How to Grow and Care for the Cherimoya Tree

Common Name Cherimoya, Custard Apple
Botanical Name Annona cherimola
Family Annonaceae
Plant Type  Tropical evergreen
Mature Size 30 ft. tall, 30 ft. wide
Sun Exposure Full sun
Soil Type Compost-rich, Loamy soil
Soil pH Neutral
Bloom Time May to October
Flower Color Green, Pink
Hardiness Zones USDA 10-11 (Will only fruit in 10)
Native Area  South America

How to Plant a Cherimoya Tree

When to Plant

If you are lucky enough to live in an area that supports the cherimoya, it can be planted by transplant or direct seedling in the Fall.

Selecting a Plant Site

To plant a Cherimoya tree, it’s best to choose a sunny spot facing south. The chosen spot should be large enough to dig a hole twice as wide as the roots and half as deep. Make sure to select a site that is sheltered from high winds.

Spacing, Depth, and Support

The tree should be supported by a tree stake. Before planting, drive a stake into the ground to the side of the hole at least two feet deep. Secure the tree to the stake with tree ties.

Fun Fact

Mark Twain once called the fruit of the Cherimoya tree “the most delicious fruit known to men.” This exotic edible has also been referred to as “ice cream fruit” because of its custardy consistency.

Cherimoya Care

If you have geographic luck, patience, knowledge, and some paintbrushes for hand pollinating, caring for your tree shouldn’t be too much trouble. Here are some key things to remember.

  • Have patience, as this tree can will not bear fruit until 3 to 5 years after maturity.
  • Keep the soil moist but not overly saturated. Maintaining the right balance of moist to dry soil is important.
  • Plant in an area with full morning sun and preferably afternoon shade.
  • Feed the tree often during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer.
  • Hand pollinate the tree. The beetle known to pollinate the cherimoya is not native to the United States so this won’t happen on its own.


The Cherimoya tree requires full sun but is prone to having its leaves burn. To prevent this, think about placing your tree in a spot where it gets a good amount of bright morning sunlight followed by afternoon shade.


Testing your soil before planting your tree is a good idea. The cherimoya likes rich loamy soil with good drainage that falls into a pH range of 6.5-7.6. If you use an easy test on your soil and the results show that the soil you have does not match up with these requirements, then you know you can amend it. Adding in some good compost or manure can help increase the soil’s richness, and amending it with perlite can increase the its ability to drain water.


While the tree is in its growing season, you will want to keep the Cherimoya tree’s soil moist but not wet. Cherimoyas are susceptible to root rot in soil that stays soaked, so overwatering needs to be avoided, and soil consistency is key.

Temperature and Humidity

The cherimoya is a tropical tree that needs cool summers and winter chills to produce fruit. It requires 50 to 100 hours of temperatures ranging between 25 to 43 degrees Fahrenheit to fruit, but temperatures below 25 degrees Fahrenheit can damage the tree.


During the growing season, it is a good idea to fertilize your plant often. Every three months is about right, with a general-purpose 10-10-10 fertilizer at the drip line.


The only reason people will look to growing the cherimoya is for its delicious fruit. Unfortunately, it takes some effort to get the tree to actually produce the fruit since the tree isn’t pollinated by insects that are native locally. That is where you become the pollinator!

You will be collecting and dispersing the pollen with a regular old artist’s paintbrush. Cherimoya trees are monoecious, meaning it has both male and female flowers. The first step is to collect the pollen from the anthers of the male flowers and disperse it onto the open female flowers.

If male and female flowers of a tree don’t open at the same time, you can collect and store the pollen in an airtight container. Use the pollen in storage to pollinate the female flowers when they bloom, and repeat the process regularly while the tree is in bloom. Enjoy the fruits of your labor in no time!

Types of Cherimoya

There are several varieties of cherimoya a gardener can grow. Here are some of the most popular.

