Tuesday | September 19, 2017
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Transplant jackfruit before it’s root bound

Hi, Nick. I love jackfruit. I was wondering if I started one in a pot, how long could it stay potted? And can I ship it if I move? We live on Oahu and might move to the Big Island or possibly Costa Rica. I tried to research these questions and haven’t found a clear answer. Thank you, Monica

If a jackfruit seed were planted in a 2.5-gallon container, it should do well for about one year or perhaps a little longer. The goal is to transplant the tree before it becomes root bound, also referred to as pot bound. Under this condition, the walls of the container restrict outward root development, causing them to continuously wrap around the inside of the pot. When the tree is finally planted in the garden, the wrap-around roots will still have the tendency to go round and round, restricting its own growth. Thus, the plant will develop poorly. When transplanting, if roots are pot bound, they should be gently teased apart.

Note, however, jackfruit seeds lose their viability within three months of removal from the fruit. In addition, the seeds are highly variable. That is, characteristics such as fruit shape, size, aroma and flavor will vary. If you plant a seed, the subsequent fruit might not be true to the “mother” tree. Perhaps an alternative is to purchase a budded or grafted variety when you arrive at your final destination. A grafted tree would also bear fruit sooner than a seedling tree.

In addition to grafting, propagation of jackfruit is achieved by root cuttings and, with some varieties, stem cuttings and air layering. These methods will produce a new tree true to the original.

For information on transporting seedling trees to other Hawaiian Islands, contact Hawaii Department of Agriculture on Oahu. Movement is possible between the islands, but the plants need to be brought to the department for inspection.

International movement of plant material is regulated by the USDA. Inquiries can be made to the office in Honolulu. See www.gardenguyhawaii.com for more information on jackfruit.

Troubleshooting garden problems

Are you scratching your head trying to figure out why some plants in the garden are growing so poorly?

There are various methods to help diagnose problems.

Using the University of Hawaii College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources website, www.ctahr.hawaii.edu/site/info.aspx, can present some explanations and offer solutions.

Of particular interest is the UH Extension publication “The pH Preference of Plants.” The chart lists many crops — fruit trees, vegetables and ornamentals — and their suggested pH growth range.

For instance, ginger likes to grow in a soil with a pH of 6-7 (7 is neutral, below 7 is acidic and above is alkaline). All plants prefer a specific pH range, usually close to neutral; some require slightly acidic while others favor slightly alkaline.

For example, coffee prefers a range of 5-6.

Take note which plants are doing well and which are not. Compare those plants to the list in the publication. If all or most of the poorly growing plants prefer a neutral to slightly acidic range of 6-7, then the soil pH in your garden might be too low (too acidic) for these plants and a lime treatment is needed.

As an example, breadfruit, mac nuts, parsley, lilikoi (passion fruit) and gardenias will grow well down to a pH of 5 and even down to 4.5. These plants might be flourishing in your garden. On the other hand, bananas, mock orange, broccoli, leeks and lettuce all like a pH between 6 and 7. If these are doing poorly, then your soil might be too acidic.

See www.gardenguyhawaii.com for additional information on pH and a useful chart. The article at this website addresses adding lime for acidic soils common in Hawaii.

Hilo resident Nick Sakovich is a professor emeritus of the University of California. He has worked in the field of agriculture for 30 years. Email your questions to Sakovich at askthegardenguy@earthlink.net.


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