A Guide to Planting and Caring for Soursop

Soursop belongs to the Annonaceae family which also includes the cherimoya, sugar apple, and custard apple. It is known for its delicious and distinctive fruits but beyond its exotic appearance and flavor profile, soursop is a source of protein, fiber, and vitamin C, among other nutrients.

In this guide, we provide more knowledge about soursop by focusing on how best to cultivate this intriguing tropical tree in your home garden. You can also click here to learn more or purchase fresh and ethically sourced produce from FAVE Produce.

What is Soursop?

Soursop, known by various names such as custard apple, guyabano, guanabana, graviola, or Brazilian paw paw, is a tropical fruit native to the American tropics. It comes from the Annona muricata tree and has a greenish-yellow color, prickly skin, and smooth, white flesh.

Its taste is a mix of strawberry and apple with a hint of citrus. Soursop fruits are mostly used in Caribbean, South American, and Southeast Asian cuisines, as well as in beverages, syrups, and ice creams.

Soursop is rich in nutrients. One cup of soursop pulp, weighing around 225 grams, packs in:

  • 148 calories per cup
  • 3 grams of protein
  • 8 grams of carbohydrates
  • 7 grams of fat
  • 4 milligrams of vitamin C (51% of daily value)
  • 4 grams of fiber

Planting and Caring for Soursop Trees

There are two main types of soursop trees: sweet and sour. The type that you choose to plant and cultivate depends on your end goal.

For example, you can go for a sweet soursop tree if you’re looking to enjoy the fruits directly. However, if your goal is to process soursop into Guyabano juice, opt for a sour soursop tree.

Land Preparation

Soursop trees are adaptable to different soil types but thrive best in nutrient-rich, deep loamy soils. They also perform well in well-drained soil with a pH ranging from 6.1 to 6.5.

When planting soursop, consider arranging them in either rectangular or triangular patterns, maintaining a distance of 4.5m x 4.5m to 7.5m x 7.5m. Traditional plowing and harrowing may be suitable for larger farms, though this might not be practical for smaller farmers.

For small-scale farmers, a more efficient method involves slashing the vegetation and then flattening the land. Create holes that are 50 cm wide and at least 50 cm deep. Once the seeds are in place, fill the holes with soil and immediately water the area.


The regular use of fertilizers is crucial for promoting the rapid development of soursop trees. Sometimes, the soil may not supply all the necessary nutrients the tree requires, and that’s where fertilizers come in.

We recommend that you begin applying fertilizers approximately one month after planting the trees. Initially, the trees don’t demand a substantial amount of fertilizer. However, this changes as time progresses.

Watering and Pruning

The good thing is that soursop trees can withstand dry conditions. Yet like all trees, they still require water for fast development.

Pruning allows sunlight to reach the trees and eliminates excessively long branches that could potentially carry diseases.

Pest and Disease Control

Trees, like other living organisms, are prone to diseases. It’s therefore prudent to remain and respond promptly if you spot any symptoms. Some types of diseases that can affect soursop trees include root rot, anthracnose, and pink disease.

Safeguarding them from pests is also critical. Common pests to watch out for include the Oriental fruit fly, scale insects, and root grubs.

Note: We recommend creating a crop protection plan to ensure a successful harvest.

Harvesting Your Crop

The recommended time to harvest fruits from this tree is from May to June. You can always tell that they are ready when the spines on the fruit are spaced apart.

Pick them when they have fully developed and are still green. This is because as the fruits mature, they lose their shiny appearance and develop a yellowish-green hue. You can also apply selective harvesting because not all fruits reach maturity at the same time. This method ensures you get the best-quality fruits from your harvest.

Key Takeaways

The decision to plant a sweet or sour soursop tree depends on your intended use—direct consumption or whether you wish to process it. Soursop trees thrive in nutrient-rich, well-drained soil. Efficient planting involves slashing vegetation, creating 50 cm holes, and immediate watering after seed placement for small-scale farmers.

Regular fertilizer application is essential for rapid development. It is also vital to note that soursop trees can withstand dry conditions but require watering. The optimal harvesting time is May to June. Finally, selective harvesting ensures only the best-quality fruits are picked.

Health Benefits of the Soursop Fruit

The following are some advantages of taking soursop fruit. However, it’s crucial to note that more research is needed to validate these claims since scientific evidence supporting these applications is limited:

  • Potential for cancer prevention: Some soursop extracts have shown therapeutic potential against cancer. However, caution is advised.
  • Fighting inflammation: As a rich source of antioxidants, soursop may assist in repairing cell damage and combating inflammation.
  • Promoting digestive health: The high fiber content aids digestion. Soursop juice also acts as a diuretic by removing excess sodium in the gastrointestinal tract.
  • Infection treatment: The Graviola tea that is made from soursop leaves can also help treat bacterial and viral infections.

Bottom Line

Now that know more about soursop, maybe it’s time to go ahead and give it a try in your garden. We are sure that with the guidelines provided in the article, your soursop tree will flourish, and that you’ll experience the joy of watching it grow and create a bounty of delicious fruits.

Always remember to choose the right type of tree and prepare your land according to the instructions. Soursop trees thrive in nutrient-rich, well-drained soil, and their growth is enhanced by regular fertilizer application.

While the focus of this guide has been on cultivating a flourishing soursop tree, its potential health benefits deserve further exploration. Remember to undertake responsible research or consult a healthcare professional before incorporating the plant into your diet or using it for medicinal purposes.

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