Durian tree: divisive however unusually common

Durian fruit sometimes has a bad rap. Some people think that the ripe edible fruit smells like sewage or rot, while others think the opposite and really appreciate it. The pulp is described by lovers of the fruit as pudding-like and sweet or by non-fans as onion sauce. Love or hate it, durian fruits grow on a durian tree, and you can grow your own at home if you want.

It is a divisive fruit that polarizes people who come in contact with it. It is considered the "king of fruits" in Southeast Asia, where there are several varieties. In the United States, the durian fruit is generally just one type of this multifaceted fruit. It may have a distinctive aroma, but consumption of durian can provide the body with an abundance of nutrients.

If you live in tropical regions with a climate similar to Southeast Asia, you can grow your own edible fruits from durian trees and enjoy raw fruits, durian chips, durian paste, and durian leaf juice. Despite its reputation, it is such a versatile fruit. Why don't you try growing it yourself?

Good products on Amazon for growing durian trees:

Brief instructions for care

The durian tree is a very tropical tree with huge prickly fruits. Source: Sam's Photography

Common name (s) Durian, civet tree
Scientific name Durio zibethinus
Days to harvest 90 to 150 days from flowering
Bright Full sun
water 2 inches per week
floor Rich, loamy, well drained
fertilizer Slow release, NPK depending on the stage of fruit formation
Pests Psyllids, shot hole drills
Diseases Leaf rot

Everything about the durian tree

Unripe durianThese immature durians have not yet fully developed their spines. Source: ElCapitan

Durio zibethinus is a species of fruit tree found in markets in North America, while other species are found across Asia. Durian belongs to the Bombacaceae family and is commonly referred to as the civet tree. The species zibethinus is named after the civet cat, a feline creature that hangs around in durian trees on the resident durian plantation in Malaysia.

The origin of the durian fruit trees is really interesting! It came from the Malay Peninsula, where it was called dûrî, the Malaysian word for thorn. This directly relates to the thorny outer layer of the durian fruit, which often has to be handled with gloves. Today there are at least 9 different trees of the genus Durio that produce the commercially sold durian.

Durian trees grow up to 50 meters tall in their native tropical setting, although their roots are shallow. The leaves are evergreen, similar in shape to coffee leaves and up to 20 cm long when fully ripe. Durian trees have two fruiting and blooming seasons, during which bats pollinate the nodding, yellow and lily-like flowers. If pollination is successful, the flowers fall to the ground, leaving only the durian fruit behind. In areas outside of their natural habitat, the trees can be hand-pollinated or moth-pollinated.

Durian trees bear and bloom in three to five years. It takes 3 to 5 months for the fruit to ripen after the flower has grown. The durian flesh is covered with a hard outer shell that is covered with spikes. There is another layer in the shell that protects the tender meat and durian seeds. Raw durian has a cream-colored flesh and is strongly fragrant with a rich, sticky smoothness. People eat durian in many ways. It is eaten fresh, made into a paste or occasionally made into delicious desserts such as rich vanilla pudding.

In some parts of Asia, where durian is widely grown, it is banned in markets because of its overwhelming, pungent smell. But it's great for treating a fever sufferer. Some people think it smells like rotten onions, Limburg cheese, rotting meat, and sewage. Others eat durian and find the aroma pleasant and the taste of the fruit very desirable. If you are looking to grow one, make sure you have the right conditions. Durian (Durio zibethinus) will not grow large enough to produce fruit outside of tropical and climatically conditioned areas.


Slow maturing durianIt takes a while for durian to fully ripen. Source: Hella Delicious

Plant durian seeds either indoors or outdoors. It is also possible to plant durian trees from your local nursery. Unless you live in the tropics, plant your seeds or seedlings indoors or in a greenhouse. Durian seeds do not have a long lifespan and are viable only a few days after extraction from the fruit. There are seed traders who sell vacuum-packed seeds that have a shelf life of more than a few days. Wait until you plant your seed 9 to 15 meters away until the hottest, wettest part of the season. Plant the seed in a hole 1.5 feet wide and deep that has been prepared with compost. Push the seed in halfway, releasing the top half. When planting outdoors, plant the seed under a branch to simulate the canopy of shade they would be under in the wild. Water it frequently to keep the soil moist for the first two years while the tree acclimates.

