How to prune a cherimoya tree

Cherimoya Tree Growing and Plant Care Guide – Good Life Vibez

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What Is a Cherimoya Tree:

This exotic fruit tree is a tropical plant but can be grown in USDA zone 10, 11, and sometimes even zone 9. Cherimoyas originated from Peru. This fruit is also known as the custard apple or the mountain custard.

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Cherimoya tree Care & Maintenance:

Cherimoya trees grow best in rich, well-drained soil high in organic matter. They like the full sun; however, they can tolerate partial shade. Cherimoya plants start off as small shrubs and then grow into tall trees. The leaves are large and dark green, with spiny teeth along the edges of each leaf.

Each tree produces a lot of fruit and will produce for many years. Cherimoyas only need to be fertilized once or twice a year when new growth begins in late spring or early summer. It is important to keep the roots dry during the growing season, but do not let them become too dry during the winter months when the plant is dormant.

Light Requirements:

Cherimoyas like a lot of light; if you can’t give them that, at least six hours per day, try moving the plant to a sunnier location for best results. Lack of light will produce small, sour fruit.  Too much light can also cause problems: its leaves will burn and may drop off in large numbers.

The fruit needs about ten or more hours of sunlight each day to ripen properly.

If your cherimoya is not getting enough sunlight, it will be hard to tell when they are ready to eat because the skin will still be green and unripe looking even though they have turned soft inside.

You might just miss out on all that deliciousness! If your plant gets too much light, it may drop many of its leaves.

Water Requirements:

Like most plants, cherimoyas like to stay slightly moist but not too wet. When the soil is dry, the leaves droop and will turn brown if they get too much sun.

Cherimoya trees need watering once or twice a week in summer and every 5 to 7 days during winter.

You want to keep water off of the trunk so that it doesn’t rot; instead, water around the perimeter of their canopy or drip-irrigate them. Make sure you are providing enough drainage for your cherimoya tree by adding about 3 inches of organic mulch or pebbles so that there is room for excess water to drain away from the roots.

Soil Requirements:

Cherimoya trees grow best in rich, well-drained soil high in organic matter. They like the full sun; however, they can tolerate partial shade. Cherimoya plants start off as small shrubs and then grow into tall trees.

You want your cherimoya to be able to keep their roots cool and not get waterlogged or too dry.

They don’t do well if their roots are constantly being disturbed from digging and it is preferable to plant them where they will stay put for a while.

Temperature and Humidity Requirements:

Cherimoyas are subtropical plants and do not do well in extremely hot, dry weather. They need a constant temperature of about 60 to 75 F with night temperatures 10 degrees cooler. Like most tropical plants, cherimoyas hate the cold so make sure you give them plenty of heat if you want to keep them healthy year-round.

When choosing a location for your tree, remember that they prefer full sun but can tolerate partial shade as long as there is enough light to produce fruit.

Cherimoya trees are easy to grow outdoors because of their adaptability. Do not forget to plant them in areas with good drainage; otherwise, the roots will rot, and they will die quickly.

Fertilizer & Nutrients:

Cherimoyas have very nutrient-poor soil, so they do need fertilization to thrive. Fertilize them once or twice each growing season with a balanced fertilizer like 12-12-12, when new growth begins in late spring or early summer. A good all-purpose slow-acting fertilizer will also work for about three years before it needs to be reapplied.

You can also use composted manure as a mulch and then spread 1 cup of fish emulsion per year on the ground around the plant or drip feed them with fish emulsion mixed into the water at one tablespoon per gallon.

If you feed your cherimoya during the winter, make sure they don’t get too much nitrogen so that their leaves don’t turn yellow.

Potting and repotting Requirements:

You don’t need to repot cherimoyas yearly because they do not get much larger in one season. If you have a containerized plant that outgrows its soil, move it into a larger pot or add more compost to the planting bed when transplanting it.

