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Surinam Cherry: Eugenia uniflora
A member of the Myrtle family (Myrtaceae) Eugenia. Surinam Cherry, is the most adaptable.
The Surinam cherry can be grown as an evergreen shrub or small tree reaching up to 15 feet. In California, the Surinam cherry is spring flowering with delicious fruits typically ripening around June. In California the Surinam cherry can flower and fruit again in the fall. The flowers are white and quite showy. The fruit is ribbed, and can be either bright red or dark purple.
The Surinam is a slow growing tree, ideal for a patio plant, its got a lifespan of 40 to 150 years. The Surinam cherry is usually propagated by seed as grafting has a low success rate, and seedlings usually take 4 to 5 years to begin producing fruit, it is self fruitful. It prefers full sun in Southern California and once established it is fairly drought tolerant and also can withstand several degrees below freezing
Growth Structure: 8-20' high and 6-15' wide
Light Requirement: Full Sun once established
Water Requirement: Deep water once or twice a week during fruiting. Abundant water increases fruit size and sweetness.
USDA hardiness zones: 9b-11. Young plants are damaged at 28°F. Older plants are hardy to 22°F.
Chill hours: None.
Heat tolerant: Yes
Drought tolerant: No.
Planting: Locate in an area with full sun and afternoon shade, in well draining soil. Space 2-5' apart for a hedge. It can be grown in a large container.
Soil: Well draining, pH 5.6-7.5 (acidic to neutral). This plant is not particular about soil type otherwise, except that it is not salt tolerant.
Fertilize: Use an organic fertilizer applied every month or two except in winter.
First Year Care: Protect from freezes during the first two years in the ground.
Prune: Do not prune until this slow-growing plant is 6-7 years old, then shape to improve harvesting or to grow as a screen or hedge. Flowering occurs on old growth and at the base of new growth.
Propagation: Layering, grafting, or seed. Seed are viable for only one month after harvest, cannot be dried or refrigerated, sprout 3-4 weeks after planting, and may not grow true to parent.
Uses: Ornamental, edible fruit. It is often made into jam or jelly. The crushed leaves are used as an insect repellant.