Inside, let the seeds germinate in a wet paper towel sealed in a plastic bag at room temperature. Give the bag at least 4 hours of direct sunlight and add moisture as needed to keep the paper towel moist. If the germinated roots are longer than the seed, transplant them in rich, loamy, well-drained media. Water them daily to keep them moist. Make sure your container has good drainage holes.

Since durian likes warm climates, replace environmental controls indoors or in a greenhouse as needed. Plant trees from a local nursery in the same setting as seeds. Use the same ratio of compost and clay soil. Adjust the containers for potted durian as the tree grows, providing a few inches more width and depth for each transplant.


Ripe fruits on the treeThese fruits are the correct size and color and are ready to be harvested. Source: Kaeru

Just because this tree was native to Southeast Asia doesn't mean it can't be grown elsewhere. Let's cover some of his basic needs.

Sun and temperature

Durian grows in direct sunlight and trees need at least 6 hours of full sun a day. Like other tropical plants, durian only grows and produces successfully in USDA Zones 10 through 12. Ideal temperatures range from 75 degrees to 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Durian can withstand higher heat as long as there is sufficient humidity. Temperatures below 75 degrees kill durian. Do not put your plant outdoors if you live outside of tropical areas. Just a few degrees below 75 lead to a drop in fruit and flowers and slower pollination.

Water and moisture

Water your trees generously and daily, keeping the soil moist but not too wet. Make sure your media soaks up and drains the water easily and quickly. Water that collects around the trunk of a durian tree causes root rot. Drip irrigation is a great way to provide adequate moisture without disturbing the soil or over-soaking it. When the tree is in bloom, stop watering and let dry for at least 1 month, up to 2 months total. When the fruit has formed, keep watering. Make sure these plants have a humidity level of at least 70 to 90 percent.


The medium for your durian tree should be rich, loamy, and well-drained. As long as there is no flooding, you can grow it on barren soils. However, they'll work best if you prep the soil adequately with good, well-rotted compost and some sand. Use a pH tester to make sure the soil is slightly acidic at 5.5 to 6.5. Watch out for loamy soil!


Nitrogen and potassium are the two most important nutrients for your durian tree, but it also needs phosphorus. Trees over 6 years of age require 1-2 kilograms of nitrogen and 2-4 kilograms of phosphorus annually, if not all at once.

There are two NPK values ​​that are used in liquid fertilization (or “finishing”) at certain growth stages. 1-2 months before flowering, during fruit set and after harvest, a 9-27-27 liquid fertilizer diluted in the irrigation system is considered ideal. This contains less nitrogen, but both phosphorus and potassium, which the tree needs for fruit production or for initial recovery from fruiting.

During the flowering phase, the post-flowering phase before fruiting, and the flushing phase when the tree goes into its non-fruiting phase every year, a 14-7-28 liquid fertilizer is better. This provides the higher nitrogen the tree needs to recover and produce new leaf growth.

If you use a granular slow release fertilizer instead of a liquid, you can opt for a higher P-K ratio for the flowering and fruiting phases and a higher N-K ratio for the rest of the year. Pay attention to the timing of your fertilizer's time to release its nutrients and apply accordingly. Remember that the tree will not bear fruit for a period of time when it needs much less fertilizer than any other tree species; This is when the tree is dormant and recovering from the fruiting phase, and at that point it is less hungry for nutrients, even though it is not actually resting.


Prune your durian for the first two years to avoid having to severely pruned the tree when it is fully grown and too big. In Malaysia, people prune the trees in a cone, elliptical, and dome shape. They are generally circumcised at various other stages during their lifespan. If you are concerned about pruning a large tree yourself, contact an arborist.

