Dr. Jonathan Crane is a Tropical Fruit Crop Specialist at the University of Florida’s Tropical Research & Education Center (TREC).
1. Guavas bloom in response to pruning. Dr. Crane suggested pruning each quadrant of a guava tree separately March, May, July, & Sept. This not only keeps the tree small but will result in four cycles of fruit, almost year-round.
2. Fruit Flies that ruin Papaya recognize round and also green. You can get Styrofoam balls about the size of young Papaya fruit, paint them green, then thinly coat the spheres with Tanglefoot. Attach them to the Papaya stem near the fruit. The fly will attempt to lay eggs in the Styrofoam, and get stuck in the goo. UPDATE: I didn’t find any stuck flies, so I don’t know if it really works.
3. Carambola (Starfruit) flowers can be induced by bending pencil sized long upright branches over into an arching form and clipping off the last foot of the branch. There is a growth inhibitor that comes from the ends of the branches. When upright, it drains down by gravity. By bending the branch over and cutting off the tip, that inhibitor factory is removed, resulting in faster fruiting. Also Carambola don’t like temperatures below 68/20° so they lose leaves and die back. Sacrifice some of the winter crop, which is a huge stress on the tree during cold weather. Shake the branches early winter to remove about 90% of the fruit. The tree will then fruit better and sooner when the weather warms.
4. See Table 2 in this link [Avocado] for flower types of varieties. (Type A and B flowers) Having one of each will increase pollination and fruit set. If you plant more than one tree, look for not just flower types, but also fruiting season, since different varieties ripen at different times of the year so you can extend the time you have ripe fruit.
Some good reasonably hardy varieties for Treasure Coast (* most hardy) are:
Type A: Choquette [Nov-Feb 24-48oz], Day* [Jul-Sep 8-16oz], Lula [Nov-Jan 14-24oz], Florida Haas* [Oct-Nov 8-12oz].
Type B: Brogden* [Jul-Sep 8-12oz], Hall [Nov-Mar20-30 oz], Marcus Pumpkin [Oct-Nov 30-48oz], Monroe [Nov-Jan 24-30oz], Winter Mexican* [Oct-Nov 8-12oz].
If you only have room for one avocado, don’t worry too much. Someone else in the neighborhood may have the other flower type tree. Also, in the TC, temperatures are often below 70/21°, which can make the flowering get out of sync enough that there are usually both male & female flowers open at the same time. Type A&B is less important for backyard gardeners than for commercial growers who want to maximize their crop.
5. With bananas, keeping the mat thinned will result in faster flowering and better fruiting. Leave the main stem and remove all the suckers constantly. Depending on how quickly your variety suckers you could leave one more strong one and one new pup. When the main stem starts to flower, allow the next sucker to grow. It takes a few months from flower to fruit, which is enough time for the next to get a good start. If you leave all the suckers, it slows everything considerably. The sooner you remove excess suckers, the more energy goes into growth of your main stems. If the suckers are small enough, take a shovel or digging bar and separate them from the root. Plant it elsewhere, share with a friend, or use as mulch. If an extra sucker gets away from you, cut it off, then jab the digging bar into the cut end to kill the base. There are two kinds of suckers: a) water suckers (thin stemmed plants with broad leaves) will not produce well. b) sword suckers have long thin first leaves, heavy stems & root, and are much more vigorous and productive.
4 more tips for growing healthy banana plants. (5 1/2 minute video)
6. Longan will produce more fruit than the tree can support: when the fruit is pea size, cut off 1/2 to 2/3 of each panicle and you will more than make up for any fruits discarded in much larger fruit size. The seed size is the same whether the fruit is small or large.