Atemoya (Annona atemoya) Tree Care: A Guide for Growing Delicious Fruits

Atemoya (Annona atemoya) Tree Care: A Guide for Growing Delicious Fruits

Are you interested in growing a fruit tree that produces delicious, tropical fruits? Consider the atemoya tree! Atemoya (Annona atemoya) is a natural hybrid fruit tree that is a cross between the cherimoya and sugar apple. 

It is known for its sweet and creamy fruit that tastes like a mix of berries and pineapple. If you’re looking to grow atemoya trees, here’s a guide to help you care for and maintain these tropical beauties.

The atemoya tree is a tropical fruit tree that originated in South America.

It was first introduced to Florida in 1908 by horticulturist P.J. Wester in Miami. The atemoya fruit since been cultivated in many tropical and subtropical regions worldwide. 

Lisa atemoya pink fruit Annonaceae
Pink ‘Lisa’ Atemoya fruit

Atemoya trees can grow up to 30 feet tall and are typically deciduous, shedding their leaves in winter.

They produce green, pink, or red fruits (depending on the cultivar) weighing about one to two pounds large and are heart-shaped with a bumpy texture. The fruit’s flesh is white, creamy, and sweet, with black seeds scattered throughout.

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Atemoya Quick Care Guide

Common namesAtemoya, Pineapple sugar apple
Scientific nameAnnona atemoya
Months of harvestSummer, winter
Sun requirementsFull sun for best fruit production
Water requirementsTwo to three times during the flower & fruit season
Soil requirementsVarious soils, as long as well draining
Fertilizer requirementsTwo to three times per year
Pests Potato leaf hoppers, whiteflies, scale, annona seed borer
DiseasesRoot rot
Atemoya quick care guide (Annona atemoya)

Climate and Location

Atemoya trees require a warm and humid climate to grow and thrive. They are best suited for USDA zones 9b-11, where temperatures do not drop below 25°F.

Atemoya trees prefer full sun exposure and should be planted in an area that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight each day. 

Soil Requirements

Atemoya trees prefer well-drained soil that is rich in organic matter. Before planting the tree, it is recommended to amend the soil with compost, azomite, or other organic matter to improve drainage and nutrient availability.

Varieties of Atemoya

Atemoyas have many cultivars. Some atemoya varieties that are commonly grown for their fruit are

  • Gefner 
  • Lisa
  • Dream
  • Phet Pak Chong
  • African Pride
  • 47-18 or Temoylata
Phet Pak Chong PPC Atemoya fruit Thailand
Phet Pak Chong (PPC) atemoya fruits.

Planting the Atemoya Tree

When planting an atemoya tree, it is essential to select a location that gets full sun and has well-drained soil.

Dig a hole twice as wide as the root ball and deep enough to accommodate the roots.

Gently remove the tree from its container and loosen the roots.

Place the tree in the hole and backfill it with soil and any other soil amendments, ensuring that the tree is slightly above level with the ground.

Water thoroughly after planting.

Watering and Fertilization

Atemoya trees require regular watering, especially during the growing season. The soil should be kept moist but not waterlogged, as this can lead to root rot.

Fertilize the tree with a slow balanced fertilizer every three to four during the growing season to promote healthy growth and fruit production.

Organic fertilizers such as azmomite are a great choice for growing atemoyas fruit organically. On the other hand, a synthetic fertilizer such as Osmocote plus or Florikan provides nutrients to atemoyas to help them establish themselves for the first years. 

In Florida, fertilizers are often used up faster than what’s on the label due to Florida’s high percentage of rainfall and hot temperatures which speed up the fertilizers used.

Additionally, every time you water your atemoya tree, it will be fed with fertilizers, whether organic or synthetic, so it’s vital to keep atemoya trees well watered after fertilization.

For more information on fertilizing tropical fruit trees read this article.

Atemoya fruit African Pride
African Pride (AP) atemoya fruit.

Pruning and Training

Pruning is an essential part of atemoya tree care, as it helps to promote healthy growth and fruit production.

Atemoyas need to be pruned at the end of winter to early spring months before new growth begins, which is generally the end of February to the first weeks of March. 