Your cherimoya tree will live up to 35 years outdoors but indoor plants usually only survive 3 – 5 years before they start dropping leaves and die due to low light, dry air, and temperatures too hot for them.

Pruning Requirements:

When your cherimoya starts producing fruit on its branches, you can cut off any extra ones that touch the ground. Cherimoyas produce new branches from their trunks as well so if yours comes up with a lot of growth from the base, you can prune that off to keep your tree looking tidy.

Cherimoyas are deciduous and lose their leaves in about 6 months; it is best to prune them while their leaves are still attached since they have fine thorns on them.  

Thrips can be a problem for cherimoyas (and other fruit trees) so make sure you get rid of any infected parts as soon as you see them.

Winter Pruning Requirements:  If your cherimoya loses its leaves in winter, cutting some branches back will let light into the center of the plant and encourage new fruiting wood to grow. If they stay around 2 feet long

Cherimoya Tree Propagation info:

The easiest way to propagate a cherimoya tree is from seeds. However, they are not easy to find.

You can start cherimoya seeds indoors 8 – 12 weeks before the last frost of spring but be sure they have enough light and keep them warm.  

When your cherimoya seedlings get about 6 inches tall, you will want to transplant them into separate pots so that their roots don’t compete for nutrients. After about 2 years in the ground or another container, you should be able to harvest fruit from your tree.

Cherimoyas will also grow from cuttings so if you want several trees planted close together, take a branch with at least two nodes on it and plant it in moist soil.

You can also propagate cherimoyas by air layering which is how commercial growers clone their trees.  To do this, simply select a branch with at least two nodes on it and wait for one of them to break off from the parent plant.

Now rub your hands together to create friction then fold that part of the branch over itself as close to its base as you can get it (you should not be able to see any green underneath). Tape the folded node down securely and keep giving it water until new roots form in about three months.  

When taking cuttings or layering branches, remember that most plants need fresh growing medium every year, especially if they have been stored dry for long periods. You will want

Cherimoya Tree Problems:

Cherimoyas are susceptible to many of the same problems as other fruit trees, especially pests and diseases.  One common problem is root rot from overwatering while another is mealybugs on the stems and trunk.

If you notice your cherimoya leaves starting to yellow, cut off dead branches and prune lightly to allow for better air circulation.  

Deer will eat cherimoyas so fences or scare tactics may be necessary if they are a problem in your area.

Trees that have been exposed to too much nitrogen (fertilizers), dry soil, or cold temperatures can suffer from slow growth or stunted development which could result in smaller than normal fruit production over time.  To combat this, try to keep your cherimoya tree moist well into its fruiting season and avoid fertilizing it with nitrogen.

If you allow ants to come in contact with the sticky juice on a cherimoya; they will spread any insect eggs or diseases that were already on the leaf and infect other parts of the plant.  To prevent this, always wear gloves when handling your fruit tree so you don’t accidentally rub off any unwanted insects or pathogens.

Finally, there is some debate as to whether cherimoyas need any fertilizer at all but if yours does seem halfhearted about producing fruit or has been exposed to harsh weather conditions, fertilizer may encourage new growth and help your tree produce more flower clusters than usual.

How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Cherimoya

Cherimoya fruit

Cherimoya is a heart-shaped fruit grown on a mostly evergreen tree native to Ecuador and Peru.

Cherimoya fruit range in weight from about ¼ to 2½ pounds. The fruit has a dull green skin with thumbprint-like indentations edged in brown. Inside is a creamy, custard-like pulp with a flavor reminiscent of banana, pineapple, and pear.

Cherimoya is fast-growing, mostly evergreen tree. Cherimoyas can grow to 20 to 30 feet tall and about as wide. It can be trained and pruned to a lower height. Young branches grow opposite one another forming a natural espalier.

Cherimoya is sometimes called custard apple or sherbet fruit.

