Growing Sapodilla In Containers (Chikoo), Backyards

Growing Sapodilla in Containers (Chikoo):

The following information is about Growing Sapodilla In Containers.

Introduction to Sapota (Sapodilla):

Sapodilla is a long-lived evergreen tree native to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean.  The Sapodilla tree has a hard bark with gummy white color latex called chicle.  It has a medium sized oval to elliptic shaped dark green colored leaves. The Sapodilla tree produces white colored bell-like flowers with six lobed corollas. The Sapodilla fruits are in size of large berries with 4 to 8 cm in diameter. The fruit has grainy juicy flesh ranges from pale yellow to an earthy brown color. And each fruit contains one to six hard black colored seeds. The Sapodilla fruit has an amazingly sweet and malty taste.  The Sapodilla tree thrives well in a warm and tropical climate and is sensitive to freezing winters. The Sapodilla tree blooms around the year and produces fruits twice in the year. The Sapodilla trees are slow-growing trees when grown from seeds, a sapota plant takes eight to nine years for germination. Sapodilla trees grow well in containers, choose a dwarf variety Sapodilla tree that grows in compact areas and size.  Sapodilla trees are also grown indoors if you provide a suitable growing environment.

Sapodilla fruits are an excellent source of nutrition composed of fructose and sucrose and are rich in calories. The Sapodilla fruit is a good source of vitamin C and A, folate, niacin and some trace nutrients like potassium, copper, and iron.

  • Scientific Name for Sapodilla: Manilkara Zapota.
  • Family: Sapodilla belongs to the family of Sapotaceae.
  • Common Names for Sapodilla: Sapodilla, Zapotaa, Sapota, Chico, Chicle, Naseberry, etc.

Popular Varieties for Growing Sapodilla in Containers:

There are many varieties of Sapodilla varieties depending on their growth rate, fruiting period and fruit size, color and shape. Here we listed some popular varieties:

  • Silas Woods: It is a dwarf variety tree that grows up to 6 to 11 inches tall. It is a perfect container tree. This Sapodilla plant is cold resistant and produces more fruits. These varieties Sapodilla has white colored flesh, tastes super sweet like brown sugar.
  • Hasya: It is a central American variety, grows well in containers. These plants produce football-shaped fruits with more flesh and fewer seeds. These Sapodillas have yellowish-reddish fruits. Fruits can be harvested in November and June months.
  • Alano: It is a Thailand variety, suitable for growing in containers. These Sapodilla trees are everbearing and produce more fruits in November and June. These fruits are small in size (2-3” diameter), tastes super sweet with an ultra-fine texture.
  • Morena: this is a Mexican variety Sapodilla tree grows up to 20’ tall. These Sapodilla trees can be grown in the container, maintain the compact by pruning the branches regularly. This tree is a hard producer, produces hard fruits in half red /half caramel color with exceptional flavor.
  • Makok: It is a Thailand variety, harvested in May and November. These Sapodilla trees are dwarf trees grows up to 20-25’ tall and produces delicious Sapodilla with smooth pulp in brown color with a sweet aroma.
  • Molix: It is Mexican variety of small Sapodilla trees, grows up to 15-20’. Suitable variety for growing in containers. Produces light red colored red fruits that are exceptionally sweet.  Fruits can be harvested Feb and May.
  • Tikal: It is Central American variety Sapodilla. This variety Sapodilla grows very tall, but can be trimmed to 12’. This variety of Sapodilla tree is suitable for growing in containers. Produces small, elongated fruits with a fine texture.
  • Some Indian varieties are Kalipatti, Calcutta Large, Chhatri, Dhola Diwani, Baramasi, Pot Sapota, Pala, Baharu, Gandhevi and Murabba grown in all parts of India.
Growing Sapodilla in Containers (Chikoo).
Growing Sapodilla in Containers (Chikoo).

Propagating Methods for Growing Sapodilla in Containers:

Sapodilla can be propagated through seeds or cuttings or planting potted nursery trees/plants. Sapodilla can be propagated from seeds is a time-consuming process, Sapodilla propagated from trees takes more than eight years to produce fruit. Propagating Sapodilla trees from cuttings is an easy process, cutting takes 4 to 5 years to produce fruit.

Among all the above methods, planting a nursery potted plant is highly recommended, instead of propagating seeds or cuttings.

