Kei apple tree
- Dovyalis caffra : Kei apple tree
- Family : Salicaceae
- Origin : South Africa
- Height in its natural environment : 6 m
- Hardiness : -6°C
- Flower colour : green/yellow
Height : about 10 to 20 cm (depending on seasons)
Description of the plant
Between plum and apricot, an overlooked exotic fruit tree that we love!
Resistant to small frosts, very productive, it gives tasty orange berries with a velvety skin and texture reminiscent of apricots and whose aromas are similar to plum. Its crimson red pulp is tangy and juicy, rich in vitamin C. A world of recipes opens up to you! Juices, fruit salads, jams, jellies, and even chutneys with its still green fruits which are easily preserved in vinegar ...
And our Caffre Apple, or Apple of Kei, knows how to defend itself with its long thorns present on its twigs!
So, bush or defensive hedge, a hardy tropical fruit tree to discover!
Also known as : Aberia caffra, Molthono, Kau apple, Umkokola,…
When you receive your plant, repot it in a pot slightly larger than the bucket, which must be well pierced. Avoid pot covers which prevent residual water from draining away and encourage fungal diseases. Choose a fine potting soil, ideally with added perlite or sand to lighten the substrate (do not use garden soil or acidic soil such as heather). Then plan two repottings per year (spring and autumn), gradually increasing the size of the pot and adapting it to the size of the root network (the roots must have room, but not too much as the plant must be able to dry out its substrate between waterings). This avoids having to add fertilizer, which always risks burning the fragile roots of the plants and making the plant wither as soon as the fertilizer is stopped.
Copious watering: when watering, the entire root ball should be wet, then wait for the substrate to dry on the surface before watering again. These plants are greedy in water, but you should not drown the roots either. Always water at the base of the plant, and do not mist it, because stagnant water in the armpit of the leaves favors cryptogamic diseases. If your atmosphere is too dry, put bowls of water nearby (above radiators for example), so that evaporation humidifies the air.
For an indoor planting
Unless you want to try a bonsai culture (yay!), this plant is not recommended as an indoor plant, but is meant to be planted outdoors (see next section).
For an outdoor planting
If your climate allows it, you will be able to plant your plant in full ground, a full sun is recommended. We advise you however to cultivate it in pot the first year and to make it spend the first winter in the heat, in order to strengthen it well. Plant it between the end of the risk of frost (generally at the beginning of May) and the end of August, in a soil which must be light and draining; do not hesitate to add sand and fine potting soil if necessary. Be careful with the minimum temperatures indicated: they are given for a mature plant, and you have to take into account the wind which accentuates the cold felt, as well as the water retention capacity of your soil, which can rot the roots if it is not sufficiently draining. So take a little safety margin!
This plant supports the pruning, but we do not advise it because that would make it lose its native form.
Our plants are grown naturally, without chemical fertilizers, so we advise you to repot them regularly (twice a year) rather than adding fertilizer.
In case of pest attack
If your plants are under attack by aphids or other pests, the best way to control them is by hand. Change their soil, remove as many undesirables as possible by hand and then shower your plants with a strong stream of water to eliminate any eggs that may be present. Spray them (insist on the underside of the leaves) with liquid black soap diluted in water. Repeat the operation several times at a few days interval. Take them outside in good weather, rain, sun and wind will kill most of the aggressors!