Cherimoya can be eaten chilled “on the half shell”. The flesh can be scooped with a spoon or diced and added to fruit salads or pureed for sherbet, ice cream, and daiquiris. Remove seeds before serving.

Here is your complete guide to growing cherimoya.

Best Climate and Site for Growing Cherimoya
  • Cherimoya is a subtropical plant or mild temperate climate; it will tolerate light frosts. Mature trees will be injured or killed at 25° In chilly winter regions plant cherimoyas in a sunny, south-facing location.
  • Cherimoyas require 50 to 100 chilling hours each winter in order to leaf out and set fruit in spring; chilling hours are hours at 43°F or lower. In temperate climates, the tree loses its leaves for a short period from late winter to early spring
  • Cherimoyas do not grow well where summer heat is dry. Cool coastal summer regions are best for growing cherimoya.
  • Plant cherimoyas in full sun. Be aware that leaves and fruit can sunburn if cherimoya is planted where the summer sun is intense and hot. If summers are very hot, plant cherimoya where it will get morning sun but will be sheltered from hot midday and late afternoon sun.
  • Cherimoya can be trained to espalier against a wall. Young branches grow opposite one another forming a natural espalier.
  • Plant cherimoyas in compost-rich, loamy soil that is well-drained. The optimum pH range is 6.5 to 7.6.

Cherimoya Pollination
  • A cherimoya tree has both male and female flowers, but the two are not open at the same time. Female flowers open first for about 36 hours; the male flowers open after.
  • Cherimoyas are best hand pollinated. Collect pollen from the tan-colored anthers of male flowers with a small artist’s brush then apply the pollen to open female flowers. If no female flowers are open, save the pollen in a closed container in the refrigerator. Hand pollinate every two days during flowering to ensure pollination.
  • Pollination by insects is unlikely; few insects visit the flowers.

Spacing Cherimoya
  • Cherimoya can grow to 30 feet tall and wide; some cultivars are smaller. Consider the size of the tree at maturity when planting.

Planting Cherimoya
  • Prepare a planting site in full sun that is sheltered from a prevailing breeze or wind.
  • Work well-rotted compost or manure into the soil.
  • Dig a hole half again as deep and twice as wide as the tree’s roots. Add a cupful of all-purpose fertilizer to the bottom of the hole.
  • Put a tree stake (or support wires for a fan) in place before planting. Drive the stake into the ground to the side of the hole to at least 2 feet deep. Cherimoyas are shallow-rooted; they should be staked at planting time.
  • Set the plant in the hole so that the soil mark from the nursery pot on the stem is at the surface level as the surrounding soil. Spread the roots out in all directions.
  • Re-fill the hole with half native soil and half aged compost or commercial organic planting mix; firm in the soil so that there are no air pockets among the roots. Water in the soil and create a modest soil basin around the trunk to hold water at watering time.
  • Secure the tree to the stake with tree ties.
  • After planting, water each tree thoroughly and fertilize with a high-phosphorus liquid starter fertilizer.

Container Growing Cherimoya
  • Cherimoyas are difficult to grow in containers because they grow a taproot and their size at maturity.

Cherimoya Care, Nutrients, and Water
  • Keep the soil evenly moist but not wet; cherimoyas are susceptible to root rot in wet soil. Do not water cherimoya trees when they are dormant.
  • Cherimoya will drop leaves if the roots go dry during the growing season. If leaves drop, fruit can suffer sunburn.
  • Feed cherimoya with a balanced organic fertilizer such as 10-10-10 or less. Feed trees every three months from midwinter to harvest.

Training and Pruning Cherimoya
  • Train cherimoyas to two scaffold branches at two feet above the ground. Prune young scaffolds back to about two feet. From the laterals, save the strongest shoots growing at 60 to 90 degrees and remove the others.
  • Each year when new growth starts, prune to keep the next harvest within easy reach; remove two-thirds of the past year’s growth leaving six to seven buds on each stem.
  • Each year remove broken, diseased, or crossing branches.
  • Prune cherimoyas when they are dormant.