As a tropical tree, it is not deciduous. In cooler seasons, the leaves do not fall to the ground. Old fruits can be thinned out about one to two months after they have been set.


As mentioned in the planting section, you can propagate durian by seeds. You can also graft two types of durian: an older plant and one, an embryonic tree that is around 2 months old. This tree could be from a seed you planted or from a durian farm nearby.

If the sapling shows signs of leaf growth, graft another sprig of durian on it. Use disinfected cutting scissors to prune a 6 to 8 inch section of the branch from the older plant. Remove the leaves and cut the end with a sharp knife. Then cut the baby durian in half and place the pointed branch in the halved area. Secure the branches with an elastic band and cover them with plastic wrap. If you've managed to propagate the two, they'll be producing young leaves in a week.

Harvest and storage

Durian fruitThe prickly rinds of durian make it difficult to handle without gloves. Source: douglemoine

You have cultivated your Musang King for years and finally there is fruit. Let's talk about how to harvest and store your fruits for your favorite dishes.


If your fruit weighs between 4 and 11 pounds, cut it off to eat the pulp. Either use a ladder to get to the fruit or use a cutter on a long bar to cut it off from the ground. Leave a tiny 1-inch stalk on top of the fruit. Do not eat fruit that has fallen on the ground as it will be damaged. Despite their gnarled appearance, durians are delicate. Keep the fruit in a basket and avoid touching the ground. Put them in containers while they wait to be eaten. Durians should sit for about 1 week before breaking open. When you feel like it, open one up and do a few occasional swipes to see if the meat is right for you. If so, great! If not, give it away or sell it in local markets.


Whole durians smell uncut and not whole and can be kept for a few days at room temperature. Since they can stink, the sliced ​​flesh of these fruits should be wrapped in plastic wrap and then sealed in plastic bags. This applies to whole or thinly sliced. They can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. They keep frozen for 2 months.

Unless you want to contaminate your dehydrator with the intense smell of durian, dehydrating is not recommended. The same goes for canning.


Overripe fruitsA few overripe fruits remain on this tree. Source: Ikhlasul Amal

There are a few things to consider when growing durian. Remember and you will have sweet fruits several times a year.

Growing problems

As mentioned earlier, flowers and fruits will fall when it will too cold. For durian this is below 75 degrees. Another bad effect that comes from the wrong conditions is Root rot of fungus-infested planting media that do not drain well. Make sure your tree has well-drained soil. Another thing to watch out for: don't Prune seedlings too much. This prevents production. the fleshy arils turn brown and decay on trees that have not been planted properly. Try to remove them and hope they will produce in future seasons by transplanting the tree and making sure the roots are properly placed.


Psyllids are insects that resemble white flies or flat green scales. They gather in large groups on the stems of the durian and disperse when disturbed. In large numbers, they cause sap-sucking damage. Neem oil is recommended in spray form, applied to the affected area every 7 to 10 days until the psyllids are gone.

Shot hole drill are beetles that drill small holes in the stem of durian. They penetrate and consume the sap and stem material, causing the branches to wither and the loss of leaves in the final stages of their infestation. If you don't catch them by the surface of the trunk, you can lose the plant. Contact your local counseling center to determine which treatments are best for your area. Prevention by maintaining a healthy tree is usually better than trying to treat it after it has moved in.


Leaf rot is caused by a fungal pathogen. The first symptoms appear in the center of the leaves in yellow or red spots that migrate to the edges. The best treatment for this is copper fungicide in spray form, which is applied every 7 to 10 days. If the disease doesn't improve, contact your counseling center for tips on removal.

frequently asked Questions

Q: How long does it take for the durian tree to bear fruit?

A: After the flowers have grown, it will take about 3 to 5 months for the fruit to form.

Q: Where do durian trees grow?

A: You love Southeast Asia, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia.

Q: Is durian grown in the US?

A: Yes, but only in greenhouses or in tropical regions.

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