Also known as the Brazilian grape tree, jaboticaba (Myrciaria, Eugenia or Plinia cauliflora) is a broadleaved evergreen native to Southern Brazil. Grown as a full-sized, 10- to 25-foot tree or a miniature bonsai, jaboticaba is part of the Myrtle family and is named after the Tupi word "jabotim," which means "turtle." Jaboticaba trees are known for their edible fruit and white flowers, which grow out of the trunk, branches and exposed roots of the tree. Both bonsai and full-grown jaboticaba varieties require plenty of care and attention, particularly when it comes to temperature, watering and sunlight exposure.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Move your jaboticaba bonsai to an area of your home that receives partial sunlight. Jaboticaba trees prefer partial, but will do OK in full sunlight if they are consistently watered.
Monitor the air temperature. Jaboticaba bonsai trees only thrive in tropical temperatures, including USDA Hardiness Zones 10 through 12, which do not, on average, experience temperatures below -1.11 degrees Celsius.
Water and feed frequently. Jaboticaba is salt intolerant and requires adequate watering on a regular basis. The soil's water level should be kept consistently and evenly moist. Feed jaboticaba an acid fertiliser for best results, although most plant foods will be tolerated.
Prune any heavy-set branches on the upper area of the jaboticaba tree. If using wiring, keep the wires loose and only attach during the spring season.
Check soil type and repot if necessary. Jaboticaba prefer rich, deep acidic soils such as azalea potting soil. Soil should be well-draining but able to retain a moist water level. If repotting, only transport in warm weather. If the jaboticaba plant is healthy, you can trim 2/3 of the root.
Tips and warnings
- When grown from seed, a jaboticaba bonsai will take approximately eight to 15 years to begin fruiting. Once the tree begins to produce fruit, the globe-sized purple berries can be harvested in about three weeks. The berries can be eaten raw, made into preserves or used as an ice cream topping. While edible, jaboticaba berries are considered high in tannins.
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