Harvesting and Storing Cherimoya
  • Cherimoya fruit is ripe when it gives slightly to thumb pressure. The fruit is overripe when it browns.
  • Hard, unripe cherimoyas can be ripened at room temperature.
  • Ripe cherimoyas should be refrigerated and eaten within one or two days.

Propagating Cherimoya
  • Cherimoya can be propagated by seed; the seed is viable for two to three years if kept dry. Sow seed in deep containers; cherimoya forms a taproot.

Cherimoya Problems and Control
  • Yellow leaves are an indication the soil may be too dry, or the weather is too cold, not necessarily a lack of nitrogen.
  • Mealybugs suck sap from leaves and young branches; wash mealybugs off plants with a strong spray of water.
  • Snails will climb the tree and eat foliage; place copper tape or apply Tanglefoot (sticky goo) to masking tape placed around the trunk; these will prevent snails and other insects from reaching foliage and fruit.
  • Crown rot can kill trees planted in perpetually wet soil.
  • Verticillium fungal disease can cause branches and leaves to brown and die back; remove diseased branches and foliage and place them in the trash.

Fall and Winter Cherimoya Care
  • Protect young trees from frost; cover the tree with a plant blanket or wrap the trunk and scaffold branches with lengths of sponge foam.

Cherimoya Varieties to Grow
  • ‘Bays’: flavor good, almost lemony; round, medium-size fruit with light green, skin; broad tree to 20 feet tall.
  • ‘Big Sister’: good flavor; large, very smooth fruit; often self-fruitful.
  • ‘Booth’: flavor reminiscent of papaya; medium size, conical fruit; seedy; among hardiest of cherimoya; grows 20 to 30 feet tall.
  • ‘Chaffey’: very lemony flavor; small to medium size, round fruit; fast-growing in coastal areas.
  • ‘Ecuador’: good flavor; medium size, dark green fruit; spreading tree; cold tolerant.
  • ‘El Bumpo’: very flavorful; medium-size, conical fruit; skin is soft and almost edible.
  • ‘Honeyhart’: excellent flavor, very juicy; medium size fruit with smooth yellowish-green skin; ripens in winter.
  • ‘Knight’: very sweet; the flesh has a slightly grainy texture.
  • ‘Libby’: Sweet, strong flavor; round conical fruit; early harvest; large tree.
  • ‘McPherson’: flavor reminiscent of banana; small to medium fruit is conical and dark green; few seeds; the tree grows to 30 feet.
  • ‘Nata’: sweet-acid flavor balance; smooth, light green fruit to 2 ½ pounds; thin skin; tends to self-pollinate.
  • ‘Ott’: very sweet, medium-size fruit; yellow flesh; seedy; matures early.
  • ‘Pierce’: high sugar content; medium-size, elongated and conical fruit; smooth skin.
  • ‘Sabor’: very good flavor; small to medium-size fruit.
  • ‘Whaley’: good flavor; medium to large, elongated, conical fruit.
  • ‘White’: weak mango-papaya flavor; juicy flesh; large fruits to 4 pounds; tree grow to 35 feet.

Also of interest:

Cherimoya: Kitchen Basics

How to Grow Passion Fruit

How to Grow Feijoa Strawberry Guava

How to Grow Citrus

Cherimoya: growing at home

Cherimoya is an exotic fruit native to South America. In these countries, the plant gives a good harvest and can grow up to 8–9 meters in height. In our latitudes, it can be grown at home in a pot. Apart from the difficulties with pollination, cherimoya is unpretentious and grows well in apartments.

Cherimoya is an exotic fruit with an amazing taste

Plant characteristics

Cherimoya or annona, as it is also called, grows in exotic countries: Colombia, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Ecuador and others. In nature, the plant prefers dry mountainous terrain and dry cool air. Annona is difficult to grow in humid temperate climates.

