To grow quenepas from seed, you’ll need to:
- Prepare your soil and plant your seedlings
- Give your seedlings enough water and warmth
- Transplant your quenepas once they reach about two years old
- Care for your mature quenepas
This exotic citrus tree goes by many names – quenepa, kenepa, Spanish lime, limoncello, and mamoncillo.
Growing this unique fruit from seed requires patience and work, but once you reap the first fruits, your efforts will be well worth it.
Overall, this article will tell you everything you need to know about growing quenepas.
You will also learn about the best climate in which to grow quenepas, how to maintain them, and why you should grow this exotic and versatile fruit.
Why Should I Grow Quenepas?
Quenepas are an exotic fruit that you can eat raw or use as a central ingredient in jellies, alcoholic beverages, sauces, and desserts.
The fruit also has various health benefits, including lowering blood pressure due to the important amino acid lysine, while vitamins A and C provide immune system support.
Additionally, contrary to their nickname “Spanish lime,” quenepas aren’t a citrus fruit and are related to the soapberry, a kind of cactus.
Thus, adding this unique tree to your garden can give you a tasty and exotic addition.
Will Quenepas Grow Where I Live?
Quenepas can grow in both temperate and tropical climates since they need plenty of sunlight and hot temperatures.
Yet, they are native to hot, tropical climates such as those in Latin America, South America, the Caribbean Islands, and the West Indies.
But, while they grow well in high humidity, they are also suited for desert climates and are drought resistant.
However, in the hottest summer months (between April and September), they require thorough watering twice a week to stay in peak condition.
Also, quenepas are generally best grown in the USDA hardiness zones 9-11.
So, if you live in climates with hot summers but colder winters, make sure to bring your quenepas inside during the winter or keep them in a greenhouse.
Additionally, keep in mind that quenepas don’t adapt well to snow or ice, even if they are mature and bear fruit.
Therefore, avoid planting them in the ground if you have winters where temperatures regularly drop below 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4-5 C).
What Will I Need Before I Begin?
Before you begin growing your quenepas from seed, you will need the following:
- Quenepa seeds
- Freshly harvested is best because if the seeds have ever dried out, they will likely not germinate.
- Large tree pots – one for each seed
- Potting soil
- A heating pad – make sure it’s large enough to fit all pots on it at once
- Plastic sheets
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4 Steps to Grow Quenepas From Seed
Step One: Prepare Your Soil and Plant Your Seeds
Using several large, durable tree pots, fill each with an equal mixture of potting soil and sand.
And remember that it is crucial to have durable pots since your quenepas will grow in there for at least two years.
Next, you need to plant one seed per pot, 3/4 of an inch (2 cm) deep into the center of the container.
You should then water well before covering each pot with plastic.
Now, move all the pots onto a heating pad, and keep the temperature consistently at 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit (24-29 C).
Then, keep the soil moist, but don’t overwater, or else you risk giving your quenepas root rot.
Your seeds should sprout in 3-8 weeks.
And once they sprout, you can remove the plastic from the pots and take them off the heating pad.
Step Two: Tend to Your Seedlings
When the seeds have sprouted, they aren’t as particular about temperature as they were before germination.
However, keep them in an environment consistently above 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 C).
Then, in the spring and summer months, you can place the containers outside.
But, bring them indoors during the autumn and winter months if it gets too cold.
Overall, your seedlings will need to remain in their containers until they are two years old and at least two feet (0.6 m) in height.
Then, if your climate allows, you can plant them outside in a sunny location.
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Step Three: Transplant Your Quenepas
You can plant your quenepas outside once they reach about two years old.
And make sure you plant them in a sunny spot during the spring or summer months when there is no longer danger of frost.
If you live in a cooler climate, though, wait until the summer to transplant them.
Step Four: Maintain Your Quenepas
It can take 5-10 years for quenepas to bear fruit after growing them from seed.
Also, keep in mind that quenepas are not self-pollinating like other citrus varieties.
So, you may need to plant several trees to increase your chances of them cross-pollinating and successfully bearing fruit.
Finally, you should know that the round quenepa fruit grows in clusters with leathery green rinds, usually between June and September.
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To recap, here are the steps to grow quenepas from seed:
- Harvest quenepa seeds – each fruit has one or two large seeds
- Fill large pots (those suited for trees) with 1/2 potting soil and 1/2 sand
- Plant one seed per pot, 3/4 of an inch deep (2 cm) in the soil
- Cover each pot with plastic
- Place the pots on a heating mat, maintaining a consistent temperature between 75-85 degrees Fahrenheit (24-29 C)
- Keep the soil moist, but don’t overwater
- Seeds should sprout within 3-8 weeks
- Transplant your seedlings outside after two years, as long as quenepas are at least 2 feet (0.6 m) tall
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