For an in depth guide on how to prune atemoya trees check out this article.

Remove any dead or damaged branches, as well as any branches that are crossing or rubbing against each other. Thin the tree’s interior to promote good air circulation and sunlight penetration.

Training is also essential for atemoya trees, especially when they are young. Train the tree to have a central leader, which is a single, dominant trunk, and remove any competing branches. This will help to promote a strong structure and prevent the tree from developing weak, narrow crotches.

Atemoya fruit weigh anywhere from one to two pounds on a tree, so it is vital to train branches to be strong enough to support the atemoya fruit.


Atemoya trees are self-pollinating on certain cultivars, such as ‘Gefner,’ which sets fruit on its own, but others require hand pollination, such as the ‘Lisa’ atemoya, which rarely sets fruit on its own.

The most effective method of pollinating atemoya trees is hand pollination, which involves transferring pollen from male flowers to female flowers. This can be done using a small paintbrush or gently shaking the branches to release the pollen.

For a detailed guide on how to pollinate atemoya flowers check out this article here.

The atemoya’s natural pollinator is the nitulid beetle which is about the size of half a grain of rice. If you want to attract the nitulid beetle to your garden, you will need to leave organic fruits around the base of the atemoya or Annonaceae fruit trees as the small beetle is attracted to decomposing fruits and will breed and stick around to pollinate your Annona flowers.

Garden Florida with Atemoya Annona fruits
Garden Florida with Atemoya fruits.

Pests and Diseases

Atemoya trees are susceptible to various pests and diseases, including potato leaf hoppers, aphids, whiteflies, and Annona seed borers.

Monitoring the tree regularly for signs of infestation and treating any problems promptly is essential. Use an organic insecticide like Pyganic to control pests, it’s also important to remove any affected fruit or leaves to prevent the spread of disease.

Harvesting Atemoya Fruits

Atemoya fruits are typically harvested in the late summer, early fall, or winter months when they are fully mature and have a yellow-green color with a soft touch.

Some atemoya like ‘Lisa’ will be pink instead of green. The fruit should be carefully picked with pruners, as they are easily bruised and damaged.

It is essential to leave a short stem attached to the fruit to prevent damage to the skin and maintain freshness.

Common Issues Growing Atemoyas

Some common issues that may arise when growing atemoya trees include lack of flowers, poor fruit set, fruit drop, black atemoya fruits, leaf curl, and yellowing leaves. 

Poor fruit set may be due to a lack of pollination, poor environmental conditions, or even a lack of micro and macronutrients. Fruit drop may be caused by overwatering or poor soil drainage. 

Leaf curl may be due to potato leaf hoppers. Yellowing leaves may be a sign of nutrient deficiencies or pest infestations. It is important to identify and address these issues promptly to ensure the health and productivity of the tree.

'Lisa' Atemoya fruit growing on the atemoya tree.

Frequently Asked Questions About Growing Atemoyas

Q: How long does it take for an atemoya tree to produce fruit?

Atemoya trees typically begin producing fruit within 2-3 years of planting from seed. Grafted atemoyas can fruit the same year.

Q: Can atemoya trees be grown in containers?

Yes, atemoya trees can be grown in containers, but they require regular pruning and may not produce as much fruit as trees grown in the ground. Potted atemoyas do well in pots if space is limited to plant in the ground.

Q: How often should atemoya trees be watered?

Atemoya trees should be watered regularly, about once to twice a week during the growing season. When atemoyas are flowering and holding fruit it is vital to keep a consistent water source.

Q: Can atemoya trees tolerate frost?

No, atemoya trees are sensitive to frost and should be protected from freezing temperatures.

Q: Are atemoya fruits nutritious?

Yes, atemoya fruits are a good source of vitamin C, potassium, and dietary fiber.


Growing atemoya trees can be a rewarding experience for gardeners interested in tropical fruits. Following the guidelines outlined in this article, you can successfully grow and care for atemoya trees and enjoy their delicious fruits. Remember to provide the tree with plenty of sunlight, well-drained soil, and regular pruning and fertilization. With proper care, your atemoya tree can produce bountiful harvests for many years to come

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