This is a tree with low growing branches and downy young shoots that sometimes grow like a broad shrub. The leaves are simple, oval in shape, located on both sides of the petiole. The leaf size is about 7–8 cm. The leaves have a weak hairline, the lower part of the leaves is velvety.

Flowers long and narrow, yellowish or brownish. The outer petals are longer, the petals inside are like scales. Full ripening of the fruit takes almost 9 months, but they can be cut much earlier, as soon as they acquire a light green or yellowish tint.

Cherimoya fruit

Cherimoya fruit looks like a heart or a small bump depending on the variety. In nature, large fruits weighing up to 0.5 kg also grow. Eat the fruit with a spoon, previously divided into halves. Ripe fruits are easily cut and broken.

Cherimoya has soft creamy white flesh with a pleasant smell and taste. The pulp contains a large number of dark seeds. The seeds are inedible - they can even poison you.

Cherimoya pulp is eaten raw, added to desserts and salads. When mixed with milk, water and sugar, cherimoya is suitable for making cocktails. Cherimoya fruit can be used as an exotic pie filling

Plant characteristics

Cherimoya can be grown at home. The plant tolerates temperatures down to -3 degrees Celsius, so room mode is quite suitable for it.

When growing, it is important to consider a number of recommendations:

  • Light soil is suitable for the plant - loose soil of sand and peat. You can use cactus soil or a mixture of garden soil and sand.
  • Plant pot is best placed in a sunny area without drafts.
  • When planting, the seeds are buried 10 cm deep. From spring to autumn, it is important to provide the plant with regular watering and top dressing. It is important not to overdo it with watering, as the roots can rot from excess moisture in annonas. In winter, the plant is watered very rarely and is not fed.
  • The optimum temperature for growing an exotic plant is 18-25 degrees. In winter, cherimoya feels comfortable even at 10-14 degrees.
  • The plant should preferably be planted in a large pot or tub. It is not necessary to spray the leaves: the plant is able to tolerate drought and does not like a humid environment. In summer, cherimoya can be taken out to the garden, balcony or veranda.

Source: Depositphotos

A soothing tea is made from the bark and leaves of Annona in South America. They are harvested from ripe fruits - in one berry there are from 15 to 20 seeds. Seeds are removed from the pulp, washed and dried on paper or gauze.

For germination, the seeds are planted in suitable soil at a depth of about 2 cm and lightly watered. The container with seeds is covered with plastic wrap and placed in a warm place without direct sunlight. Seeds germinate in about 1.5-2 months at a temperature of 25-30 degrees.

As soon as the seeds have leaves, the pot can be placed on a bright window sill. When the sprouts have several leaves, they pick and plant them in separate pots with a diameter of about 10 cm. A layer of drainage is placed on the bottom of the pot - pebbles or expanded clay. The stem begins to stiffen after about six months.

Cherimoya can be transplanted once a year or two. The plant rarely gets sick, but in winter a spider mite or a red fruit mite can settle on it. If you suspect a disease, wash the leaves with a mild soapy solution.

Source: Depositphotos

Soursop or Annona prickly is a close relative of cherimoya. Fruit is easily confused

The tree begins to bear fruit in the fourth or fifth year after planting. The fruit does not self-pollinate, so the flowers will have to be pollinated with a brush. To do this, pollen is collected with a brush in the morning, put in the refrigerator and placed on a pestle in the evening.

Home grown cherimoya fruits are smaller than those grown naturally. Ripe fruits are stored in the refrigerator in a paper bag. The fruit is stored for a short time - up to five days.

Benefits of cherimoya

Cherimoya fruits contain many useful substances: potassium, folic acid, calcium, zinc, fiber, vitamin B. Cherimoya increases hemoglobin, helps improve vision and memory, strengthens the nervous system, improves hair condition, improves the functioning of the digestive system.

