May 2 '14 at 12:22
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    Bamboo is CORRECT! Unless you are planting in the ground, forget about canopy. One of the biggest mistakes people make is to plant a too-small plant in a too-big pot. Also, make sure all you use is soil in your pot, no rocks on the bottom! Use tiles or whatever to lift the bottom of your pot off the surface of the patio/deck for better drainage. Never use garden soil only potting soil for your pots. It is sterilized and now they even infuse the soil with bacteria and mychorrizae. Keep fertilizer separate. Extended release is best... – stormy May 6 '14 at 23:10

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