The Surinam cherry
is adapted to tropical and subtropical regions, so will need some afternoon desert sun protection. Young plants are damaged by
temperatures below 28º F (-2.22º C), but well-established plants have
suffered only superficial injury at 22º F (-5.56º C). The plant revels
in full sun when established. It requires only moderate rainfall and, being deep-rooted,
can stand a long dry season.
Soil: The Surinam cherry grows in almost any type of soil–sand, sandy
loam, stiff clay, soft limestone–and can even stand waterlogging for a
time, but it is intolerant of salt.
Surinam cherry seedlings grow slowly; some begin to fruit when 2
years old; some may delay fruiting for 5 or 6 years, or even 10 if in
unfavorable situations. They are most productive if unpruned, but still
produce a great many fruits when close-clipped in hedges. Quarterly
feeding with a complete fertilizer formula promotes fruiting. The plant
responds quickly to irrigation, the fruit rapidly becoming larger and
sweeter in flavor after a good watering.
Season and Harvesting: The fruits develop and ripen quickly, only 3 weeks after the flowers
open. In Brazil, the plants bloom in September and fruits ripen in
October; they bloom again in December and January. In Florida and the
Bahamas, there is a spring crop, March or April through May or June; and
a second crop, September through November, coinciding with the spring
and fall rains.
The fruits should be picked only when they are so ripe as to fall into
the hand at the lightest touch, otherwise they will be undesirably
resinous. Gathering must be done daily or even twice a day.
Yield: In India, pruned bushes yield an average of 6 to 8 lbs (2.7-3.6 kg)
per plant. The highest yield obtained in Israel was 2,700 fruits
weighing about 24 lbs (11 kg) from one untrimmed plant.