Diane Ragone, director at the Breadfruit Institute, is seen here standing by a breadfruit tree planted at the National Tropical Botanical Garden in Lawa‘i in 2008.
The site for your breadfruit should be sunny and have space for a tree, that with careful pruning, you can keep to about 15-20 feet tall and 15-20 feet wide. Make sure buildings, other trees or electric wires are not in the way of the future tree canopy.
After picking the spot, remove all the grass within a 2-to-3 feet wide circle. Pull out the grass by the roots; smother it with black plastic or layers of wet newspaper.
The planting hole needs to be exactly as deep as the soil in the one-gallon pot and twice as wide. Too deep and the young breadfruit tree will “drown.” Too shallow and the roots dry out.
Keeping the root ball intact, gently lift the plant out of the pot. Set it in the planting hole and gently firm the soil around the root ball.
Make a “mulch ring” at least 6 inches away from the trunk, using compost, soil and organic matter. The mulch conserves water and slowly releases it to the new fine feeder roots.
Water daily gently and thoroughly in the morning or evening. Make sure to soak the original root zone and the adjacent soil area where the fine feeder roots grow.
If the leaves are wilting, you need to water more. Once established, your tree will need less water. Older trees can survive in hot times and in drier areas, if they were well tended and watered when young.
Young breadfruit trees will benefit greatly from fertilizer and nutrients in their first year. The tree should bear fruit in two-and-half to three years after planting.
Visit www.ntbg.org for more information.