Gardening secrets: Growing Surinam cherry in your graden
Surinam cherry (botanical name Eugenia uniflora) is a tropical shrub native to Suriname, Guyana, French Guiana, and Brazil. It’s also known as Pitanga, Brazil cherry, Cayenne cherry, or Florida cherry.
Surinam cherry has a distinctive wedge shape (like a tiny pumpkin), with colors ranging from orange to bright red to dark burgundy when fully ripe.
In Hawaii, they are grown mainly as an ornamental shrub with edible fruits. The fruits are very juicy and have a resinous, spicy aroma. Children in Hawaii love eating the fruits right off the tree! It is an excellent source of vitamin C, fiber, and antioxidants.
Growing Surinam Cherry
Surinam cherry is easy to grow and requires little maintenance. It’s drought-tolerant, shade-tolerant, and can grow in any soil.
It makes a striking ornamental shrub in the garden. In the spring, the whole plant is covered with clusters of white fragrant flowers that look like cherry blossoms! The flowers attract a lot of honeybees and butterflies.
In Hawaii, Surinam cherry produces one crop from March to May, then a second crop from September to November.
During fruiting seasons, ripe fruits must be picked daily—before the birds eat them! Seeds scattered by birds or from fallen fruits will sprout baby seedlings under the mother tree.
In Florida, Surinam cherry is considered a pesky weed. Once grown as a popular landscaping plant (hence the name Florida cherry), it has since spread all over southern Florida and become a threat to some native plant habitats.
Young Surinam cherry leaves have a pretty reddish maroon color. When crushed, they release a pleasant peppery smell that is known to repel mosquitoes—the peskiest bugs in Hawaii.
When should the surinam cherry bush be pruned?
Like most fruit trees, you can prune Surinam cherry after its fruiting season is over. It is a good idea to prune back the taller branches, keeping the tree at a desirable height for easy fruit picking. Pruning will also encourage the plant to become more bushy, perfect if you want to block out something, for example: your neighbor’s messy backyard.