Suitable Soil for Growing Sapodilla in Containers:

  • A well-drained, fertile is the main requirement for growing Sapodilla in containers. If you are using gardening soil for planting Sapodilla trees, mix the soil with sand and perlite to increase its draining capability.
  • It’s recommended to use a high-quality potting mix rich in the organic matter instead of gardening soil.
  • Homemade potting mix: equal portions of Sand + Peat moss + bark + Perlite or vermiculite + organic compost, serves as the best growing medium for Sapodilla trees.

Suitable containers for Growing Sapodilla in Containers:

  • Sapodilla trees can be grown well in containers if adequate space for root development is provided.
  • The ideal size of the pot should be 18-23 inches diameter and 20 -22 inches depth. The container should have a minimum of 2 to 3 drain holes at the bottom.
  • The Container can be plastic, metal, clay, ceramic, or wood, many available in the nurseries and gardening supply stores. Use recycled whiskey barrels or wooden boxes or growing bags.
  • Use glazed container/pots instead of a terracotta container due to their porous nature.
  • Cover the draining holes with cracked potter to avoid water logging.

The Best Season for Growing Sapodilla in Containers:

  • The Ideal season for growing Sapodilla in containers is spring and early summer.
  • Adult trees can survive in all the seasons, the can tolerate peak summers and freezing winters.
  • Sapodilla trees thrive well in arid or humid environments, even though severe conditions may result in lack of fruit
  • Spring is the ideal to sow Sapodilla seeds and cuttings.
  • Protect the plants when the temperature fall to – 3 to -5 degrees.

Read: Apple Grafting Methods; Pruning Methods; Training.

Growing Sapodilla in Containers from Seeds:

Growing Sapodilla from seeds is very common, but you need to wait for a long period of 5 to 6 years for fruits.

  • Desired Sapodilla seeds are available in markets, or you can collect the seeds from fresh fruits.
  • Select a ripe Sapodilla fruit and divide into parts, extract the seeds and wash them completely and wrap in a paper towel.
  • Remove the hard black cover of the seed cover to fasten the germination process.
  • Now fill the small containers with soilless potting mix, sow the seeds facing pointed side up a ½ inch from the surface of the soil.
  • Water the seeds thoroughly and maintain constant moisture levels till the germination period. Keep the seeds in a warm location with partial sunlight.
  • Sapodilla seed takes three to four weeks for germination.
  • Once the seedling sprouts, transplant them to the desired container when they are about 2 to 4 feet tall.
  • Transplant the plants very carefully without harming the young roots.
  • Now place the containers in full and water and feed plant regularly to fasten the growth of the plant.
  • To fasten the growth feed the plant with organic fertilizer with nitrogen and potash.
  • Most important thing is the start of feeding the plant from the age of 15 months. take a proper care of the plant for a couple to years.
  • Main requirements for growing Sapodilla tree is patience and frost protect

Growing Sapodilla in Container from Nursery Potted Seedlings:

It is an ideal method to grow Sapodilla in containers.

  • Get a well-established young Sapodilla tree from the nurseries or in online stores. Select a healthy and strong plant having only one central trunk. And the tree selected should not be root bound, if the roots are poking out of the containers indicates that the plant is staying in the pot for a long time.
  • the Container should be three times bigger nursery pot.
  • Fill the selected container potting mix, leaving the ½ gap between the rim of the container and the surface of the soil. Dig a deep hole at the center of the pot, the hole should 2 times bigger than the root ball. Fill the container soil loosely, loosening soil will promote the root penetration.
  • Plant the Sapodilla plant upright, and plant firmly. Spread the potting soil around the tree roots. Make sure that the root ball is covered completely without exposing to light.
  • Water the plant thoroughly till the water runs out of the holes. And place in a warm and bright areas where it receives 5 to 6 hours of sunlight.
  • Apply a thin layer of compost or organic mulch at the base of the plant, and the mulch should 2 inches away from the stem or trunk.
  • Water the tree once in three for two weeks, reduce the watering intervals gradually. Trees of age under 3 years should be watered weekly during the summer season.
  • Provide stake support to the newly planted tree, to encourage straight growth of the plant. Tie the tree to stake using cotton rope, don’t use nylon ropes that can harm the young branches.
  • Feed the young tree with balanced fertilizer plant for every six to eight weeks to fasten tree establishment.