  • ‘McPherson’ Cherimoya: This type has a flavor similar to that of a banana. It produces a small to medium cone-shaped fruit that is shaded dark green. This tree can grow up to 30 feet tall.
  • ‘Honeyhart’ Cherimoya: This variety bears a medium-sized, juicy fruit that is very flavorful. The fruit has smooth yellow to green skin and ripens over the winter. It is used in beverages.
  • ‘White’ Cherimoya: With a flavor similar to a mango and papaya combined, this type bears a juicy fruit that can reach four pounds. The tree itself grows to 35 feet.

Cherimoya vs. Sugar Apple

It would be easy to confuse the Cherimoya and sugar apple trees since they both bear sweet fruit that is conical in shape. Both also have green rinds and white flesh containing black seeds. However, their visual similarities end there. Sugar apples have a bumpy exterior, while cherimoyas have overlapping scales. They differ in their regions of growth and flesh flavor.

The two fruits also taste different. The sugar apple is known for its sweet and creamy flavor, which is often compared to custard. Its texture is juicy and buttery, and it carries a rich aroma. Some also describe its taste as tropical with a hint of mint and cinnamon. On the other hand, cherimoya has a fruity and slightly acidic taste that is similar to a mix of strawberry, kiwi, and pineapple. It has a creamy texture with a consistency like yogurt.

Harvesting Cherimoya

To determine if a cherimoya fruit is ripe, gently press it with your thumb. If there is a slight give, it is probably ready to be picked. Do not wait until the fruit starts to brown, as this is a sign that it is overripening. Once you have picked the fruit, refrigerate it and make sure to consume it within two days. If you harvest the fruit before it is fully ripe, you can store it at room temperature until it is ready to be eaten.


The cherimoya does not have very much ornamental value, so aesthetic pruning is not usually a priority of gardeners. The exception would be a if you are interested in training it into an espalier, which it handles quite nicely.

Propagating & Growing Cherimoya From Seed

Cherimoya trees can be successfully started and propagated by seed. Here’s the best method to follow.

  1. Soak the seeds in a bowl of water for four days.
  2. Scoop out any floating seeds with your hand and discard them. These are not viable.
  3. Scoop out the remaining seeds that have sunk to the bottom of the bowl. These are the seeds for planting.
  4. Fill pots that are six inches deep with a mixture of equal parts peat and sand.
  5. Plant one seed in the center of each pot and cover with about an inch of the soil mixture.
  6. Add water to settle the soil around the seed.
  7. Wait three to five weeks for the seeds to germinate.
  8. Transplant seedlings into 18-inch-deep pots filled with potting soil.
  9. Nurture them in bright conditions until they are ready for permanent outdoor planting.


While more mature trees can withstand temperatures as low as 25 degrees Fahrenheit, younger trees will need protection from frost. Cover them with a plant blanket or wrap the trunk and scaffold branches with sponge foam.

Common Pests and Plant Diseases

Cherimoyas are relatively resistant to pests and diseases, but there are a few issues you should be aware of. Occasionally, they can be affected by oak root fungus and verticillium wilt. These problems can be prevented by ensuring proper watering and adequate drainage. Take care to keep the crown of the tree dry, or it can also fall victim to crown rot.

Mealybugs can be bothersome to Cherimoya trees, especially if any ant infestations are nearby. A mechanical or chemical barrier on the trunk of the tree can lower the risk.


    • Taking care of this tree is not that hard, but it’s crucial that it has the appropriate climate. Once this condition is met, ensuring that the tree has access to rich soil and the correct amount of water will enable it to thrive.

    • While you can cultivate the seeds indoors and start the tree off in a container, it is not recommended long-term. Eventually the tree should be planted permanently outdoors in the right climate.

    • Growing a Cherimoya tree can be a test of a gardener’s patience. It will begin to bear at least three years after initial planting and may take up to five years.

Sign in
Cart (0)

No products in the cart. No products in the cart.


error: Content is protected !!