Fruits are useful for diseases of the kidneys, liver and stomach. Tea from the bark and leaves of the tree also has a beneficial effect on digestion, but since it also has a laxative effect, you should not abuse the drink.

Read also: How to grow a mango house

Cherymia - Planting and Care

Page Content

  • 1 Cherime Care
  • 2 Light
  • 3 Soil
  • 4 Water 900
  • 5 temperature and humidity
  • 6 Fertilizers
  • 7 Cherimoya pollination

Chilled pineapple and banana custard sounds delicious, doesn't it? This is the taste and texture profile that many people think of when they first taste the fruit of the well-known tropical evergreen Cherimoya tree (Annona cherimola). Native to South America, but quickly naturalized throughout the world in other tropical and subtropical regions, it has become legendary.

Unfortunately, the cherimoya tree can only be grown for this delicious fruit in the right climate and will not grow well in containers. And even for those who live in suitable conditions, not everything is smooth sailing. It takes a little care for this tree to bear fruit, but Mark Twain once called this fruit "the most delightful fruit known to man", so it might be worth it.

Cherimoya Care

Except in certain climates, caring for a tree is generally fairly painless. If you happen to live in an area that supports cherimoya, it can be planted by transplanting or direct planting, knowing that fruiting will only occur 3-5 years after maturity. Patience is always a virtue when planting fruit trees. Until the tree matures, you will learn hand pollination first hand: if you want fruit, you will have to learn how to hand pollinate its flowers. The beetle that pollinates the cherimoya tree is known not to live outside its habitat, so pollination must be done by hand.

If you have geographic luck, a little patience, a little knowledge, and a few hand pollinating brushes, you shouldn't have too much trouble when it comes to caring for your tree, if you don't want to invent them. The cherimoya doesn't have much decorative value, so aesthetic pruning isn't much of an issue unless you're interested in learning how to trellis it, which it does quite well.

If you want to plant this tree to grow your delicious fruit, then see below for all the details on how to get the most out of your tree.


The cherimoya tree requires sunlight, but its leaves are prone to scorching. To prevent this, consider placing the tree in a location that will get plenty of bright morning sunlight and then afternoon shade.


Before planting a tree, it is recommended to check the soil. Cherimoya likes rich, well-drained loamy soil with a pH of 6. 5-7.6. If you run a simple test on your soil and the results show that the soil you have doesn't meet these requirements, then you know you can fix it so it does. Adding good compost or manure can help increase soil saturation, and adding perlite can improve the soil's ability to drain water.


While the tree is in its growing season, you should keep the cherimoya soil moist but not wet. Cherimoyis are prone to root rot in soil that remains moist, so overwatering must be avoided and soil consistency is a key factor.

Temperature and humidity

Although the cherimoya is a tropical tree, it does not like hot and dry climates and prefers the cool summers you expect along coastlines. If you're planting fruit, and that's the only reason you're planting cherimoya, you should plant it in a location that will be cold in winter to allow fruiting. It will not set fruit until about 100 hours below 6 degrees but above -3 degrees. The tree will be damaged at temperatures below -3 degrees.


Fertilize the plant frequently during the growing season. Approximately every three months, apply a 10-10-10 general purpose fertilizer to the drip line.

Pollination of cherimoya

The only reason people would grow cherimoya is because of its delicious fruit. Unfortunately, it takes some effort for the tree to actually bear fruit, as the tree is not pollinated by native insects. This is where you become a pollinator!

You will collect and spray pollen with a plain old brush. Cherimoya trees are monoecious, meaning they have both male and female flowers. The first step is to collect pollen from the anthers of the male flowers and spread it over the open female flowers.

Sometimes female and male flowers do not open at the same time. In this case, collect the pollen and store it in an airtight, waterproof container in the refrigerator and pollinate the female flowers when they open. Repeat this process often while the tree is in bloom to ensure pollination and you will enjoy the fruits of your labor immediately.

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