The Best Location for Growing Sapodilla in Container:

  • Sapodilla require 5 to 7 hours of direct sun and bright light to thrive, so place the container in full sunny location and the location should be free from cold.
  • Place the container in terrace gardens, outdoor gardens, backyards, and front yards.
  • When growing Sapodilla indoors, place the containers in a bright and sunny solarium or window sill in a south direction.

Sunlight Requirement for Growing Sapodilla in Containers:

  • Many fruit trees grow well in full sunlight, and some grow well in partial shade. the Sapodilla tree growth in direct proportion to the amount of light received.
  • Sapodilla trees prefer bright light and direct sun.
  • Rapid changes in light exposure should be avoided towards Sapodilla trees. 12 hours of bright sun exposure leads to a best growth of Sapodilla trees. Even the trees grow well in the partial sunlight and will produce remarkable production.

Temperature Requirement for Growing Sapodilla in Containers:

  • Sapodilla trees thrive well tropical and subtropical climates and cannot tolerate freezing temperatures for long periods.
  • Ideal temperatures for growing Sapodilla containers should range from 22 to 35 degrees.
  • Young Sapodilla trees can be spoiled when the soil freezes, roots of Sapodilla are not well insulated from the cold in a container.
  • the freezing temperature that harm Sapodilla plants are –5 to -3 degrees.
  • Sapodilla plants should be protected from severe cold, cover the plants with garden cloches, blankets, papers or plastic covers. Covers should be removed in day time andare exposed to sunlight.

Water Requirement for Growing Sapodilla in Containers:

  • Irregular watering can affect the container grown plants.
  • Container plants should be watered as per requirement, should check the moisture levels before watering the plants.
  • Watering frequency depends on the type and size of the plant, size and type of containers.
  • How to water the Sapodilla trees: Soak the soil lightly and don’t water again till top 2 inches are dry. Water the plants depending on light conditions, location and foliage, watering frequencies (weekly or daily) should be maintained.
  • Apply water only in the early morning, don’t wet the foliage or trunk/stem while watering. Wet foliage or stems can cause fungal infections.
  • Watering frequencies should be increased in summer and dry weather. In winter avoid watering the plant, water checking dryness of the soil.
  • Over watering can cause root and can kill the trees.

Mulching and Pruning Requirement for Growing Sapodilla in Containers:

  • Pruning: Pruning will help to maintain the shape of the plant and keep the plant compact. Leggy branches should be pruned to provide good air circulation and light to the base of the plant. Prune the tree every year after harvesting, trim the upper branches and keep them at a height of 4 to 5 feet.
  • Mulching: Mulching retains moisture in the soil and protects the root form freezing temperature. Using natural or organic compost as mulch will act as both fertilizer for the soil and as mulch. Mulching should be done for every 2 to 3 months for the young Sapodilla tree.

Fertilizers for Growing Sapodilla in Containers

  • Sapodilla plants are medium feeders, they need more feed during the growing period.
  • Fertilize the plant during the months of March, July, and September every year.
  • Use 8:3:9 fertilizer or any other fruit fertilizer and feed the plants as per the instructions.
  • Fertilizing should be done as per the labeled instructions, over fertilizing can cause burns in the plants.

Pests and Diseases in Growing Sapodilla in Containers:

  • Sapodilla trees are a good pest and disease resistant plants.
  • Some pests that can trouble the tree are banana spotting bugs and caterpillars.
  • Using horticultural oil or neem oil can protect the trees from these pests.
  • Sapodilla can be affected by a disease like a leaf rust, which destroys young leaves.
  • Use come organic fungicides to control diseases, don’t go for chemical-based fungicides.

Harvesting Tips for Growing Sapodilla in Containers:

  • It takes nearly 8 to 10 weeks for a crop to mature.
  • Test the maturity of the fruit by scratching the skin, the pulp should be in reddish brown color.
  • Unripe fruits, when stored at a room temperature for 5 to 10 days to ripen them.
  • Sapodilla should be consumed when the fruit is firm and not mushy.
  • Sapodilla when stored in the refrigerator can stay fresh for more than a week.

Quick Tips for Growing Sapodilla in Containers:

  • Mature tree requires very less water, during dry seasons proper irrigation can increase fruit production.
  • March, June and September are the best season to feed the sapodilla trees.
  • The pH levels of the soil should be 6.0 to 8.0.
  • Grows well in USDA zone 4-11.

Read: Growing Garlic In Containers.

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